Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) Technology and Applications


Author/Creator ORCID




Citation of Original Publication

Ray, Jeffrey, Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) Technology and Applications (June 15, 1998). Available at SSRN: or


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The purpose of this paper is to summarize the Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) technology and determine where it is in its evolutionary development. Technologies that fragment data into small pieces typically have very poor performance because there is no mechanism to detect and retransmit lost cells when a piece of the data is lost in transit. The only way to recover the damaged cell is to retransmit the entire large packet again. An alternative to inefficiently retransmitting the entire packet is to only retransmit the individual cells that are lost or damaged. The ATM technology incorporates the ability to retransmit only the cells in each packet that were not received properly. It also enhances transmission performance by reducing flow control activity required at each network link. Surveying recent products serves as an effective barometer for determining how the ATM technology is evolving. State-of-the-market ATM products indicate that an ATM design solution provides unmatched speed, fault-tolerance, and scalability through multiple, meshed inter-switch connections that support load-sharing across networks. At its current point in evolutionary technological development, ATM is a key enabling communications technology that will introduce new applications to users and network providers, as well as provide higher bandwidth capacity to networks. Because of its high-bandwidth capacity and cell-oriented architecture, ATM is the dominant infrastructure for delivering virtually all types of communications, including data, voice, image, and multimedia, into the buildings and desktops of users around the world. By carefully considering critical performance issues, and accommodating existing legacy systems during ATM implementations, the telecommunications industry has insured that ATM will not only be the design solution of the future, but that it can provide cost effective applications today as well.