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GTE LAUNCHES VISTANET NETWORK

 RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C., July 28 /PRNewswire/ -- GTE, BellSouth, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and MCNC, North Carolina's high technology resource center, today announced successful operation of the nation's first ultra-high-speed experimental communications network linking a supercomputer, a high-resolution graphics source, and medical research facilities via the public telephone network.
 The fiber optic network, called VISTAnet, is the first in the nation delivering information to three widely separate locations at the broadband ISDN standard rate of 622 megabits per second and a sustained rate of 200 megabits per second to the application software. This performance represents a tremendous engineering accomplishment and a step toward the ultimate goal of future fiber networks that can operate at gigabit speeds - a billion bits per second on telephone lines connecting hundreds of locations.
 Network Links High-Speed Computers at Two Locations
 The network currently links the world's fastest graphics computer, located in the UNC-Chapel Hill computer science department, and a Cray supercomputer at North Carolina Supercomputing Center at MCNC approximately 18 miles away. Tied together with very-high-speed digital switches and fiber-optic transmission facilities provided by BellSouth and GTE, VISTAnet forms one of the fastest and most powerful real-time communications systems in the world.
 Although still in the experimental stage, VISTAnet is already giving cancer specialists at UNC-Chapel Hill a better idea of how they can help patients in the future, using a high-speed communications network like this one to plan radiation therapy with three-dimensional graphics and computer-generated modeling.
 "VISTAnet demonstrates the powerful promise of the public telephone network in providing a national information superhighway system," said John C. Redmond, president of GTE Laboratories. "As the capabilities demonstrated by VISTAnet multiply, the nation's ability to provide important social services and to compete effectively in the global economy will be enhanced immeasurably."
 VISTAnet is one of the five "gigabit testbeds" organized by the Corporation for National Research Initiatives to explore the architecture and application of very-high-speed networks, with funding from the National Science Foundation and the Advanced Research Projects Agency. Substantial additional funding for VISTAnet is provided by GTE and BellSouth. MCNC and UNC-Chapel Hill provide further support in the form of in-kind services.
 VISTAnet Research in Networking and Communications
 VISTAnet's successful medical application is the culmination of more than three years of technical development combining advances in fiber- optic networking, interactive scientific computing, supercomputer communications, interactive graphics techniques and medical research.
 One of the challenges met by the more than 100 VISTAnet developers was to make several different high-performance machines effectively communicate with each other to solve problems too large or complex for a single machine to handle alone.
 Other advances include building a network that can carry huge amounts of information back and forth among multiple remote locations in real time; developing techniques that smoothly integrate several specialized machines so as to appear to users as a single, locally situated resource; and providing physicians with user-friendly interfaces while refining their treatment plans on the network.
 "VISTAnet is designed to move computer information over long distances at speeds several hundred times faster than is traditionally done," said Dan Stevenson, director of communications research at MCNC. "Thus far, we have developed ways of getting into and out of computers efficiently and reliably, moving information across the public networks and presenting this information to users in an easily understood form."
 New Technologies Successfully Applied
 VISTAnet uses emerging technologies designed especially for public broadband networks, including asynchronous transfer mode (ATM) switching, broadband circuit switching and synchronous optical network protocols (SONET).
 VISTAnet features a prototype Fujitsu ATM switch, a CRAY Y-MP 8/432 supercomputer, a Pixel-Planes 5 raster graphics system developed at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, an SGI 340 VG4 medical workstation, and a GTE Laboratories-designed 622 megabit SONET- compatible cross-point switch, the first in the world to be used outside a laboratory.
 Dr. David Kettler, executive director of science and technology for BellSouth, said that the lessons being learned in VISTAnet are already paying dividends. "We are aggressively deploying ATM-based broadband capabilities in the BellSouth network driven by customer demand," he said. "The work of the group here in 'pushing the edge of the envelope' on high-speed networking is resulting in practical advances that will benefit us and our customers."
 The VISTAnet research team examined several issues affecting these goals. In the process, it developed or refined advanced switching methodologies, bandwidth allocation schemes and congestion-management strategies, all of which are crucial to the success of high-bandwidth, multipurpose networks.
 Further development and experimentation on VISTAnet is expected to run through mid-1994.
 GTE Telephone Operations is the largest U.S.-based local telephone company, providing telecommunications service through more than 21 million access lines in portions of 40 states, British Columbia, Quebec, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic. It also markets telecommunication products and services and supplies computer software and data processing. GTE Laboratories is the Corporation's central R&D facility. GTE Corporation is the fourth-largest publicly owned telecommunications company in the world.
 BellSouth is an Atlanta-based international telecommunications holding company. Its BellSouth Telecommunications subsidiary offers local telephone service to over 18.6 million access lines in nine southeastern states. BellSouth Telecommunications does business as Southern Bell in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida and as South Central Bell in Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. These companies serve over 18.6 million local telephone lines and provide local exchange and intraLATA long distance service over one of the most modern telecommunications networks in the world.
 The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will celebrate its 200th anniversary as the nation's first state university on Oct. 12, 1993. The flagship of the University of North Carolina System, the Chapel Hill campus has earned a worldwide reputation for vital teaching, cutting-edge research and distinguished public service. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's departments of computer science and radiation oncology have pioneered research on tools to help physicians display and manipulate 3D anatomic, physiologic and computed data sets.
 MCNC is a private, non-profit corporation headquartered in Research Triangle Park. With its partners in state government, universities and industry, MCNC provides shared resources and expertise for research, education and technology development in microelectronics, communications and supercomputing.


