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UW-Madison Announcement: Internet2 connection speeds data transfer

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(Published in Wisconsin Week Wire <http://www.news.wisc.edu/wire/i031799/>;
urls added by ddw)

The University of Wisconsin-Madison's connection to Internet2
<http://pubs.doit.wisc.edu/f/i2/> is up and running.

I2 <http://www.internet2.edu> is a consortium of 90 primarily higher
education research institutions seeking faster links to shared computing.
Begun in October 1996 by 34 American research universities, today I2 has
more than 140 member universities working with corporate and affiliate
members on advanced network development.  UW-Madison has been working on
improving its physical connection to the network since shortly after I2 was

"Researchers launched the original Internet in the '70s to help them
communicate and
share data," says Tad Pinkerton, head of the Division of Information
Technology at W-Madison.  "As the network commercialized, providers could
not keep up with the growth, and it became impossible to do some kinds of
research using the network. The Internet2    project was conceived for just
that purpose."

I2 uses two physical networks, the very high-speed Backbone Network System
(vBNS) <http://www.vbns.net/> and Abilene <http://www.ucaid.edu/abilene/>.
The vBNS is an Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM)-based network that enables
data, voice and video transfer at rates up to 100 times faster than the
commercial Internet that people use from their homes. Abilene is a new,
faster Internet Protocol (IP)-based backbone network connecting regional

The commercial Internet is like a highway that has variable numbers of
lanes as you travel around the country. In some places it has more commuter
traffic and in others, less. The I2 networks are more like the lanes
reserved for carpooling--they have very little traffic
and a constant number of lanes.

UW-Madison will initially rely on the vBNS for its higher-demand
interactions with peer institutions. While it is not yet directly connected
to Abilene, the university can make use of it through connections to
Chicago, where these new networks intersect.

"Our proximity to Chicago gives us a large advantage," says Pinkerton. "In
one hop, we gain instant access to networks for the federal government (via
the MREN <http://www.mren.org/>), Asia and Europe (via Star Tap
<http://www.startap.net/>.   This can make a major difference for on-line
collaborations between our faculty and researchers throughout the world."

The University Corporation for Advanced Internet Development (UCAID)
<http://www.ucaid.edu/> was established in September  1997 to provide an
organizational home for I2.   UW-Madison Chancellor David Ward is chairman
of  the Board of Trustees for UCAID. The board provides guidance for the
Internet2 project.

I2 is supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF)
<http://www.nsf.gov/> and by dues paid from member institutions.
UW-Madison received an NSF grant to pay two years' worth of half the costs
associated with connecting to the vBNS. The final costs for connecting to
Abilene are $30-50,000 per year.

In a few years, the university hopes to have the technology to track and
charge a department based on the distance, size and time of data
transferred. In the meantime, all traffic to and from UW-Madison and other
institutions that are part of I2 will use the faster network.

UW's Internet2 connection will be formally unveiled Tuesday, March 30, at
1:30 p.m. in 3139 Computer Internet2 connection speeds data transfer
Science and Statistics, 1210 W. Dayton St. Members of the University
Corporation for Advanced Internet Development (UCAID), as well as vendor
representatives, will be on hand to field questions.  Seating will be
first-come, first-served.


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