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62. Super high-speed Internet is calling you!

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 short time.

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 on Internet2.

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.

The Mousepad runs every two weeks. It's a service of Chebucto Community Net, a community-owned Internet provider. If you have a question about computing, email If we use your question in a column, we'll send you a free mousepad.


The Mousepad Index


Originally published 19 June 2005


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