The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) today awarded more than $62.5 million in federal stimulus funding through its Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) to a group of national research and education networking organizations including Indiana University, Internet2 (also known as University Corporation for Advanced Internet Development), National LambdaRail (NLR), and the Northern Tier Network Consortium.

In collaboration with technology companies Ciena, Cisco, Infinera, and Juniper Networks, the group proposes the construction of the United States Unified Community Anchor Network (U.S. UCAN), an advanced 100 Gigabit per second network backbone that will link regional networks across the nation, including other projects funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The NTIA grant will be supplemented with an additional $34.3 million in contributions from the proposal partners and suppliers.

U.S. UCAN's coast-to-coast advanced infrastructure will, in partnership with regional and state research and education networks, connect America's community anchor institutions -- schools, libraries, community colleges, health centers and public safety organizations -- to enable advanced applications not possible with today's typical Internet service. U.S. UCAN fills a critical gap, linking community anchor institutions together into an open, national network with next-generation capabilities, operated with end-to-end transparency and the high levels of performance uniquely suited to the needs of this community.

U.S. UCAN will ensure that life-changing applications such as telemedicine and distance learning are available to all community anchor institutions, including those in areas previously considered too remote or economically depressed to support advanced network services. Led by the same research and education networking community that has already connected 66,000 community anchors through partnerships across public and private sectors, U.S.UCAN will prepare Americans -- now and in the future -- to compete successfully in an increasingly competitive global economy.

The network will offer its services to community anchors nationwide through a new not-for-profit organization (also called U.S. UCAN), which will be directed and governed by a partnership of the research and education networking community and representatives of community anchor institutions. In essence, the network will be owned and directed by its stakeholders. As a first priority, U.S. UCAN will make sure that it meets the needs established by its governing body of community anchors.

U.S. UCAN provides a jumpstart in implementing the FCC National Broadband Plan released in March 2010 which recommends the development of a unified network dedicated to community anchor institutions that builds on the extensive investment the research and education community has already made in national network infrastructure and leverages the human expertise and collaborations that have already developed to greatly accelerate the delivery of broadband to all of the nation's community anchor institutions.

"The importance of this project to expand high performance network access to thousands of additional sites, especially in rural and underserved areas, cannot be underestimated," said Indiana University Associate Vice President for Networks Dave Jent. "These new capabilities will be key in our country's economic recovery and sustainability, and will allow us a greater competitive advantage on a global scale. IU is delighted to bring more than 10 years of experience in managing national and international networks to this initiative."

Doug Van Houweling, Internet2 president and CEO said, "This award provides an unprecedented opportunity to carry out two of our defining missions: to pioneer advanced research and education networking capabilities, and to pass on those capabilities to the public where they can introduce new possibilities into everyday life. We are honored to be part of this visionary effort, and look forward to rolling up our sleeves alongside both familiar and new partners to bring life-changing Internet uses to learning, medicine, job creation, and public safety."

"National LambdaRail and our members and partners in the research and education networking community already have 15 years collective experience serving community anchors as well as an extensive, advanced network footprint and expertise managing broadband applications like telepresence," said Glenn Ricart, president and CEO, National LambdaRail. "U.S. UCAN is an historic opportunity for the research and education community to work together to help extend broadband capabilities to anchors across the country."

Ron Kraemer, University of Wisconsin-Madison CIO and a member of the NTNC Executive Committee said, "The U.S. UCAN effort will be a game-changer for states in the Northern Tier Network Consortium. Northern tier states have shown an extraordinary commitment to extending high speed networking within our states and across our region and U.S. UCAN will help us further stimulate economic growth, create new research opportunities and extend incredible education experiences to those living and working in our states."