x
Optical/IP

Nationwide Optical Research Net Planned

An 11,000-mile nationwide optical network is in the works, to be built by a coalition of U.S. universities and private companies for the purpose of advanced networking research.

The group is National LambdaRail (NLR). Members include nine universities and academic research organizations, as well as Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO).

The NLR network will use up to forty DWDM channels per fiber pair, each supporting rates to 10-Gbit/s. It will run switched Ethernet and routed IP.

The goal is optimum bandwidth -- and escape from the technical interdependencies of older research nets. "The one NLR network, with its 'dark fiber' and other technical features, gives us 40 essentially private networks," said Tracy Futhey, chair of NLR's board and CIO at Duke University, in a prepared statement. "A chemist at Duke or an astronomer at Stanford won't have to worry that an experiment gone wrong could take down the whole network."

NLR hopes the network will be used for a research "at the optical, switching, routing, middleware, and application layers." Examples of what the network might be used for range widely, from grid computing for neurobiology research to development of new networking protocols on behalf of private-sector vendors.

The NLR network is set to start going live on a segment-by-segment basis in mid-November 2003, with all links complete by the end of April 2004. Links initially will be set for four wavelengths, with full capacity added progressively, as needed, by individual members. Ultimately, the network will serve research centers and university networks in Atlanta; Chicago; Denver; Jacksonville, Fla.; Pittsburgh; Seattle; Sunnyvale, Calif.; and Washington. A Dallas connection is hoped for, but that depends on whether a consortium of Texas universities joins NLR.

The estimated cost is $80 million to $100 million over the next five years, a hunk of which will be paid for by the members, who are required to kick in an unspecified amount to join up. Support of the network will be provided by the members, through RFPs from the central organization.

"We don't want to be in a situation where we're dependent on federal money or the private sector for our basic, foundation capabilities," says Thomas W. West, an NLR board member who also is president/executive director of Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC). It was important to demonstrate NLR members' commitment first, he says, in order to make the project an attractive investment for government and others.

NLR bought dark fiber and collocation facilities for the network from Level 3 Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: LVLT). Cisco provided long-haul equipment, including the ONS 15808 optical transport platform, as well as metro gear.

Both Level 3 and Cisco offered NLR discounted rates, West says, without giving specifics.

One source not affiliated with NLR thinks Cisco's discount may have been contingent on having its equipment used exclusively in the network -- hence, the reason Cisco is so far the only equipment vendor involved in NLR. According to Bill St-Arnaud, senior director of advanced networks for Canada's CA*net 4 research network, Cisco was eager to showcase its long-haul gear. "I don't think NLR would have gotten off the ground if they tried for a multivendor solution," he says.

At press time, Cisco had not responded to queries about its reaons for joining NLR, its discounts to the group, or whether it asked for exclusivity in any part of the arrangement.

NLR's West, however, denies any exclusive arrangement, and if Cisco requested any preferential treatment, his lips are sealed. "There were a number of reasons why Cisco was picked. They had the best price, and they really wanted to invest in the network," he says.

Level 3 acknowledges it went below commercial pricing as a means of contributing to the cause. "We looked at it as our contribution to higher education that could be beneficial to society," says Geoff Jordan, VP of sales for Level 3's research and academic channel. But unlike Cisco, Level 3 hasn't joined NLR. Jordan says the benefits of membership, which involve ongoing cash investment, aren't really clear for Level 3. The carrier wouldn't necessarily profit from the kind of research being planned for the network. "Optical core technology is not a research objective at NLR," he says.

Cisco and other equipment vendors, on the other hand, could benefit directly from the research into advanced networking at the edge that is planned to take place on NLR, Jordan says.

NLR is one of just two multi-regional optical research networks in the pipeline stateside. Another, dubbed USAWaves, is being undertaken by Southeastern Universities Research Association (SURA) in collaboration with AT&T Corp. (NYSE: T). But so far, that's still in the preliminary planning stages, according to an update on SURA's Website.

