Two advanced European research and education networks connected to Internet2

Washington DC 20 May 1999 NORDUnet and SURFnet, two European research networks, have recently been linked to the next generation high-speed Internet connection, Abilene. This network is already set to interconnect hundreds of universities and research laboratories in the United States. Its fibre optic network spans over 16.000 km and can operate at speeds of up to 2.4 gigabits per second. This new link up will allow European broadband networks to develop faster, since the existing ones only dispose of a fraction of the capacity of the novel Internet2, while they will also enable the US networks to extend their test bed.

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NORDUnet and SURFnet, two European research networks, have recently been linked to the next generation high-speed Internet connection, Abilene. This network is already set to interconnect hundreds of universities and research laboratories in the United States. Its fibre optic network spans over 16.000 km and can operate at speeds of up to 2.4 gigabits per second. This new link up will allow European broadband networks to develop faster, since the existing ones only dispose of a fraction of the capacity of the novel Internet2, while they will also enable the US networks to extend their test bed.

Both NORDUnet and SURFnet are linked to the Abilene network in New York through routers at Teleglobe New York, connecting over ATM to Abilene's PoP in the same building. The link was delivered by Teleglobe and Qwest. In fact, Abilene is part of the Internet2 framework to provide a high-availability backbone for advanced networking applications. This connection means a first step in the Nordunet2 project on collaboration with Internet2. Shortly, NORDUnet and SURFnet will connect to more American and foreign research networks at the STAR TAP in Chicago. The interconnection extends unprecedented advanced networking between United States and both Nordic and Dutch academic communities.

Teleglobe is a recognized leader in global telecommunications. The company owns and operates one of the world's largest Internet backbones, connecting hundreds of ISPs in nearly 100 countries as well as many content providers and search engines. The Globeinternet backbone equally incorporates a high performance multiple OC-3 ring-based Cisco Powered Network, which spans North America and Europe, a state-of-the-art global IP routing service, and extensive international satellite and transoceanic cable facilities for global Internet connectivity. The network soon will be upgraded to OC-12 status.

The agreement to provide interconnection between Abilene, NORDUnet and SURFNET builds on the Memoranda of Understanding which the University Corporation for Advanced Internet Development (UCAID), the consortium of the Internet2 and Abilene projects, has signed with NORDUnet as well as with the Stichting SURF, SURFnet's parent company. The contract extends the principles of the Memoranda of Understanding encouraging collaboration between member institutions, the promotion of technology transfer from the joint endeavours to industry, as well as co-operation in developing common standards and technical implementations. One of the first important areas of collaboration will be in the recently announced QBone initiative to develop a test bed to explore Quality of Service (QoS) technologies.

NORDUnet A/S is responsible for the development and operation of a Nordic research network backbone. NORDUnet serves research and education in the Nordic area. It has a total international bandwidth connected to its node in Stockholm of approximately 700 Mbs. NORDUnet deploys state-of-the-art networking equipment and is among the most well equipped and maintained research network backbones in the world. NORDUnet constitutes a limited company owned by government institutions responsible for higher education in Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark and Iceland.

In turn, SURFnet is the national computer network for both education and research in the Netherlands. As such, SURFnet connects the networks of universities, colleges, research centres, academic hospitals and scientific libraries to each other and to other networks in Europe and the rest of the world. In close co-operation with key industrial partners and with the Dutch Telematics Institute, SURFnet is currently finalizing important plans for the development and realisation of a next generation SURFnet-network based on leading-edge technology and with high capacity connections to other cutting-edge technology as well as to more leading research networks worldwide.

The Abilene network is a project of the University Corporation for Advanced Internet Development (UCAID), home of the Internet2 project. In partnership with Qwest Communications, Cisco Systems, Nortel Networks and Indiana University, the consortium is deploying Abilene as the most advanced and far-reaching research and education network in the United States. A primary goal of Abilene is to support the efforts of the Internet2 project. Operations have started in January 1999, with over 70 Internet2 institutions planning to connect by the end of 1999.

The Internet2 project is led by over 150 United States universities, working with industry and government, to enable and facilitate the advanced network applications, necessary to meet the emerging needs in higher education. The Internet2 participants are developing broadband applications, engineering & network management tools for research and education. You can find more details on this matter at the Internet2 project home page and in the VMW article Internet2 plays role as testbed for new applications to speed up the current Internet in this very same issue.


Leslie Versweyveld

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