News Archive

July 2012

Gig.U Project Aims for an Ultrafast US Internet

June 2012

Bringing Location and Navigation Technology Indoors

May 2012

Plans Under Way for Roaming between Cellular and Wi-Fi Networks

Encryption System Flaw Threatens Internet Security

April 2012

For Business Intelligence, the Trend Is Location, Location, Location

Corpus Linguistics Keep Up-to-Date with Language

March 2012

Are Tomorrow's Firewalls Finally Here Today?

February 2012

Spatial Humanities Brings History to Life

December 2011

Could Hackers Take Your Car for a Ride?

November 2011

What to Do about Supercookies?

October 2011

Lights, Camera, Virtual Moviemaking

September 2011

Revolutionizing Wall Street with News Analytics

August 2011

Growing Network-Encryption Use Puts Systems at Risk

New Project Could Promote Semantic Web

July 2011

FBI Employs New Botnet Eradication Tactics

Google and Twitter "Like" Social Indexing

June 2011

Computing Commodities Market in the Cloud

May 2011

Intel Chips Step up to 3D

Apple Programming Error Raises Privacy Concerns

Thunderbolt Promises Lightning Speed

April 2011

Industrial Control Systems Face More Security Challenges

Microsoft Effort Takes Down Massive Botnet

March 2011

IP Addresses Getting Security Upgrade

February 2011

Studios Agree on DRM Infrastructure

January 2011

New Web Protocol Promises to Reduce Browser Latency

To Be or NAT to Be?

December 2010

Intel Gets inside the Helmet

Tuning Body-to-Body Networks with RF Modeling

November 2010

New Wi-Fi Spec Simplifies Connectivity

Expanded Top-Level Domains Could Spur Internet Real Estate Boom

October 2010

New Weapon in War on Botnets

September 2010

Content-Centered Internet Architecture Gets a Boost

Gesturing Going Mainstream

August 2010

Is Context-Aware Computing Ready for the Limelight?

Flexible Routing in the Cloud

Signal Congestion Rejuvenates Interest in Cell Paging-Channel Protocol

July 2010

New Protocol Improves Interaction among Networked Devices and Applications

Security for Domain Name System Takes a Big Step Forward

The ROADM to Smarter Optical Networking

Distributed Cache Goes Mainstream

June 2010

New Application Protects Mobile-Phone Passwords

WiGig Alliance Reveals Ultrafast Wireless Specification

Cognitive Radio Adds Intelligence to Wireless Technology

May 2010

New Product Uses Light Connections in Blade Server

April 2010

Browser Fingerprints Threaten Privacy

New Animation Technique Uses Motion Frequencies to Shake Trees

March 2010

Researchers Take Promising Approach to Chemical Computing

Screen-Capture Programming: What You See is What You Script

Research Project Sends Data Wirelessly at High Speeds via Light

February 2010

Faster Testing for Complex Software Systems

IEEE 802.1Qbg/h to Simplify Data Center Virtual LAN Management

Distributed Data-Analysis Approach Gains Popularity

Twitter Tweak Helps Haiti Relief Effort

January 2010

2010 Rings in Some Y2K-like Problems

Infrastructure Sensors Improve Home Monitoring

Internet Search Takes a Semantic Turn

December 2009

Phase-Change Memory Technology Moves toward Mass Production

IBM Crowdsources Translation Software

Digital Ants Promise New Security Paradigm

November 2009

Program Uses Mobile Technology to Help with Crises

More Cores Keep Power Down

White-Space Networking Goes Live

Mobile Web 2.0 Experiences Growing Pains

October 2009

More Spectrum Sought for Body Sensor Networks

Optics for Universal I/O and Speed

High-Performance Computing Adds Virtualization to the Mix

ICANN Accountability Goes Multinational

RFID Tags Chat Their Way to Energy Efficiency

September 2009

Delay-Tolerant Networks in Your Pocket

Flash Cookies Stir Privacy Concerns

Addressing the Challenge of Cloud-Computing Interoperability

Ephemeralizing the Web

August 2009

Bluetooth Speeds Up

Grids Get Closer

DCN Gets Ready for Production

The Sims Meet Science

Sexy Space Threat Comes to Mobile Phones

July 2009

WiGig Alliance Makes Push for HD Specification

New Dilemnas, Same Principles:
Changing Landscape Requires IT Ethics to Go Mainstream

