An important milestone was reached in the creation of Internet2 on Wednesday when the first phase in the shape of the Abilene fibre optic backbone went live.
Internet2, which was first announced in 1996, is a high speed research network being developed by US universities, profit making organisations and government institutions. The work is being coordinated by the University Corporation for Advanced Internet Development (UCAID), a non-profit consortium of universities and corporations.
While the network is not intended to replace the current Internet, it will enable researchers to develop new, high speed network technologies that can eventually be implemented on the Net.
Douglas Van Houweling, UCAID?s president and chief executive, said: ?Just as the research networks of a decade ago produced technologies that have transformed the way we all work, learn and live today, Abilene will help develop the technology we will all use tomorrow.?
The Abilene backbone is based on 10,000 miles of fibre optic cabling provided by Qwest Communications. Cisco Systems provided the communications equipment and Nortel is supplying network planning and engineering services. Indiana University will host the control center for the network.
Abilene operates at 2.4Gbits per second, and while this type of speed is not unheard of on the public Internet, it will be dedicated to just a handful of users so that it can support realtime, high quality video. Abilene currently connects 37 universities, but is expected to link more than 70 universities and research facilities by the end of 1999.
At the same time, IBM said it had became the first corporate partner to be connected to the network and its researchers would collaborate with other Internet2 participants over the Abilene backbone. Big Blue will use the network to develop new middleware to manage traffic on high speed networks.
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