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Networking Going Postal

Report ID:
April 2004
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Making high-bandwidth Internet access pervasively available to a large
world-wide audience is a difficult challenge, especially in many
developing regions. As we wait for the uncertain takeoff of
technologies that promise to improve the situation, we propose to
explore an approach that is potentially more easily realizable: the
use of digital storage media transported by the postal system as a
general digital communication mechanism. We shall call such a system
a "Postmanet." Compared to more conventional wide-area
connectivity options, the Postmanet has several important advantages,
including wide global reach, great bandwidth potential, low cost, and
ease of incremental adoption. While the idea of sending digital
content via the postal system is not a new one, none of the existing
attempts have turned the postal system into a generic and
transparent communication channel that not only can cater to a wide
array of applications, but also effectively manage the many
idiosyncrasies associated with using the postal system. In the
proposed Postmanet, we see two recurring themes at many different
levels of the system. One is the simultaneous exploitation of the
Internet and the postal system so we can combine their latency and
bandwidth advantages. The other is the exploitation of the abundant
capacity and bandwidth of the Postmanet to improve its latency, cost,
and reliability.

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