Expansion of Existing Research and Education Networks Are Key to Accelerating FCC National Broadband Plan Vision
Ann Arbor, MI and Cypress, CA - March 16, 2010 -- The Internet2 and National LambdaRail (NLR) communities strongly commend the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for emphasizing the importance of providing advanced broadband to community anchor institutions in its National Broadband Plan. The FCC plan outlines the goal of providing these institutions with one Gigabit per second (Gbps) connections as well as support for the development of a “Unified Community Anchor Network” (UCAN) that could be built leveraging existing non-profit research and education networks like Internet2 and NLR and their partner regional networks. UCAN would be dedicated to providing high-capacity nationwide connections for universities, schools, libraries, community colleges, healthcare providers, public safety entities, public media and other “community anchor institutions” across the country.
The FCC plan recognizes that these institutions have broadband needs that are substantially different than the needs of residential consumers and require far different capabilities in order to fulfill their missions and spur economic growth and opportunity. As the FCC recognizes in its plan, the nation does not have to start from scratch to connect the over 200,000 community anchor institutions across the country.
The FCC National Broadband Plan states, “In the past, the connectivity needs of research institutions have been met by non-profit research and education (R&E) networks such as Internet2 and National LambdaRail. R&E networks played a central role in the development and growth of the Internet itself through ARPANET and later NSFNET. Today, similar R&E networks provide high-speed (10 Mbps-1 Gbps) connectivity to 66,000 community anchor institutions. But more can be done—it is estimated that only one-third of anchor institutions have access to an R&E network today. This model should be expanded to other community institutions . . . . Expanding the R&E network model to other anchor institutions would offer tremendous benefits.”
Almost fifteen years ago, universities banded together to create a structure of university-led non-profit R&E networks at the national, regional and state levels. National R&E backbones operated by Internet2 and NLR together with over 30 regional R&E networks connect an estimated 66,000 community anchor institutions across the country with very high performance, open networks engineered to meet the vast bandwidth needs of these organizations.
As the FCC plan suggests, building on the extensive investment the research and education community has already made in national network infrastructure and leveraging the human expertise and collaborations they have already developed would greatly accelerate the delivery of UCAN to all of the nation’s community anchor institutions. The R&E community detailed such a recommendation in a filing to the FCC in January 2010 (see: www.bit.ly/b767KX)
Glenn Ricart, NLR president and CEO, said, “At NLR we’ve seen based on our own experience how state, regional and national networks can collaborate to create a seamless, national broadband platform that has helped produce a quantum leap in research and education productivity. We applaud the FCC for recognizing that equipping our community anchor institutions with 1-Gigabit or higher connectivity to each other and to state and national resources will similarly enable our schools, libraries, healthcare providers and other community-based organizations to be more productive and to deliver an enhanced array of services. NLR enthusiastically supports the FCC’s bold vision for a National Broadband Plan and stands ready to work with all parties to consider how the existing network assets and expertise of the research and education community can contribute to making UCAN a reality.”
Doug Van Houweling, Internet2 president and CEO, said, “For over twenty years, students, faculty and researchers in our community have been using emerging broadband technologies to work together in virtual classrooms and collaborate in global laboratories. The FCC's National Broadband Plan will help enable the same life-changing technologies at community anchor institutions nationwide. We look forward to working with the FCC to ensure that this visionary plan benefits fully from the existing network investments, leading-edge applications development, and technical expertise residing in the research and education community."
Peter Siegel, CIO and vice provost of Information & Educational Technology for the University of California Davis, said, “When we consider the wealth of data coming online from across the community—electronic medical records, vast sky survey and physics data, genome sequencing, as well as data on the natural forces that surround us—we are at a real tipping point, where researchers, policy makers, students, critical service providers, and health care workers will be able to generate and depend on timely, effective, and in many cases life saving, information that will be available instantly. The FCC’s clear vision and goals are the catalyst for moving us forward, by ensuring that the community anchor institutions are able to join together in a sustainable way to create, use, and build on these unprecedented and priceless sources of information.”
Robert Musgrove, president of Pine Technical College, said, “Our rural community & technical colleges are the anchor institutions that are critical in any effort to expand Internet2-level broadband into under-served rural communities. The FCC’s National Broadband Plan recognizes that reality and represents a major strategic step forward in bringing rural America onboard to realize the benefits of high speed Internet connectivity. A unified community anchor network is a solid and achievable tactic for this important strategy.”
Carol Willis, manager of the Texas Education Telecommunications Network (TETN) which is dedicated to serving the K12 community in Texas; and Kim Owen, advanced applications coordinator, North Dakota State University and the North Dakota Statewide Technology Access for Government and Education network said, “The research and education community has for close to a decade promoted the use of advanced networks among the K20 community by providing state education networks access to nationwide research and education networks – creating, in essence, a ‘National Education Grid.’ A unified community anchor network that builds on this success represents an opportunity to not only reach many more community anchor institutions in the US but also expand the diverse collaborative community of K20 innovators and expertise developed by our national initiative and others.”
National Emergency Number Association (NENA) CEO Brian Fontes said, “The transition to Next Generation 9-1-1 and emergency communications systems depends on access to specialized high-capacity broadband networks like those operated by the research and education community today. The development and availability of a community anchor network for public safety is an important step toward making a nationwide Next Generation 9-1-1 system a reality.”
Carla Smith, executive vice president of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) said, “Providing reliable high speed broadband that builds on the success of the research and education community is critical to improving the quality, safety of - and access to - healthcare and is necessary to ensure the successful deployment of health information technology across the US.”
Christa Werle, electronic services coordinator for Sno-Isle Libraries in Washington state, said, “Increasingly, our patrons are coming to the library in search of media-rich interactive online content and experiences often not available in their homes. Simultaneously, in addition to traditional print resources, libraries are offering more downloadable and streaming content requiring robust broadband connectivity to access. Moving forward, the creation of UCAN will help libraries provide the online experiences that our students, job searchers, small-business owners, and families need and want.”
Dr. Timothy Lance, president and chair of NYSERNet, the regional research and education network serving the State of New York, said, “The FCC has embedded in policy the role that community anchor institutions and the networks that served them have played in advancing the state of the art of networking, from the first public use of the Internet protocol with NSFNET and creation of the original regional networks a quarter century ago, to building the first ISPs by the regionals shortly thereafter, to deployment of modern optical networks and network technologies today. This plan helps sustain the extraordinary symbiosis here between this research and education networking community and their mission driven ability to experiment with the network’s future, and the carrier and technology community with which we have worked.”
Internet2 is an advanced networking consortium led by the research and education community. An exceptional partnership spanning U.S. and international institutions who are leaders in the worlds of research, academia, industry and government, Internet2 is developing breakthrough cyberinfrastructure technologies that support the most exacting applications of today—and spark the most essential innovations of tomorrow. Led by its members and focused on their current and future networking needs since 1996, Internet2 blends its human, IP and optical networks to develop and deploy revolutionary Internet technologies. Activating the same partnerships that produced today’s Internet, our community is forging the Internet of the future. For more information, see http://www.internet2.edu.
About National LambdaRail (NLR)
Owned and operated by the U.S. research and education community and dedicated to serving the needs of researchers and educators, NLR is the innovation platform for some of the world’s most demanding research projects and a wide range of public-private partnerships. NLR’s coast-to-coast, high-performance network infrastructure offers unrestricted usage and bandwidth, a choice of cutting-edge network services and applications, and customized support for individual researchers and projects. For more information, please visit www.nlr.net.