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Gov. Mark R. Warner joined Old Dominion University President Roseann Runte and officials from the partner organizations of the Eastern Litewave Internetworking Technology Enterprise (E-LITE) Dec. 9 to announce a contract with Verizon for a regional optical research network.

The contract signals the arrival in Hampton Roads of the National LambdaRail (NLR) computer network project, a dedicated advanced network connecting universities, national research centers and laboratories. Regionally, the project will connect ODU; its Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center (VMASC); The College of William and Mary; Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility; NASA Langley Research Center and the Joint Forces Command (JFCOM) together and with other organizations across Virginia and the country.

"National LambdaRail is the kind of sound investment that will continue to pay dividends for years to come," said Gov. Warner. "Having National LambdaRail access in Hampton Roads will help connect universities, federal laboratories, private-sector research parks and other partners, giving this region and our commonwealth an extraordinary competitive advantage."

The announcement was made at the VMASC facility in northern Suffolk.

President Runte said E-LITE represents a remarkable partnership between the region's universities and other research facilities. "The partnership always maintained a goal of leveraging a regional network to strengthen the links between universities, research labs, and military training and force integration facilities," she said. "Beyond that, the design and capacity of E-LITE opens opportunities in Hampton Roads for enterprise services, such as business continuity and disaster recovery, emergency management and K-12 collaboration."

NLR enables supercomputers in multiple locations to operate like one machine, greatly increasing the available computing capability. The new network is 100 times faster than most organizations' regular Internet connection. It can, for example, transmit 4,500 volumes of encyclopedias in one second or, for the musically inclined, 1.2 million songs in one minute.

Verizon will provide a redundant, high-capacity optical, DWDM network consisting of six 10-gigabyte circuits connecting the E-LITE members. (Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing is an optical technology that increases bandwidth.)

In addition, Verizon will install 150 miles of fiber-optic cabling, as well as networking hardware from Lucent Technologies at each partner location. Verizon will also provide ongoing monitoring and maintenance services for the regional network, which is expected to begin operating in the spring. The contract has an initial term of five years with an approximate value of $4.8 million. The E-LITE network will then connect to a regional node in Norfolk, and from there it will join the NLR network via a node in Northern Virginia.

"The ability to move tremendous amounts of information among multiple locations in a secure and reliable manner is the key foundation for academic research today," said Russ Kesler, regional sales director - South, Verizon Enterprise Solutions Group. "Working with the E-LITE consortium and Lucent Technologies, we will deploy a high-capacity broadband network to support current and future research projects, enabling both Virginia and the United States to maintain a critical competitive edge in Internet technologies and the innovations that can be created through academic collaboration."

When the network is up and running, researchers in different parts of the country will have a forum in which to jointly perform large-scale computing projects. With heated global competition, the United States is in a marathon race to maintain an edge in fundamental areas of research and innovation. NLR will provide critically needed high-speed network infrastructure for next-generation research and it will go beyond Internet and Internet2 technology.

The National LambdaRail was created in 2003 by key public and private research entities in the United States to meet the most advanced research requirements, drive cost saving and catalyze new strategic partnerships.

The NLR backbone consists of regional nodes positioned in major urban areas, forming a transcontinental network. Nodes have been placed, for example, in New York, Boston, Raleigh, Atlanta, Jacksonville, Dallas and Los Angeles, among other major cities.

The Mid-Atlantic Terascale Partnership, a consortium of research institutions in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C., was formed to support an NLR node in Northern Virginia. In addition to Northern Virginia, the node serves Hampton Roads, Richmond, Charlottesville and Blacksburg.

This article was posted on: December 9, 2005

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