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U.S., Canada backbones to be connected

Research and educational high-speed networks take a crucial step toward internationalization with an agreement to link dedicated networks in the countries.

Research and educational high-speed networks took a crucial step toward internationalization today with an agreement to link dedicated networks in the United States and Canada.

Under today's agreement, the Canadian Network for the Advancement of Research, Industry, and Education (CANARIE) and the University Corporation for Advanced Internet Development (UCAID) will connect the Canadian CA*net backbones with the U.S. Internet2 backbone, known as Abilene and hosted by Indiana University.

The agreement follows a memorandum of understanding signed between the two groups in October of last year.

That memorandum encouraged collaboration on transferring technology gleaned from the members' efforts to industry, as well as collaboration on the development of technical standards and implementations.

The joined networks will serve about 70 U.S. universities and 45 Canadian institutions by the end of next year.

The agreement between the U.S. and Canadian groups is expected to be just the beginning of international cooperation on the research networking front.

"It was natural that Internet2 and CANARIE lead the way because they are on similar technology paths, and because of the obvious geographic advantages," said UCAID spokesperson Greg Wood. "But we do seek to form linkages to like-minded networking initiatives around the world."

Indeed, UCAID has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Netherlands, and another one with Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden.

Both the U.S. and Canada have pursued a variety of projects to provide research institutions with high-speed networks. In the United States, Internet2--funded by 13 corporate partners--is proceeding simultaneously with the government-sponsored Next Generation Internet and at least one state-sponsored project, the California Research and Education Network. MCI and the National Science Foundation also created the Very High-Performance Backbone Network Service (vBNS).

For its part, Canada has created three versions of CA*Net; version 3 will launch in July 1999. Internet2 is scheduled for nationwide connectivity by January.