62. Super high-speed Internet is
By Mark Alberstat
High-speed connection not fast enough for you? Downloads feel a bit
sluggish? Maybe you should try to hook onto Internet2, a super high-speed
sibling of the Internet that we all know and love.
Internet2 is a non-profit consortium that was created to develop, test and
install advanced networking technologies that may be used on the Internet
in future years.
The technologies being developed by this U.S. university-led group include
IPv6, an evolution of the current Internet's machine protocol that will
allow many more servers and users online and also allow a greater amount
of data flow.
However, because of the experimental nature of the equipment used on
Internet2, the system is not as stable as the regular Internet and also
not available to the average consumer.
The speed of the system is, however, very attractive to most users as it
is reportedly up to 100 times faster than the Internet we all use.
The consortium is always looking at increasing amount and speed of data
flow. Recently, under the IPv6 category, a team at Caltech transferred 357
gigabytes of data across 14,134 kilometres in 10 minutes. That's an
average rate of 5.11 gigabytes per second - that's a lot of data in a
With speeds like this, it is not surprising that Internet2 data does not
travel on the same copper and fibre the main Internet is on. Internet2's
backbone is built on large capacity fibre optic cables.
Not only is the physical makeup different, the amount of traffic on it is
substantially less, so the data moving over the lines is not congested
with other users.
More than 200 American and Canadian universities, as well as a large
number of U.S. government institutions are involved in the project.
Members all pay a fee to the non-profit organization that runs Internet2.
Some universities pay as much as $200,000 and must also be actively
working on research that will continue to better the Internet. The member
universities have committed more than $60 million per year for the
project, while industry has pledged $20 million.
In addition to being onboard at the early stages of new technologies,
members of Internet2 use their links to share large amounts of research
information between universities and dispersed laboratory partners.
Internet2 is not being designed to replace the current Internet but to be
maintained as a parallel structure. Its real goal is to enhance the
day-to-day Internet with hardware and software that has proven its worth
If you are on a university or government-based machine, you may be
connected, in some way, to Internet2. The programmers at the consortium
have developed a small Java applet that you can download, run, and see if
you are connected. It is called Internet2 Detective.
This small program gives users information on their current Internet
connection and capability of connecting to Internet2.
Although this applet may take a minute or two to download on your current
connection, if the technologies developed related to Internet2 see the
light of day, those minutes may be cut down to mere seconds.
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Originally published 19 June 2005