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High speed connection

Program is going to stimulate research linked to the network of the future

FAPESP is detailing a new program of research in the areas of Information Technology, telecommunications and computer and software networks associated with the advanced Internet. The idea is to mobilize the academic area, private companies and the government around cooperative projects aiming the formation of human resources and to stimulate the development of scientific and technological research in these sectors presently considered to be strategic for the economy, science, and society. The program, named Technology of Information in the Development of the Advanced Internet (Tecnologia da Informação no Desenvolvimento da Internet Avançada), has already been approved by the Superior Board of the Foundation and is being drawn up by a commission formed by specialists. Its launching is expected for the beginning of the second semester of this year.

“The new technologies will involve considerable business deals and Brazil needs to participate in this market. We already have a Law of Information Technology which allows companies to invest in research in information technology, software, among other items, with a view towards this market. What was missing was a development agency to approximate research and development, bringing together universities, companies and the government.” justifies Dr. Fernando Paixão, of the Institute of Physics of the State University of Campinas (Unicamp). He is part of the coordinating commission of the program. The other participants are Dr. Carlos Antonio Ruggiero of the Institute of Physics of São Carlos, Dr. Luís Fernandes Lopez of the Department of Medical Information Technology of the School of Medicine, Dr. Geraldo Lino de Campos of the Polytechnic School, Dr. Imre Simon of the Institute of Mathematics and Statistics, all from the University of São Paulo (USP), and Dr. Hugo Fragnito of the Institute of Physics of Unicamp.

New technologies
The program wants to incentive research and the development of new technologies, both in hardware and in software through high speed networks, which today are at the front line of the new wave of technology. The commission is working on a partnership model between research institutions, private companies and the government, adequate for our reality. At this moment, they are analyzing various association models that are coming up more and more in other countries. “Our objective is to have an ample program in the use of Information Technology for the Advanced Internet and to maintain the quality of the research.” states Dr. Imre Simon.

According to the Scientific Director of FAPESP, Dr. José Fernando Perez, “With this project, FAPESP moves on to a new stage in relation to the Internet. The infra structure of the network, of which it is a provider, becomes a huge research laboratory.” He emphasizes even more the cooperative dimension of the project. The government, he states, will be an important partner. “There is the possibility of counting upon governmental support, among others, to make use of the network of optical fibers that runs alongside the roadways.” advances Dr. Perez.

As always, the main mission of the program is to qualify personnel. However, there are other major goals: to work with problems of socioeconomic relevance, to improve the staff of companies, as well as to foster the formation of small businesses. In the evaluation of the coordination commission, the present number of specialists available is not sufficient to face up the challenges of new technologies and to promote the understanding and the technological mastering piled up during the research activities. “We will not be able to generate competence in all of the areas, but it is possible, through the program, to create a multiplication effect of this understanding.” emphasizes Dr. Carlos Ruggiero. Projects of a cooperative nature that permit the integration of research groups of diverse areas and institutions will be prioritized. The themes of the projects will be defined by the community of the researchers, whose participation in the construction of the program is considered fundamental.

The academic community has had an active participation in the conception of the computing networks and in the implementation of the Internet since the 70’s. FAPESP, through the network ANSP (Academic Network at São Paulo) and the implementation of local networks, under the Infrastructure Program, has been performing, since 1989, the fundamental role of boosting the access of the universities and research institutions to the new technologies of information and communication. The Program Technology of Information in the development of the Advanced Internet intends to go deeper and to push forward this process. If successful, the program should be the springboard of processes of exponential growth, typical of the Internet.

A project of Sharing Laboratory (Laboratório Compartilhado) that is being elaborated by researchers of various research institutions and companies in the area of telecommunications, can be considered a concrete example of the objectives that the program aims. The project presupposes the construction of a statewide fiber-optic network (test bed) to be used both for experimental ends in technological, academic or company research and for the use in academic and institutional communication.

This infrastructure of optical fibers may be available to other research groups and companies interested in developing advanced applications of a high performance network, such as telemedicine, distance education, high definition video conferences and tools controls on the web. The same network may make possible projects of hardware for optical networks, such as optical components, equipment, instrumentation, techniques of medicine, and methods of monitoring of optical fiber. And also, it may serve to support systemic studies, such as architecture and security networks, as well as for fundamental studies, such as, for example, the physical effects that limit the capacity of the transmission of information and quantum cryptography, among others.

Networks of high speed such as the Abilene or the vBNS+, with national extension, use an infrastructure of a band with the capacity of up to 2.5 gigabites (Gb) per second. The test bed which is being projected in the State of São Paulo will adopt an infrastructure of an optical cable with capacity of transmission of 400 Gb per second or more. One of the peculiarities of this optical cable is its capacity to support different networks operating simultaneously, to work with multiple fibers interlinking several of the main points. In each fiber there is the possibility of transmitting various lasers on different wave lengths.

Characteristics of the project of an optical fiber network

Test bedExtensionMax BandInfra Structure 
Abilene (USA)National2.5 Gb/sBand
vBNS+ (USA)National2.5 Gb/sBand
Canarie (Canada)National320Gs/sOptical Fiber
NTONC (USA)Interstate20 Gb/sOptical Fiber
TestbedSão Paulo State400 Gb/s or moreOptical Cable

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