1024x1024 raster display (i.e., roughly 1 million picture elements, or pels), each pel requiring 8 bits to specify each of three colors (red, blue, green), and requiring 30 frames per second for real time. Then we need 1024 x 1024 x 3 x 8 x 30 bits/s, or roughly 750 Mbits/s on an individual basis. Multiplying this bandwidth by some estimate of the number of users who might simultaneously be transmitting such graphics over the same long-haul link easily leads to a requirement for gigabit per second links. Of course, one can often apply a significant amount of video-image compression to this kind of application, which could reduce the demand for raw bandwidth generated by this application in those cases where compression was used.*
There are many large data-generation and observational efforts (for example, those undertaken by the National Weather Service, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration) that produce very large files at great expense to taxpayers. The data files are of enormous potential value; many researchers want to use them but cannot gain network access to these centrally located databases.
Computational research may take place in distributed locations. Distributed systems require adequate network access to remote computers.
There are further reasons for establishing an NRN that flow from the potential to improve the structure of the research community itself. Among them are the following:
Because the number of universities housing first-class research facilities tends to grow far slower than the growth in the number of first-class researchers, many first-class researchers are dispersed among institutions with only limited capacity to support them. An NRN would enable those researchers to continue and strengthen their research by providing access to colleagues as well as better facilities. Access through an NRN would help to upgrade many types of research at a wide range of institutions more quickly and at a much lower cost than through such means as fundraising.
A great benefit in terms of research quantity (and possibly quality) may arise by providing equitable access to those who are currently isolated by geographical location. This is illustrated by remarks from an oceanographer elicited by the committee when it sought input from the research community:
Whereas the effect on network response time of the propagation delay due to the finite speed of light is completely insignificant when transmitting (even for large files—say, 1 Mbit—and even over long distances—say 3000 miles) over low-speed lines (i.e., no faster than 1 Mbit/s), it is a dominating effect when such file lengths and distances are used with very-high-speed lines (at least 100 Mbits/s).