RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK — MCNC Grid Computing and Network Services, the operator of the North Carolina Research and Education Network, will provide experiment support services for the network consortium known as National LambdaRail.

The contract was announced Wednesday at a meeting of National LambdaRail (NLR) members that MCNC is hosting at its RTP headquarters.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

“It’s a good financial deal,” an MCNC spokesman told Local Tech Wire.

MCNC Grid Computing and Network Services is the business unit spun off from MCNC as part of a reorganization in 2003 that led to the creation of it as well of the MCNC Research and Development Institute. The R&D group was sold earlier this year to RTI International by the parent MCNC Ventures (now known as NC IDEA).

North Carolina State University researchers are also actively involved in the LambdaRail project.

“NLR’s selection of MCNC to run NLR’s Experiment Support Services will further strengthen the unique capabilities of the nationwide National LambdaRail optical infrastructure to support leading-edge research,” said Tom West, chief executive officer of the Lambda project. “MCNC and N.C. State University bring a long history of nationally recognized leadership in the most advanced aspects of networking.”

The NLR is a consortium of universities and private partners building what has been called an Internet 3, utilizing fiber for research and development projects. Internet 2 is also a high-speed R&D network, and MCNC has been actively involved in its development.

Lambda is the 11th letter in the Greek alphabet and is used as another term for wavelength. A lambda circuit is defined as a single wavelength of light for the transmission of information across a fiber-optic network strand. By using separately tuned lasers, a single fiber strand can transport more than one data stream.

The NLR has deployed technology enabling researchers to actually control their own end-to-end networks that provide capacity beyond what other networks offer. Scientists are using the network for large-scale projects in nanoscience, genomics and other specialties that require high-capacity bandwidth for collaboration, remote control of equipment, and transmission for huge amounts of data.

In a statement, MCNC said services to be provided include:

  • “Coordination and deployment of experimental equipment

  • “Providing engineering support and other assistance to researchers

  • “Serving as a facilitator for researchers and research collaboration

  • “Establishing a set of tools that enables researchers to access the NLR infrastructure in ways not possible on other production research and education networks”

    John Crites, chief information officer at RTI who recently joined MCNC as interim president and chief executive officer, called the NLR “one of the most ambitious national research and education networking initiatives of our time and a giant leap in driving the evolution of the Internet. We are honored to have the opportunity to help researchers throughout the nation and world develop the networking infrastructure critical to advancements in every field of science and engineering.”