— Mary Jander, Senior Editor, Light Reading

Page 1 / 2   >   >>
cyber_techy 12/4/2012 | 11:24:36 PM
re: Nationwide Optical Research Net Planned "A chemist at Duke or an astronomer at Stanford won't have to worry that an experiment gone wrong could take down the whole network."
=================================================

I know that my knowledge of chemistry experiments is fairly limited. How could a bad chemistry experiment bring down a network?
fiber_r_us 12/4/2012 | 11:24:35 PM
re: Nationwide Optical Research Net Planned Maybe they are talking about "computational chemistry" and the quantity of bandwidth a large-scale project between two universities might consume.
fiber_r_us 12/4/2012 | 11:24:34 PM
re: Nationwide Optical Research Net Planned Didn't Corvis try to get this one too??? How could they resist an 11,000 mile optical network?
rayleighbackskatter 12/4/2012 | 11:24:33 PM
re: Nationwide Optical Research Net Planned fiber_r_us wrote:

Didn't Corvis try to get this one too??? How could they resist an 11,000 mile optical network?

-----

Dave777777777 will soon write;

It's in the bag!!! CORV to 200 by October!!!
cyber_techy 12/4/2012 | 11:24:29 PM
re: Nationwide Optical Research Net Planned Maybe they are talking about "computational chemistry" and the quantity of bandwidth a large-scale project between two universities might consume.
=================================================

Thanks, I almost thought they have their Cisco equipment right next to Sulphuric acid or something. I have much easier ways of crashing Cisco routers if they ask me.
Optic_Dude 12/4/2012 | 11:24:28 PM
re: Nationwide Optical Research Net Planned And don't forget that universities will be happy to install equipment as long as its free or so cheap it's virtually free. University contracts have their place right below government contracts, which everyone wants to celebrate lately. Show me some profit then I will think about being optimistic.

OD
sukhoi 12/4/2012 | 11:24:28 PM
re: Nationwide Optical Research Net Planned NLR hopes the network will be used for a research "at the optical, switching, routing, middleware, and application layers

research ..... AND lots of freely downloaded music, movies and tons of PORN.

swprincipal 12/4/2012 | 11:24:28 PM
re: Nationwide Optical Research Net Planned Did anyone know this product existed?

Is it actually installed anywhere in the world today?

Is this what powers the Internet Generation?

Did Cisco pitch this for GIG-BE or T? If so, why didn't it win?

I predict that this nationwide optical research network will be a research project on how to make the 15808 actually work in the field. The Q&A page for the product reads like it's being sold at BestBuy right between the cable modems and WiFi cards.

http://www.cisco.com/en/US/pro...

I like the part about how Raman-assisted amplification "boosts" the optical signal. Oooh Oooh Please tell us more Professor Chambers.

A modern research network ought to contain some modern technology.

"NLR hopes the network will be used
for a research 'at the optical, switching,
routing, middleware, and application layers.'"

I guess it's possible that the 15808 fits the "optical" bill since:

The product currently supports 50 GHz
channel spacing; however, the system is
also designed to support future 25 GHz
channel spacing for increased capacity of
more than 300 channels. Finally, the platform
today supports 2.5 and 10-áGbps transmission
speeds, but is designed to scale to 40 Gbps
transmission.

Translation: neither 25GHz nor 40Gbps has ever been tested in this product. But hey, they designed for it. ;) Wouldn't it be fun to watch the faces of the 15808 engineering staff if NLR placed an order for a 40Gbps 15808?

This 15808 looks so old that I wouldn't be surprised if Cisco has pallets of the stuff collecting dust in a warehouse somewhere and are just giving it away for free. Now THAT would be a "discounted rate"!

Best wishes and good luck with the 15808, NLR.
fabius 12/4/2012 | 11:24:27 PM
re: Nationwide Optical Research Net Planned Cisco 15808 is an extended long haul that deliver exactly what it promise, no smoke no bs only real hard facts.
Regular Joe 12/4/2012 | 11:24:25 PM
re: Nationwide Optical Research Net Planned Are you refering to the cold hard fact that Cisco doesn't know much about Optical Transport and merely dabbles in it to flesh out the illusion that they are a total solution vendor?
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
HOME
Sign In
SEARCH
CLOSE
MORE
CLOSE