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High-speed academic networks to merge

Internet2 and National LambdaRail plan to combine their efforts in order to facilitate research at universities.
Written by Desiree Everts, Contributor
Two consortia that aim to facilitate research by linking universities via high-speed networking have announced plans to merge.

Although they had scrapped plans to combine their efforts a year ago, Internet2 and National LamdaRail (NLR) say they have finally come to an agreement and expect to complete their merger by June 29.

"To be sure, (the merger) involves compromises on each side," the groups said in a joint statement released last week (click here for PDF). "But in the end, we believe that it provides the framework for an organization which will provide a significantly improved environment for stakeholders in Internet2 and NLR."

NLR is a consortium of universities and technology companies that aims to build a nationwide optical network owned and used by the research community. It has been quietly snapping up thousands of miles of fiber-optic cable in an effort to build up its network. Because the network is owned and operated by researchers, it gives them greater flexibility and allows them to conduct experiments that they ordinarily couldn't do on a standard communications network.

The Internet2 network, a much faster version of the Internet, was developed by a group of universities and technology companies looking to improve connection speeds. Researchers and professors use the network to enhance long-distance collaboration and learning.

Though created solely for research purposes, Internet2 came under the watchful eye of the Recording Industry Association of America and the Motion Picture Association of America after some college students used it to swap music and even download entire movies. Two years ago, the RIAA and the MPAA joined Internet2 as members in an effort to form a collaborative relationship with the consortium.

Both Internet2 and NLR have been hailed as crucial in further developing networking technologies as well as in improving educational research by providing scientists with a supercharged connection that meets their networking needs.

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