Global Terabit Research Network inaugurated at European Commission Summit

Brussels 21 May 2002Key leaders in advanced networking from all over the world have inaugurated the Global Terabit Research Network during the Global Research Networking Summit and Géant Commissioning Event hosted by the European Commission and Géant/DANTE. The Global Terabit Research Network (GTRN) is an international partnership to establish a true worldwide next generation Internet to interconnect national and multi-national high speed research and education networks.


The initial partnership between Europe through the NREN Consortium and North America through Internet2 in the United States and CANARIE in Canada was formalised earlier this spring. At the GTRN inauguration, the participation of the Asia Pacific region was formally announced. The GTRN will be extended to connect the new GTRN-AP network which is a high-speed regional network which presently links SINET and IMnet in Japan and KREONET in Korea. CERNET of China is expected to connect to it soon, followed by other countries in the Asia Pacific.

Earlier this week, a GTRN demonstration was completed during which the text of the first message sent over the Atlantic Ocean, a telegram sent from Queen Victoria to United States President Buchanan, was transmitted repeatedly over the GTRN for 17 hours and 40 minutes, the exact time it took to transmit the Queen's message containing 99 words consisting of 509 letters in August 1858. The Queen's message was transmitted over the GTRN approximately 10 billion times in the same amount of time it took to transmit the original message.

During the time it took to send the Queen's congratulations and best wishes 144 years ago, the amount of data transferred over the GTRN was the equivalent of 960 kilometers of shelved books, roughly twice the books in the United States Library of Congress. This transfer took place between standard PCs in Seattle, Washington, USA and Brussels, Belgium. BELNET, the Belgian national research network for education, research, and public services under the leadership of Pierre Bruyère, provided the local link into the Residence Palace for the demonstration event.

"Recent years have seen the creation of a number of very successful national and multi-national advanced high speed research networks including the accomplishments of the pan-European Géant network", commented Mario Campolargo, Deputy Head of Unit, DG INFSO of the European Commission. "These networks provide the bandwidth needed for digital science nationally and regionally, but further development of e-science on an international scale has been hampered by a lack of a global backbone comparable in speed and reliability to these national and regional networks", stated Mr. Campolargo.

Fernando Liello, Chairman of the European NREN Consortium, added: "The GTRN, in conjunction with advanced networks like Géant, provides the connectivity and advanced Internet services needed by researchers and scientists conducting major multi-national scientific collaborations in areas such as high energy physics, radio and optical astronomy, weather forecasting and climatology, biological sciences and earth sciences."

"GTRN provides a coherent global framework for deploying services such as multicast and IPv6, which are key to providing advanced networking needed to support tomorrow's research and education on global scale", stated Douglas Van Houweling, President and CEO of Internet2, the United States advanced Internet development consortium.

Andrew Bjerring, President and CEO of CANARIE Inc., Canada's advanced Internet development organisation, added: "Pervasive global access to applications such as reliable high quality video, telephony, remote instrument control, and numerous other applications require these advanced services be an integral part of a global research network."

"What has been lacking is a persistent, production-quality global research and education network, one that is capable eventually of data rates of terabits per second", explained Michael McRobbie, Vice President for Information Technology and CIO at Indiana University and Chair of Internet2's GTRN Committee. "The GTRN will provide this true global research network connectivity, offering the very high bandwidth connections that allow national and regional networks to properly interconnect."

"Connecting to the GTRN will expand the scale and scope of scientific projects and international collaborations presently taking place on the Asia Pacific Advanced Network", noted Professor Shigeki Goto, Professor of Computer Science at Wasada University.

The GTRN will support global research and education requiring access to advanced high performance Internet services. It will be run in a highly transparent manner so that end-to-end performance characteristics will be easily accessible to all parties responsible for ensuring the appropriate quality of service. The GTRN will consist of a global backbone connecting national and multi-national networks in North America, Europe, and Asia. Later it is expected to be expanded to Latin America, Russia, the Middle East, and Africa. Access to the GTRN will be provided at a number of points of presence, called GTRN Network Access Points or GNAPs.

The GTRN backbone between Europe and North America is composed of two OC-48 2.4 gigabit per second (Gbit) circuits acquired by DANTE connecting Géant to the Internet2 Abilene network, the CANARIE CA*net3 network, STAR TAP/Starlight in Chicago, and the Pacific Wave GigaPoP in Seattle. These connect to the Géant backbone in Europe at GNAPs in London and Frankfurt and to Abilene and CA*net3 in North America at the New York GNAP. Additional high speed connections from North America to Géant to complement those acquired by DANTE are being actively pursued, as are connections to other regions.

Internet2 will provide additional capacity on the Abilene network connecting the New York GNAP to Starlight in Chicago and to the Pacific Wave GigaPoP in Seattle to allow for the forthcoming connection of the Asia Pacific to the GTRN. From these, the GTRN backbone is connected to the GTRN-AP via the two OC-12s which comprise the TransPAC connection which is jointly funded by the United States National Science Foundation and the Japan Science and Technology Corporation.

The European NREN Consortium, Internet2, and CANARIE have agreed to manage the facilities in a co-ordinated and co-operative way. The Global Network Operations Center (GNOC) at Indiana University and the DANTE NOC will provide NOC services to the GTRN as will eventually a NOC in the Asia Pacific.

Leslie Versweyveld

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