Backbone: Infrastructure for data exchange
If network structures are to be comprehensively networked, a special infrastructure is often required for data exchange. One such infrastructure is the backbone network. This network forms the basis of modern telecommunication networks. The fast data transmission rate makes the backbone a high-performance network that acts as the main structure in the overall network. Many different types of connection are possible, for example, for individual terminals or terminal clusters, local subnets, LAN networks, private branch exchanges or terminal networks. These systems and networks are interconnected via backbone. To ensure high transmission rates, a fiber optic network is often used for backbone. This converts the data into light waves so that even large volumes of data can be forwarded extremely quickly. If no terrestrial backbones are available, data transmission via satellite is used. Bandwidths of 10Gbit/s are possible today, and in some cases the backbones can offer even higher data transmission speeds.
Backbone in telecommunications
In the early days of the Internet, the Internet backbone was the main network connecting all parts. The ARPANET, which was developed by the U.S. Air Force, was originally used. It is considered the precursor of today’s Internet. ARPANET has long been a thing of the past, but backbone is still used today in all areas of telecommunications for supraregional data networks. For example, the individual backbone networks connect the individual network nodes of a DSL provider to form a complete network with redundant crossing points. The nodes are linked several times, so even failures of individual lines or nodes do not cause the entire network to collapse, since the failed capacities can be quickly replaced or bridged. The fiber optic cables are interconnected for this purpose; these points are also referred to as “Point of presence” (PoPs). The nodes serve as transition points to access networks, for example to the networks of other providers. Other nodes are responsible solely for operating the backbone.
Control of the backbone strands
How data is fed into the backbone and distributed is determined in computer centers. Here, for example, it is decided which strand currently enables the fastest data transmission to the customer. This may or may not be the shortest path. Relevant for the actual transmission speed are the number of points of presence, the bandwidth and the performance of the routers. The distances between the network nodes are also decisive for the data transmission rate. Currently, more than 100 operators, so-called carriers, control the existing backbone networks and act as service providers for the Internet providers. These services are primarily used by Internet operators who do not operate their own main networks. The provision and operation of a backbone involves a great deal of effort and high costs and poses major technical and logistical challenges for the operators. The largest and best-known backbone operator in Germany is Deutsche Telekom.
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