Both on and off campus, Penn's Internet2 network is about to see an expansion.
Internet2 is a faster network than regular Internet. It is specifically geared toward research and education, and Penn's access point went live in February 2007.
Internet2 allows for nearly instantaneous data transfer, making it useful for international data sharing.
MAGPI - which stands for Mid-Atlantic Gigapop in Philadelphia for Internet2 - is the regional connector that gives access to Internet2 and is managed by Penn.
More than 40 research and education institutions in the tri-state area now rely on Penn's MAGPI connector for Internet2 access. Subscribers include Lehigh, Temple and Princeton universities and the National Constitution Center.
This week, Princeton's Plasma Physics Lab will upgrade to an even faster MAGPI connection, providing a 6,400-percent increase in efficiency and a potential 80-percent decrease in costs for the lab, according to a Penn press statement.
Information Systems and Computing is also working to provide more support services, both to more researchers at Penn, as well as to outside institutions.
Jennifer Oxenford, the associate director of the MAGPI project, said MAGPI's support system will be helping Kentucky's education system get started with Internet2 usage in high schools.
"Access to MAGPI's outstanding programs and expertise will offer Kentucky students and teachers learning opportunities they may not have otherwise had due to limited resources," Kentucky Commissioner of Education, Jon Draud said in a press statement.
But despite Internet2's expansion, students remain largely unaware of the network or its capabilities.
"I've never heard of it before," Wharton junior Casey Klyszeiko said. "Maybe if there were a little button that said 'Internet2' on it and I could just connect to it that way, I would be a bit more jazzed about it."
Oxenford said Penn's networks are all connected to Internet2, though many people are not aware of it. ISC is working to increase awareness on campus, she said.
"It's an ongoing educational research and outreach process," she said.
ISC Associate Vice President Robin Beck said that, for Penn students, Internet2's most attractive element might be its potential for high-definition video quality.
"With typical Internet, there's a noticeable delay between the time the image arrives and when the sound arrives," Beck said. "With Internet2, that delay is pretty much gone."