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Electronic Networks

Today's fiberoptic local-area networks (LANs) have bandwidths of 6.25 to 18.75 megabytes per second [20], which lets us send a 500-page book in under 1/6 of a second. Nippon Telegraph and Telephone, the largest company in the world, has already built an experimental fiber system transmitting almost 1/3 gigabytes a second over 2,200 kilometers [3]. In 1989, LAN sales (hardware, software, and cabling) exceeded $5.68 billion in the U.S. alone [45].

In September 1991 the U.S. Senate approved a $1 billion expenditure over 5 years to develop high-speed supercomputing networks linking Federal, university, and corporate research centers. This network will be 100 times faster than current high-speed networks. In 10 years, networks that are citywide (metropolitan-area networks, or MANs) and nationwide (wide-area networks, or WANs) with bandwidths of 1/8 to 1/4 gigabytes will be the standard [15]. These bandwidths let us send a 500-page book in under 4 milliseconds.

Gregory J. E. Rawlins