US Ignite: A New Foundation for America’s Broadband Future

The Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Science Foundation are planning an initiative called US Ignite designed to promote US leadership in applications and services for ultra-fast broadband networks.

Building on existing high-speed fiber optic and wireless networks, US Ignite will foster the development of novel applications that have the potential to transform health, education and training, public safety, and transportation.

Many of the “building blocks” for US Ignite are already in place, such as national research networks that link universities and a growing number of communities with networks that are 10-100 times faster than today’s residential broadband Internet services.  What’s needed, however, is a more focused collaboration between companies, researchers, non-profit organizations, government agencies, developers, and users.  By working together, participants in US Ignite can “live in the future” and develop and demonstrate the applications that will be possible when next-generation networks are broadly available.

NSF recently posted a request for white papers to identify potential participants in US Ignite.  NSF is particularly interested in individuals and organizations that can provide resources and infrastructure, help develop high-speed applications that address national priorities, and manage the public-private partnership needed for the initiative’s success.

US Ignite will:

  • Knit together cities and towns across the country with access to high-speed networks, creating a critical mass of individuals and organizations that can develop and experiment with next-generation applications that can’t run on today’s public Internet.
  • Build on the NSF-supported GENI network, which enables researchers to experiment with new technologies for distributing content, improving security, accessing remote computers, and enabling real-time collaboration.  Unlike the public Internet, GENI is “programmable,” which makes it much easier to introduce new services and applications.
  • Foster the development of the “killer apps” that will drive demand for next-generation networks in the same way that e-mail, search engines, and the Web drove demand for today’s Internet.

OSTP looks forward to working with companies, non-profits, application developers, and researchers to make the most of these exciting possibilities.

Tom Kalil is Deputy Director for Policy at OSTP

Nick Maynard is Senior Advisor to the Deputy Director

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