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Bill St. Arnaud is a consultant and research engineer who works with clients around the world on a variety of subjects such as next generation Internet networks and developing practical solutions to reduce CO2 emissions such as free broadband and dynamic charging of eVehicles. He is an author of many papers and articles on these topics and is a frequent guest speaker. For more details on my research interests see

Thursday, February 3, 2011

New developments in partnership between R&E and community networks

[I am pleased to see that Mark Johnson, of the North Carolina R&E network has been appointed by Internet2 as the interim head of the  United States Unified Community Anchor Network (U.S. UCAN) initiative.  I have known Mark for many years and witnessed first hand the many achievements he has accomplished in leveraging the R&E network in North Carolina ( to support the build out and deployment of community networks in that state.

At the recent Internet 2 Joint Techs meeting, it was announced that Internet2/USUCANN) has acquired 16000 miles of dark fiber and Ciena (Nortel) will be the major supplier of optical equipment for the network.  Here is a good overview of current Internet 2 R&E and community initiatives  It is interesting to note that traffic from the content peering service (R&E traffic to clouds and content providers) is almost double of R&E traffic between institutions.

Technical details of the USUCAN- Internet 2 architecture can be seen at  And a good example of regional community network deployment, with leadership provided by state R&E network, which will connect almost every community  in Michigan can be seen at

Finally the move to open optical Internet exchanges seems to be gaining considerable momentum in both USA and Europe.  The new CERN LHC network architecture (LHCONE) will be built around open optical Internet exchanges and as you can see from the following presentation it is becoming a core component of US networking as well. Internet 2 also plans to build a number of distributed open optical exchanges as well.    The French R&E networks has also established a direct  100Gbps optical connection from a computer center in Lyons the CERN open optical Internet exchange.  There is also a new EU research group looking at how to formalize these developments of integrating open optical Internet exchanges and the composition of virtual network services (based on some of the original work in this area in Canada with UCLP)

I am pleased to see things are evolving as I had forecast “A perspective on the Future of R&E networks” .  In that paper I predicted  R&E  and commercial networks will become more localized interconnecting and peering at many open exchange points.  The bulk of traditional end-to-end traffic  will be increasingly delivered by special eInfrastructure (cyber-infrastructure) facilities as for example LHCONE and those planned for astronomy and other data intensive fields.  Effectively these einfrastructure facilities are large content distribution networks. The need for traditional pan-national hierarchical IP networks will diminish or disappear.  This same architecture will better enable support for community and hybrid wireless networks. In countries, where there is significant vertical integration of content and pipes, with little competition and drive to usage based billing, these types of architectures will help small content and application providers reach the global community.


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