With the explosive commercial success of the Internet, the founding builders and users of the Internet are using an alternative network for bandwidth when it requires mission critical applications to operate for research and development projects. The network has been so successful in its use and available bandwidth capacity that more and more education and private sponsored support groups that partially fund many of the projects are using the Internet 2 network rather than the Internet. And just who is this group?
Universities and government agencies heavily involved in research are the primary sponsors of the network. Called Internet 2 in the U.S. with just under 250 colleges and universities signed on, CANARIE in Canada (with every provincial university connected), there are over 50 international partners and similar networks connected to it. It's a very exclusive club with networks operating at bandwidth speeds that most simply drool about. Oh, you as an individual can't use this network - unless you're on campus of one of the universities or colleges connected. Yet, Internet 2 is offering connectivity to K-12 institutions and private education providers in addition to its core members. When the U.S. Military pulled ARPANET off the growing Internet network in 1983 (and created MILNET), it didn't create a significant impact because computer power and multi-media services were limited in scale and performance. Things have changed over the past 26 years.
Clearly there's a need to have a high performance network for bandwidth-intensive applications and services in the education sector. But this has weakened the existing Internet infrastructure and you're paying for it. The price for admission isn't cheap either. Fees in the U.S. for bandwidth access are listed in the network section of the site as:
Internet2 IP Network Connection fees are based on the allowable bandwidth (i.e., capacity) of the connection from the institution to the Internet2 Network. Network Connection fees may be assessed annually, quarterly, or monthly by organizations designated as Internet2 Network Connectors. An organization, typically a regional network, becomes a Connector upon signing an Internet2 Network Connection Agreement, which enables a direct physical connection to the Internet2 Network. The following table depicts the allowable IP bandwidth options and their annual, quarterly and monthly fees:
|Bandwidth||Annual Fee||Quarterly Fee*||Monthly Fee*|
These network access services are just some of the fees that a university or college has to pay to be a part of the network. If a institution needs a virtual point-to-point circuit for temporary use, the Internet 2 network is the best place to do it as they can build a temporary high speed service required for a preset amount of scheduled service time and then shut down the point to point service saving bandwidth costs. This is particularly useful for specific research projects involving collaboration. Sure would be nice if I could have a 10 GB pipe for a couple of hours now and then.
The Internet 2 may spawn other unique and segregated networks in the future as the commercial Internet network continues to exceed capacity in some parts of the world. Several telecommunications companies have reviewed and operate semi-private commercial business to business I.P. network (B2B I.P.) with some success. Corporations are looking for ways to reduce private networking costs and still be able to operate through a common network service. The Internet may still be able to grow and meet everyone's needs. The problem is when. It better be soon before patience wears out and www really does become the old joke of World Wide Wait.