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Campus Computing News

UNT to Participate in Texas Statewide Optical Fiber Network

By Dr. Maurice Leatherbury, Executive Director of Information Technology and Academic Computing

UNT has elected to join 22 other Texas institutions of higher education in establishing a statewide optical fiber network that will link the major population areas of the state within the next several years. Funded through an anticipated grant of $7,500,000 from the Governor's Enterprise Fund and member fees for participation, the new network will allow higher education in Texas to connect to each other at unprecedented speeds and will enhance the State's competitiveness for research funding.

The current membership in the new organization, yet to be named, is as follows:

Institution Location
Baylor U Waco
Baylor College of Medicine Houston
Northeast Texas Consortium (NETnet) Tyler
Prairie View A&M U Prairie View
Rice U Houston
Southern Methodist U Dallas
Texas Assn of Community Colleges Austin
Texas A&M U College Station
Texas A&M System College Station
Texas Christian U Fort Worth
Texas State U System San Marcos
Texas Tech U System Lubbock
U of Houston System Houston
U of North Texas System Denton
UT Arlington Arlington
UT Austin Austin
UT Dallas Dallas
UT El Paso El Paso
UT HSC, San Antonio San Antonio
UT Med Branch Galveston
UT San Antonio San Antonio
UT Southwestern Med Ctr Dallas
U of Texas System Austin

A map of the likely routes that the fiber links will take is shown below:

Texas Optical Fiber Network map

UNT and the other member organizations have pledged $20,000 per year for the next several years to support the establishment and operation of a management structure for the network, which at this time is projected to be in Houston and will be based on the nonprofit organization that was established to provide Internet2 connectivity in Houston, the "Texas Gigapop." A meeting will be held on December 2, 2003 to start making decisions about the future structure and operation of the network.

In order to take full advantage of the new optical fiber network, at speeds approaching the capability of the statewide network, UNT will have to significantly upgrade its connections to the likely point of presence in Dallas. We currently have two 45Mbps lines to the campus of the University of Texas at Dallas through which we connect to Internet2 as well as Internet1. We will be expanding our link to a 155Mbps line by the beginning of the next academic year. However, the optical fiber network has the capacity to carry many 1Gbps signals (6-1/2 times the speed of our anticipated 155Mbps line, in other words.) It will probably be several years before we can acquire the funding needed to provide the data communications capacity that will be needed to support high-speed research networking to UNT's research community, in short.