Boletín de Junio de 2004
Boletín Informativo

LambdaRail Fiber-Optic Network Gains 6 New Members, Enough to Go National




A consortium of research universities that is creating an $80-million fiber-optic computer network announced on Wednesday that it had added six members, enough to extend the network to most portions of the country.

The system, called the National LambdaRail, initially will operate four separate national computer networks, each with a capacity equal to the most powerful national research network now in operation, the Abilene network operated by the Internet2 organization. LambdaRail will accomplish that feat by transmitting data over four different wavelengths of light. Each wavelength will be able to carry as much data as Abilene, and the fiber-optic network eventually could offer 40 such wavelengths.

The consortium of research universities owns the LambaRail network. Other research networks, like Abilene, instead have used leased telecommunications lines. Thomas W. West, president and chief executive of National LambdaRail, said groups of scholars -- like physicists around the world who want to collaborate with one another -- eventually may be able to lease wavelengths for their own use.

LambdaRail is being constructed from unused fiber-optic lines sold or donated by telecommunications companies and network equipment sold to the consortium at a steep discount by Cisco Systems Inc., an Internet-network company.

The consortium is selecting its network links according to the locations of its members, which must each pay $5-million over five years. "We're sort of following the money," said Mr. West.

Since the first segment of the network, running from Pittsburgh to Chicago, became operational, in November, the network has added service to several other cities, including Atlanta; Portland, Ore.; Raleigh, N.C.; Seattle; Sunnyvale, Calif.; and Washington. The network is scheduled to be completed by the spring of 2005.

Four of the new members are consortia or state education bodies: the Louisiana Board of Regents, the Oklahoma State Board of Regents, the Texas Lonestar Education and Research Network, and the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. The latter group will provide connections for institutions in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming.

The other two new members are individual institutions: Cornell University and the University of New Mexico.

Officials at Cornell hope to share their connection -- and its cost -- with other institutions. Other colleges in New York and New England, and computer networks serving those regions, were unable to find the funds to join LambdaRail on their own, said Polley Ann McClure, Cornell's chief information officer. But with Cornell's having made the upfront commitment, the others avoid having to commit the full $5-million, making it cheaper for them to join, she said.

With enough partners, Cornell's cost could drop to $100,000 annually, she said. Cornell will save at least that amount from other savings on its network costs, made possible by routing some of its Internet traffic along the same fiber-optic line that will connect the Ithaca campus with National LambdaRail's facility in New York City.