Synthetic DNS Stirs Controversy:
Why Breaking Is a Good Thing

New Approach Fights Microchip Piracy

Technique Makes Strong Encryption Easier to Use

New Adobe Flash Streams Internet Directly to TVs

June 2009

Aging Satellites Spark GPS Concerns

The Changing World of Outsourcing

North American CS Enrollment Rises for First Time in Seven Years

Materials Breakthrough Could Eliminate Bootups

April 2009

Trusted Computing Shapes Self-Encrypting Drives

March 2009

Google, Publishers to Try New Advertising Methods

Siftables Offer New Interaction Model for Serious Games

Hulu Boxed In by Media Conglomerates

February 2009

Chips on Verge of Reaching 32 nm Nodes

Hathaway to Lead Cybersecurity Review

A Match Made in Heaven: Gaming Enters the Cloud

January 2009

Government Support Could Spell Big Year for Open Source

25 Reasons For Better Programming

Web Guide Turns Playstation 3 Consoles into Supercomputing Cluster

Flagbearers for Technology: Contemporary Techniques Showcase US Artifact and European Treasures

December 2008

.Tel TLD Debuts As New Way to Network

Science Exchange

November 2008

The Future is Reconfigurable

Gig.U Project Aims for an Ultrafast US Internet

George Lawton

The US lags behind numerous other countries in the deployment and affordability of high-speed Internet services.

The recent State of the Internet report (, registration required to access document) by Akamai, an Internet content distribution network, places the US in 14th place globally in terms of average broadband speed, behind countries such as South Korea, Japan, and Romania.

In response, a new initiative called the University Community Next Generation Innovation Project ( — commonly known as Gig.U — is promoting the adoption of gigabit-per-second service to US homes and businesses.

Gig.U is focused on enabling participants to share information about the best and most economical practices for building wide-area gigabit networks.

The group has already attracted 37 sets of partners — each set includes a university on one hand and local ISPs, government planning managers, and businesses on the other — willing to deploy ultrafast systems.

Participants will be responsible for designing, financing, and, in the case of ISPs, constructing the networks.

While US high-speed systems such as Internet2 and National LambdaRail address backbone networking, Gig.U aims to reduce the cost and complexity of networks running from the ISP to the customer.

The project will focus on developing high-speed networks to serve neighborhoods near college campuses for the time being, with an eye toward doing so in other areas in a few years, once initial problems have been identified and addressed.

The new services could improve the performance of already-popular applications such as streaming high-definition video, online games, and videoconferencing, which sometimes suffer from latency on today's networks.

However, the real benefit would come from the new applications that the gigabit systems would enable, said Gig.U executive director and founder Blair Levin.

These applications could include high-speed video rendering and analysis of information from magnetic resonance imaging and other data-intensive medical scans.

The Gig.U program could help with this because in the past, innovative broadband applications have developed only in places where bandwidth wasn't a barrier, noted program director Ellen Satterwhite.

Despite the promise that Gig.U's goal of widespread high-speed-network development offers, the project faces several important challenges.

Setting the Stage for Gig.U

Levin, an attorney and telecommunications expert who used to work for the US Federal Communications Commission, started Gig.U, inspired by the National Broadband Plan for improving US broadband Internet service.

The FCC introduced the national plan, which Levin helped develop, in 2010. One of its goals was providing 100 million American homes with access to 100 Mbps connections by 2020.

Unfulfilled needs

According to Akamai director of market intelligence David Belson, today's high-speed networks worldwide operate at a peak of from 20 to, in rare cases, 100 Mbps.

Akamai's State of the Internet report found the highest average broadband speed worldwide was 21.8 Mbps in Daegu South Korea, followed by several other South Korean and Japanese cities. The US city with the highest average broadband speed was Boston, with only 8 Mbps.

Belson said a key issue in addition to speed is affordability. For ultrafast service, consumers might pay $40 per month in South Korea but $400 in the US. In some cases, governments offer incentives that enable local carriers to offer lower rates.

