Penn State will join a network of dozens of universities later this month as part of a project that links research institutions across the country who will share knowledge and valuable information via the Internet.
On Feb. 24, the Abilene Project, the most advanced research and education network in the United States, began nationwide operations delivering high-performance network services to 37 universities. Penn State will join the network when the Pittsburgh Super Computing Center completes its connection.
Abilene is a test bed for Internet applications of the future such as distance learning, telemedicine and digital libraries that will become commonplace in the coming years. To deliver Abilene, Qwest Communications, Cisco, Nortel Networks and Indiana University are contributing equipment and services with an estimated value of $500 million over three years.
As an Internet2 backbone network, Abilene spans more than 10,000 miles and operates at 2.4 gigabits per second -- a speed 45,000 times faster than a 56K modem; a speed that allows the transfer of information equivalent to 150,000 double-spaced, typewritten pages in one second.
Abilene is part of the Internet2 project and more than 70 Internet2 universities and research facilities are expected to connect to it by the end of 1999. Internet2 is a new superfast computer network developed by a consortium of 132 member universities-- including Penn State, which has been a leader in this initiative. Government and industry partners are also part of the mix.
The Abilene network is a project of the University Corporation for Advanced Internet Development (UCAID), home of the Internet2 project. Penn State President Graham B. Spanier and Gary Augustson, vice provost for information technology, are members of the board of directors of UCAID.
"The launch of Abilene represents an important next step in establishing a national infrastructure to support the growing networking needs of universities like Penn State," said Augustson.
Abilene is composed of best of breed technology and resources from its partners including 10,000 miles of Qwest Communications' advanced fiber optic network and engineering support. In addition, Cisco has provided high-speed communications equipment that enables the integration of data, voice and video, and ongoing engineering support. Nortel Networks has provided network planning and engineering services, network management and optical networking capable of a transmission rate of 10 gigabits per second. Indiana University runs Abilene's Network Operation Center and has provided Abilene with problem determination and resolution and asset management.
A primary goal of Abilene is to support the efforts of the Internet2 project. To enable collaboration among university and corporate Internet2 members, Abilene will also connect corporate research labs; among the first will be IBM's T.J. Watson Research Center in Westchester County, N.Y., and IBM's Almaden Research in San Jose, Calif.
For more information on Abilene, visit the Web at http://www.internet2.edu/abilene/
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