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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Web's Most Powerful Site Set Up




WASHINGTON -- Organizers for this weekend's NetAid charity concerts are building what they describe as the world's most powerful Internet site, a technological wonder that could mark a milestone in the evolution of the web as a broadcast medium.


If the NetAid web site, at www.netaid.org, were a virtual bus transporting listeners on the Internet who couldn't attend Saturday's concerts in New York, London and Geneva, it would be a rocket-propelled vehicle with 10 million seats.


But to be successful, the site must dramatically surpass the Internet's recent disappointing failings when huge numbers of consumers rush the same web sites simultaneously.


A virtual lingerie fashion show earlier this year by Victoria's Secret, hyped during the American football's Super Bowl and in U.S. newspaper ads, frustrated millions who couldn't watch because of technical problems or saw only grainy, jerky video.


Other web sites strained when millions turned online for copies of Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr's graphically explicit report on U.S. President Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky.


Saturday's performers will include Sheryl Crow, Puff Daddy, Sting, David Bowie, Jewel and The Black Crowes. The charity concerts, to be broadcast on MTV, VH-1 and the BBC as well as across the Internet, are aimed at eliminating global poverty.


Organizers said the NetAid site, fueled by 1,500 powerful server computers in 90 locations worldwide, will use a relatively new "distributed network model" that will automatically direct each viewer's web browsing software like a traffic cop toward empty lanes on a data highway.


It's unclear whether the web site will even approach its limits.


Engineers said they can handle 10 million simultaneous viewers of the concert broadcast and 60 million "hits" to the site every hour, a figure 10 times higher than peak online visits during the last Olympics. By contrast, the Victoria's Secret fashion show was able to accommodate 500,000 simultaneous viewers.


Cisco expects several hundred million people worldwide to watch the concerts on television and cable.