Startup Touts Service to Make Web More
By Eric Lai
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A San Francisco start-up announced
on Monday a new interactivity-enhancing service that will allow
publishers to continually update their sites with real-time
while consuming a minimum of network bandwidth.
Bang Networks says its service will allow Web publishers to
update things like sports scores, stock prices, or auction bid
prices, without forcing an entire Web
page to be ''reloaded'' by the Internet user.
The service is reminiscent of another once-promising Internet
technology called ``push'' that emerged
four years ago amid similar claims by proponents that it would
enhance interactivity on Web sites. Push
fizzled out soon afterward, as users complained of information
overload while companies blamed push
broadcasts for slowing down other network traffic to crawl.
Bang executives say they have solved most of the technical
problems associated with push.
``Push was infamous because it would bring down networks by
clogging them,'' said Tim Tuttle, a
co-founder and chief technical officer for Bang. ``We reduce
Bang, along with Silicon Valley, Calif.-based Fine Ground
Networks, which is offering a similar
service, are both betting that Web sites will be attracted by
the ability to provide increased interaction
between Web site and user, a long-time goal of most Web
publishers that has yet to be realized, while
saving them money.
``This is really interesting and innovative, and really expands
the possibilities for providing rapidly
changing information,'' said Peter Christy, an analyst at
Internet market research firm Jupiter
Backed by technology heavyweights, including Netscape
Communications co-founder Marc
Andreessen and MIT technology guru Nicholas Negroponte, Bang has
already signed up Web site
operators like Dow Jones (http://www.dowjones.com), CBS
(http://www.sportsline.com), and Excite Inc.
(http://www.excite.com), to test or use its content delivery
Bang was conceived by Tuttle and other computer scientists at
the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology (news - web sites) two years ago.
Today's typical Web page is heavy on graphics and pictures, with
hundreds of individual elements that
could take up hundreds of kilobytes of data.
But a user who presses ``Reload'' on his Web browser in order to
obtain the most-up-to-date stock
price or sports score theoretically would not need to download
the entire Web page again, but only the
tiny amount of data that has changed.
Bang enables this, by keeping a live but dormant connection to
all of the users of a particular Web site.
Whenever the Web publisher updates the Web page, it also sends
the updates to Bang's nationwide
US network of router hardware. These routers then send invisible
updates of the Web page to each
live user, without forcing him or her to ``reload'' it.
Items that Web publishers want updated, such as a scoreboard, a
stock price ticker, even a rotating
banner advertisement -- only need to have their ``tags''
slightly modified to work with Bang.
``We think Bang has the potential to save us a lot of
bandwidth,'' said Dan Leichtenschlag, chief
technology officer for CBS SportsLine.com (NasdaqNM:SPLN -
news), the popular sports news
CBS SportsLine is testing the Bang service for live updating of
sports scores. Its current system, which
relies on a Java-programmed platform that experts have said can
occasionally be susceptible to
hiccups, also swallows up massive amounts of bandwidth around
920 megabits per second during the
peak of the NCAA (news - web sites) basketball tournament
``March Madness (news - web sites)''
last month, said Leichtenschlag.
Bang's service does not conflict with caching services like
Akamai Technologies Inc.
(NasdaqNM:AKAM - news) which accelerate download speeds for Web
sites, and could even be
used in conjunction, Tuttle said.
Prices of the Bang service start at around $2,000 per month,
rising with the more Web page items that
a Web publisher wishes to continually refresh.
-- ======================================================================== Strata Rose Chalup [KF6NBZ] strata "@" virtual.net VirtualNet Consulting http://www.virtual.net/ ** Project Management & Architecture for ISP/ASP Systems Integration ** =========================================================================
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