C Spire Completes Successful First Test of Terabit-Speed University Research Network in Mississippi

In another first for its trailblazing Tech Movement initiative, C Spire and several other technology partners successfully tested the first Terabit-speed connections on a Mississippi university campus in November as part of its continuing improvements and innovation for the Mississippi Optical Network (MissiON).

Engineers from C Spire, Nokia and EXFO, a Canadian firm that specializes in network test, monitoring and analytics, worked with the information technology staff at Mississippi State University to provide the Allen data center on the Starkville college campus with super-fast Terabit-speed connections.

The engineers and campus IT staff used fiber optic connections, specialty gear and electronics and test measuring equipment from Nokia and EXFO to complete the trial, which successfully downloaded data 1,000 times faster than current 1 Gigabit per second Gbps) services on the market today.

Terabit speed research networks promise to dramatically lower data transport times, allowing the download of 125 gigabytes every single second, the equivalent of an entire season of HBO’s popular Game of Thrones series, 25 full-length movies in high definition, 2,083 hours of streaming music, 62,500 photos and 695,000 web pages.

The R&D arms at Ole Miss, the University of Mississippi Medical Center, Mississippi State, Jackson State, the University of Southern Mississippi, Stennis Space Center, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers’ Engineering Research and Development Center and the national Internet 2 consortium are all part of the consortium.

C Spire was chosen to overhaul the MissiON network under a new state telecommunications contract awarded to the company last year by the Mississippi Department of Information Technology Services (ITS). The firm finished the upgrade in record time and tripled capacity, cut overall costs and added four regional universities to the consortium.

Leveraging its 8,800 route miles of high-capacity fiber optic infrastructure, C Spire has designed the network to support direct collaboration for the first time among the state’s research universities and regional institutions as well as access to resources in the ITS State Data Center and C Spire data centers in Jackson and Starkville.

“We’re excited to be a part of this proof-of-concept trial, and we look forward to continuing our work with C Spire to make this vital infrastructure second to none,” said Dr. David Shaw, vice president for Research and Economic Development at Mississippi State University and chairman of the MissiON Network Advisory Council.

Shaw said the MissiON network plays an essential role in Mississippi’s economic development and business expansion initiatives. “Bolstering this network is critical in order to enhance our research institutions’ capacity to continue competing successfully for science and technology grants and funding from federal agencies, business and industry, foundations and private endowments. We’re operating in an increasingly competitive environment, and MissiON is an indispensable resource in our efforts,” he added.

C Spire, Nokia and EXFO also emphasized the importance of “future-proofing” the research network infrastructure to enable Mississippi research institutions and businesses to compete on a global scale in the future.

“As Mississippi’s leading broadband communications provider, C Spire is proud to provide innovative, leading-edge technology and the latest fiber optic infrastructure to help power the important work of the MissiON network and enable researchers to pursue comprehensive solutions to 21st century challenges,” said Eric Hollingsworth, vice president of Network and Service Delivery. “We are committed to helping the consortium continue to build this world-class network.”

Hollingsworth said that while the terabit speeds are not part of the MissiON network upgrade, it is important to continue to work with consortium members to perform trials and tests to plan for future improvements. “We need to offer a robust network capable of helping researchers stay on the cutting-edge of technology,” he added.

“We work with partners like C Spire to design optical networks to meet future demands,” said Sam Bucci, head of Nokia’s Optical business. “MissiON and other higher education research networks must continue to push the limits of communications to adapt to changing conditions and future unforeseen applications.”

EXFO played a key role in the ground-breaking trial, generating Terabit ethernet speeds with five combined 100 Gigabit dual-port test modules. The high-speed traffic was injected into the network and then returned to EXFO’s test platform to validate data transport and other critical performance measurements.

“As a leading pioneer in test, monitoring and analytics, EXFO is pleased to bring its high-speed transport test expertise to such a forward-looking project,” said Stephane Chabot, vice president of Test and Measurement. “Future-proofing tomorrow’s network infrastructure and supporting research leaders such as the MissiON partners is core to EXFO’s vision and values.”

As part of a comprehensive upgrade announced last September, C Spire boosted bandwidth speeds up to 10 times faster for consortium partners, lowered overall latency, added a new interconnection with Internet 2, built new route diversity and redundancy to ensure optimal MissiON network uptime and eliminated a single point of failure from the previous network.

C Spire launched its ground-breaking Tech Movement initiative in 2017 to encourage innovation, promote education and improve access to broadband internet through technology leadership and investments that transform its service areas and by helping more consumers, businesses and schools grow the state’s economy, create more jobs and improve the quality of life for everyone.

To learn more about C Spire’s efforts to improve the Mississippi Optical Network infrastructure, visit www.cspire.com/missiON. To learn more about the C Spire Tech Movement initiative, visit www.cspire.com/techmvmt.