A center of innovation
To paraphrase the University’s fight song, we have been providing the world with a “heck of an engineer”  since 1885. New wireless technologies like 4G/Long Term Evolution (LTE) will be key in allowing us to continue to enrich this great tradition.
Georgia Tech is “…preparing students to use their innovative skills and strong work ethic to solve real-world problems and improve the lives of people around the globe.”  One of my goals in fulfilling this mission is to ensure Georgia Tech innovators (including students, researchers, faculty and staff) have access to an advanced, diverse telecommunications infrastructure that is representative of the real world and related technologies including wireless. We call this collection of resources the Convergence Innovation Platform (CIP), part of our Georgia Tech Research Network Operations Center (GT-RNOC).
Along with academic and business partners, we are leading the way — exploring, creating and nurturing what’s next. Ubiquitous wireless connection is a critical piece of the CIP initiative. It is critical because all-IP enablers such as 4G/LTE can multiply value in next-generation converged applications.
4G/LTE excites us
What excites us about 4G/LTE are its goals of:
- High throughput
- Low latency
- End-to-end IP
- Plug and play
- FDD and TDD support on the same platform
- Improved end-user experience
- Simple architecture enabling better use of radio spectrum and lower operating costs
- Seamless connection to existing networks including GSM, CDMA, WCDMA
The roots of Georgia Tech’s Mobility and Convergence Innovation initiative within the GT-RNOC date to the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. During the preparation for the games, our first cellular wireless carrier partnership was established. Our partnership with AT&T (formerly Bellsouth Mobility, then Cingular Wireless) has been ongoing since 1994. In 2006, the partnership adopted the CIP as a key, new component. Today many of the major carriers share an interest in the CIP. The GT-RNOC expects to partner with additional carriers later this year.
The Wi-Fi network we launched with 30 Wi-Fi access points in 1999 has grown to 2300 access points. This includes our main campus in Atlanta as well as campuses in Savannah, Georgia and Lorraine, France, all with (locally) ubiquitous broadband.
The network supports enterprise and research functions. Georgia Tech innovators leverage the Wi-Fi infrastructure to develop next-generation, multisession, multiprotocol, multimedia services that are location- and presence-enabled. These services are built around CIP components including products made available through the Alcatel-Lucent University Innovations Program.
The 4G/LTE extension of all-IP, broadband-speed wireless to the wide area network will create ubiquitous connections for the general public. It will enable high-value, high-quality user experiences. These experiences will be personalized, seamless and secure across access networks and terminals.
Innovators accelerate progress
Each year GT-RNOC sponsors the Convergence Innovation Competition (CIC). In the CIC, students from technical and business disciplines submit proposals for new converged applications and services that are evaluated for:
- Market and technical viability
- Creativity and completeness
Successful proposals become competition entries for:
- Seed funding
- Business plan consultation
- Matchmaking with venture capital firms and the competition’s industry sponsors
We believe that the CIC is unique in the U.S. It runs on an extensive capital infrastructure and engages teams of students uniquely educated in a variety of mobile applications and service technologies. And it gives students a chance to actually build what they imagine – end-to-end.
This year’s first place winner offers a sneak peek into not just the promise, but the reality of what will be greatly enhanced by 4G/LTE.
This year’s top prize went to MoVue, a mobile search and social networking application with location-based advertising, built with a novel user interface. MoVue augments a mobile handset camera viewfinder in real time with icons and information on personally relevant points-of-interest. As a result, simply “looking around” (with the device) provides desired information. It is designed to be friendly to advertisers as well as to end users, and can be offered as a premium service. Just think about the enhanced experience of MoVue on 4G/LTE and you will understand why we love what we do.
Next-gen technology in academic settings and partnering for the future
Academic/industry partnerships such as that of the GT-RNOC with the Alcatel-Lucent University Innovations Program can be as important for the campus enterprise and academics as they are for the sponsors. Here are few things that are particularly significant:
- Increasingly at Georgia Tech, technology customers are also technology creators. This relationship is a differentiator in the education of many of our engineers and scientists. Our partnership with Alcatel-Lucent is very important in making the latest technology and tools available to student innovators who create not only for the Georgia Tech enterprise and community but also for the world.
- In addition to providing a platform for innovation, the business case for new converged network technologies can be compelling, even in difficult economic times. When we evaluate the business case for new technology, we consider both our computing and our communications needs. Multi-use, converged network technologies are innovation enablers for sophisticated enterprise solutions. Following are just a few examples of what we use our networks for:
- Wirelessly transmitting ticket scans at our football games
- Tracking buses on campus with wireless GPS location data
- Working on new algorithms for SIM cards to facilitate wireless transactions on handheld devices
- Conducting research on price, performance, security and ease of use for applications and user constituencies
- And in the future, using 4G/LTE to provide compelling video experiences for our distance learning projects both on campus and with K-12 schools
- Partnering with leading-edge technology suppliers, such as Alcatel-Lucent, is critical. Access to the best products and services, drawing on the most experienced technicians and business developers, and working together in a collegial environment make everyone a lot smarter. That’s how great ideas become the next big thing.
Georgia Tech today
Today Georgia Tech is home to 19,000 students and 5,000 faculty and support staff on a 400-acre campus in Atlanta, Georgia. As Chief Technology Officer, I can say unabashedly we are particularly proud of our world-renowned computing and communications facilities and of the GT-RNOC’s CIP (including Alcatel-Lucent solutions) in particular.
Georgia Tech is acknowledged as one of the world’s most “connected” campuses with:
- 80,000 network ports
- Gigabit wired access from all residential rooms and classrooms
- 2,300 Wi-Fi access ports providing universal coverage to all campus users and visitors
When the Georgia Tech campus was used as the Olympic Village for the 1996 Olympic summer games in Atlanta, we established not only a long-standing ongoing partnership with AT&T but also a major fiber and wireless infrastructure on campus. We are a major hub for a number of high-speed national and international research networks. Included among them is Southern Crossroads, which connects 22 universities and government agencies.
We have built a world-class curriculum around enhancing technology innovation processes. Our results have seeded educational initiatives and a proliferation of applications in various Georgia Tech schools and programs. We encourage everyone to challenge their technology innovation processes to solve real-world problems and improve the lives of people around the globe.
- Additional Contributors:
- Dr. Russell Clark – Research Scientist, Associate Director of GT-RNOC
- Matt Sanders – Research Scientist, Associate Director of GT-RNOC
- Ramsay Hall – Research Engineer, GT-RNOC Planning and Development
- Georgia Tech Research Network Operations Center
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