Tier one manufacturers are already using HPC system to design and test products but their supply chains are not. "This could be very helpful," he said, of gigabit networks.
As part of the White House effort, a new public-private partnership, the US Ignite Partnership, was created and charged with spurring development of advanced applications for gigabit networks.
Ignite CTO Glenn Ricart said high speed networks would open the doors to a range of new applications and cost tradeoffs. In the latter case, SETI-type networks that use thousands of home and business PCs to run calculations during idle periods may be expanded.
Video conferencing may also be a big beneficiary, said Ricart. Today, users need expensive equipment to compress video signals, machines that wouldn't be needed with gigabits channels, he said.
Gigabit networks can differ substantially via software-defined network and virtualization, said Ricart. A user can configure a network in much the same way they configure a virtual server, defining the speed of the network and latency.
For instance, healthcare applications could be dynamically customized, particularly for remote medicine, which would be "very interesting and enable a lot of new applications," he said.
Catherine Middleton, a communications researcher at associate professor in Ted Rogers School of Information Management at Ryerson University in Toronto, said that while there is a real sense of huge potential, there aren't yet many tangible applications, in part because aren't gigabyte networks to support them on.
There are gigabit networks here and there in the U.S. but no broad deployments, said Middleton. Developing the applications for gigabit networks, as well as the business models will take a long time, she added.
Patrick Thibodeau covers SaaS and enterprise applications, outsourcing, government IT policies, data centers and IT workforce issues for Computerworld. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @DCgov, or subscribe to Patrick's RSS feed . His e-mail address is email@example.com.
Read more about government/industries in Computerworld's Government/Industries Topic Center.