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Optical network paying dividends in Mississippi

By Max Burkhalter
February 17, 2012
Multiple research institutions, including Ole Miss and Mississippi State University, are now connected via a high-performance fiber-optic network link that allows them to collaborate more effectively. This is proving integral in the state's goals as a primary research center form many U.S. government projects, the Clarion Ledger reported.

According to the news source, research institutions in the state work on projects that include designing U.S. Army vehicles so they will be better equipped to withstand explosions and analyzing data related to natural disasters so more effective planning processes can be initiated. These projects can help save lives and require collaboration and data sharing between experts at various academic institutions within the state. However, up until now, the network has not been good enough to get the job done.

The report explained the state research consortium receives grants totalling approximately $380 million, and the continued receipt of this federal funding is dependent on being able to collaborate effectively by sharing large quantities of data through a secure network channel. With the old infrastrucutre in place, this was impossible. The new fiber-optic network installation, called MissiON, has made data sharing possible.

Kathy Gates, chief information officer at the University of Mississippi, told the news source that the project has essentially given researchers a larger pipe to send data through.

"You can think of [the network] as a pipe - a pipe that was not big enough before to be able to move data quickly," Gates told the Clarion Ledger. "Certain kinds of research require very detailed images or videos or simulations and large data sets, and (researchers) need to exchange this data quickly. MissiON gives us a bigger pipe so that their work is not impeded."

Mississippi State University and Ole Miss are the first two academic institutions that have connected to the network. The report said this advanced optical installation has already exponentially improved their communications capabilities over what the former network could accomplish.

Optical networking is rapidly becoming more popular in a diverse range of settings, not just for advanced research centers. According to a recent VentureBeat report, fiber to the home networks are quickly emerging as a key solution in the telecommunications sector. The news source explained that FTTH is emerging as the natural progression from current broadband capabilities and is becoming key to supporting current consumer demands.

Perle has an extensive range of Managed and Unmanaged Fiber Media Converters to extended copper-based Ethernet equipment over a fiber optic link, multimode to multimode and multimode to single mode fiber up to 160km.


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