You are on page 1of 13

Tracking the light

Transcontinental transmission of high definition


film inaugurates 10-gigabyte optic fiber for
academic Internet
Marcos de Oliveira
Print edition 163 - August 2009

The lights of the cinema and the lights of photonics


met at the simultaneous viewing of a digital film
transmitted in super high definition, in real time,
from São Paulo to San Diego, California, in the
United States, and to Yokohama, in Japan. The
experiment highlighted the inauguration of an optic
fiber line with Internet transmission capacity of 10
gigabytes per second/Gbps connected to countries
abroad; this line will cater to Sâo Paulo´s academic
community. The event took place during the 10º
Festival Internacional de Linguagem Eletrônica/File,
Electronic Language Festival, held on July 30 and 31
at the theater located on the premises of Sesi, in the
city of São Paulo. The film Enquanto a noite não
chega, directed by Beto Souza, is the first long-
feature film to be produced in Brazil in 4K, a video
technology equivalent to four times the resolution of
high-definition digital TV used around the world or
to 24 times the resolution of traditional commercial
TV. “The 4K technology does not make us miss the
standard long-feature film,” says professor Jane de
Almeida, from the post-graduate program in
Education, Art and History of Culture at
Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie university,
who coordinated the event together with professor
Eunézio Antônio de Souza, from the Photonics Lab of
the same university. The experiment, which had
never been performed in the Southern Hemisphere,
also included a conference in real time with screen
projection in the theater. The conference included
participation by Brazilian researchers from
Mackenzie and researchers from abroad, from the
Center for Research in Computing and the
Arts/CRCA and the California Institute for
Telecommunications and Information
Technology/Calit2 at the University of California in
San Diego/UCSD, and the Research Institute in
Digital Media and Content/DMC at Tokyo´s Keio
University.

During the transmission, the researchers´ film and


images were transformed into photons by lasers and
delivered by optic fibers from the theater in São
Paulo to the universities abroad, without going
through any copper wire or the like. Incoming and
outgoing 1.5 Gbps connections were made at each
point, totaling 3 Gbps. “We worked at the cutting
edge of optic and cinema technology,” says professor
Souza, also known as Thoroh in the academic
community. Each frame of the film, in digital 4K file,
equivalent to one frame of photographic film in
traditional film, contains 8 million pixels (4.096 x
2.160 pixels) in comparison to the existing 2 million
pixels in the best current television technology (1.920
x 1.080), even though commercial or demo TV 4K
screens still do not exist. Digital film needs
30 frames per second. Such a massive size of data
could only go through a connection with a
transmission band equivalent to or much higher than
the current commercial standards. “To transmit the
film, we used a 3,5 Gbps band for the transmission,
equivalent to the capacity of 3,500 homes connected
to the Internet at 1 megabyte per second (Mbps),”
says professor Thoroh. His lab is part of the KyaTera
network, a structure of optic fiber cables that
interconnects research centers, in 20 Gbps, in the
cities of São Paulo, Campinas and São Carlos, São
Paulo State. This is part of the Programa Tecnologia
da Informação no Desenvolvimento da Internet
Avançada/Tidia, Advanced Internet Program headed
by FAPESP. “The 4K event, held in July, was an
exercise for the KyaTera network with the objective
of connecting definitively to an international link this
year.”

Expanded KyaTera – So far, this network has been


used by researchers from São Paulo universities in
experiments in the fields of photonics, network
protocols and equipment use applications requiring
broadband for transmission (see Pesquisa
Fapesp nr. 139). “Now that the researchers from the
KyaTera network are connected to the academic
network, called internet 2 [internet 1 is the
commercial one], they will be able to establish speedy
connections with other researchers around the world.
This is already possible, as attested to by the 4K
transmission, but requires the intervention of many
people to achieve routing along the way. The idea is
that they will be able to do this automatically in the
future because the researchers from KyaTera will
probably be the main users of this 10 Gbpslink,” says
professor Hugo Fragnito, from the State University of
Campinas/Unicamp and coordinator of the KyaTera
project.

