Feds Spur Ultrafast Broadband App Development

US Ignite will use a private-public partnership to foster the development of high-speed "killer apps" in key industries.

Elizabeth Montalbano, Contributor

September 12, 2011

2 Min Read

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The federal government aims to light a fire under the development of applications for ultrafast broadband networks for key industry sectors--such as health, energy, education, and public safety/emergency preparedness--through an initiative unveiled Monday.

Dubbed US Ignite, the plan calls for the government to engage with the private sector to promote the development of applications for networks at 100-Mbps symmetric speeds and higher, which are currently underleveraged, according to Tom Kalil, deputy director for policy at the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Nick Maynard, senior adviser to the deputy director. Other sectors officials are targeting with US Ignite are economic development and transportation.

The ideas behind US Ignite is to foster demand for so-called "killer apps" for these sectors that can take advantage of these emerging networks in the same way that "email, search engines, and the World Wide Web created demand for the Internet," the officials said.

The foundation for these applications--such as ultrahigh-speed research networks operated by universities and even some communities--is already there, Kalil and Maynard said.

"What's needed, however, is a more focused collaboration between companies, researchers, non-profit organizations, government agencies, developers, and users," according to the post.

To promote this, the OSTP plans to partner with private citizens to connect cities and towns across the country with access to high-speed networks to create "a critical mass of individuals and organizations that can develop and experiment with next-generation applications that can't run on today's public Internet," according to Kalil.

The plan will leverage NSF's GENI network, which provides researchers with a programmable network for experimenting with new technologies for distributing content, improving security, accessing remote computers, and enabling realtime collaboration.

To make the program a reality, the NSF recently submitted a request for white papers to find potential collaborators for US Ignite.

Of particular interest to the agency are individuals and organizations that can provide resources and infrastructure, help develop high-speed applications that address national priorities, and manage the public-private partnership needed for the initiative's success.

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