Public Release: 

New network started for testing advanced IT technologies

Virginia Tech partners with federal agencies, IT companies, three other universities

Virginia Tech

BLACKSBURG, Va., June 18, 2002 -- The Mid-Atlantic Crossroads (MAX) consortium and the Naval Research Laboratory have launched the next-generation Advanced Technology Demonstration Network (ATDnet), an unclassified Department of Defense (DoD) research network.

MAX, which was founded in 1999 by Virginia Tech, the University of Maryland, Georgetown University, and George Washington University, will be responsible for the day-to-day operational aspects of the core ATDnet infrastructure. Partnering with Qwest Communications, Verizon, and Fibergate, this next generation ATDnet is a regional fiber testbed that will support research in emerging and experimental telecommunications technologies and applications.

"MAX was created by the four founding institutions to support our research and educational needs," said Hud Croasdale, who directs Virginia Tech's Information Technology Strategic Partnerships from the Internet2 Studio in Richmond, Va. "In addition, Virginia Tech has been actively engaged in the development and deployment of advanced networking technologies (that are not currently commercially available) to enable a larger advanced networking infrastructure testbed and support the development and deployment of new applications within this infrastructure."

ATDnet is a partnership of multiple federal institutions that include the Naval Research Laboratory, the Defense Intelligence Agencys, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, the Laboratory for Telecommunications Sciences, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and the Defense Information Systems Agency.

"The addition of ATDnet to the MAX community will help support these efforts and the earlier deployment of these technologies in the MAX network," said Croasdale.

The new infrastructure will enable investigations in very high-speed optical transport, ultra dense wavelength division multiplexing, non-homogeneous fiber performance, optical burst switching, and interactive high-resolution visualization. According to Erv Blythe, vice president for information systems at Virginia Tech, that translates into "faster, more reliable delivery of information with greater clarity in more formats."

Understanding these experimental technologies across wide area networks is key to deploying the advanced services necessary to meet the DoD mission over the next 10 years. These efforts involve researchers at the ATDnet principal sites, regional MAX institutions, and their commercial partners.

Qwest will be the primary backbone provider for ATDnet, in partnership with Verizon and Fibergate, a fiber-optic communications company. A key aspect of this effort is to provide ATDnet members direct access to a broadband fiber infrastructure, which will allow the MAX-ATDnet partnership to provide the network with new and experimental optical technologies as needed, without the risk of disrupting essential and production services on the available commercial networks. It is envisioned that some of the applications to be tested will utilize single-stream bandwidths as high as 40-80-160 Gbps -- capacities not feasible across current commercial networks.

MAX operates one of the distributed 'gigaPop's' in support of the national Internet2 initiative, providing connectivity to the Qwest-supplied Internet2 Abilene backbone through a 2.5 gigabit-per-second (OC-48) network in the Washington, DC, Virginia, and Maryland regions. The core MAX network consists of a 50-mile ring of fiber optic cable with extensions into the Baltimore and Northern Virginia area. MAX is a consortium of regional university and government research labs with facilities and engineering support groups located at University of Maryland, College Park and Virginia Tech, Blacksburg.

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PR CONTACT: Jean Elliott 540-231-5915 elliottj@vt.edu

Hud Croasdale can be reached at 804-786-8130 or hcroasda@vt.edu

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