The contracting and management of connections


with foreign countries was done by the Academic
Network at São Paulo/Ansp, which is financed by
FAPESP. The Ansp also provides internet services to
universities and research centers in São Paulo. The
10 Gbps connection is an extended agreement
between Ansp and the US´s National Science
Foundation/NSF. In 2005, these two entities created
the Western Hemisphere Research and Education
Networks-Links Interconnecting Latin
America/Whren-Lila to provide optic fiber
connections between São Paulo and Miami, initially
at 2,5 Gbps. The new laser-illuminated optic fibers
channel was leased from Latin American Nautilus,
the company that owns cables with several fibers
installed along the Brazilian coast and which extends
from the Caribbean and Central America to Miami.
From Miami, the transmission travels equally as
quickly across the United States or to Europe or Asia.
“The 10 Gbps connection will cost US$ 3 million a
year, US$ 1,4 million of which will be provided by the
NSF and the remaining amount by FAPESP,” says
professor Luís Fernandez Lopez, coordinator of the
Ansp network and of Tidia.

The conventional or special Internet transmissions,


as was the case in the film and videoconference held
in July, leave Brazil through an optic fiber cable
located in the town of Praia Grande, on the southern
coast of São Paulo State and travel under the sea to
Miami. In Florida, the cable is connected to the
International Exchange Point for Research and
Education Networking in Miami/ Ampath, which
works as a traffic exchange point, also referred to as
Network Access Point/NAP, between the US´s and
international academic and educational networks
that are also connected to the commercial Internet.
The traffic exchange points consist of one or more
pieces of equipment, called routers, where the
Internet providers connect, under the form of
bilateral agreements, so that the e-mails being
exchanged – in this case, for example, between a
researcher from Mackenzie and another from the
University of California - can be delivered. From this
traffic exchange point in Miami, the Ansp has
agreements with other networks connected to the
Ampath, which, as Internet 2, provides access to the
rest of the world. The Internet 2 is a high speed
internet network comprised of more than 200
universities, 70 companies, 45 US Government
agencies and 50 international organizations.
The agreements on traffic exchange based in Miami
also includes access to the Atlantic Wave, maintained
by research and educational entities in the US´s
southeast. This network provides access in 40 Gbps
to European and federal networks in the United
States; National Lambda Rail, a US network
comprised of universities and technology companies,
that provides the infra structure for research and
experiments; Florida Lambda Rail, a network of State
of Florida institutions and Pacific Wave, which
makes connections with Asian and Oceania networks
in 10 Gbps. Another agreement is the one between
the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in
California/ Cenic network, maintained by research
institutes from the State of California.

Thanks to 10 Gbps transmission, the Ansp has begun


to actually participate in the Global Lambda
Integrated Facility/Glif), a virtual, global
organization that promotes the integration of
networks or lambdas (the various wave lengths
emitted by lasers, also referred to as colors), to
support scientific experiments. In addition, the
organization promotes the exchange of experiences
among network engineers that work in this field.
“Glif is like a club or a consortium, where members
do not have to pay a membership fee to exchange
information among the academic networks that work
in 10 Gbps,” says Lopez. The entity´s members
include the European Center for Nuclear
Research/Cern, Internet2, Fermilab, the UK´s Janet
academic network, and the Trans-European
Research and Networking Association/ Terena. In
Brazil, the Rede Nacional de Ensino e Pesquisa/ RNP
network, linked to the Ministry of Science and
Technology, provides the structure for the research
networks in Brasil and acts as an Internet provider,
out of the scope of the Ansp, for universities and
other research and educational institutes in the
country. The RNP, which also participated in the
preparations for the transmission of the 4K
technology, expects an additional connection of 10
Gbps to Miami, through an underwater optic fiber
cable owned by the Global Crossing company and
connected in the city of Rio de Janeiro. Thus, the
Brazilian academic network will have a shared 20
Gbps Internet connection with countries abroad.
But before the academic network´s Internet
connection leaves through Santos to arrive in Miami
and all the other networks around the world, it goes
through a compulsory passage by the traffic exchange
point in São Paulo, considered by the Glif, as being
one of the 18 traffic points in the world´s academic
networks. Still referred to as NAP do Brasil, this
point is used for traffic exchange. It is managed by
the Terremark company, the same company that
manages Miami´s NAP. The São Paulo traffic
exchange point has been installed in the city since
2004 in the municipality of Barueri, in São Paulo
City´s Metropolitan Region. This traffic exchange
point is the result of an agreement between FAPESP
– which operated the academic and commercial
traffic exchange point from 1998 to 2004 at its head
office – and the US company.

