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Internet2 turns 15. Has it delivered on its promise?

Julie Sartain, Network World | June 13, 2011
With nearly $100 million in new funding, Internet2, the faster, better Internet reserved for research and education, has embarked on an upgrade that will boost backbone capacity to a staggering 8.8Tbps and expand services to hundreds of thousands of libraries, schools and medical centers.

Others take exception with Nolle's viewpoint. Debbie Montano, chief architect of government, education & medical at Juniper, argues that, "While Internet2 does not operate as a 'for-profit' Internet service provider, it does; nonetheless, contribute significantly to the dialog and thought leadership on 'Layers 8 and 9' issues — particularly the financial and business considerations facing industry and government in continuing to expand the [commercial] Internet's capabilities."

"In my view," she continues, "it's extremely helpful to have an organization such as Internet2 (including its members and affiliated state/regional networking organizations) who can articulate a long-term vision for the Internet, for expanded broadband deployment, and for IPv6 adoption without being focused solely on quarterly results. The economic health of the United States and the continued vitality of the commercial Internet depend on the willingness to innovate and the thoughtful consideration of national and international networking issues at all layers, which Internet2 embodies so well."

Lauren Rotman, director of communications at Internet2, adds, "Every year, a million students graduate from universities where they have used Internet2's 100Gbps network to collaborate with faculty, colleagues, and other students. They have used applications such as HD-quality videoconferencing, video repositories, and other real-time collaboration tools on a regular basis. When these students enter the workforce, they will expect these same networking capabilities. Their opinions and recommendations will be the primary, driving force that demands upgrades to corporate networks and the commercial Internet for both applications and higher bandwidth capabilities. These are the voices of our future, the voices that will effect change."

And while there is room for a healthy debate on this issue, it seems clear that Internet2's members are satisfied with its performance and continue to support it. As Bradner says, "The member universities that pay to connect to Internet2 must think it's worth the money, which is a real statement since the Internet2 costs are in addition to the commercial Internet costs."

And Internet2 bandwidth fees are not inconsequential. For example, a research institution that wanted a direct 1Gbps connection would pay $250,000 a year. A regional network that wanted a 10Gbps connection, would pay $480,000 a year.

The next 15 years

With an infusion of nearly $100 million, Internet2 is poised to continue serving the educational and research communities for a long time. The U.S. government recently awarded Internet2 $62 million in stimulus funds to upgrade the network and to make it more broadly available.


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