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UNSW research to optimise the use of bandwidth in a network

Researchers from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) can revolutionise how network providers manage changing loads on their networks.

According to a recent press release, the research has attracted a significant investment from a London-listed company, thereby boosting how network operators monitor and classify internet traffic.

This can possibly save them costs and ultimately improve the internet experience for customers.

The Problem

Network providers monitor their internet traffic to optimise how they allocate bandwidth between different activities, such as streaming movies or web browsing, which comes at an enormous cost.

Current solutions that do this include custom hardware, which are proprietary systems that are very expensive.

Another solution would be to use software that runs on computers, but it cannot be easily scaled to handle large amounts of data.

This means that networks can only monitor a small portion of their traffic (5-10%) and make assumptions about usage from there.

Hardware is very good at doing repetitive tasks working at high speeds, while software is good at being intelligent and flexible.

The Solution

The product of Professor Vijay Sivaraman, from the University’s School of Electrical Engineering and Telecommunications and his research protégé Himal Kumar, uses a combination of these hardware and software, as well as artificial intelligence (AI) to optimise the use of bandwidth in a network.

Called the ‘Telescope’, their product examines all traffic passing through a network and in a matter of seconds, knows what it is.

The network providers will instantly see the mix of traffic on their network.

This visibility is the first key to understanding and managing the network better, to improve user experience without the need to buy more bandwidth.

When providers are able to separate hardware and software and use each in the most effective way, they can achieve full visibility into network traffic, at very high speeds for very low cost.

The technology was seeded through two research collaborations between the University and a network provider from 2016 to 2017.

This was then evaluated through a paid trial with a large telecommunications network provider in 2018, which validated its commercial opportunity.

The investment they received from the London-listed company will be used to hire software engineers in order to refine the product and cover general operating expenses.

This will be one of the company’s first investments in Australia.

Utilising talent

The University’s Dean of Engineering Professor Mark Hoffman said that it is important for researchers to focus their talents on areas with the greatest potential.

This will make a positive impact on humanity’s major challenges. Commercialisation of that research was a key step in realising that impact.

Whether it be ensuring the best use of network bandwidth such as this, or innovations in mining, energy, space or other areas, universities must focus on research and development that tackles society’s biggest challenges to achieve relevant outcomes for Australia and the world.

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