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Indiana University to host Net2

The university will harbor the guts of Internet2's Abilene network, which will connect more than 130 universities at breakneck speeds.

Indiana University will harbor the guts of Internet2's Abilene network, which will connect more than 130 universities at breakneck speeds.

Indiana University (IU) beat out about ten other university and private-sector proposals to house Abilene's network operations center, Internet2 officials said today.

"It's not the location that makes IU great, it's the expertise they have," Internet2 spokesman Greg Wood said today.

The network was unveiled by Vice President Al Gore in April. With the help of more than $500 million in private investments and $50 million from universities, Abilene is being developed by the University Corporation for Advanced Internet Development (UCAID) under a five-year commitment to use Qwest's fiber optic network and technologies provided by Cisco Systems, Nortel, IBM, and Bay Networks.

The high-bandwidth network promises to be 100 times faster than the public Internet and will support advanced applications such as real-time virtual research, vast digital libraries, and other distance learning applications.

Abilene will begin testing in September and be up and running by January, Woods said.

The project is closely related to the Clinton administration's Next Generation Internet initiative led by government research agencies. In his 1997 State of the Union address, President Clinton pledged to build a new Internet that would be 100 to 1,000 times faster than the current network. Neither of the efforts will be available immediately to the public, but the new technologies and increased data speeds are expected to trickle down to the global Internet as well as private computer networks.

IU is one of the largest universities in the country with more than 100,000 students, faculty, and staff. The university also is known for being an early adapter to technological innovations.

For example, in March, IU started handing out Microsoft's suite of products for free to its students and staff under a $6 million, four-year deal with the software giant.

"Indiana fully understands it is essential that state governments continue to participate in the development of the new generation of high-speed Internet technologies that provide promise of major impacts in such diverse areas as distance and lifelong learning, health care, and geographically distributed design and planning," Indiana Governor Frank O'Bannon said in a statement.