C-Light FAQ

C-Light FAQ

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What is C-Light?

C-Light is Clemson’s new fiber optic backbone that extends between Atlanta and Charlotte, providing Clemson with a physical, direct connection to high-speed, high-capacity research networks such as National Lambda Rail (NLR), Internet2 and others. Clemson was gifted 20-year rights to use the fiber on which the network operates. This makes Clemson the “owner” of the network for a 20-year period.


What does C-Light stand for?

The “C” stands for Clemson; “Light” is because this network uses fiber optics based on light. The fiber optics actually light up when data travels through them. Clemson’s on-campus network that connects all the buildings already uses fiber and C-Light extends it such that we now bring other national and international networks onto campus.


How is C-Light different and new?

C-Light is a facilities-based network. It is different from the commodity-based networks we all regularly use for e-mail, web browsing, e-commerce, etc. Commodity-based networks share resources (bandwidth) among many users.

Facilities-based networks, on the other hand, can be quickly configured so that one user gets dedicated direct access. Academic and research enterprises often require dedicated network facilities to transmit massive quantities of data.

A commodity-based network is like a road you share with other vehicles. A facilities-based network is like a superhighway where you can control traffic and if needed, temporarily dedicate a fast lane to one user. A facilities-network provides both high bandwidth and the flexibility to quickly configure access, which results in fast and predictable performance (no traffic jams).

Clemson University now has both commodity and facilities-based networks.


What is C-Light’s capacity?

C-Light has the capacity today to provide 16 individual 10-Gigabit connections. But bandwidth is not the only important factor for this kind of network. Extremely important is that Clemson can configure this network very quickly to dedicate access as needed to academic and research projects.


How much did C-Light cost?

C-Light was made possible through private donations and gifted fiber. Also, the electronics and maintenance were donated, resulting in no additional burden to Clemson or the state for the operation of the network.


Was C-Light really necessary?

Yes, because Clemson University is serious about being a Top-20 public institution. Prior to C-Light, Clemson was at a disadvantage relative to its peers and the Top 20 academic group by not having a facilities-based network. Clemson faculty and researchers now have the ability to collaborate with their colleagues nationally and internationally by exchanging vast amounts of data, enabling cutting-edge research, exploration and development.


Plus, many federally funded programs (for example, TeraGrid, Department of Energy, Tier2 centers program, etc.) require facilities-based access. C-Light makes Clemson eligible for federal funding which will result in significant research progress.


Will C-Light increase my Internet connection speed?

C-Light will not be used for commodity Internet access, but for designated academic and research purposes that require facilities-based networks. However, when you access resources that are on NLR or Internet2, your connection will be faster because you will be automatically routed through C-Light.

The commodity-based Internet connection at Clemson University is also improving because the university’s entire campus network for commodity Internet access is being upgraded. For progress on the Campus Network Upgrade, click here.


Who can use C-Light?

Faculty and researchers who need to transmit large quantities of data, access resources at national centers and laboratories, and participate in collaborative research. Also, anyone on campus who needs to access Web resources that are connected to national networks will automatically go through C-Light.


How can faculty benefit from C-Light?

C-Light will allow extensive growth in research across a wide variety of disciplines and applications enabling extensive involvement in national and international research activities. Faculty also will now be able to apply for major federal funding because C-Light provides the facilities-based network required for such grants.

Business and operational details for connecting to and using the C-Light network are under development and will be communicated to faculty once finalized.


How can students benefit from C-Light?

When students access national resources that are on NLR or Internet2, they will automatically use C-Light. Students involved in faculty-led research projects could benefit from educational resources developed using C-Light.


How can companies and other non-educational institutions connect to C-Light?

Clemson does not sell Internet access. However, if access is needed to accomplish the mission of a formal project between Clemson faculty and members of a non-academic institution, access to C-Light will be provided.

Examples of possible C-Light uses:

NOTE: While the following examples are realistic, they are not real. They’re provided for explanatory purposes.

Example 1
Dr. Art Cyber is a professor at Clemson working in digital production arts. He is creating a fully interactive virtual show in collaboration with his partners in France. He wants to combine images of dancers in Clemson, SC with video of dancers in France so it seems that they’re dancing together in a virtual, surreal space. To accomplish this, he and his colleagues in France need to manipulate and exchange high resolution images and live video. Before C-Light, this project would have been close to impossible to undertake. With C-Light, Dr. Cyber can manipulate thousands of high resolution images and video seamlessly, without any perceivable lags.

Example 2
Dr. Rose Coral is a world-renowned robotics expert from Clemson. She designed the Ocean Explorer, a state-of-the-art robot that explores the deep seas and can collect samples of bio organisms from the ocean floor. With C-Light, a secure and reliable direct connection can be set up so that Dr. Coral can manipulate the robot located on the ocean floor from her Clemson office. She can share data and images in real-time between the ocean floor, Clemson University and her research partners at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego. C-Light enables Dr. Coral to operate the Ocean Explorer and to collaborate with colleagues in San Diego to study the formation of bio organisms during deep sea volcanic eruptions.