Academics get superfast link

New Zealand academics and researchers will at last have access to the same sort of very high-speed internetworking that their counterparts in Australia, the US and Europe already enjoy.

New Zealand academics and researchers will at last have access to the same sort of very high-speed internetworking that their counterparts in Australia, the US and Europe already enjoy.

Science and Technology Minister Pete Hodgson announced yesterday that the Advanced Network for Research and Education (ANRE) link will soon appoint an implementation manager, who will oversee its creation under the auspices of an unspecified crown-owned and funded entity.

The link will connect universities, polytechnics and crown research institutes first. However, Hodgson also expects the link to have "valuable commercial spin-offs" in areas such as the film industry. According to the announcement, ANRE's link speed is expected to be 1Gbit/s. This is lower than the 2.5Gbit/s proposed in 2002, and less than what commercial network operators offer nationally.

For Neil James, who chairs the Next Generation Internet New Zealand initiative, the decision crowns what he termed a "four-and-a-half-year-long crusade" to bring the country to the networking technology forefront. James says that he and colleagues John Houlker and Simon Riley found great understanding from ministers about the necessity of getting the NGI-NZ off the ground.

No dates have been given for the implementation of the ANRE link. James says that the technology behind the link "has never been an issue" as the NGI-NZ will be able to use existing and proven gear, while drawing on the experience of previous high-speed networks established overseas.

Asked if the money committed to the ANRE link is sufficient, James says it is.

"Absolutely, there is now significant funds." Though he didn't want to reveal the exact amounts made available for the project. James says the money announced today comes on top of $8.2 million aready allocated from the Tertiary Education Committee.

James hopes to be able join up with Australia's AARNET for the overseas connectivity. In December last year AARNET was sponsored by cable operator Southern Cross, with the Australian government chipping in some $A16.4 million as part of a $A44.8 million project, to establish twin 10Gbit/s links across the Pacific.

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