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ITS Networking & Telecommunications

Michigan LambdaRail (MiLR)

High-Speed Research Network

MiLR (pronounced "MY-lar") is a very high-speed, special purpose, data network created jointly by the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Wayne State University. It provides low-cost, 10 Gbps fiber optic connections between the three campuses and to national and international research and education connection points throughout the world. MiLR also has the ability to support up to 100Gbps connections to other MiLR locations.

MiLR is operated by the Merit Network.

Who can use MiLR?

Departments, as well as individual researchers, can open a MiLR account to use the network for pursuing their studies and for collaborating with other researchers in other locations. The speed and reliability of the network provide the capacity to share exceptionally large data sets with colleagues around the world. MiLR opens up opportunities for using high-resolution video and visualization, including state-of-the-art telemedicine to remote locations. The network also provides a test-bed for experimental research on networking itself.

How can I get set up with MiLR?

Departments or individuals who have an interest in using MiLR, including prospective faculty, research staff, and students, should send e-mail to MiLR-Joint-Tech@umich.edu indicating their interest. They will then be contacted by a U-M MiLR representative who will discuss the possibilities and what is needed to get started.

What does it cost to use MiLR?

The charges to use a dedicated or shared U-M 10 Gigabit Circuit are shown at MiLR Backbone and Circuit Rates.

Who currently uses MiLR at the University of Michigan?

LS&A High Energy Physics Department

The Atlas Project is a joint collaboration between several universities, including the University of Michigan, and the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva, Switzerland. MiLR is used to transmit massive amounts of data from CERN's particle accelerator and Large Hadron Collider facilities to U-M's Randall Lab on Church Street. Faculty and student researchers then study and analyze the data for potential discoveries about the nature of the physical universe.

School of Information

High definition video conferencing over MiLR is how the School of Information (SI) uses advanced technology to successfully span the U-M central and north campuses. The SI North 3rd Floor Conference Room is connected to a conference room at West Hall by a high-definition video conferencing system. These two rooms provide students, faculty, and staff with a way to easily conduct meetings across the two campuses using MiLR and video conferencing systems made by Lifesize Communications. In addition to the 720p high-definition plasma displays at each site, the systems also provide a way to integrate phone calls and the sharing of a laptop screen as part of the conference.

When was MiLR created?

Planning for MiLR began in 2003 as the three major Michigan universities wanted to provide a very high-performance, competitively priced network. In 2004, 750 miles of dark (currently installed but unused) fiber were acquired and optronics equipment was selected. Arrangements with Merit were agreed upon and the network became operational in the spring of 2005.

Is MiLR part of the Internet?

MiLR is a separate high-speed transport network to other education networks and facilities, although the Internet can be reached through MiLR's link to the U-M Backbone Interconnect Network.

Why is it called LambdaRail?

The "lambda" in LambdaRail refers to a wavelength of light, and light is used to carry digital information over a fiber optic cable. The light in a lambda can move data at 10 gigabits (or 10,000 megabits) per second—while a fiber optic cable can potentially carry hundreds of lambdas.

"Rail" refers to railroads that connect cities and the fact that many fiber optic networks share the same path as current or former railroad lines.

Where are the MiLR facilities located?

The fiber connections include geographically diverse routes between Detroit and Chicago, as well as metro rings within both cities. The network connects Merit Members and Affiliates with direct connections to national and international research and education networks such as Internet2/Abilene, CANARIE (Canadian Network for the Advancement of Research, Industry and Education) and MREN (Metropolitan Research and Education Network).

What kind of technology does MiLR use?

The MiLR collaboration acquired the rights to use six strands of fiber optic cable for 20 years along a 750-mile ring in the Detroit-Chicago corridor. MiLR has the ability to provide as many as 40 10 Gbps Ethernets between Ann Arbor, Chicago, Detroit, East Lansing, Grand Rapids, and Kalamazoo through the use of the dense wave division multiplexing (DWDM) equipment used to initially "light" two of the six fiber strands that were acquired—one strand in each direction.

The DWDM system, as currently built out, provides 10 Gbps Ethernets between the campuses of the three universities as well as three Ethernets between each university and the MiLR node in Chicago over the fully diverse MiLR fiber ring.