PROVO, Utah, October 28, 2013 - The prospect and reality of Gigabit Networks throughout the country, beginning in Utah, are "creating bigger surface areas for the mind," the chief technology officer of US IGNITE said here on Thursday.
Speaking at the Utah Broadband Summit here in Provo -- selected a Gigabit city six months ago by Google Fiber -- US IGNITE CTO Glenn Ricart said that Gigabit Networks offer untold benefits to individuals, businesses, universities and governments.
For example, Gigabit Networks allow companies to parse through "big data," to offer services only available at an extremely low latency, and to "vitualize" a broadband network to suit customized needs for super high-speed bandwidth.
Utah, Ricart said, has a combination of advantages in the counties just north and south of Salt Lake City. In addition to Google's commitment to Provo (home to Brigham Young University), Utah enjoys computer networking leadership through the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, and a premier institutional Utah Education Network.
Additionally, a consortium of 16 cities along the Wasatch Front mountain range are members of UTOPIA, the Utah Telecommunications Open Infrastructure Agency, a Gigabit Network poised to offer service to more than a half-a-million residents and businesses.
Such a concentrated test bed for Gigabit Networks is hard to find, said Ricart, but Utah is poised "to make it happen."
Ricart was the kickoff keynote speaker at the state broadband initiative summit here at the Utah Valley Convention Center. His organization, US IGNITE, is a national non-profit organization seeking to advance high-speed connectivity and software-defined networks.
Following lunch, the entire audience was addressed by University of Utah cybersecurity expert Matthew Might, and by Bhargav Shah, Senior Vice President of Overstock.com.
Comparing the adoption of super high-speed broadband to the rise of electricity consumption, Shah said that "disruptive technologies are becoming mainstream faster."
In particular, he cited:
- voice and data convergence
- cloud computing
- social media and networking
- big data
- mobile commerce
- the internet of things
Speaking about Utah's investment in technology and education, Shah said that the state has offered "incentives to attract technology companies, and hence tech talent in the near term" and "investment in education to fulfill demand for more technologies in the long term."
Shah’s Overstock.com is a leading Utah-based internet retailer.
Might offered a sobering look at the challenges of cyber-warfare, offering many examples of cyber-attacks launched by terrorist organizations, and by the government of China and the United States. There is no easy fix to the problems of cyber-vulnerabilities, he said, other than continuing to invest in advanced mathematics.
Other breakout sessions throughout the day focused on topics including geographic information systems, broadband adoption, broadband planning for local governments, and commercial-grade broadband services.
During one noteworthy session, Steve Corbato, deputy chief information officer for the University of Utah, highlighted the university's role as one of four notes on the ARPAnet, the Advanced Research Project Administration's predecessor network to the internet.
In highlighting the technological advancements in applications, and in computer processing power, Corbato said that as a nation, "it is clear that the network is not keeping up with storage."
Utah, however, enjoys a number of advantages, including Google Fiber, UTOPIA, and an abundance of fiber networks.
Referring to the recently opened facility of the National Security Administration in Bluffdale, Utah, between Salt Lake City and Provo, he said.
"If you want to know why NSA came to Salt Lake City, this fiber map is a critical reason," said Corbato.
Between the two coasts, "the only places with a similar position are Chicago and Houston," he said.
Corbato cited many reasons why the university believes so strongly in Gigabit Networks and advanced broadband. He said that broadband enables:
- New modes of course delivery, including massively open online courses
- Faculty competitiveness and retention
- Staying connected with our alumni, including lifetime education
- Delivering personalized medicine conveniently
- Data gathering for field science
- Supporting K-12 education in Utah
- Accelerating the information technology economy in Utah