Multi-Gigabit enhanced Géant research platform ushers birth of European virtual laboratories

Cambridge 05 July 2001Géant, the pan-European research network, has taken a major step forward with the signature of three milestone contracts for the provision of multi-Gigabit connectivity, which forms the heart of the new network. The contracts, signed by Dante, the co-ordinating partner of the project, on behalf of the consortium of National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) from 27 European countries, have been closed with Colt Telecom, Telia International Carrier, and T-Systems.


Géant is a four-year, 220-million euro project co-funded under the current European Commission's Research and Development Programme in Framework V and forms a significant initiative in enabling Europe wide research co-operation. The new network will provide a service platform to the European research and education community in more than 30 countries, interconnecting over 3000 organisations at speeds of up to 10 Gigabits/sec. Géant will allow researchers of all disciplines to share information, run high-capacity programmes across multiple sites, and co-operate on joint research in a wide range of disciplines.

The network will facilitate innovative approaches to research in topics which include weather forecasting, high-energy physics, telemedicine applications, and telecommunications networking itself. The researchers, geographically distributed across Europe, will be able to co-operate with one another as if they were in the same laboratory. This is a direct result of the tremendous increase in the power and transmission capacity of the network. The three recent contractors will deliver 118 Gigabits out of the 120 of Géant.

To meet this requirement, Dante has purchased a number of 10 and 2.5 Gigabit wavelength lines from Colt. These will be incorporated in a new super fast backbone interconnecting 31 countries of Europe, thus linking the greatest number of researchers in the world. As a result of a public procurement, T-Systems has been awarded the provision of capacity to the Central and Eastern European part of the network, with speeds of 2.5 and 10 Gigabits/sec. In February 2001, T-Systems was officially launched in Germany and more than 20 countries worldwide. Third contractor Telia International Carrier is to provide network capacity with speeds ranging from 34 Megabits/sec to 10 Gigabits/sec.

Telia International Carrier is the leading European carrier of transatlantic IP traffic to the USA. Its wholly owned multi-fibre optic network, called the Viking Network, delivers high capacity bandwidth and offers end-to-end connectivity round the world. The infrastructure in Europe is designed as a multi-duct network connecting all significant cities with communication, supporting IP, voice and data. By the end of 2001, the network will cover 40.000 route kilometres throughout Europe and the USA, connecting 50 major cities.

Dai Davies, Dante General Manager, stated: "This new infrastructure will allow us to offer speeds of transmission previously impossible on the old network. As well as increasing the efficiency of our research partners and offering significant savings in communication costs, Géant will open up a host of new possibilities for co-operation and sharing. Areas such as remote learning and computational networks require the sort of bandwidth capacity that this new network will be able to provide."

Since its creation in 1993, Dante has been responsible for four consecutive generations of European research networks, and is active in the ongoing development of European research networking. Dante is owned by a number of European research networks. It plans, builds, and manages international networking services on their behalf. The pan-European research network enables European scientists to compete on an international stage by offering them a world-class backbone that provides the bandwidth and the Quality of Service required for research and development activities at this level.

Géant will yield the highest capacity and will also offer the greatest geographic coverage of any network of its kind in the world. The network will be fully operational in November 2001. As such, it will represent the basis for the introduction of "virtual laboratories" and "virtual institutes" in Europe. Dante has developed a range of interconnectivity agreements with other national research networks as well, such as ESnet, Abilene and the Internet2 project in the United States, Canarie in Canada, and NII in Japan. More details are provided at the Dante Web site. You are also invited to read the VMW December 2000 article Géant Next Generation pan-European Research Network launched at IST 2000.

Leslie Versweyveld

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