Tech On Board

Next generation Internet rail solely for research

Georgia Tech and a consortium of universities are forming alliances to tap thousands of miles of dark fiber cable – a fiber-optic cable that is not carrying a signal – buried by telecommunications companies at the height of internet boom.

The universities, research agencies and leading-edge technology companies already have leased more than 10,000 miles of surplus dark fiber-optic cable from telecommunications companies and are preparing to initiate National LambdaRail, a high-speed, next-generation netweork dedicated solely to research.

Ron Hutchings, cheif technology officer and associate vice provost for research and technology at Tech, and Brian Savory, director of the Southern Light Rail project, briefed the Georgia Senate Higher Education Committee about the project in March.

“The purpose of the NLR is to access, exchange and process huge quantities of scientific ad research data to this consortium which will allow breakthroughs in research and development in biotechnology, advanced communications and nanotechnology, the focal areas of Georgia Research Alliance,” Hutchins says.

The state’s six research universities – Georgia Tech, Georgia State University, Clark Atlanta University, the Medical College of Georgia, Emory University and the University of Georgia – have been invited to join the regional network initiative that will connect to the National LambdaRail from a node at Tech.

Savory says the most pressing matter is forming strategic alliances with companies that have access to dark fiber cable, placed at the height of the Internet boom when many companies overestimated the demand. Not long ago, this equipment was very expensive, but today’s equipment is affordable and much easier to maintain.

In March, the link between Pittsburg and Chicago went live and by early June the link between Atlanta, Raleigh, N.C, and Washington, D.C., should be activated.