Gilder Technology Report

September, 1997 (Vol. II, Number 9)

"Smart and dumb are the two key network paradigms . . . The trouble with smart networks is that they cannot readily accomodate change on the edges.

"Now the smart paradigm seems to be crashing at AT&T itself . . . one of AT&T's leading technologists, David Isenberg put it all into writing in a stirring call for a "stupid network" to replace the smart network that his bosses currently command.

" . . . As Isenberg, AT&T's house iconoclast puts it, in a smart network the network tells the data what to do and where to go; in a dumb network, the data tells the network what to do and where to go . . . Isenberg became a convert to dumb networks when he served on an AT&T 'True Voice' technical team. 'AT&T True Voice was a valiant effort to improve circuit switched voice quality as much as possible in the context of current network architecture. If we had not been constrained by network architecture, the easiest way would have been to increase the sampling rate or change the coding algorithm. . . . But to actually do this, we would have had to change every piece of the telephone network except the wires . . . ' "

" . . . dumb networks are now worth some $30 Million and are growing some 20 times faster than the old smart networks of the RBOCs . . ."

Date last modified: Nov 25 1997