US plan fires up gigabit application development for ultrafast networks

US Ignite program wants to take advantage of and marry university and community high-speed nets for advanced application building

The US government and the National Science Foundation have announced a plan they say will go a long way toward building applications that can take advantage of ultrafast broadband networks.

Dubbed US Ignite, the plan is to use existing high-speed fiber optic and wireless networks, such as the NSF's GENI network to link universities and a growing number of communities with networks that are 10-100 times faster than current residential broadband Internet services, according to as post on the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy site. 

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From the NSF: "There is insufficient investment in gigabit applications that can take advantage of advanced network infrastructure because such infrastructure is rare and dispersed. And conversely, there is little new investment in advanced broadband infrastructure because there are few advanced applications to justify it. US Ignite will break this deadlock by providing incentives for imagining, prototyping, and developing gigabit applications and by building out a pre-commercial high-bandwidth infrastructure on which people and organizations on campuses and in cities can innovate."

A couple of the goals of US Ignite will:

  • Knit together cities and towns across the country with access to high-speed networks, creating a critical mass of individuals and organizations that can develop and experiment with next-generation applications that can't run on today's public Internet.
  • Foster the development of the "killer apps" that will drive demand for next-generation networks in the same way that e-mail, search engines, and the Web drove demand for today's Internet.

The NSF recently posted a number of white papers on the US Ignite program that outlines more of what the agencies are looking for from this venture.

From the NSF: "To jumpstart gigabit application development across the US, novel applications in areas of national priority -- advanced manufacturing, clean energy and transportation, cyber learning, health IT, and public safety/emergency preparedness -- will be emphasized. Additionally, the federated, layer 2 connections will allow experimentation with alternative network architectures and protocols, methods of creating a secure network, at-scale application use, etc."

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