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Published on August 26, 2004 By joetheblow In Internet

Internet2: 2004 and beyond
Published: August 24, 2004, 4:00 AM PDT
By Marguerite Reardon
Staff Writer, CNET

Internationally acclaimed violinist and conductor Pinchas Zukerman doesn't let a little thing like a few thousand miles stand in the way of reaching his students.

Using high-definition videoconferencing technology available through the Internet2 network, he can give individual instruction to students half a world away with CD-quality sound and DVD-like images.

Zukerman accesses the network as part of a program at the Manhattan School of Music. The school, an affiliate member of Internet2 through a relationship with Columbia University, has been using the network to do videoconferencing since 1999.

"I'll be the first to say that videoconferencing, even the high-quality technology available through Internet2, will never replace the live experience of teaching music," said Christianne Orto, director of recording and distance learning for the Manhattan School of Music. "But it has tremendously enhanced and revolutionized our ability to teach from a distance at a high level."

Before Internet2, teaching music via videoconferencing was almost impossible. The Manhattan School of Music, a pioneer in distance learning via videoconferencing, has used ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) technology since 1996. But the inherent limitations of the technology have been a constant challenge.

Elements that are critical for music performance education--sound, rhythm and timing, visual imagery, movement--are almost always compromised within this environment, Orto said.

But now, with the high-bandwidth, low-latency Internet2 network, programs like this are commonplace not just at the Manhattan School of Music but at universities and music conservatories around the world. Today, researchers are looking at ways to extend collaborative learning even further over Internet2's backbone, called Abilene. Applications for telemedicine and remote astronomy also are being developed to take advantage of the network.

Abilene has become a necessity for research universities," said Steve Corbato, the director of backbone network infrastructure for Internet2. "It's not just about building a really fast network. University members rely on it to collaborate with colleagues and students around the world."

Internet2 was developed by a consortium of universities and technology companies in 1996 to provide vast improvements in connection speeds. The goal of the project has always been to stay three to four years ahead of what is commercially available through the public Internet. The network itself is in its third generation of design. Earlier this year, the backbone was upgraded to 10gbps (gigabits per second).

Most of the public Internet today uses 2.5gbps links, but some carriers are upgrading those links to 10gbps.

More than 227 universities, libraries, public schools and research institutions are connected to Internet2. The network connects to more than 57 international high-capacity networks. It provides a test bed for new technologies such as IP version 6....

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