UCF’s Lake Nona researchers have joined a nationwide partnership to fund and develop a national broadband network that will increase network speeds up to one gigabyte per second, about 10 times faster than current networks used by UCF and other institutions.
The lightning-quick network will allow scientists and other personnel to share their research, information and theories over a broader and quicker network, allowing for more efficient research and development.
“It’s basically a plan to fund and arrange for significant bandwidth increases across the nation up to one gigabyte,” said Eric Hicks, director of information technology for Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute. “When you make that level of bandwidth available to researchers, it becomes unique. People can exchange data much faster, and that means research is done more quickly and efficiently.”
Announced last Thursday at the White House, the project is part of the US Ignite partnership, a nonprofit coalition funded by its independent members. Members of US Ignite include local governments, universities and technology companies such as Cisco and Hewlett-Packard. The National Science Foundation has also donated $20 million to help fund the project. According to its official website, US Ignite plans to devote the project to research on education and workforce development, advanced manufacturing, health, transportation, public safety and clean energy.
In Florida, UCF’s Lake Nona facility and Florida LambdaRail, LLC, a coalition that helps network state research and education, have signed on to the initiative. Thaddeus Seymour Jr., the vice president of Health and Life Service Investments for Lake Nona, said the project is an effort to help local researchers join forces and easily collaborate with one another.
“Our belief is that this network and this kind of technology will attract the best talent and the best researchers in the area,” Seymour said.
He further emphasized that the effects of the network will reduce research budgets and increase sharing of resources among scientists.
The new network will operate at a symmetrical speed of one gigabyte per second, meaning both uploads and downloads will have this speed. For comparison, a typical cable modem operates at about 10 megabits per second. Medical City partners operate at a suitable speed of 100 megabits per second, but the increased bandwidth provided by the network will allow them to share and transmit data much more rapidly with distant partners.
“It will allow telemedicine, radiology, all through networks. Any kind of high-definition, compressed video will be able to be transmitted,” Seymour said.
“It sits within the mission of Florida LambdaRail,” said Rick Maxey, director of external affairs for the company. “Our mission is to facilitate the most advanced network for our members so they can participate in some of the front-edge research and development in the country.”
Another advantage of the broadband network, Hicks said, is that it will allow new applications to be developed in related fields, applications inconceivable with currently available technology. To him, it’s the most important aspect of this new initiative.
“When you make that level of bandwidth available to researchers, it becomes unique,” Hicks said. “It’s all going to enable unique applications that only work over high-bandwidth networks.”
Hicks compares it to the explosion of applications that the Internet ushered in when it gained popularity, citing examples such as Facebook, email and e-commerce as products of new technology that we couldn’t have predicted beforehand.
“It’s hard to know anything about these applications [that will come from the new network],” he said. “It will enable application types that we haven’t even thought of yet.”
Planning and implementation of the network will begin later this summer and throughout the fall semester, Seymour said.
“If everybody else doesn’t have it, then you go back to the least common denominator,” Hicks said. “Once it becomes the standard, you get the application development where things change significantly. You wouldn’t have Facebook or Twitter without a lot of people on the Internet.”
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