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How fast is fast enough?

Asynchronous transfer mode (ATM) is the hot, emerging network technology for multimedia communications. ATM protocols are designed to handle audio and video in addition to more conventional data communication in fields like science, medicine and education. Transporting digital images and sound across a network requires support for reliable high-speed transmission, something that ATM can certainly provide.

Unfortunately, cost can still be somewhat prohibitive, particularly for connections that support speeds ranging from 51 to 155 Mb/s or higher. A 51 Mb/s connection costs about $1,000; a 155 Mb/s connection costs $1,700. So, a 25 Mb/s connection, often referred to as ATM25, at about $500 presents an attractive alternative. However, is a 25 Mb/s connection fast enough to satisfy most business customers today?

Because a 25 Mb/s ATM connection is dedicated to a single desktop terminal that can transmit and receive 25 Mb/s in each direction for a total of up to 50 Mb/s, a vast majority of existing ATM desktop applications can be used while allowing for future expansion.

Today's typical desktop terminal can sustain communications speeds that approach 25 Mb/s full duplex and so fully support broad multimedia desktop applications over the same link without any problems. It has the bandwidth to run multiple MPEG-2 video channels and CD-quality audio, as well as existing client-server applications over a link, Because many businesses already have UTP-3 or UTP-5 wiring installed, they can maximize their existing cable plants and further reduce installation and migration cost.

This should resolve the dilemma of many businesses on the verge of exceeding the capacity of their existing networks.

If a high-speed ATM network is too costly to implement at this time, ATM25 offers a low-cost entry system that can effectively support videoconferencing and other multimedia applications. On the other hand, it will be a while before a broad range of ATM applications will become available.

Although ATM25 is a good alternative to switched Ethernet or token ring networks that approach their maximum capacity, companies still need to carefully consider the lack of available ATM applications, unless the development of multimedia or videoconferencing is their main business. However, switching to ATM25 may still be their best alternative if the majority of applications can be ported to ATM25.

Also, formation of the Desktop ATM-25 Alliance (a group of about 25 vendors), founded in 1994 in San Francisco, has served as a major force to educate the market, businesses and vendors alike, about the benefits of ATM at 25 Mb/s. Its charter is to make ATM25 products open, accessible and interoperable with other leading ATM vendors. This should provide an incentive for companies to develop and market ATM25 products, resulting in competitive prices, another good reason to migrate to ATM25 at this time.
COPYRIGHT 1996 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1996 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Technology Information; ATM25 is a cost-effective, entry-level networking technology
Author:Milliken, Mike
Publication:Communications News
Date:Jul 1, 1996
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