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Delay-tolerant network

(also Disruption-tolerant network, DTN)

Delay-tolerant network definition

A Delay-tolerant network (DTN) operates effectively in environments with unreliable connectivity, using a “store-and-forward” technique to handle communication disruptions. It is well-suited for challenging scenarios like space communications, remote regions, and disaster zones.

See also: byzantine fault tolerance, propagation delay

History of delay-tolerant network

Delay-tolerant networks originated in the late 1990s for space communication to address signal delays and disruptions. These networks use store-and-forward methods, proving effective in environments with unstable connections.

Their application has since expanded to remote areas, disaster recovery, and military operations. The convergence with mobile technology furthered DTN development, adapting them for mobile ad hoc networks (MANETs).

Examples of a delay-tolerant network

  • Interplanetary internet. Developed for space missions, this DTN enables communication between Earth and spacecraft, accommodating the long delays and disruptions inherent in interplanetary distances.
  • Wildlife tracking networks. In remote wildlife reserves, DTNs are used to collect data from sensors attached to animals.
  • Disaster response networks. After natural disasters, when traditional communication infrastructure is often damaged, DTNs facilitate emergency communications.