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Abstract -- Use of Audio and Video on the Internet Application Technology Track
A8: Multimedia Interface to Cyberspace

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Use of Audio and Video on the Internet

Muirden, Richard ( richard@rmit.edu.au)


The Internet has brought everyone closer together, and high speed networks make distance irrelevant. The formation of real time protocols and applications make Audio and Video transmission, in real time, a reality.

The usefulness of global real time video conferencing is obvious: meetings, and workgroups scattered in different places can easily come together to work at much less cost than conventional methods. Data can easily be shared on network based whiteboards, and so on.

However such technology comes with a price: bandwidth.

With more and more people joining the Internet every day, and the cost of high performance, multimedia equiped PC's and Macs (not to menion workstations like the SGI Indy) rapidly becomming affordable to more and more people, the growth rate of use of these high bandwidth applications is likely to rise rapidly in the near future.

With expanded usage of such high bandwidth applications consideration must be given to the effects on the Internet and it's users. Will Audio and Video overload the Internet with sheer volume of traffic? And if so, what can or should be done about it? With the internet termed as a "controlled anarchy" where basic freedom is given to each and every user, where does the policy come from, and how should it be implemented? In Software? In protocols? And who is to say how much is enough?

Issues arising from these questions include subjective questions such as what is good use of the Internet? For example, is broadcasting a live rock concert a good thing or just a waste of bandwidth compared to a conference such as the IETF. Will the internet become a proxy cable-TV station offering Radio and Television of sorts, or should it be limited to strictly 'useful' activities such as video conferencing and broadcasts of a nature to benefit listeners. And then who is to determine what is and isn't to be considered a proper event for transmission on the Internet? What about transmission of material which is illegal in some countries that the internet reaches?

One of the biggest issues involved is that of control. It is impossible to limit usage of applications once they become available, What can be done about this, and do we as Internet users have the right to tell other users how to use or not use such products? Do we attempt to gain control via the software being used or try and promote a 'rational' network setup? Or do we simply leave it to each Network to sort solve the problem in their own way?

This paper will explore the issues discussed with reference to past, present and future Internet usage. The conclusions gathered aim to aid development of an "Internet Policy" or "etiquette" for the future.