New fiber optic link to aid Hatfield Center research


CORVALLIS, Ore. - Oregon State University has created a new high-speed fiber optic communication link with its Hatfield Marine Science Center at Newport that will make Internet and data communications between Corvallis and Newport more than 65 times faster than the current system.

This additional speed will be particularly important for scientific research and transmission of large data sets between researchers at HMSC and the OSU campus, strengthening the center's role as OSU's "portal to the Pacific Ocean," said center director George Boehlert.

"This will allow for better quality teleconferences, including delivery of distance education courses," Boehlert said. "And by initiating this link, OSU has developed a system that could be accessed by other research agencies in Newport, the Oregon Coast Aquarium or even local school systems in Newport."

The new linkage will provide scientists at the Hatfield Marine Science Center with high-speed data communication comparable to faculty on the Corvallis campus, said Jonathan Dolan, associate director for network services at OSU. Computer systems and Internet connections will have more bandwidth and work much better, he said.

The Hatfield Marine Science Center is now served by a "T-1" connection that's only slightly faster than a conventional home computer DSL or cable modem, Dolan said, and can transfer data at about 1.5 megabits per second. The new system to be created, which is similar to most of the interconnections used at OSU, operates at about 100 megabits per second. Such high speeds are essential for the use and transmission of large amounts of data that are common to scientific research.

The cost of the new system was kept low by a cooperative agreement with CoastCom Inc. and LS Networks, two private networking companies who lease fiber optic lines from Central Lincoln PUD and the Bonneville Power Administration.

"By being the anchor tenant for very high-speed networking in Newport, we helped these companies to provide better networking options to the entire mid-coastal region, including places like the Oregon Coast Aquarium," Dolan said.

OSU's Hatfield Marine Science Center is a major, 49-acre research, educational and public outreach facility. It is the center of marine research involving hundreds of OSU faculty and staff based in Newport and Corvallis, as well as other state and federal agencies. The facility is the home of oceanographic research vessels, and supports studies in such areas as marine fisheries, aquaculture, water quality, marine biology, botany, microbiology, zoology and oceanography.