WIDE Project Fiscal 2019
On April 7, 2019, I was in Las Vegas to accept an award at the 70th Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards. These Emmy Awards are broadcasting industry-related awards based in the United States. On this occasion, the W3C, Netflix, and Microsoft were awarded for the standardization of technologies for a “Full TV Experience” on the Web. The award was given in recognition of contributions in the standardization of online video streaming infrastructure, which has fueled innovation in the broadcast industry.
Work on Web environment standards geared to HTML5 began around 2008, with the W3C as a central locus of this activity. One core area of HTML5 development dealt with the question of how to standardize technology for the distribution and exchange of video streams on Web architecture. To start with, the difficulties associated with streaming media over internet architecture, which has no mechanism for guaranteeing bandwidth, meant it was necessary to develop adaptive protocols that make bandwidth adjustments. Alongside its efforts on protocols, the W3C sought to unify the way video streams were handled, which until then had differed from service to service under the plugin model, and to introduce the capability for secure streams to form a basis for commercial services. Video encoding and decoding technology was previously a non-free affair (in the intellectual property sense), but W3C incorporated this into the standards, and the environment that this technological architecture created is what the W3C received the award for.
By establishing a globally shared set of protocols, the protocol standards advanced by the IETF have fulfilled a key internet mission, that of creating a global space. Through the “One Web” concept, Tim Berners-Lee, the first developer of the Web, has spearheaded the notion of the W3C as a common foundation for the internet. While platform providers engage in pitched competition over their own OS and other specifications, the individual Web browsers in which those vendors are deeply involved have continued to strive toward standardization via the W3C, and these efforts are extremely important in view of the mission of today’s internet environment.
The emergence of a new industrial structure based on video streaming inhabited by players such as YouTube and Netflix was made possible because the standardization of the network platform enabled those players to concentrate on content services. This is one example of just how much value there is in establishing global platforms on the internet through technology standardization, and it is a step toward designing the internet architecture of the future.
Rising interest in digital technologies such as AI and autonomous driving is fueling new demands on network infrastructure such as 5G. WIDE Project has been working on software development and the standardization of network architecture since the latter half of 2014 through the Next Generation Network Service Platform Consortium. This has resulted in technology proposals for and the standardization of 5G and datacenter architecture, and in 2017 it spawned the Advanced IT Architect Human Resource Development Council (AITAC) to run programs for training & developing advanced network engineers.
WIDE Project participates in Pacific Wave, a North American NREN (National Research & Education Network) organization, and in TransPAC4, a project of the United States’ National Science Foundation that provides a 100Gbps trans-Pacific circuit. Since 2017, through the Japan-Guam circuit, it has also been part of work on the connections between the United States mainland, Hawaii, Australia, and Southeast Asia with Guam as a hub, with plans to go live in the latter half of 2020. Additionally, at the Pacific Telecommunications Conference (PTC) held in Honolulu in January 2020, NORDUnet, a collaboration between European NRENs, approached WIDE Project regarding a proposal for a direct link with Japan via the Arctic Ocean. The use of submarine cables from the Arctic Ocean had been under consideration and planning since the Northern Sea Route came about in 2012, and this now looks like taking a another direction.
Since 2019, many approaches to NTNs (non-terrestrial networks) have started to move forward. Work is now underway to realize Internet Inclusion, which aims to close the digital divide and provide coverage for IoT devices beyond areas of human settlement. This work has included reviewing geostationary satellites for internet use, launching low-orbit satellites for internet missions, and starting development on stratospheric network infrastructure. WIDE Project began work on the construction of satellite-based internet infrastructure in 1994. It proposed that UDLR (RFC 3077) be used as the protocol, and the AI3 and SOI-Asia subprojects continue to operate on this protocol to this day.
I think the information presented here shows that WIDE Project’s ongoing research & development efforts are proving fruitful in the advancement of internet infrastructure architecture, which has developed along new directions in fiscal 2019, and can be expected to contribute to these advances going forward.
I would like to reiterate my sincere gratitude for the understanding, participation, and cooperation of everyone connected with WIDE Project, and I humbly ask for your ongoing support for our activities going forward.
WIDE Project Founder
March 8, 2020