Internet2 Network to Get Speed Boost

Operators of the Internet2 consortium said they will be able to boost the speed of the ultra-fast research network by as much as 80 times by the fall of next year. To accomplish this, the fiber optic lines will send data using different colors of light.

The Internet2 is a network separate from the Internet that connects some 200 colleges and universities, as well as various corporations and researchers. It currently uses fiber optic cables provided by Qwest, however the new network would have cables all to itself.

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Each color, or wavelength, will be able to transmit data at a speed of 10 Gigabit per second. With 10 colors over the same wire, that allows for a maximum speed of 100 Gbps. Eventually, users of the Internet2 network would have 80 wavelengths available.

Currently, the network has a limit in theory of 10 Gbps. Researchers haven't gotten there yet due to hardware restrictions, although they recently set a new speed record of 8.8 Gbps in laboratory tests. The speed boost would mean a two-hour movie could be transferred in several seconds as opposed to a half-minute with the old network.

The reason for the upgrade is fairly straightforward. New uses of Internet2 need a faster data rate than what is currently available. For example, the second generation of the network would help a project to link together radio telescopes around the world.

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