Abilene, the backbone to the forthcoming Internet2, was officially turned on today delivering network services to 37 universities.
The backbone serves as the test bed for advanced Internet applications such as distance learning, telemedicine and digital libraries. A number of organisations, including Cisco, Nortel Networks and Qwest Communications, are investing a combined $500 million over three years towards the Abilene project.
Abilene spans over 10,000 miles and operates at 2.4Gbps - 45,000 times faster than a 56Kbps modem. More than 70 Internet2 universities and research labs are expected to hook up to Abilene by the end of this year.
The network is based on Qwest's fibre optic network, with equipment supplied by Cisco. Nortel has offered its network planning and engineering services. Abilene is being run by the University Corporation for the Advanced Internet Development.
Abilene's work will feed into the development of Internet2, which also includes commercial organisations as well as academia. For instance, Abilene will be used to connect IBM's research labs in San Jose, California and Westchester County, New York.
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