State officials have set aside $1 million to help develop the Pacific Northwest Gigapop Network, a next generation high-speed data link between Spokane and Seattle.
Legislators approved the cash during the final week of the recently finished session in Olympia. The money is part of a $2.2 billion state capital budget, with legislators saying the high-speed Gigapop network is crucial to creating new jobs and spurring the economy.
“The Gigapop Network will be our avenue to the world,” Spokane Mayor Jim West said Tuesday about the allocation, which will be managed initially by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in the Tri-Cities. “Compared to what we now have, this will give us and area researchers much more capacity to increase research and expand our economy,” West said.
The money will be spread over two years. The city had requested $5 million over five years for the fiber network between Seattle, the Tri-Cities, Spokane and Pullman. That money would go for both infrastructure and operations.
The $1 million investment should be enough to push the Pacific Northwest Gigapop Network into operation, West said. City officials and others in the community are seeking additional money from federal agencies or Congress.
Once operational, the Gigapop network will enable 10-gigabit-per-second data connections between Eastern Washington and the University of Washington, which developed the first gigabit hub in the state.
Gigabit Ethernet speeds are roughly 65 times faster than the fastest connections currently existing between Spokane and Seattle. An even faster superhighway link will eventually be built between Seattle and the Tri-Cities for researchers at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, said Jerry Johnson, director of information technology services at the lab.
West added it’s not clear who eventually will manage the Spokane hub of the Gigapop network. It could become a joint effort that would include those who are running the Virtual Possibilities Network, or VPNet, a fiber optic network connecting area higher education campuses.
“It will also involve help with the Seattle people,” said West. “The University of Washington will be part of the project.”
The $1 million will largely be spent on adding the electronic and hardware components needed to power and “light up” the system, West said. Some money may be used to start operating the network, he added.