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Internet2, now at MIT, has more bandwidth

Internet2, providing twice the network bandwidth previously available for connections outside the Institute, has arrived on campus.

Internet2, a university corporation with more than 180 US university members, including MIT, works with industry and government to develop and deploy advanced network applications and technologies.

Internet2 is an outgrowth of discussions among universities that sought to ensure the development of the next generation Internet with sufficient network bandwidth for a new set of collaborative, high-bandwidth uses.

This means that telescopes such as those in Hawaii and Chile can be controlled by -- and real-time images delivered to -- researchers on distant campuses; that computers can be networked at high data rates to work collaboratively on a single large computational problem; that researchers around the world can work together in "virtual laboratories"; and that distance education initiatives that involve transmitting entire interactive classes in real time should have all the bandwidth required.

In late August, MIT was directly connected to the Northern Crossroads GigaPoP in downtown Boston. The Northern Crossroads (NoX) facilitates high performance networking among academic institutions in New England.

NoX is connected to Abilene, an advanced backbone network that supports the development and deployment of the new applications being developed within the Internet2 community. Abilene connects regional network aggregation points, called gigaPoPs, to support the work of Internet2 universities as they develop advanced Internet applications. Abilene complements other high-performance research networks.

MIT's bandwidth into Abilene is at 155 million bits per second. Abilene has links across the country at 2.4 billion bits per second. A drawback is that not every location is reachable through the new connection.

In addition to connecting MIT to Abilene, NoX also provides direct network connections to Verizon, QWEST, Tufts, Dartmouth, Harvard, Northeastern, University of Maine, University of New Hampshire, University of Vermont and RCN. Community members do not need to do anything to take advantage of this new connection. Any traffic from MIT to or from NoX/Abilene-connected institutions automatically will be routed through the new connection.

"Perhaps the most important thing is that this change will facilitate development of a new breed of Internet applications that require higher bandwidth. I believe there is a whole range of things that people are just beginning to discover that will be facilitated by this high-speed connection," said Jeffrey I. Schiller, network manager for Information Systems.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 18, 2000.

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