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For some, getting on the Internet can be a blast.

Now, thanks to the Bandwidth for Leadership in Advancing Science and Technology project—known as BLAST—it can also be faster for computer users at UT.

A lot faster.

“This is quite an accomplishment, for both UT and for the researchers who use the network,” said Victor Hazlewood, chief operating officer at the Joint Institute for Computational Sciences and the National Science Foundation’s principal investigator on BLAST. “This really positions UT well to continue to be at the forefront of innovation.”

The upgrade, completed May 25, is a combined effort between JICS and UT’s Office of Information Technology and makes it possible for UT users to make use of Internet speeds up to 100 gigabits per second.

For comparison, most research institutions have Internet speeds around 10 gigabits per second.

“UT’s Top 25 initiatives included improvements in infrastructure and expansion of services for research,” said Larry Jennings, associate chief information officer in OIT and BLAST co-principal investigator. “BLAST is an initiative that demonstrates the campus’ commitment to that overarching goal.”

In proposing the plan last year, planners said that the aim was to “improve science and engineering researcher productivity and facilitate scientific discovery.”

Achieving that goal would have other beneficial effects, too, such as the ability to move large amounts of data, whose sheer size would have made the task prohibitively slow before the upgrade.

“The BLAST project is another step toward UT’s goal of being a top university,” said Hazlewood. “UT is the first member of the Southern Crossroads research and education consortium to upgrade its wide area network connection to 100 gigabits per second.”

The BLAST project was completed in partnership with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which provided the long-haul fiber optic infrastructure supporting such speeds.

All told, the project cost $4.5 million, with funding coming from the National Science Foundation, UT, and ORNL.


David Goddard (865-974-0683,