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Govt announces spur-high-speed research internet

Government announces international super high speed research and education internet link

Research, Science and Technology Minister Pete Hodgson today announced the next phase in the development of a super high speed internet link between universities and research organisations in New Zealand and overseas.

The link, which will be know as the Advanced Network for Research and Education, will mean users can share information at speeds around 20,000 times faster than dial-up and 400 times faster than domestically available high speed internet. This will enable much greater collaboration between researchers and the multiplication of computing power through the linking of computers across New Zealand and around the globe.

The new link will help New Zealand participate at the cutting edge of research, development and education in areas such as biotechnology, eLearning, health and creative media such as film.

"This network will strengthen New Zealand's research and educational capabilities;" said Mr Hodgson. "It will help keep the sector at the forefront of what is truly a global field. Such a link should also have valuable commercial spin offs."

Next Generation Internet New Zealand (NGI-NZ) Chair, Neil James of Otago University said: "This initiative will turbo-charge the communication infrastructure of New Zealand's research and education community, putting it on an equal footing with other world leaders in this technology."

An Implementation Manager is expected to be to appointed shortly to oversee the link's establishment under a crown-owned and funded entity. This will involve both telecommunications network and hardware providers in a competitive tendering process to establish and develop the link and ensure it stays at the forefront of technology.

New Zealand Universities, Polytechnics, Wananga and Crown Research Institutes will be the first to benefit from the link.

Government announces international super high speed reseach and education internet link - Questions and Answers, 02 June 2004

Q1. What is an Advanced Network? A1. An Advanced Network is a very high speed communications network of regional ‘meet me’ points (referred to as GigaPoPs) that are in turn linked to international networks. They typically use optical fibre infrastructure as opposed to copper wire telephone network systems such as those used by ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line).

Advanced Networks are also know as Next Generation Internet (NGI) networks and, in the USA, as Internet2.

Q2. How does an Advanced Network differ from the Internet? A2. An Advanced Network offers significantly greater access speed:

Dial up connection – around 50kbit/sec (50,000 bits per second) 'High Speed' internet – typically 2.5Mbit/sec (2.5 million bits per second) Advanced Network – from 1Gigabit/sec (1000 million bits per second) forecast to rise to around 40Gbit/sec within the next few years.

Q3. Who needs these high-speed gigabit connections? Government has identified a need for gigabit networks across a wide range of organisations, but especially those in the research, education and the following sectors that are actively involved in research and development: creative, biotechnology, education and eLearning, telehealth, agritech and ICT.

Q4. Does New Zealand need an Advanced Network? A4. In 2003 the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology (MoRST) established and chairs an Advisory Group made up of some of the New Zealand’s leading scientists and researchers to identify the demand in New Zealand for an Advanced Network.

It concluded that there would be significant benefits to a wide range of organisations, especially those in the research, education and the following sectors that are actively involved in research and development: creative, biotechnology, education and eLearning, telehealth, agritech and ICT.

Such a network will also ensure that New Zealand keeps pace with the international leaders in such technology and collaborative working techniques.

Next Generation Internet New Zealand (NGI-NZ) played a key role in championing the needs of New Zealand users and in building relationships with overseas Advanced Networks.

Government plans to continue to work with the Advisory Group and NGI-NZ through the network's development and implementation phases.

Q5. Why hasn't such a network been built before? Q5. The geographic dispersion and relatively small scale of the New Zealand's research and education community, on an international scale, has meant that advanced network providers have restricted investment to high density business districts such as the CityLink network in Wellington.

Government is committed to building the capabilities of research and education organisations and their ability to work with international counterparts. That's why its taking the initiative to create a comprehensive advanced network.

Such an approach builds on Government successes through the PROBE (Provincial Broadband Extension) programme to promote and develop rural broadband infrastructure.

Q6. Who will be connected to the network? A6. The government has identified 127 University, Wananga, Polytechnic and Crown Research Institute sites which are targeted to be connected to the network.

Other research and innovation driven organisations will also be encouraged to join the network such as those engaged in collaborative research with a Government-funded organisations.

Q7. When will they be connected? A7. The first connections should be in place by the end of the year.

Q8. How much will the Government be investing in this Network? A8. A tendering process is proposed for the supply of key network components. Government will not finalise its contribution until this process is completed. Q9. What will funding be required for? A9. Funding will be required for national GigaPoP infrastructure, for connecting individual users to it on a local level and to link it internationally. Some of this work may involve adaptation of existing infrastructure through the PROBE initiative.

Q10. Who is expected to pay for the ongoing operating costs? Q10. It is anticipated that users will meet ongoing operating costs.

Q11. How long will it take to establish an Advanced Network? A11. It is envisaged that the tender process will be launched in the third quarter of this year. This could lead to the first parts of the network being up and running before the end of the year.

Q12. How does this relate to Project PROBE?
A12. The advanced network is a separate project to probe. However, it does follow the government objective of bringing the benefits of improved connectivity. PROBE is doing just this for around 3000 schools and communities, particularly rural ones through the provision of high speed internet access (initially a minimum of 512kbit/sec with scope for expansion for secondary schools to 4Mbps) to many schools. It is anticipated that users of both PROBE and the advanced network could be linked together in the future.

Q13. What is the next step? A13. The next step is to appoint an Implementation Manager. The Implementation Manager will be responsible for finalising the network design in consultation with the Advanced Network Steering Committee and calling tenders for the supply of equipment and services to establish the network.

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