Lightpaths are coming to Ireland

Ireland's research and higher education network, HEAnet, is getting configurable lightpaths. What are configurable lightpaths? It means that ordinary network users can configure a single wavelength of light on a fiber network from their computer or server to another computer or server on the same network (the computers could be hundreds or thousands of miles apart). A single lightpath can provide many gigabits of bandwidth with very little network delay, because the photons have a single path (lightpath) through the network. Much of the pioneering work was done in Canada and in Chicago, and a similar project has been underway in North America, called Starlight. Starlight already has fiber across the Atlantic and Pacific, and more schools, universities, and research labs are joining the effort.

This new kind of network system (it is entirely compatible with the Internet) is starting the same way the original Internet started, with schools and universities. It is already moving out into industry, with companies like Cisco developing off the shelf equipment to implement lightpath networks.

Lightpaths are one more reason for communities to start investing in fiber, now. Old-fashioned copper cable modem, telephone, and DSL networks don't support lightpaths and never will. Do you want your schools and businesses to be left behind?

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