RALEIGH — Researchers in N.C. State University’s Department of Computer Science say they have developed a new data transfer protocol for the Internet that make current broadband speeds pale in comparison.

The protocol is named BIC-TCP, which stands for Binary Increase Congestion Transmission Control Protocol, or just BIC for short. It was invented by researchers at N.C. State.

Injong Rhee, associate professor of computer science, said BIC can achieve speeds roughly 6,000 times that of DSL and 150,000 times that of current modems. Rhee and his colleagues recently presented a paper on their findings in Hong Kong at Infocom 2004, the 23rd meeting of the Institution of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Communications Society.

Typically, Rhee said, “Data are collected at a remote location and need to be shipped to labs where scientists can perform analyses and create high-performance visualizations of the data.” But he says the problem is the inherent limitations of regular TCP.

“TCP was originally designed in the 1980s when Internet speeds were much slower and bandwidths much smaller,” said Rhee. “Now we are trying to apply it to networks that have several orders of magnitude more available bandwidth.”

Rhee and his team have been working on developing BIC for the past year, although he has been researching network congestion solutions for at least a decade. The key to BIC’s speed, Rhee said, is that it uses a binary search approach that allows for rapid detection of maximum network capacities with minimal loss of information.

“What takes TCP two hours to determine, BIC can do in less than one second,” Rhee said. The greatest challenge for the new protocol, he added, was to fill the pipe fast without denying other protocols. “It’s a tough balance.”

With BIC, Rhee and other researchers at N.C. State say they can more readily visualize, monitor and control real-time simulations and experiments conducted at remote computing clusters. This could lead to improved applications from telemedicine and real-time environmental monitoring to business operations and multi-user gaming. They say BIC might even help avoid a national disaster, such as the recent blackout that affected large areas of the eastern U.S. and Canada.

Regardless, with network speeds doubling roughly annually, Rhee said the performances he and his team have demonstrated of the new BIC protocol could become commonly available in the next few years, setting a new standard for the Internet.

N.C. State Computer Science: www.csc.ncsu.edu