Gear heads often turn their noses up at DSL. After all, DSL data speeds are often a fraction of those offered by cable broadband suppliers. Plus, DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) is delivered not over coax, but over old-fashioned copper phone lines. How quaint!
But a seemingly low-bandwidth DSL connection could actually deliver data faster than a higher-rated broadband cable connection, according to the father of DSL, Dr. John Cioffi.
"DSL brings its entire data load to a SINGLE home," Dr. Cioffi explains. "Cable systems share their Internet bandwidth – typically 50 Mbps to 300 Mbps – across 500 to 2000 homes. Thus, 50 Mbps divided by 2000 homes simultaneously is indeed a very low speed kbps. Each DSL user has a much higher dedicated bandwidth."
Advancing and proselytizing DSL has been a passion and a mission for Dr. Cioffi, but there was no early inkling of what would become his life's work.
The young Cioffi, a math whiz, got a taste of his future on a family trip to the New York World's Fair in 1964 when he watched a demonstration of AT&T's videophone. "They thought it was impossible to send video over phone lines," Dr. Cioffi recalls. "It planted a seed."
What turned Dr. Cioffi's career toward DSL was a physics course he took as a freshman at the University of Illinois Urbana–Champaign....
Here’s a clip from a TV news program in 1981, about the possibility that news might someday come to our homes via this new development called the Internet. In that year, of course, the anchorperson could have had no idea how profound the impact of the Internet would actually be, affecting her own profession almost as much as that of the newspaper seller seen in the final shot.
Send high-speed data, including video signals, over telephone wires? Impossible! That’s what everyone thought for decades, until Internet Hall of Famer Dr. John Cioffi actually did it, by designing the Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) system. His big challenges were two-fold. The technological one was to come up with a design that could adapt to the more than one billion phone lines around the world; and the other, just as significant, was to come up with partners, including his students at Stanford who provided the workforce, and an early telecom that provided the project’s funding.
DSL, the No. 1 fixed-line technique for Internet communication, is used by more than half a billion people each day – and the number is growing. Here’s what Dr. Cioffi had to say about his achievement, after the Internet Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in Hong Kong earlier this year.
Just as surely as the seasons change, our Internet Hall of Fame inductees can be counted on to pique the interest of the worldwide news media: Their accomplishments and ongoing work to advance a free and open Internet never fail to generate buzz. Here’s a sampling of items that ran as summer turned to fall.
Though many of us wilted in August’s heat and humidity, our august Internet Hall of Famers managed to stay mighty cool the in news media worldwide. Here are just a few examples:
China Central TV began airing a 10-episode documentary on the development of the Internet. It features, of course, Vint Cerf, Robert E. Kahn, Tim Berners-Lee, and other Internet luminaries, all of whom are enshrined in the pantheon of the Internet Hall of Fame.