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Universities Advance High-Speed Trans-Atlantic Network

A partnership of institutions and national laboratories is launching a high-speed fiber optic network service as part of a sizable project to connect educators and researchers in the United States with Europe.

The group has signed with Hibernia Atlantic to use its transatlantic fiber optic cable for data communications. Indiana University, lead partner for the America Connects to Europe Project (ACE Project), said the organization will be using Hibernia's network to connect participating universities and labs with European counterparts. Last year Indiana U received a National Science Foundation award of $4.6 million to fund this latest high-speed international network service.

The project is also receiving funding from GÉANT, a multi-domain topology that spans 34 European countries to connect 30 million researchers. The infrastructure in that existing initiative is supplied by the non-profit Delivery of Advanced Network Technology to Europe (DANTE).

At the same time Indiana U received the ACE funding, it also received the same amount to continue its network connection work with Asia in the TransPAC3 project, which has been going on for at least a decade. The university is the lead institution for the International Research Network Connections (IRNC) program, an umbrella effort to support high-performance network connectivity between this country and the international community. ACE is one of several components within the IRNC program.

Hibernia's network delivers 10 Gbps capacity between New York and Amsterdam and between Washington, DC and Frankfurt. The plan is to deploy several 10 Gbps "waves," starting with 40 Gbps and growing that to 100 Gbps.

However, Indiana U's work in the area of "international networking" goes beyond bandwidth procurement, the institution said, adding that it requires technical and operational collaboration--for example, developing better tools for scientists--as well as planning.

"High performance networking is a tool, and it facilitates international collaborations in research and education. These collaborations can have significant economic side effects for the state and for national activities," said James Williams, director of International Networking at Indiana U, in a university-made video. "It facilitates sharing of expensive resources, such as telescopes and microscopes, and also physical locations. if we're going to study the effect of climate change on the withdrawal of glaciers in the Himalayas, we need some way to figure out how to get our measurement instruments to the Himalayas. International networking provides the necessary connectivity so data from these remote physical locations can be brought to the scientific establishment."

"As part of our ACE program, Hibernia's cost-effective, high-performance capacity will support a broad community of global users," Williams added in a statement about the latest vendor selection. "Indiana University has a long-standing commitment to delivering excellence in teaching and research, which aligns well with Hibernia's dedication to driving technical excellence."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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