Today, more than ever, enterprises of all types require communications networking capabilities to sustain a competitive edge, assure advancement, and support our citizens. In the same way that the construction of the U.S. interstate highway system in the last century, and the railroads before them, fundamentally altered interstate commerce, enabled new industries, and bolstered the United States economy, NEREN will foster the development of digital highways, transporting information and ideas, the most valuable resource in today’s economy, throughout the region.

Until the establishment of NEREN, the Northeast region did not have a facilities-based optical network focused on the needs of the Research and Education arena. The absence of such a resource limited access to peer-to-peer collaboration, intellectual investigation, and research funding allocation. Without NEREN, the Northeast’s individually proficient Research and Education communities were limited in their ability to collaborate and explore in the global economy.

Much has been written about the “digital divide” and the impact it is having on our society. It is reasonable to project that similar comparisons will be made about the economic viability of those regions within the country who have deployed an advanced digital infrastructure, and those who have not. One thing the digital age has taught us thus far is that it is difficult to predict all possible uses and benefits of an advanced technology infrastructure. NEREN is one small effort to help ensure that the citizens of the Northeast will be prepared to take advantage of these yet unknown applications when they are developed.