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100 Gigabit Network Proposal Gets Federal Funding

The national broadband plan promoted in March by the Federal Communications Commission just received a federal boost. A group of national research and education networking organizations will be the recipients of $62.5 million from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. The funds, awarded through the agency's Broadband Technology Opportunities Program, will pay for construction of the so-called "middle mile," a high-speed national network backbone to link regional networks.

Participants in the proposal being funded include Internet2, National LambdaRail, Indiana University's Network Operations Center, and the Northern Tier Network Consortium. The group has proposed the construction of the United States Unified Community Anchor Network (US UCAN), an advanced 100 Gbps network. Networking vendors Ciena, Cisco, Infinera, and Juniper Networks will supplement the grant with an estimated $34.3 million in product, service, and financial contributions.

This coast-to-coast infrastructure is intended to connect 100,000 community anchor institutions--schools, libraries, community colleges, health centers, and public safety organizations--to enable advanced applications, such as telemedicine and distance learning. More specifically, the project will eventually tie together anchor networks funded by the Broadband Technology program, linking them to 66,000 anchors using Internet2 and NLR's networks. The proposal states that the initiative will add 11,811 100 Gbps-capable route miles and will upgrade 10,000 existing network route miles to 100 Gbps. The proposed network is wireline fiber-optic cable and will be built under both IPv6 and IPv4 protocols.

The network will provide services to community anchors through a new non-profit, also called US UCAN, which will be directed and governed by the stakeholders in the project--the consortium of research and education entities and community anchor institutions.

"The importance of this project to expand high performance network work access to thousands of additional sites, especially in rural and underserved areas, cannot be underestimated," said Indiana University Associate vice president for Networks Dave Jent. "These new capabilities will be key in our country's economic recovery and sustainability and will allow us a greater competitive advantage on a global scale. [Indiana U] is delighted to bring more than 10 years of experience in managing national and international networks to this initiative."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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