VISTANET HELPS PHYSICIANS MAKE ADVANCES IN RADIATION THERAPY PLANNING
 Operating at hundreds of megabits per second, the experimental VISTAnet network allows medical researchers to display and examine three-dimensional medical images, and to interact with the resulting computer-generated model as they develop optimum therapeutic doses of radiation.
 Although VISTAnet is not used in the actual treatment of patients, research on the network is already leading to progress in dynamic radiation therapy planning, a greatly improved method of developing treatment plans for certain types of cancer.
 Radiation therapy for patients with cancer is a major modality which can be used alone or in combination with chemotherapy and surgery. When treating a patient with radiation, doctors typically expose the tumor to radiation beamed from multiple angles designed to intersect only at the tumor site. Obviously, many such beam configurations are possible.
 Assessing the intensity and impact of the radiation beams with VISTAnet's very fast network gives doctors a chance to determine which of the many beam configurations is best for a given patient.
 Using the network's combination of computer graphics, vast computational power and high speed communications, doctors can "see" the patient's tumor displayed on a computer model. They can make modifications on the model in a fraction of a second. And they can explore hundreds of radiation plans in less than one hour instead of many hours or even days required under available conventional systems.
 No other process offers the real-time interactive radiation therapy planning that is possible on a high-speed communication network like VISTAnet.
 Early data indicate that researchers using this experimental system have achieved a four-fold decrease in the volume of healthy tissue receiving radiation. These results are the best reported to date in the medical literature.
 "The more we use VISTAnet the better we understand how to deliver radiation treatment to cancer patients," said Julian Rosenman, M.D., associate professor of radiation oncology at UNC-Chapel Hill School of Medicine. "We are now able to study ahead of time all practical arrangements of the radiation beam, and to select the safest, most effective one for each type of tumor."
 Sharing Scarce Resources
 At a time when the cost of health care delivery is skyrocketing, advanced telecommunications networks make it possible to access and integrate scarce and expensive resources.
 VISTAnet, for example, combines the enormous computing power of a CRAY Y-MP 8/432 supercomputer, the Pixel-Planes 5 raster graphics system developed at UNC-Chapel Hill and the capability of an SGI 340 VG4 medical workstation.
 Using CAT-scan data, the Pixel-Planes 5 graphics engine creates three-dimensional images of a patient's anatomy, including previously identified cancerous areas. The Cray supercomputer performs radiation- dose calculations based on input from a physician. VISTAnet's visualization system uses these calculations to create pictorial renderings of the dose-distribution levels, and superimposes these over the 3-D pictures of the patient's anatomy.
 "At 2.3 million polygons per second, the Pixel-Planes 5 graphics system has been called the fastest in the world," said Henry Fuchs, Federico Gil professor of computer science at UNC-Chapel Hill. "But the real challenge, and the real measure of our success, is that we have developed a system that allows a radiation therapist to see clearly four different superimposed 3D images simultaneously -- the anatomy, the cancerous tumor, the radiation beams and the radiation dose. This system lets him see what it has never been possible to see well before."
 At a workstation connected to the network, the physician is able to rotate the combined images so that all aspects of the proposed dose can be examined. The physician may also "peel off" layers of the unified three-dimensional image to obtain additional insights into the effects of the proposed treatment plan.
 Once optimized, the settings arrived at for a particular patient can be entered for the actual radiation treatment. In principle, the entire process could be remotely accomplished by a trained physician from virtually anywhere, thus making it possible to share expensive specialized resources.
 -0- 7/28/93
 /CONTACT: Walter M. Carleton of GTE Laboratories, 617-466-2329; Robert Morrow of BellSouth, 404-529-8169; Leila Tvedt of MCNC, 919-248-1826; or Mike McFarland of UNC-CH, 919-962-2091/


CO: GTE Corp.; BellSouth; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill ST: North Carolina, Connecticut IN: TLS MTC SU: PDT

MP -- NYFNS1 -- 6553 07/28/93 07:32 EDT
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