In late May the GÉANT multi-Gigabit pan-European research network became fully operational. It is the Consortium of European Research's sixth-generation network.
GÉANT provides "the most powerful 10 Gigabit research network, with the broadest geographic coverage," as well as high-speed IP connection to the greatest number of researchers in the world in over 3,000 research and education institutions in 32 countries.
Co-funded by the EC's Framework V Programme, GÉANT is a four-year project set up by a consortium of 27 European national research and education networks (NRENs).
The co-ordinating partner, Cambridge, UK-based DANTE, is owned by a number of European research networks, operates a Research Internet that connects university research networks in 25 countries, and has played a central role in the creation and management of the three previous generations of pan-European research network (established and supported by EU programmes - see Table). GÉANT provides connectivity to research networks in other regions as an integral element.
GÉANT's DWDM-based backbone was rolled out in phases from early October 2001 and at the end of November took over from TEN-155.
Its dual roles are to provide an infrastructure to support both researchers and network research itself. It enables researchers geographically distributed across Europe to co-operate, forming the basis of "virtual labs" and "virtual institutes".
"Areas such as remote learning and computational networks require the sort of bandwidth capacity that this new network will be able to provide," said DANTE general manager Dai Davies.
GÉANT has four key objectives:
- Transmission and routing at speeds of up to 10Gbit/s, to complement the NRENs already using Gigabit speeds. Nine circuits at the core operate at 10Gbit/s, while 11 others run at 2.5Gbit/s (see diagram. left).
- Geographical expansion: In addition to countries connected to TEN-155, GÉANT is providing service to a number of EC Accession States, including Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and the Slovak Republic. Malta has also applied to become a partner in GÉANT.
- Global Connectivity with equivalent Research Networks in other regions, through a European Distributed Access, e.g. in North America (Abilene, CA*net) and Asia-Pacific (SINET, KOREN, SingAREN).
- Guaranteed Quality of Service, for the provision of new applications as well as the creation of VPNs to support the needs of projects and groups of researchers.
- The Global High-Speed Data-Transfer Record has been broken. It was set using the Global Terabit Research Network (GTRN), of which GÉANT is the European segment.
In the same time it took to transmit the first ever trans-Atlantic telegram, sent from Queen Victoria to US President Buchanan in 1858, the same message was transmitted 10bn times between standard PCs connected to the GTRN in Seattle and Brussels.
European research network evolution