RALEIGH — A quiet revolution is underway and its changing the way people communicate, work and play.
The telephone network is quickly becoming a high speed network carrying more data than just voices, and the Triangle may become the global leader.
North Carolina has a history as an agricultural state, but the fields now sprout buildings and high tech businesses leading the Internet to the future. An astonishing 67,000 new users around the world join the Web community every day.
"There's never been anything in the history of technology to come even close to the that magnitude of this growth," says Selby Wellman, senior vice president of Cisco Systems' business unit.
Today's global network overlays old circuit switched telephone technology with the technology of the Internet. It is complicated and sometimes slow. Data traffic outstrips the voice traffic and demand is growing.
"And the solution to that is to build an integrated, voice, video, data network on a packet switching architecture," Wellman said. "We have to build out a whole new infrastructure to handle the growth in the Internet traffic and the data."
The big players;Cisco Systems,Nortel Networks,IBMandLucent Technologies, all have major facilities in the Triangle. As Wellman says, "the horse race has begun" to see who will lead the charge. Triangle universities and the general user will benefit.
N.C. Stateprofessors already teach on the Internet. Engineering and computer science graduates are in high demand.
"I really see this as a long term phenomenon, at least I expect to see 20 years of growth like we have been seeing in the last five to ten," saysDr. Tom Miller, a professor and associate dean of N.C. State'sCollege of Engineering.
"What does that mean for the state? It's a major driver of the future economic engine for the state," Wellman said.
Lucent Technologies plans to expand in Cary and perhaps put a research lab at State'sCentennial Campus.Cisco continues to expandand Nortel is makingbig changesas well. IBM's Networking Hardware designers are major players too. This growth means more jobs and more recognition for the Triangle.