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University of Idaho’s Boost in Bandwidth Opens World of Opportunities for University, as well as State

Moscow, Idaho - April 3, 2006 – The University of Idaho’s reputation for leadership in information technology just got a huge boost. Today, the university announced that, effective immediately, it has a direct on-ramp to the world's information highway with a new high-speed, fiber-optic, 2.4 gigabits-per-second network connection. The university previously had only 45 megabits-per-second of bandwidth.

“We are tremendously excited to have this powerful new capability. It opens a number of doors for the entire university community, and beyond,” said University of Idaho President Timothy P. White. “The University of Idaho now has an information technology system that has more bandwidth than many entire state university systems.”

The new bandwidth and network connection is provided by the Pacific Northwest Gigapop. PNWGP is a not-for-profit organization that provides robust, highest-speed access to current national and international state-of-the-art Internet, next-generation Internet services and technology and exclusive research and development testbeds. The partnership will enable University of Idaho faculty to share instantly their own research with others around the globe, collaborate interactively on projects or use supercomputers remotely for specialized research.

“The University of Idaho information technology system is a resource that could be shared with the state,” said White. “Our system has the capacity to serve other Idaho higher education institutions, state agencies and K-12 school districts. It’s critical that the state refine its Statewide Initiative to address the investment necessary to utilize fully this resource.”

The power of this expanded Internet link, and the campus network that backs it up, is one of the largest and best in the Northwest. Great care was taken when designing the network to ensure it can be scalable upwards to accommodate even more advanced computing needs as they develop in the future, said Harvey Hughett, executive director of UI’s information technology services.

“This new link will facilitate the implementation of reliable high-definition video, voice communications, remote instrument control, grid research, joint research initiatives with the world’s best researchers and labs and myriad other applications that are becoming increasingly an important part of the global research network,” he said.

One of six grant beneficiaries to receive network upgrades, UI’s new network connection was made possible by a five-year, $10 million grant from the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), a component of the National Institutes of Health, awarded to Professor Gwen Jacobs of Montana State University and Professor Ron Johnson of the University of Washington. The grant supports enhanced network access for biomedical researchers throughout the western U.S.; collectively these network connections are referred to as the Lariat Network. UI’s information technology services provided an additional $700,000 to make improvements to its Internet infrastructure to support the large bandwidth, including a new core and border router.

As a beneficiary of the NIH grant, UI can now expand its biomedical research conducted by students and faculty. With the new bandwidth, program faculty and students can work with other researchers and instructors around the world in real time, watching medical procedures with impeccable high-definition capabilities and capturing minute details.

"This connection is essential to Idaho's scientists so that they can conduct truly collaborative research projects with colleagues across the country and around the world, and can share access to the sophisticated instrumentation and high-bandwidth science applications vital to conducting medical research in this era," said Sidney McNairy, director of research infrastructure at NCRR.

Additional Insights from Collaborating Partners
"The Lariat Network will bring new research, clinical, education, and economic development opportunities to the region. The skillful leadership of Professors Jacobs (MSU) and Johnson (UW) in making this opportunity available to UI is complemented by the implementation savvy of UI Professor Mike Laskowski and UI CIO Harvey Hughett. This network will serve UI's research community now and in the future."
Louis Fox
Vice Provost and Professor, University of Washington

“In order to remain competitive in cutting-edge research, University of Idaho researchers need to establish and maintain collaborations worldwide. This includes using major supercomputer facilities that exist only at the largest universities. The new wideband connection will enable the university to attract and retain the best students and researchers. Moreover, it will enable UI faculty and students to remain competitive in obtaining research grants.”
Mike Laskowski
Director of NIH Idaho INBRE Program
Professor of Biological Science, University of Idaho

"The Lariat Networking Project, funded through the National Center for Research Resources (National Institutes of Health) is an unprecedented opportunity to improve the information technology infrastructure for a group of institutions in the rural west who would otherwise remain isolated from national cyberinfrastructure efforts. I am very pleased to see another piece of the Lariat Network put in place today. This successful completion of this project would not have been possible without the collaborative efforts of Dr. Mike Laskowski and his colleagues at the University of Idaho and Dr. Ron Johnson, University of Washington, and the network engineers at the Pacific Northwest Gigapop. I am very impressed with the plans in Idaho to leverage this initial investment into a statewide cyberinfrastructure initiative. These combined efforts will enable Idaho to use this network to enhance research, education and economic development. I congratulate all those individuals whose hard work has made this possible."
Gwen Jacobs
Principal Investigator, Lariat Network
Chair and Professor of Cell Biology and Neuroscience, Montana State University

"The University of Idaho has long been a valuable partner of the UW, with a long and rich history of collaboration through such programs as the WWAMI medical education program and, more recently, the WWAMI Regional Center of Excellence for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases Research. The Lariat Network, led by Dr. Gwen Jacobs will enable researchers at UI – via a broadband connection to the Pacific Northwest Gigapop in Seattle and hence to all the research institutions of not just the region, but the world – to become a full partner in the global 'grid' of researchers. This is a critical first step towards establishing a regional research network of connectivity in Idaho among significant research partners, including the Idaho National Labs and other institutions.”
Ron Johnson
Co-Principal Investigator, Lariat Network
Vice President, Computing and Communications, University of Washington

About the University of Idaho
Founded in 1889, the University of Idaho is the state’s flagship higher-education institution and its principal graduate education and research university. The Carnegie Foundation ranks the University of Idaho a “research university with high research activity,” the only institution in the state to achieve this elite status. UI’s distinctive scholarship expands intellectual boundaries to bring insight and innovation to the state, the nation and the world, attracting more than 12,000 students from all 50 states and more than 90 countries. UI’s diverse student population includes first-generation college students, ethnically diverse scholars and high academic performers – including 34 National Merit Scholars and a freshman class with an average high school grade point average of 3.42 in 2005-06. The University of Idaho combines the strengths of a large university, offering 106 degree options in nine colleges, with the intimacy of small learning communities. By attracting more than $100 million in research grants and contracts each year, the University of Idaho is ensuring its cutting-edge academic programs and research benefit the world for years to come. For more information, visit

About Pacific Northwest Gigapop
The Pacific Northwest Gigapop (PNW Gigapop) is a not-for-profit organization that serves leading edge organizations and research and education networks throughout the Pacific Rim. It provides robust, highest-speed access to current state of the art Internet; next generation Internet services and technology; and the exclusive research and development testbeds where tomorrow’s Internet technologies are being developed. The PNW Gigapop is built to be the highest caliber research and education networking services hub in the world. For more information, visit

About The Lariat Project
The Lariat Project is the first phase of IDeANet, funded by the National Center for Research Resources at NIH. IDeANet will eventually enhance internet connectivity for all participating states. Lariat will develop and implement a plan to provide a high-speed telecommunications network for biomedical researchers that will enable scientists and educators in Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, and Wyoming to take advantage of the wealth of remote research resources and expertise available to scientists in other areas of the country. For more information, visit

Contact: Joni Kirk, UI Communications, (208) 885-7725,

Amy Philipson