Since December 11th 1998, the European research community can finally breathe more freely, thanks to the operational start of the advanced pan-European research network TEN-155. The powerful, newly established information highway interconnects sixteen European university networks all over the continent at speeds of 155 Mbps. Scientists and students, working at academic and research institutions, will experience an increased capacity within their trans-European communications of no less than at least seven times the speed they were used to. As an immediate and direct consequence of the recent liberalization within the European telecommunications market, the international bandwidth potential for the very first time equals the one, available on the national services, which are used by the European academic and research community.
Synchronous Digital Hierarchy (SDH) technology forms the fresh answer to high-speed communication problems, as the global standard for transmission of unlimited data capacity over fibre optical cables. The TEN-155 network will benefit from this innovative technique as well as from the multiple international OC-3 links. On top of the basic Internet Protocol (IP) service, a guaranteed Quality of Service will be provided through a combined use of Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) and IP technology. This type of Managed Bandwidth Service enables scientists who work on specific projects at universities or research institutions, to generate temporary connections with an in advance reserved capacity. As such, the new TEN-155 highway meets the requirements of the European research community, allowing the use of innovative applications in order to open up new perspectives for scientific collaboration.
The 155 Mbps SDH-ring constituted the first operational link within the network, connecting the Netherlands, France, Germany and the United Kingdom. Among the other quickly established connections, was the node in Sweden for the connection of the Nordic countries with Germany and the Netherlands. Also Switzerland has been linked to both these countries. On December 17th, Belgium will be connected to the Netherlands by means of a 34 Mbps link. Before the end of January 1999, the academic networks of Austria, the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Italy and Slovenia will replace the existing TEN-34 network with the new TEN-155. Luxembourg, Portugal and Spain are bound to follow soon while an extension of the TEN-155 to Ireland has been planned in the course of 1999. On January 1st, the new network will be linked to the United States, performing at an enhanced speed of 155 Mbps.
The TEN-155 highway has been implemented by a Consortium in which all European university networks are taking part, together with DANTE, which is the coordinating no-profit company, responsible for the trans-European scientific Internet connectivity. The university networks consist of national organizations which supply the universities and research institutions with data communications via Internet technology in total independence of the commercial Internet. In addition, the TEN-155 network is co-funded by the European Commission under the Fourth Framework Programme. The major supplier of TEN-155 is Unisource Belgium, providing links with Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
DANTE has also signed supplementary contracts with Datakom, Matav, Mero and OTE for connectivity to the respective countries of Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Greece. Other finalizing agreements are being made for services to Portugal and Slovenia. For more information, we refer to the TEN-155 home page and to the VMW article on the co-operation between Unisource Belgium and DANTE in the November 1998 issue.