OHSU, PSU and Partners Expand Portland Internet Exchange

11/04/03    Portland, Ore.

Northwest Access Exchange enhances access to high-speed Web connections

Portland's two-year-old Northwest Access Exchange (NWAX), a regional Internet exchange designed to bolster the region's access to state-of-the-art Web capabilities, is tripling its number of access points, providing business and higher education with more convenient, lower-cost access to high-speed reliable Web connections.

It's a significant step toward enabling the introduction of advanced applications such as telemedicine, and it also enhances Portland's appeal as a location for Internet-intensive businesses, according to Jere Retzer, executive director of NWAX and a senior manager in Oregon Health & Science University's Information Technology Group.

NWAX grew out of a partnership between OHSU and Portland State University to join Internet2, the next generation Internet that connects leading university, government and industry research networks. Networks that are part of the exchange are able to connect directly with other members of the network, thus shortcutting long-distance connections, saving money and improving quality.

Now Easystreet, Fortix and Portland General Broadband are working with the university operators of NWAX to expand the exchange from its current single location in downtown Portland to additional access points in Beaverton and Hillsboro. NWAX now has access to 42 route miles of fiber, courtesy of Portland General Broadband, and connections to three data centers, several regional Internet service providers and 17 computer networks.

"By expanding the exchange to Easystreet and Fortix, we make the exchange easily accessible to key networks, service providers and customers in Washington County, and we simultaneously create a richly interconnected metropolitan intranet," Retzer said. "This is going to make the exchange a preferred method to interconnect networks, and it's a major step toward our goal to help the region attain critical mass on the Internet."

Easystreet CEO Rich Bader agreed.

"This really benefits the community and makes the exchange work from a business perspective," he said. "Regional exchanges are part of a nationwide trend bringing the mountain to Muhammad. Before, everyone had to go to the Pittock Block downtown to get to the exchange, which was hard to justify as a speculative commitment. The three companies working together with the universities make it affordable."

While Internet2 provides OHSU and PSU researchers with high-speed real-time access to collaborators at other universities and labs around the globe, NWAX brings many of the same advantages to working with others closer to home, ranging from suburban Portland to rural Oregon, said Manoj Garg, PSU's director of computer and network services.

"Among other things we'd like to see the exchange become the basis for a true next-generation regional health information infrastructure that enables telemedicine and access to the best possible health care," Retzer said.

The exchange is going to be important for regional security and the high-tech industry as well, according to Gerald Hagan, CEO of Fortix.

"Fortix has been making tremendous strides while working on various Homeland Security and disaster recovery initiatives with local and national groups in both the private and public sectors," he said. "The expansion of the NWAX exchange will only add to the required efficiencies needed to make these collaborative systems work."

The expanded exchange uses Portland General Broadband fiber to connect Easystreet and Fortix together with the Pittock Block in downtown Portland. "NWAX fits our vision of becoming the market leader in connectivity for commercial customers in the Portland metro area," said Greg Jones, Portland General Broadband manager. "Our goal is develop the most reliable communications infrastructure in the region."

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