Broadband Communities

JAN-FEB 2012

BROADBAND COMMUNITIES is the leading source of information on digital and broadband technologies for buildings and communities. Our editorial aims to accelerate the deployment of Fiber-To-The-Home and Fiber-To-The-Premises.

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NE X T - GENER AT ION A P P L I C AT IONS US Ignite And The Internet of Tomorrow A public-private partnership launched by the U.S. government hopes to spark the applications that will run on the networks of the future. By Masha Zager ■ Broadband Communities H ow many times have you read that "new broadband applications we can't even imag- ine" will revolutionize health care (or educa- tion, or public safety)? Why hasn't this hap- pened yet? Next-generation applications promise to change people's lives dramatically, yet developers aren't bringing them to market because so few networks can support them. In turn, providers don't build next-generation networks because so few applica- tions require them. For any one piece to move forward, an entire ecosystem must be in place. Tis chicken-and-egg dilemma is a theme familiar to BROADBAND COMMUNITIES readers. Some organizations, such as Google and Chattanooga EPB, are building large-scale, gigabit-capable networks and hoping applications will follow. However, because building networks is expensive and risky and investors are no longer exuberant, the number of networks that can be built in this way is limited. Aggregating markets for next-gen applications offers another possible path out of the dilemma. Te Gig.U project featured in the August/September 2011 issue of BROADBAND COMMUNITIES is working to aggregate several dozen university communities, including faculty, students and research spin-off businesses. Participants hope their combined demand for advanced services will attract both network builders and application developers. Tis approach, though exciting, remains to be proven. A third approach is to accelerate the development of next- generation applications, as the new US Ignite project plans to do. Glenn Ricart, chief technology officer for US Ignite, de- scribes this as a "pull" strategy, in contrast to Gig.U's "push" strategy. Of course, all three strategies dovetail nicely – several network-first communities have already joined US Ignite, and, as Ricart comments, "Gig.U would love to have our applica- tions in their cities, and we would like the Gig.U cities to have infrastructure on which our applications will shine." PROMOTING TECHNOLOGY LEADERSHIP Te White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) started US Ignite in 2011 as a way to promote U.S. technology lead- ership. Te project grew out of the Global Environment for Network Innovations (GENI), a virtual laboratory for network APRIL 24 – 26 • INTERCONTINENTAL HOTEL – DALLAS Sue Spradley, executive director of the US Ignite project, will give the opening keynote address at the 2012 Broadband Communities Summit in Dallas, April 24. experimentation that the NSF sponsors. GENI, launched in 2008, lets telecommunications researchers in 14 universities link their networks, insulate experimental "slices" of the com- bined networks and then test new network technologies on a large scale. GENI projects have yielded breakthroughs in basic research as well as precommercial product development. US Ignite will build on GENI by physically linking the 14 academic networks to 10 or 15 communitywide fiber and advanced wireless networks. (Most of these connections will likely be made through regional research and educational net- works.) Linking the networks will create a huge test bed in which institutional, government, business and, in some cases, residential users can test new applications. So far, public or nonprofit network operators in six communities – Chatta- nooga, Tenn.; Cleveland, Ohio; Lafayette, La.; Philadelphia, Pa; Washington, D.C.; and the UTOPIA region in Utah – have offered to take part, and US Ignite staff are encouraging additional communities to join. Te project will focus on six categories of applications that could yield significant public benefits in areas of national pri- ority: health care, education, workforce development, public About the Author Masha Zager is the editor of BROADBAND COMMUNITIES. You can reach her at 64 | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2012

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