Tuesday, December 12, 2006

LONI Touuted as Film Industry Aid

Louisiana's statewide fiber optic network, LONI, is being touted as a way attract more film business dollars to Louisiana. The hope is that LONI can provide a high speed bridge that will allow fast, easy transfer of the huge amounts of video data generated by modern film making around the country so that films shot here could be practically reviewed and processed in other locations while filming was ongoing.

The LONI network connects state research institutions to the new national high-speed backbone, LambdaRail. The LambdaRail provides a testbed for implementing the latest techniques for moving huge amounts of data quickly over long distances.

LONI, which is still under development, already connects to Lafayette and the Louisiana Immersive Technologies Enterprise, LITE. (That's the last acronym for today, thank goodness.) Lafayette's ULL supercomputer, Zeke, will be linked up today:
Guice said the state's network will be online by mid-January. UL will connect its supercomputer Zeke to LONI at a ceremony at the Louisiana Immersive Technologies Center today.
Louisiana has been very successful in marketing itself a film location--chiefly by the mechanism of offering transferable tax credits for projects shot in Louisiana. Baton Rouge and Shreveport are current centers of activity; New Orleans has yet to come back after the storms. Offering film makers a real enhancement to their working conditions makes more sense in the long run than giving away tax dollars--building infrastructure is always a smarter way to attract business.

Apparently the state's fiber-optic infrastructure isn't too shabby:
"The state of Louisiana has the most robust and complex fiber-optics network in the country right now," said Les Guice, Louisiana Tech University's vice president for research and development. He said it could transmit data thousands of times faster than a typical high-speed Internet connection.
To be frank, I'm not sure the claim that Louisiana has the "most" robust and complex system is true--other states are doing their own version of LONI and some of those are online already. But what does seem to be the case is that Louisiana is in the top tier of states nationwide. And that could be a very good thing, not just for the film industry but for any industry that moves a lot of data.

Of course, getting the data onto LONI will still be the issue. Taking full advantage of anything like the full speed of LONI or the LamdaRail will mean that a dedicated, special purpose, high speed fiber optic link to the premises. A "fast" Cox cable connection or even a dedicated T-1 from the phone company won't begin to fill the bill. We're talking a major expense and one that for many locations will not be available at any price. That "last mile" connection will limit the use and value of the LONI bandwidth pretty radically; most companies won't be able to get to it very practically.

The solution to the expense of a dedicated, special purpose, high speed fiber optic link to the premises is, as you may have guessed, a cheap, ubiquitous, general purpose high speed network that is available wherever the company wants to shoot a scene.

A network like the one the LUS fiber optic plan will provide Lafayette; the future center of film production in Louisiana.

(You did see that coming, didn't you?)

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