MANHASSET, N.Y. Startup Darkstrand said Tuesday (Oct. 28) it has acquired one-half of National LambdaRail's 15,000-mile optical network capacity and will make it available to businesses.
The optical network initially designed for research is spread across 30 U.S. cities and has a capacity of 160 Gbits. Darkstrand said it will resell parts of its 80 Gbits to companies.
"The U.S. is a knowledge economy, and to maintain its edge in the long run, companies need the technology and tools that can quickly take an idea and put it into the marketplace," said Michael Stein, founder and CEO of Darkstrand.
An enormous capacity of so-called "dark fiber" resulted from overbuilding in the 1990s. The underground optical fiber could be used to transfer massive amounts of data over long distances. National LambdaRail Inc., a consortium of U.S. universities and private companies, deployed a national networking infrastructure in 2004 to advance networking research and, in the process, enable next-generation network applications in science, engineering and medicine.
"Darkstrand for the first time offers U.S. firms access to the unrivaled speed of the National LambdaRail to facilitate streamlined workflow and collaboration across distributed enterprises and across geographies," said Steve Conway, IDC research vice president.
Darkstrand said it will provide businesses with a 10-Gbyte optical transmission pipe to 30 U.S. locations. Its goal is to tap research tools such as high-performance computing and 3-D visualization.
Current network users include NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory along with the Energy Department's Oak Ridge and Los Alamos National Laboratories.
According to Darkstrand CEO Michael Stein, "A company like Caterpillar or John Deere cannot do full vehicle analysis in the product design phase, [but] the data is not manageable for them. They have to analyze [data] in pieces, design the components, build the tractor and see if it works--a very expensive process.'Meanwhile, not far away, research institute Oak Ridge National Laboratory [was] doing full vehicle analysis on the NASA space shuttle more than 10 years ago."
Added Stein: "How much more competitive could Caterpillar be if they had access to this computing power?"
Stein claimed some research institutions possess intellectual property that is 10 years ahead of the private sector, but there is currently no way for businesses to tap into this IP.
With the acquisition, National LambdaRail will begin upgrading network capacity.
Chicago-based Darkstrand was founded by Stein in 2005. It has so far raised $12 million from private investors.