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Advanced Internet

Virtual opportunity

The Tidia Program will select projects concerning the infrastructure of the network and distance learning

FAPESP is launching a tender for the registration of research groups into the Information Technology for the Development of the Advanced Internet Program (Tidia). Established in 2001, the program aims to stimulate research into new technologies for the Internet, offering the necessary optical fiber infrastructure for carrying out tests on hardware equipment, the development of software and the creation of digital academic content, with emphasis on distance learning. “We are going to make available a high speed optical fiber network to make possible experiments which, carried out in the laboratory, might not reflect the behavior of the technologies in the real world”, comments Luis Fernandez Lopes, the president of Tidia’s coordinating commission.

The program, which is based on the cooperation between research centers and anticipates partnerships with business and the government, has three large areas: the infrastructure of the network, known as the test bed, incubator of digital content and distance learning (e-learning). In the first, the researchers can make use of switched off optical fibers, that is, inactive, for tests. “For example, the network could serve as a test field to evaluate equipment for the broadening of transmission bands or a communication protocol”, observes Hugo Fragnito, Tidia’s coordinator in the area of infrastructure.

Democratizing access
The second area of research included in the program anticipates support for research in the development of software and academic content, benefiting projects on digitalizing libraries, among others. “Though it will be possible to consult dictionaries in the Portuguese language on the web, there is no integral work available for downloading (transferring to a computer)”, observes Imre Simon, Tidia’s coordinator for the incubation of digital content.

Lastly, in the area of e-learning, Tidia will promote the interaction between the software tools of the researchers and the specialists in the setting up of educational material in order to make possible, by electronic means, the level of efficiency similar to that of traditional education. “The production of didactic material that could be accessed from any location and at any moment demands an enormous effort in standardization and a lot of care to make sure of good interactivity, flexibility and ease of use”, comments Wilson Vicente Ruggiero, Tidia’s coordinator in the area of distance learning. All of the tools used in the projects will have open code, or that is to say, will allow for correction and control of application.

FAPESP is beginning to sign agreements with telecommunication service providers so as to offer to researchers a network of switched off optical fiber, linking, in the first instance São Paulo, Campinas and São Carlos, at a velocity of 400 gigabits per second. To have an idea of what this means, it is worth recalling that the connections in domestic wide band operate at velocities varying between 256 kilobits and 2 megabits per second.