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Debate: Smart Vs. Dumb Networks

I've just finished sitting through a very bizarre (for lack of a better word) session at the NGN Conference where two panelists directly debated the notion of smart (central, AT&T-like) networks vs. dumb (deregulated, open public Internet-style) networks. Here are a few highlights from what turned out to be a very spirited debate.

Representing Stupid Networks: David Isenberg, Principle Prosultant (sm) with

Definition: Intelligent networks:

  • Application-specific
  • Application-aware
  • Run by experts
  • Centrally administered
  • Centrally planned
  • Resource optimized (QoS, load balancing)


  • Ridged
  • Expensive
  • Inflexible

Quote: Nicolas Negroponte: "Some bits are worth more than other bits."

We should optimize what's plentiful. We should build a network of the future with what scales--a big, fat-piped stupid infrastructure.

Is there enough raw material out there? Oh yes. Just look at these two laws:

Gilder's law (transmission capability)
Moore's Law (transistor density)

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