On Distributed Communications Series

XI. Summary Overview

V. Next-Generation Research

Even though the system has yet to be studied in actual implementation detail, it is felt appropriate to start thinking about further development of the system notion. Consideration today of a next-generation system will simplify orderly system evolution tomorrow.

New areas for research, for example, might include the investigation of the feasibility of using links in the 15- to 150-megabit/sec range. Or, we might study the possibility of forming links of low-cost infrared lasers.

Very-low-cost microwave is also a possible avenue to reduce the feeder network cost.

The technology upon which the system is based is developing at an explosive rate. For instance, our design examination of the Switching Node (ODC-VII) indicated a physical size of about 72 cu ft, using late-1962 digital computer technology. Autonetics Division of North American Aviation, Inc., however, has announced a new microminiaturized computer (see Table II) in late stages of development. This unit appears to have a computing capacity almost as great as that we have proposed in 72 cu ft, but in a package of about 0.3 cu ft--and, at a comparable cost.

The implication of what the changing computer technology offers the communications designer has not always been fully appreciated in the past. Therefore, we should strive to become better prepared to take advantage of this developing technology by continuing the research effort, even while building the hardware.

In retrospect, the designs described in ODC-VII and -VIII are now somewhat out of date, in light of the microminiature developments of the past year.

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