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RFC 567 - Cross Country Network Bandwidth

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Network Working Group                             L. Peter Deutsch  (PARC-MAXC)
Request for Comments: 567                                     September 6, 1973
NIC #18970


The following computation of cross-country network bandwidth was
contributed by Butler Lampson of PARC.

Consider what happens when a TIP user on the West Coast, connected to a
full-duplex Host on the East Coast, strikes a key on his terminal.

The TIP sends a one-character message (1 packet).

The destination IMP sends a RFNM (1 packet).

The destination Host sends an ALLocate - this seems to be the strategy
used by TENEX Hosts, at least (1 packet).

Thc TIP sends a RFNM for the ALLocate (1 packet).

The same sequence repeats itself, with roles interchanged, for the echo
character (4 packets).

This constitutes 4 packets or 4OOO bits in each direction. The current
cross-country transmission capability of the ARPANET is 3 5OKb phone
lines; ergo, it can only support 3*50000/4000=37.5 such characters per

It may be that RFNMs are transmitted between IMPs more efficiently; at
best this can only double the network capacity.

This computation may help explain why cross-country TIP users (e.g. the
substantial West Coast community of BBN-TENEX users) experience such
bad echo response, at least in bursts: the network itself may be
experiencing momentary peak loads.

If this argument is correct, the proposed remote echoing facilities of
the new TELNET protocol could have a major effect on network operation.


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