More collaboration, more discovery, more breakthroughs at lightning speed—that’s what researchers at higher education institutions across the state of Indiana can look forward to thanks to an upgrade to the I-Light network taking place this month. That’s when I-Light bandwidth will increase from 10 Gigabits per second (Gbps) to 100 Gbps.

I-Light is Indiana’s high-performance, optical fiber research and education (R&E) telecommunications network. Managed by the Indiana University Global Research Network Operations Center, I-Light connects member sites to state, national, and international research and education networks. Nearly every college and university in Indiana connects to I-Light, making it an integral part of the state’s research and discovery landscape.

“This upgrade is a direct response to the needs of our member institutions, whose researchers must be able to quickly and nimbly share huge data sets over the network. With more bandwidth on the I-Light backbone, there will be faster collaboration between higher education institutions in the state, the nation and the world, enabling more breakthroughs to benefit us all,” said Marianne Chitwood, I-Light director. “Students who are working on science or accessing engineering simulations will have the fastest and best connections to the considerable resources of the hundreds of universities connected to the Internet2 national network.”

The state’s three big research universities, Indiana University, Purdue University and the University of Notre Dame, will undoubtedly benefit from the 100G upgrade. For faculty at smaller schools like Wabash College and Earlham College, the increased bandwidth means more time devoted to research and less time waiting.

“The I-Light upgrade will transform research in Indiana. For example, scientists at Earlham often perform data transfers with the Argonne National Laboratory, just outside of Chicago. It currently takes them about a week to get their data to there. With the upgrade, they’ll be able to do it in just a few hours,” said Dave Jent, IU associate vice president for networks. “It’s a similar situation at Wabash. On their current 1G connection, it’s faster for researchers to put the data on tapes and drive it to collaborators at Michigan State University. With the upgrade, the data transfer will get there in a few hours—no driving.”

Brad Weaver, director of IT services at Wabash, says the faster, more efficient data transfers will no doubt benefit science—and the faculty and students making it happen. “Quality undergraduate research today demands network infrastructure that supports distributed data flows, large file transfer, and real-time instrument access, whether across campus or around the globe,” he said. “The bandwidth upgrades will open new opportunities for our students, and will enable Wabash College to further strengthen our undergraduate research program.”