Internet2 believes its role in the communities it serves is not just about providing network bandwidth, but also about driving collaboration.
By building a nationwide 100 Gbps-capable network, which will be leveraged by the United States Unified Community Anchor Network (U.S. UCAN), it will further its collaborative role between the R&E community and industry verticals like health care and education.
Funded through a $62.5 million federal stimulus grant from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration's (NTIA) Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), Internet2 is increasing its network's bandwidth from about 100 Gbps to 8.8 Tbps to connect over 200,000 community anchor institutions.
The U.S. UCAN project is designed to help community anchor institutions including K‐12 schools, libraries, community colleges, health centers, hospitals and public safety organizations to run next‐generation Internet‐based applications using the Internet2 Network.
Upon completion of the network upgrade, these anchor organizations will be able to leverage the UCAN to deliver constituents an array of telemedicine, distance learning and other advanced applications, which Internet2 says "can't be delivered with consumer‐grade Internet service."
"We believe the U.S. UCAN in some ways is an extension of what we have always done in connecting education institutions with research universities," said Robert Vietzke, executive director of network services at Internet2. "Through this funding source, we are reaching out much further into the communities to serve healthcare, public safety government administration and other major community anchor organizations."
The new project basically includes two angles.
First, there's the federal grant that will enhance the existing Internet2 network and provide necessary interconnection capabilities with other R&E networks. Then, there's the US UCAN, which is the community building and organizational component associated with the community anchor institutions.
Vietzke said the second piece of the effort "is as much about bringing people together and building expertise to among the community anchor folks that can be shared with one another a lot like Internet2 has done for the research and education community," adding that "it's not just the network, but also a bunch of folks that get together to advance their causes."
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