News Release

Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science
For immediate release

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Steve McGregor, UTD
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UTD Engineering Professor Wins $300,000 Grant
For Telecommunications Reliability Research

Brazilian Group Funds Effort to Improve ‘Next Generation Internet’

RICHARDSON, Texas (Oct. 18, 2001) - A faculty member at The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD)
has won a $300,000, 18-month grant to develop a unique method of provisioning reliability in optical telecommunications networks, a promising development for the “next generation Internet.”

The grant was made by FUNDACAO CPqD, a non-profit scientific research foundation in Campinas, Brazil, to Dr. Andrea Fumagalli, associate professor of electrical engineering in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science and head of the Optical Networking Advanced Research (OpNeAR) Lab at UTD [].

The grant from the Brazilian foundation expands on a three-year, $500,000 study, funded by the National Science Foundation, in which Fumagalli and a UTD colleague, Dr. Andras Farago, are developing the theoretical foundations of the concept of what Fumagalli calls “differentiated reliability” of service over optical networks.

“Differentiated reliability - or what we call DiR - is the recognition that different Internet applications require different degrees of reliability,” Fumagalli said. “For example, user needs range from absolutely having to communicate under all circumstances - which would require total network reliability - to a situation where uninterrupted service, while nice, is not essential.

“We want to measure and provision the right amount of reliability by matching redundancy to the particular application, thus optimizing the use of fiber-optic networks.”

The cost of service, Fumagalli said, would be scaled up or down depending on reliability needs.

While differentiated reliability can be applied to existing telecommunications networks, perhaps its greatest promise, according to Fumagalli, may be realized in the evolving next generation Internet, known as “IP over WDM” - an acronym for Internet protocol over wavelength division multiplexing. That’s technical parlance for an optical fiber-based network containing parallel, high-speed paths over which voice, video and data move simultaneously in vast quantities.

The resulting network, which provides tremendous bandwidth to users, also provides many potential pathways through which applications may flow. This multitude of routing options increases redundancy and enables the provisioning of back-up communications channels in the event of an outage in the network, Fumagalli said.

“Think of it as traffic engineering, but instead of automobiles or pedestrians, we are devising optimum routes for information to get from points A to B, with many possible alternatives based on need,” he said. “This is one promising solution to the challenge of reliability, offering a way to realize an even more advanced Internet.”

Fumagalli will work with at least 10 graduate students in the OpNeAR Lab at UTD to develop a test bed composed of (optical) circuits in order to implement his DiR concept. The UTD group will work in concert with researchers at FUNDACAO CPqD, which is funded by telecommunications companies and the Brazilian government.

“We have a very unique team of students involved in this first-of-its-kind research,” Fumagalli said. “The group is interdisciplinary in nature, with electrical engineering, telecommunications engineering and computer science majors utilizing a variety of skills, from hardware design to high-level programming.

“This research would not be possible without this talented group of graduate students,” he said.

The University of Texas at Dallas, located at the convergence of Richardson, Plano and Dallas in the heart of the complex of major multinational technology corporations known as the Telecom Corridor, enrolls more than 7,000 undergraduate and 5,000 graduate students. The school’s freshman class traditionally stands at the forefront of Texas state universities in terms of average SAT scores. The university offers a broad assortment of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs. For additional information about UTD, please visit the university’s web site at

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June 13, 2002