Apr 13, 2007
The United States military is planning to launch a communications satellite that is a dedicated Internet router by the year 2009. The way the Net works right now, some communications satellites are involved in handling net.traffic but there are two major differences from how they want to start doing it: First of all, net.traffic goes from the ground up to a comsat and then is retransmitted to another downlink on the ground; the IRIS project will route traffic from comsat to comsat, something that hasn't been done before. Secondly, traffic is transmitted on fixed communications channels; the IRIS satellites (designed by Cisco and Intelsat (a company whose works were just in the news for other reasons)) will pick whichever frequencies in whichever bands are least heavily loaded at the moment, which is much more efficient. The router will probably implement Quality of Service for handling voice and video traffic, and will have IP multicasting support (which I don't think will be turned on all the time due to how much bandwidth that would use).
The project will have a three year testing phase, after which it'll be opened to commercial net.traffic.
I just hope that they set a password on the 'enable' account before it goes live.