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US Ignite Cultivates Gigabit Apps

Jason Meyers
9/25/2014

While much of the broadband world focuses on -- and even questions the need for -- the deployment of gigabit networks, US Ignite is working with network operators and technology developers to foster the creation of applications that could best demonstrate the potentially transformative capabilities of those networks.

US Ignite is a public-private partnership between government organizations and a broad range of municipalities, municipally owned utilities, service providers and technology vendors. Partners run the gamut and include AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Ciena Corp. (NYSE: CIEN), EPB Fiber Optics , the cities of Philadelphia and San Francisco, and many more. A full list of partners is available here.

The organization was established in 2012 and is funded by a combination of government funds, membership fees and corporate contributions -- including in-kind support, like providing network facilities to be used for application testbeds or co-hosting events at corporate facilities. Its charter is to spur the creation of applications that showcase the need for gigabit networks.

"We are addressing the fundamental question of 'what good is gigabit?,'" says Joe Kochan, US Ignite's chief operating officer, who says that about 20% of the organization's financial backing comes from public funds. "We're trying to be matchmakers between the network operators out there looking for good applications and the innovators who are building them."

Debate about gigabit networks ranges from pessimism about the networks' ability to spur economic development in communities to dismissal of the need for the high-speed bandwidth they promise. US Ignite's aim is to quell naysayers on all fronts by showing ways the networks can be used. "It will start to explain to people why these networks are so necessary," Kochan says. (See Gigabit Nets Boost GDP, Says FTTH Council and Gigabit: What Is It Good For?)


For the latest on Gigabit Cities, visit Light Reading's broadband/FTTx content channel.


US Ignite currently is pursuing 40 to 50 development projects, Kochan says, with a goal of helping take about 60 to actual use within the organization's first five years of existence. The applications range from telemedicine and remote sensing for healthcare to augmented reality training for first responders to real-time security monitoring for power grids.

Independent industry analyst Craig Settles, who follows the gigabit networks trend closely and hosts an online radio show called Gigabit Nation, says US Ignite's activity could help prove the utility of gigabit networks, including those partially funded by government stimulus programs.

"The value of any of these networks is primarily dependent on what people do with them," Settles says. "If you can create an environment in which you can accelerate the development of applications, you accelerate the payback for the network."

To that end, Kochan says, US Ignite's primary aim is to help create applications that could make an impact in the public sector.

"We tend to focus on applications with public benefit," he says. "We think the real power of these networks is going to come from solving complex problems in areas like healthcare and education."

— Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Utility Communications/IoT, Light Reading

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mendyk
mendyk
9/25/2014 | 10:08:51 AM
Fields of focus
Jason -- US Ignite sounds like it's as much about vertical market cultivation as about the network. That's probably a much more difficult mandate, but probably the more important one.
jasonmeyers
jasonmeyers
9/25/2014 | 10:20:08 AM
Re: Fields of focus
Absolutely. Gigabit network uquiquity is obviously critical, but efforts like this could really move the conversation beyond high-speed video streaming and the "why a gig?" questions.

Here's a link to a video the organization produced out of a recent summit, which shows some of the apps being developed and tested. 

  
brooks7
brooks7
9/25/2014 | 10:27:01 AM
Re: Fields of focus
You know every one of my servers in the data center and every vm @ amazon are connected by at least gigabit. Really the question I always ask is why people have server rooms anymore. You have literally dozens of network vendors, massive connectivity, physical security, power reliability, and similar issues already handled. I think that is the bigger issue. I think that thinking we need to bring gigabit to most premises is an outmoded way of deploying IT services in most cases. Even the case in the other thread where gigabit gave a 2 minute upload time means a DS3 would be about an hour. If the file was going from a DC, it might have taken under a minute. Seven
smkinoshita
smkinoshita
9/25/2014 | 2:26:25 PM
Re: Fields of focus
"...dismissal of the need for the high-speed bandwidth they promise. "

Because 64K of RAM should be enough for anybody, right?  Honestly the naysayers just sound resistant to change to me, but that's just my opinion.
Phil_Britt
Phil_Britt
9/25/2014 | 5:38:53 PM
Re: Fields of focus
You're absolutely right with that example. The need for speed will continue to be unmet. -- the faster speeds that are available, the more quicikly peopel will want even large data files. The determining factor will be how much people are willing to spend for the speed. At some level, there won't be the business case to add any more speed. But I don't think we're near there yet.
MarkC73
MarkC73
9/26/2014 | 7:03:54 AM
Re: Fields of focus
I'm all for change and most of the time excited by it.  I would like to focus on the residential consumer, what services or future applications say in the next 3-5 years will need more than 500mbps to the typical household?

What I'm getting at is that for the non-business sector (ie low margin), there's a great deal of the infrastructure that needs improving as well as innovation.  4k videos at 10-15 mbps, even peer to peer activities would be challenged to fill a 500 mbps pipe consistently and for sustained periods of time.  Also the cloud you pull from at times can also be a bottleneck.  I'm typing as I'm waiting for some home servers to patch, I'm on a 50/10 connection but the 'fastest mirror' only allots a small fraction of that.

Outside of things like transporters and undeveloped (or I guess I should say underdeveloped) video services, I'm curious what other future applications are being targeted for the home consumer.  Again don't get me wrong, for business, medical, and education Giges aren't even enough anymore or can easily be consumed with technology already developed, but I'm curious what's in store for me personally as a home consumer.
kq4ym
kq4ym
9/27/2014 | 5:41:40 PM
Re: Fields of focus
Good points...just how much will customers be willing to spend for speed? It may well be that as we all become accustomed to blazing hot connections and mega big files and multi-media that we'll just get used to the rising costs. It's interesting that  "20% of the organization's financial backing comes from public funds" and how that backing may either help or hinder the effort if there's some agenda that the public agencies want that the companies aren't too keen upon.
Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner
9/29/2014 | 1:04:10 PM
Re: Fields of focus
What are some examples of apps that requre gigabit Internet?
jasonmeyers
jasonmeyers
10/1/2014 | 5:49:19 PM
Re: Fields of focus
Mitch, there are several US Ignite examples in the video I posted several days ago. you can find it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1XAaToT5lY

More examples on their website. 
Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner
10/3/2014 | 5:12:08 PM
Re: Fields of focus
Thanks, Jason! I am intrigued by this problem. I do not deny that more bandwidth is good -- I'm just at a loss to think of applications. 
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