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Abstract

Multimedia has become an integral part of computing and communications environment, and networks are carrying ever-increasing volume of multimedia information. The main characteristics of multimedia information are high-volume and bursty traffic, with low tolerance to delay and delay variance. The legacy networks (designed in 70s and 80s) are not able to meet these requirements. Enhancements to the older networking technologies have been developed to convert these into multimedia networks. Enhancements to LANs include Switched Ethernet, Isochronous Ethernet, Fast Ethernet, 100VGAnyLAN, FDDI-II, and Synchronous FDDI. WAN options for multimedia networking include digital leased lines and ISDN. The Internet has revolutionized business and personal communications, but falls short of being a genuine multimedia network. To make the Internet capable of carrying multimedia traffic, new protocols such as MBone, ST-II, RTP, and RSVP have been developed. Internet2 is a new initiative that is aimed at overcoming the problems of throughput, delay and jitter encountered on the original Internet. One technology that was developed with multimedia networking as one of its main applications, is the Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) technology. Upcoming Gigabit Ethernet technology will provide a path for upgrading current Ethernet networks into multimedia networks.

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