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Internet

Networks strained by push

A new study claims that push technologies are gobbling up excessive bandwidth on corporate networks.

    A new study adds its voice to the cry that push technologies are gobbling up excessive bandwidth on corporate networks and provides figures to support its findings.

    While push pioneers such as PointCast have been lauded for broadcasting customized news right to users' computers, a study released yesterday indicated that almost a fifth of corporate network traffic stems from push technologies. This is disproportionately high considering that push technology is only used by 12 percent of users, the study says.

    For the study, market research firm Optimal Networks collected just under 100GB of data from the PCs of 4,000 users at six unnamed Fortune 500 companies to determine trends in Internet use during a four-month period last year. The broadcast networks and home pages that generated the largest percentage of information, measured in bytes, were ranked highest. The PointCast Network and home page topped the list.

    Netscape, whose home page is the original default site for users of the Navigator browser, ranked second.

    The study noted that "Netscape's home page is extremely popular, accounting for 12 percent of network traffic generated by 70 percent of users, and yet the PointCast Network, in use by only 12 percent of users, is generating 17 percent of all traffic."

    Companies do have options that can relieve network strain. Optimal's study also concluded that employees will shift Internet use for entertainment purposes from work to home if they are aware that they are being monitored.

    Jeannette Gibson, a spokesperson for PointCast, pointed out that companies need to monitor all employee use of the Internet. They also can conserve network resources by storing copies of information on intranets rather than forcing users to reach out individually to the Internet, she said. PointCast was aware of the study but unaware of the methodology that was used to support its claims, she added.

    PointCast, pleasantly surprised by the widespread popularity of its service launched last February, has taken steps to reduce its bandwidth usage. It has released the "I-Server", a "smart" proxy server that sits behind a company's firewall and allows employees to "fetch" information without having to go through the firewall.

    The study expressed surprise that "information sites" that offer news, weather, financial updates, and search engines are far more popular with employees than entertainment sites. Even more surprising, at least to the researchers, was that "adult content" sites were viewed by only two percent of those surveyed.

    The ten sites that generated the most data on users' desktops were, in order, PointCast, Netscape, Yahoo, Adobe, ESPNet Sportszone, CNN, Yahoo Finance, Microsoft, USA Today, Quicken Financial Network, and Excite.