Baylor To Receive Next Generation Internet Capability

News Photo 2281
The Lambda Rail fiber optic route (photo courtesy of National Lambda Rail)
Oct. 19, 2004

by Judy Long

Baylor University and 30 other Texas institutions of higher learning are joining the next generation in Internet capability that is currently developing a high-speed broadband research internet network connection. The effort, National Lambda Rail (NLR), is an undertaking by American research facilities, government agencies and companies to buy fiber-optic networking, called "dark fiber" because it was laid during the dotcom boom but never used. The institutions see the 10,000 miles of cable as an opportunity to develop a third generation of Internet uncluttered by general use.

NLR completed the connection between east and west coast universities earlier this month, and now the Southeastern Universities Research Association (SURA) is collaborating to bring a connection from east to west through the south. The line will run through Dallas, and state infrastructure funds are contributing $10 million of the $12 million needed to connect the Texas schools. Since Baylor lies along the already-proposed route along I-35, the university is able to connect for only $200,000.

NLR, owned entirely by participating universities, will provide independence from commercial Internet providers. Participants commit toward improving end-to-end capability by providing dedicated optical capabilities from their research labs to the NLR network.

In 2002, Baylor, in partnership with Texas State Technical College, received $175,000 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to connect with Internet2. But, with the prospect of the NLR opportunity, the funding was reserved for it. As a result, the new Baylor Sciences Building was fitted with fiber-optic capability to optimize connections through the NLR.

"The LambdaRail opportunity came up in time to allow Baylor to skip Internet2 and move directly to the NRL while saving resources at the same time. We have more than 40 faculty and researchers on campus who need it, and this will give us phenomenal connection capability for both teaching and research. We hope to have at least minimal connection capability by the end of the year," said Dr. Truell Hyde, vice provost for research.

Dr. Reagan M. Ramsower, acting vice president for finance and administration and chief information officer, said NLR is the next step in networking for education and research, and Baylor will be able to utilize its capabilities years before other major universities can even be connected. "Many of the academic endeavors envisioned for Baylor 2012 will require or be stimulated by access to the National LambdaRail. We are indeed fortunate to be in a location facilitating early access to it."

The primary objectives of NLR include bridging the gap between leading-edge optical network research and applications research; pushing beyond the technical and performance limitations of current Internet backbones; providing major computationally intensive science projects, initiatives and experiments with dedicated bandwidth and other capabilities; and enabling and rekindling the possibilities for creative experimentation that characterized facilities-based network research in the Internet's early years.

For more information, go to National Lambda Rail or call Hyde at (254)710-3763.

Looking for more news from Baylor University?