Business IT could find place on new internet

Commercial IT ventures may get a look in on the planned gigabit-per-second "next-generation internet" development.

Commercial IT ventures may get a look in on the planned gigabit-per-second “next-generation internet” (NGI) development.

It will not just be pertinent to the academic and research establishments which have spawned it, says steering group chairman Neil James at Otago University. Any organisation will be considered for membership of the groups putting together and using the network, he says.

“The focus is on innovation, research and education, but we have deliberately chosen to have no AUPs [acceptable use policies] saying what should and should not be done on it. New Zealand is too small for pure science to be trying to survive on its own and not be fostering partnerships with industry.”

The project envisages a high-bandwidth backbone providing at least 2.5Gbit/s extending through Auckland, Hamilton, Palmerston North, Wellington, Hamilton and Dunedin. The final report of the steering committee, firming up the project’s shape, will emerge this week, putting it in a position to seek funding and outside interest.

While the initially attractive applications will be in teleconferencing and remote use of powerful computing resources and instruments like telescopes to encourage collaborative research work, NGI’s scope may broaden into more commercial flavours of endeavour, James says. These, of course, are likely to bring financial and expertise contributions to the development and upkeep of the network.

The question of “getting to” the backbone from an aspiring contributor’s current location is, of course, up to them, he says. “We’ve got the easy bit; the last mile is always more of a problem.”

One of the applications being suggested is voice over IP at a cost of “not more than 1c a minute”, says the committee’s draft report.

Such a facility open to universities and research establishments, never mind potential commercial contributors, might cause some distortion in New Zealand’s telecommunications market by potentially removing a large chunk of its business to a cheaper provider, James acknowledges.

He says he would like to collaborate with the telcos.

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