Georgia: Peaches, Peanuts and Broadband?
A visit to GCATT's Broadband Institute
The southern US state of Georgia is associated with lots of things. Peaches and peanuts are two: the peanut is Georgia's official state crop. But if organizations like the Georgia Research Alliance and Georgia Centers For Advanced Telecommunications Technology (GCATT) are successful, you might also start associating "digital" and "broadband" with Georgia.
We were introduced to these efforts by an email reference to the National Academy of Science's Report, "Broadband: Bringing Home the Bits". The report was written by a committee chaired by Nikil Jayant, Executive Director of GCATT. Small world, since Sandy and Nikil had worked together on a special issue of the AT&T Technical Journal back in their days at AT&T. At GCATT, we met with Nikil and Bill Prigge, the organization's Business & Operations Manager.
The Georgia Research Alliance (GRA) is a public/private partnership promoting the state's technology-based economic development. GCATT, a program of GRA, supports development of the latest technologies and applications in communications, computing and content processing. It has three areas of focus: technology, policy and commercialization. The Georgia Tech Broadband Institute, one of GCATT's centers, focuses on broadband communications research and applications and was the primary driver for our visit.
The Broadband Institute works on "last mile" (access) technologies and on services and infrastructure within the home. The Residential Laboratory, which we visited, is one of their research facilities. Its purpose is to understand how broadband connectivity and ubiquitous computing can enhance future lifestyles.
One of their current programs, "Aging in Place" is researching what aids might be provided in-home to assist older people (and their families) in maintaining independence and safety.
Much of their funding and work plan come from industrial sponsors such as BellSouth, Broadcom, HP and Intel. Sponsorships come in several levels, including a special one for small companies and start-ups. They involve "pre-competitive" research of the kinds not usually affordable by "small" companies. Examples of some recent projects include: "Interference Mitigation Techniques for Bluetooth Systems", "Architectures and Protocols for Scalable Content Distribution Networks" and "Efficient Security Protocols for Handheld Devices".
Why might you care? The Broadband Institute's research agenda is directed by its members. Their fees give them access to the research results of talented doctoral candidates and their advisors, and help set their direction. The annual cycle of determining projects which will start in August is just about to get under way. For more information, contact Bill Prigge, firstname.lastname@example.org .
( www.gra.org ) ( www.gcatt.gatech.edu ) ( www4.nationalacademies.org/cpsma/cstb.nsf/web/pub_broadband?OpenDocument ) ( www.broadband.gatech.edu )