What is a Gigabit Application?

The mission of US Ignite and the SGC program is to foster the development of applications and services that require advanced gigabit networks to run. We define this as having at least one of the following components:

  • Bandwidth requirements above the standard of broadband. (i.e. greater than 25 mbs down and 5 mbs up)
  • Near real-time responsiveness requirements (Generally falling somewhere below 75ms)
  • Have an advanced networking component that doesn’t use normal layer3 (i.e. Software Defined Networks)
  • Any one of those components qualify an application as an advanced gigabit effort.

What is a gigabit application? A gigabit application is one that would be impossible to implement on typical standard networks but will be successfully implemented on a “gigabit” local network.

A gigabit application needs: A gigabit application is one that works in a gigabit-network city because it needs one or more of the following, which are not present in typical standard networks):

  • (A) Bandwidth: It needs more than about 10Mbps of bandwidth (in either or both directions) to be useful. Note that you can send commercial 4K movies (and all HD movies) with less than 10 Mbps. However, if you are talking about *interactive* HD or 4K, we *are* talking gigabit. In fact, the 4K microscope is “tuned down” to about 800 Mbps (would otherwise be about 2 Gbps) because the students have to interactively focus the microscope such that the image stops the focus level perceptually immediately after the student stop changing the focus.
    • Counterexamples: It is *not* bandwidth gigabit if you say your server needs to feed 100 streams of 10 Mbps each simultaneously. While this is indeed a total bandwidth out of the server of 1 Gbps, any given user of the network can be served by existing commercial connections, and it’s perfectly normal for servers to be connected at 1 Gbps or 10 Gbps today. That is, this application will work in a typical network community. Also, it is *not* bandwidth gigabit if you say that you want to serve 10,000 sensors of 0.1Kbps each for the same reasons.
  • (B) Latency: It needs to respond more quickly than can be accomplished accessing typical clouds over typical 10 Mbps networks. How quickly is quickly enough depends upon the application. For the Solar VR application, the bandwidth to transmit the *interactive” inserted instructor (which can’t be easily compressed within the latency requirement of a “natural” interaction between instructor and student) is indeed hundreds of megabits per second. As another example, if you are doing *remote* VR/AR where the video generation is being done at the city edge (for economic reasons such as serving one classroom at a time), the student’s head motion must result in changed images in the headset in 5 msec. That’s impossible to do on a cloud service, but possible on a city edge cloud.
    • Counterexamples: Take the statement: Worker “X” will be more productive if their workstation is more responsive because it’s connected to a gigabit network. While this statement might be marginally true, we are looking for applications that couldn’t be done on typical standard networks and will motivate the installation of gigabit networks. If worker “X” can do their job effectively (even if marginally more slowly) on a traditional network, it’s not a gigabit application. Another counterexample is one where the application requires constant processing, e.g., continuous monitoring of air pollution via video camera. From a pure “cost of CPUs” standpoint, one might as well co-locate the video analysis with the video camera. However, if the camera is in a hostile environment where you don’t want to put chips to do the video analysis locally because they might be damaged or the location is one where it would be hard to replace the chips, or, if you are going to only look through this camera 1% of the time, then remoting the video analysis to a local cloud *is* a perfectly-good gigabit app if the data rate from the camera is high enough.
  • (C) Software-defined: If software-defined networks are being used for privacy, data protection, giving public safety a dedicated lane, and other ideas that can’t be accomplished on today’s commercial networks, we define it as a gigabit application.
    • Counterexamples: Overlay networks that can be attacked (e.g., denial of service attack) may add privacy (e.g., VPN) but can be attacked, diluting the value of the overlay. It’s not a software-defined network at its core.