Linked to the world – To transmit the film and


the conference, it was necessary to reserve traffic
connections along the Internet lines in the United
States. A 10Gbps connection was reserved between
Miami and Los Angeles, California, operated by C
Wave, an experimental network run by the Cisco
company, and part of the National Lambda Rail. A
line owned by Cenic was used from Los Angeles to
San Diego. From San Diego, the signal was
transported to Tokyo by a cable that crosses under
the Pacific Ocean; this cable is operated by the
Japanese network Gigabit II. Part of the network also
had to be prepared and reserved on the São Paulo
side. This was the 10 Gbps line between the traffic
exchange point in Barueri and USP. A special fiber
network owned by telephony operator Telefônica was
used by Mackenzie. Thanks to an agreement entered
into in 2007 and renewed this year, this line was
used by the Tidia network. “We used a disconnected,
useless fiber, which means that the laser was not
working there,” says professor Thoroh. Connecting
the laser in the optic fiber and passing the 10 Gbps
was possible thanks to the loan of optic transmission
equipment owned by the University of São Paulo and
the Foundry company, and lasers and amplifiers
owned by the Padtec company, from Campinas, State
of São Paulo. Another agreement with Telefônica for
the event provided a connection from Mackenzie
University´s Photonics Lab with the building owned
by the Federação das Indústrias do Estado de São
Paulo/ Fiesp (São Paulo Federation of Industries),
where the theater is located. This connection was
supplied through a high-speed dedicated optic fiber.

This kind of international technical venture had only


been held between the United States, Europe and
Japan. Professor Jane had the idea in Brazil. “At the
File 2008, together with researchers from UCSD, we
ran some films in 4K and the next step would be to
transmit the films,” says Jane. “So this year I
contacted professor Thoroh, as I had become
acquainted with his work on the KyaTera network, to
ask about the possibility of transmitting the film to
the United States. He bought my idea.” The two of
them went chasing after the equipment, the film and
the transmission. “ It was hard work,” says Thoroh.
The projector and the cameras, which are still sold
upon specific order, were lent by Sony.

To send the film, the researchers from UCSD had to


bring two Zaxel Providers with 4 terabytes (TB)
memory each. The film has approximately 5 TB,
equivalent to one thousand standard DVD disks of
4,7 gigabytes. The 70-minute film is based on the
novel Enquanto a noite não chega, by Rio Grande do
Sul writer Josué Guimarães (1921-1986). The story is
about an elderly couple, Dom Eleutério and Dona
Conceição, who live in an abandoned town while they
wait for death to come and get them. The gravedigger
is the only other person living in that town and he is
merely waiting to bury the old couple and go away to
another town. But the gravedigger dies before the old
couple. “Beto Souza made a film with extensive
landscapes and rural colors. There is a scene where
the old couple nostalgically tries to watch a film
whose images have deteriorated,” Jane describes. “In
the context of our transmission, this theme evokes an
immediate connection with the end of traditional
film – which dies too late. Current opinion is that
Hollywood is taking too long to substitute film,” she
says. “The art is changing because of the new
technologies. After 1915, traditional movies on film
became established, but the 4K technology can
change the movie industry.”