Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

European interconnection of national research and university networks

The European Commission, DG III and DG XIII, has published complementary information which provides additional guidelines for the submission of proposals for a joint initiative of DG III/F and DG XIII/C to support the European interconnection of national research and university networks at 34-155 Megabit per second (Mbit/s).

The initiative is an integral part of the existing call for proposals for the Information Technologies programme and the Telematics Application programme under the Fourth Framework programme for research and technological development and demonstration (1994-1998), which was published on 15 December 1994.

The initiative constitutes a step towards the information society, as this action concerns the interconnection of research and university networks, one of the ten strategic applications recommended in the report of the Bangemann High-Level Group concerning the implementation of the information society.

The call for proposals covers Tasks RE 1.1 to RE 1.3 of Area B, Sector 3 of the Telematics Applications programme and the accompanying measures of the Information Technologies programme.

Proposals for this cross-programme initiative can be submitted to either programme. The deadline for submission of proposals is 15 March 1995 and received proposals will be jointly evaluated by the participating programmes.

Proposers should refer to the respective information packages of the programmes concerning the required formalities and formats for submission of proposals.

The resulting projects will be managed by a joint DG III/DG XIII EC project office.

The purpose of this action is to pilot interconnection between existing national research networks which will support data transfer at rates of 34 Mbit/s for all interconnected national research networks. The pilot is intended to operate with a limited duration, depending on the commercial availability of services at that rate.

An immediate effect of the action will be to improve the quality of applications and services used by researchers in Europe to a level approaching that now operational in the USA. This will bring immediate benefit to all aspects of collaborative research in Europe.

The resulting pilot service should interconnect those existing national research networks which fulfil the following criterion:

- Currently operate, or plan to operate in the near future a national research network with a capacity of 34 Mbit/s or higher.

The planned initiative will be open for extension to additional Member States' national RTD networks as and when they begin to operate at 34 Mbit/s or higher.

The pilot project will enable researchers to deploy internationally existing applications in use within national research networks. The pilot service will offer a quality of service sufficient to enable validation trials of multi-media applications between sites served by the interconnected national research networks in Europe and North America.

This action will be based on a collaborative approach; it is anticipated that both users and providers will benefit from this action. Users will experience improvement in the quality of communication with peers and greater opportunity to exploit resources located in other Member States. Researchers will also have the opportunity to demonstrate and validate multi-media telematic applications. Providers will have the opportunity to gain experience of operating high speed data networks in an environment approximating to the commercial customer environment.

The major objective of this action is to provide the platform for communication between network users. It should therefore operate using technology which is itself beyond the experimental stage. However, during the life cycle of the action, it can be expected that new network technologies will become sufficiently robust so that they can be introduced into the interconnection. Proposals should therefore specify:

- The initial technology to be employed;
- Plans for the introduction of new networking technologies.

The proposed interconnection technology must be compatible with the national networks which are to be interconnected, and with their plans (where available) for the introduction of new technologies.

Proposers are also invited to provide proposals for increasing the available data transfer rate to a speed of 155 Megabits per second, with indicative timescales and proposed technology base.

The action should begin in 1995, and is intended to cover an initial period of two years. A second phase is anticipated, during which more networks will be interconnected as they meet the criterion. This phase will also address upgrading to offer additional capacity and a migration of interconnections from 34 Mbit/s to speeds at 155 Mbit/s of national research networks, which are ready for this.

The interconnection will be funded on a shared-cost basis. In the first year, 50% of the cost of the pilot service will be paid. This will be reduced in the second year to 30%. Proposers should collaborate with the national research networks involved to draw up plans for the funding of the pilot service throughout this period. Outline plans must be presented with proposals.

The total Community contribution to this action in the first two years is estimated at ECU 30 million. The budget for any continuation will depend upon the number of participating networks, and any upgrade to higher interconnection data rates.

Proposals should, where appropriate, include the value of contributions made in kind, e.g. loan of circuit capacity or donation of equipment.

Proposers should aim to ensure that they are constituted so as to ensure the maximum diffusion of benefits from this action. The successful consortium should ideally include:

- Representation of the national research networks which will be interconnected, capable of consultation and consensus building with all the beneficiary networks;
- Telecommunications Operators and service providers who intend to offer high speed data services on a commercial basis in the upcoming years.

In addition, proposers should propose mechanisms for consultation with user representatives, particularly users involved in projects involving partners from a significant proportion of the Member States which will be interconnected.

Proposers are invited to submit proposals to interconnect the national research networks, which are ready to benefit from a trans-European interconnection at 34 Mbit/s. Proposals should include provision of circuits to connect the networks, provision of necessary equipment, project management for the establishment of the pilot service, and operational management.

Since availability of this interconnection is important for many of the Community's research activities, proposers should indicate a timescale for the deployment of the pilot. This timescale should indicate when each Member State will be interconnected and the planned capacity of the interconnection.

Proposers should indicate the technology to be adopted immediately, and describe plans for deployment of any new technologies, such as ATM.

Proposers should describe the management approach envisaged to operate the network and the means envisaged to ensure the required quality of service across the interconnected networks.

Proposers should also address issues of trans-Atlantic connectivity at 34 Mbit/s as an option.

Proposals should also describe the approach envisaged for maintaining connectivity to national research networks, which are not covered in the first phase.

Proposers should take into account the need for access by researchers from both academia and industry. The envisaged "Acceptable Use Policy" should be clearly described. No proposals involving commercial use of the pilot will be accepted.

Proposals may cover the interconnection of all national networks meeting the criterion or choose to offer to interconnect only a subset of the national research networks. In the latter case, the proposal will be required to describe an envisaged approach for ensuring connectivity to any other high speed pilot interconnection of European national research networks, which may be launched as part of this initiative.
DE

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