Internet 2 to ease traffic on
the information superhighway

The World Wide Web continues to bask in the limelight, but a group of universities, government agencies and industry partners are working on the next generation of the Internet.

The privatization of the present Internet brought congestion and slower transfer speeds to universities and research facilities that need to exchange data quickly and easily.

The Internet 2 Project (I2), of which Emory is a member, will tackle education and research institution's needs for moving large amounts of data more quickly through the use of wider bandwidth (basically, a larger cable capable of carrying more information from point to point) and technology developed specifically for the project. I2 promises to relieve congestion for its members.

Jim Johnson, vice provost for Information Technology attended the group's first general meeting in San Francisco, where members were updated on I2's progress.

Members agreed to identify regional subgroups that will install necessary upgraded technology. These groups, called gigapops, will be chosen by the end of February. Gigapops will interconnect with regional institutions and with each other. Engineers say they expect to have several gigapops constructed and connected to campuses and each other by September.

Johnson says the I2 should be fully operational for the initial 25 university participants within a year. Remaining members, including Emory, should be on-line within 3-5 years.

The I2 Applications Steering Group plans to create a "field of tools" that will allow users to build new distance learning/instructional management systems, digital libraries and virtual labs.

Other applications planned for I2 include interactive, network-based instruction; real-time, sensor-based modeling and simulation; large scale, multi-site computation; and very large database processing.

The project puts emphasis back into developing better technology for information transfer and increasing quality of service. Member universities can expect their computer telecommunications technology to outpace nonmembers by nearly a year.

A key element in the Clinton Administration's Next Generation Internet Initiative, I2 began in October 1996. Emory became the 37th member of the 100-member group. As such, Emory has pledged to:
Create a project team to support the I2's applications and advanced network services.
Establish broadband Internet connectivity on an end-to-end basis as soon as possible to support development, testing and use of applications.
Participate at the executive level in the overall management of the project.
Contribute necessary financial support to I2 activities, as well as central management and administrative activities.

The project is costly, but the federal government has promised to participate in the project by providing up to $100 million annually. The funds will come from various agencies, with the majority of funding expected to go to participating universities.

-Scott Barker

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