Access to advanced communications and network infrastructure has become critical for ensuring economic competitiveness in today's global economy. Beyond standard telephone systems and basic Internet access, communities are suddenly finding that businesses and other stakeholders are making specific demands for access to fiber optic infrastructure with very explicit route diversity and fiber specification requirements. Communities with advanced fiber, wireless, and “next generation” Internet infrastructure will have a distinct competitive advantage. Those without such infrastructure will fall behind in ways that may not be recoverable over a period of decades (such as difficulty attracting and retaining sustainable job creation opportunities).
The objective of Virginia Tech's eCorridors Program is to work with communities, private-sector, and municipal partners to facilitate rapid development of advanced, fiber optic, wireless, and “next generation” Internet infrastructure across the Southern region of Virginia, and expanding into the eastern and northern regions. Through multiple community and regional based initiatives, this program proposes to put the world’s most advanced communications infrastructure within reach of every community in Virginia within 10 years. See http://www.ecorridors.vt.edu/ for the latest update on the eCorridors Program.
The overriding goal of the program is to serve as a catalyst for the deployment of affordable access to fiber optic network infrastructure that is needed to create economic and educational opportunities for citizens and businesses. Fiber optic network infrastructure is needed to support current high-speed (10/100/1000 Mbps) data access for a range of business and community applications and for future higher speed applications. Fiber may also be needed to support both analog and digital applications. The infrastructure should be open to all service providers and private sector based. It can enable the emergence of a new economy and network industry in Virginia. This new industry, in its infancy, combines high capacity optical and wireless technologies with the Internet protocol and Ethernet to enable an extraordinary advantage in cost and communications power.
The eCorridors Program also serves educational communities. It enables research and development of network technologies and solutions for business, education, and other programs on a 'real world,' large-scale network. For the past 15 years, Virginia Tech has developed network infrastructure strategies aimed at dramatically lowering the cost of broadband network access (see http://www.networkvirginia.net/). The proposed large-scale community oriented network combines the resources and expertise of education, private sector partners, municipalities, and non-profit entities to provide a unique opportunity for all involved. The program has created significant and widespread interest from municipal leaders and legislators. This level of visibility helps build long-term relationships. Another benefit is the provision of a statewide, truly high-speed network over a diverse route infrastructure that otherwise would not be affordable. A network infrastructure is needed for the economic opportunity and the viability of communities as they develop networked economies.