Levin noted, "We found that America does not have a plan for an upgrade. We do not have realistic expectations that America will have the best networks in the world. We do not have a national provider to build a better network than the best currently available network."

Globally, said Belson, "The places with the highest penetration of high-speed connectivity in many cases are being driven by high population density, government support, and in some cases, a national initiative."

US networks have kept pace with popular consumer applications' bandwidth requirements, so service providers have seen no need to plan for and invest in significant upgrades that current programs don't need, Levin explained.

He contended that instead of waiting for new applications that justify creating high-speed networks, the US needs to create the technology for reasonably priced networks that will encourage the development of new programs.

Other projects

The Google Community Fiber Initiative (, announced in 2010, has deployed a small demonstration gigabit network in homes near Stanford University and hopes to build a prototype system near Kansas City, Missouri in the near future.

ISP has deployed a small scale consumer gigabit network to homes in Sebastopol, California.

Case Western Reserve University has rolled out a gigabit network to about 100 homes and businesses in a Cleveland neighborhood.

Start-up Surgical Theater is using the Case Western network in development of its highly demanding surgical simulator.

Gig.U: Up Close and Personal

Gig.U members include Case Western, Columbia University, Duke University, Indiana University, Michigan State University, North Carolina State University, the University of Florida, and the University of Maryland.

Levin said he decided to work with universities because they are already connected to high-speed research networks such as Internet2 and National LambdaRail, which could provide the backbone for gigabit last-mile networks.

In addition, he noted, universities have many heavy Internet users.

The project

Gig.U is focused on both network technology and applications that could use the technology.

The project intends to find ways for participants to leverage commercial technologies, low-cost construction techniques, and best practices to develop an affordable broadband-network infrastructure.

Gig.U members and participating ISPs would fund the development of the networks.

The organization held a request for information last year that drew ideas from 24 service providers and 14 network-equipment vendors.

One of the ISPs, GWI, has committed to building a gigabit network near the University of Maine.

Gigabit Squared, a start-up supported in part by equipment and software vendors, promised to invest up to $200 million to develop as many as six for-profit networks in partnership with Gig.U members.

The technology

According to Gig.U's Satterwhite, the project will remain technology neutral so that each participant can use the approaches they deem most suitable.

Gig.U expects participants to use a variety of existing technologies, including fiber optics.

Gigabit Squared president Mark Ansbury said his company is exploring wireless technologies such as free-space lasers, which transmit data via light propagating through the air; and WiMax, a radio-based approach.

He noted that Gigabit Squared is also studying ways to reduce the cost of connecting users.

For example, with microtrenching, providers could accurately dig narrower, shallower trenches for optical fiber, thereby reducing costs, construction time, cleanup, and the risk of hitting utility lines.

Ansbury said Gigabit Squared is also investigating robotic equipment, as well as precut and preconnectorized cables, to decrease installation expenses.

Up and Away?

The Gig.U project faces a number of technological and operational challenges.

Few applications today require or interest users in ultrafast networks.

The new networks would entail significant installation costs and construction-related disruption in surrounding neighborhoods.

In fact, Gig.U's Levin said, a key challenge will be reducing network-development costs enough to make the benefits worthwhile.

Akamai's Belson noted, "The million-dollar question is: Once you have an enormous pipe to the home, then what? It is a great proof of concept, but we have not figured out how to fill a gigabit per second."

However, Ansbury said, higher speeds would make it possible to move many services and applications to the cloud.

For example, he noted, various home devices gather data for security, entertainment, and healthcare applications. The systems must process the large amounts of information locally, burdening users' computers in the process, to reduce demand on today's limited networks. Gigabit networks could change this.

Levin stated that applications like genetic sequencing, robotics, or high-definition video require the additional bandwidth such networks would provide but that the most exciting programs probably haven't been developed yet.

He predicted that the resulting higher bandwidth would lead to new applications and new ways of using the Internet.

"It took 40 years for 50 percent of American factories to utilize distributed electricity," Levin said. "I don't think it will take that long to develop the applications that 50 percent of users would need a gigabit network for."