NEESCom and WPI Launch Central Massachusetts Internet2 Initiative

Joint Venture Brings Leading-Edge, On-Line R&D Technology to Educational Institutions and Corporate Partners

Contact: WPI Media Relations, 508-831-5616

WORCESTER, Mass. - Students and researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) and educational institutions throughout New England now have access to some of the most prestigious government, science, health, and university laboratories around the country through the "Goddard GigaPOP, L.L.C.," an aggregation center for high speed data traffic to the national Internet2 project. The Worcester-based Internet2 joint venture was announced today by WPI and NEES Communications, Inc. (NEESCom), the telecommunications subsidiary of Westborough, Massachusetts-based National Grid USA.

NEESCom, which provided the fiber optic network, and WPI, which is developing the applications and providing the project electronics, have played a leading role in bringing Internet2 to the region by developing one of only two major points of presence, or "POPs," for the project in New England. The Goddard GigaPOP, named for Robert Goddard, the Worcester native and WPI graduate who pioneered the field of rocket science, will provide the area's academic institutions, such as WPI, and corporate research and development partners low-cost access to the project.

Internet2 allows student researchers, and its corporate partners, access to real-time, remote applications of other Internet2 members across the country. Users can enter virtual laboratories for interactive research and instruction, perform remote medical procedures and diagnostics and operate other types of remote scientific equipment, experiment with distributed computing and storage, access digital libraries, and receive streaming video.

Internet2 is not a successor to the Internet as we know it. Rather, it is a virtual testing ground for the technologies that will shape the commercial Internet of the 21st century. The Goddard GigaPOP provides an incubator for universities and corporate collaborators to conduct leading-edge research, which in turn could lead to new product development opportunities for area companies, and economic development benefits for the region.

A gigaPOP is a network interconnection with gigabit capacity that allows regional aggregate connections to the extremely high-speed backbone linking other points on Internet2. The term gigabit refers to data transfer rates measured in units of 1,000 megabits, or one billion bits per second.

NEESCom President Anthony C. Pini explained, "Internet2 is about 45,000 times faster than the average modem. To appreciate how fast this is, consider that one could transmit the entire contents of the Library of Congress via Internet2 in just 20 seconds." Pini added, "But speed is only part of the equation. When combined with Internet2's incredibly high resolution and three-dimensional imaging capability, a host of potentially revolutionary applications become possible. Imagine a doctor being able to perform a surgical procedure or watch an MRI take place hundreds or even thousands of miles from the patient. This technology clearly revolutionizes information exchange.

"We are extremely excited about providing the fiber optic network necessary for this project at WPI as we are ensuring access to the most advanced telecommunication systems and applications available today," he concluded.

Internet2, with the bandwidth and control that are required to deliver unprecedented multimedia and simulation capabilities, which are critical for highly technical and complex research and development projects, is at the forefront of learning at higher education institutions today. The project also is designed to give university researchers the option of using a faster, less crowded alternative to the commercial Internet. WPI, ranked 23 among the country's 100 most wired colleges by Yahoo Internet Life magazine's May issue, will be one of 170 U.S. universities using an Internet2 gigaPOP.

"This is another example of WPI's commitment to providing our students with the very best leading technology. We continue to invest in information technology infrastructure," noted WPI's Vice President for Information Technology Thomas L. Lynch.

WPI is planning an Internet2 Day in the spring at which time faculty researchers at the technological university will demonstrate Internet2 capabilities and uses.

The Goddard GigaPOP is open to other educational institutions and corporate partners. Institutions that are interested in utilizing this technology should contact John DeStefano, business development manager for NEESCom, at 508-389-3168.

NEESCom (www.neescom.com) is the telecommunications subsidiary of Westborough, Massachusetts-based National Grid USA. National Grid USA's subsidiaries are engaged in transmission and distribution of electricity, the construction and leasing of dark telecommunications infrastructure, and the marketing of energy commodities and services.

For more information about WPI and Internet2, visit our Internet2 site.