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Internet2 races 10 times faster

A 10-fold increase in network speeds is just the beginning for the research-oriented network.

If you thought your new Verizon Fios service was fast, take a look at what Internet2 is up to.

The research-oriented network has just boosted its network speeds to 100 gigabits per second, the Associated Press and others reported this week. That's a 10-fold increase from the theoretical 10Gpbs network connections offered today to its university, research and commercial members.

Network connections this fast mean that a high-quality version of your favorite movie could be downloaded over the Net in a few seconds instead of the half a minute it takes over the old Internet2. By comparison, the same movie download can take hours over a typical home broadband line.

Of course, it will be years before consumers ever see broadband connections this fast, but the speed boost could have a significant impact on the research community almost immediately. In fact, the AP story said physicists working on the world's largest particle collider at the European Organization for Nuclear Research near Geneva will likely be the first to use the faster network in May.

The boost in capacity was achieved by sending data using 10 different colors, or wavelengths, of light over a single strand of fiber. Increasing the overall capacity on the network is important because it allows researchers and Internet2 members to get high-speed dedicated links on demand.

Specifically, researchers this week demonstrated that they could use a dedicated 10Gbps "on-demand" link for a specific application without degrading the performance of the rest of the network for other applications.

The Internet2 network, which is a parallel network to the commercial Internet, is largely used by universities and some corporations around the world to share enormous amounts of data. Earlier this year, the network combined forces with the research-based nationwide fiber network National LambdaRail.

As for the future, Internet2 officials are already planning for even faster speeds. In about 12 to 18 months, they hope to boost network capacity to 400Gbps, the AP said.