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Houston colleges help build faster Internet

From: Houston News Today, October 9, 1997
By Maureen Beck

HOUSTON, Oct. 9 - Rice University and University of Houston are working together to make sure they're not left behind as the Internet shoots ahead. The two schools have joined forces to get online with Internet 2, a new high-speed Internet system being developed through a network of U.S. colleges.

"We can't afford not to be connected. Those who don't get in early, will be left behind," said Ken Kennedy, director of the Center for Research on Parallel Computation, headquartered at Rice University. "We don't even envision the kind of applications possible with this. Universities will buy the best bandwidth they can get to build the infrastructure."

The participating schools have each committed at least $500,000 a year to upgrade equipment. More than 100 universities including University of Texas and Texas A&M University, are part of the consortium to build Internet 2, a system to connect them all at very high bandwidths. The bandwidth is what limits how much information can be carried over the network; Internet 2 is designed to have 10 to 100 times more bandwidth.

The universities don't want it just for speed - they want it because it makes new applications and research possible. It could allow full-motion video or 3-D modeling, plus real-time transmittal of huge amounts of data. The current Internet is too clogged and slow for researchers to do all the things they imagine - Internet 2 may let them do things they can't even imagine yet.

"I'm trying to do real problems, and in doing that, I see ways this could be valuable," said John Dennis, professor of computational and applied math at Rice University. "Industry has huge problems it wants to solve cheaply. With Internet 2, instead of them having to buy and maintain a piece of code on a machine big enough to run a complicated problem, they could send the information and run the problem on a remote machine maintained by the software vendor."

Researchers from Carnegie Mellon and University of Pittsburgh showed off an example of the possibilities Wednesday. They transmitted a 3-D brain image from Pittsburgh to Washington D.C. Each location could turn and manipulate the model while the other location watched in real-time.

Rice University is preparing to plug in $2 million in new computers, networking hardware and software. Intel Corp. announced Oct. 15 that it is awarding the gift as part of its Education 2000 grant program.

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