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Current State of the Application

Research conducted in rural areas is fairly uncommon due to the unavailability of broadband conductivity.   Currently very limited wireless deployments exist that can achieve the very high data rates that are needed, but this is changing and cost-effective technology is now emerging.  Local Multipoint Distribution Systems (LMDS) operate at high enough frequencies to support the large bandwidth requirements, and these systems are rapidly becoming more cost effective.   Optical communication systems can also provide the necessary bandwidth but are not as far along in development.  Both systems require line-of-sight conditions.

Minimum Technology Requirements

Smaller research organizations might require hundreds of Mbps and larger research organizations may require Gbps connectivity.  However the applications ultimately drive the data rate requirements.

Business Aspects

Today we see that most major research organizations are based in large metropolitan areas or around universities, and one of the key reasons for this is the availability and redundancy (needed reliability) of broadband connectivity. There are clusters of expertise in regions around rural Virginia in such areas as nuclear power, transportation systems, and cellular technologies that could benefit by having localized research organizations.  Such capability could be a tremendous economic driver, particularly for economically depressed communities.
Examples of research applications requiring broadband connectivity include:
  • Collaborative virtual environments for engineering design and analysis.
  • Large scale data collection for fields from transportation to environmental research. One example might be collecting medical data from thousands of doctors’ offices on a daily basis for epidemiological data mining purposes.
  • A MAJOR new NSF initiative, called GENI, that will look at replacing the Internet as we know it.
  • General computer science and engineering research on reliability and routing.
  • Large scale virtual technical conferences.