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First 100 Gbps Transatlantic Network Taking Shape

The first-ever 100 gigabits per second pipe across the North Atlantic could link U.S. and European research and education communities, but more partners are needed.

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It's not here yet, but plans are progressing to deliver the first-ever 100 gigabits per second pipe across the North Atlantic to link U.S. and European research and education communities. That's the plan – but to get there, more partners are needed to flesh out the grand schemes of the idea's two sponsors, DANTE, which runs the pan-European GEANT network, and the America Connects to Europe project (ACE), managed by Indiana University.

DANTE -- which stands for Delivery of Advanced Network Technology to Europe -- is a non-profit organization set up in 1993 to act as a co-ordinator of large-scale projects co-funded by the European Commission. It works in partnership with European National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) to plan, build and operate advanced networks for research and education. Its GEANT -- Geometry and Tracking -- network is a high-speed European communication network dedicated to research and education. In combination with NREN partners, GEANT creates a secure, high-speed research infrastructure that serves 40 million users in over 8,000 institutions across 40 European countries.

The pair say that although some big research projects already are benefiting from the 100-Gbps speeds being offered over the GEANT network, "data flows may suffer in the near future once they reach the Atlantic".

Currently, GEANT and ACE offer over 80 Gbps of transatlantic connectivity. The problem: this is made up of multiple 10-Gbps links, not one single fat pipe. The concern is that this will lead to bottlenecks in the future for prospective 100G users. DANTE wants to replace these over time with multiple 100G links, ensuring that partners in large research projects in radio astronomy, global earth observation, medical research, particle physics and other areas continue to benefit from the best available connectivity.

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Hence its call for "collaborative partners in ground-breaking transatlantic trials," with the goal of running exploratory trials as part of a larger collaborative effort with other research and education networks on either side of the Atlantic. GEANT and ACE hope this might "lead to subsequent production offerings following full procurement" later in 2013.

"GEANT will very soon offer 100 Gbps capacity across the pan-European network, and similar capacity is available in North America," said Cathrin Stöver, chief international relations and communications officer at DANTE in a statement. "We are determined to extend that capacity across the Atlantic in order to stay ahead of the 'data deluge' generated by the research community and avoid bottlenecks in the future."

"By launching this initiative, DANTE is taking the lead in further strengthening links with North America, and ensuring GÉANT remains at the heart of the global research village."

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