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TEN-34 will validate the interconnection of national research and university networks which are already offering high-speed data transfer services, at speeds which will improve the quality of multi-media applications across Europe. TEN-34 will apply new, flexible and powerful technology (Asynchronous Transfer Mode, ATM - see JAMES). The new network will be connected to existing research networks in Europe, so that European cohesion is maintained.

This project aims to deploy trans-European networking facilities which will provide complementary international capacity to allow the national research network investments to be exploited on a global basis and maintain the competitiveness of European research. The technical implementation of a high speed network for research needs to address both the requirements for greater capacity and for support of the emerging multi-media applications. Implementation will be phased, both in terms of geographic and functional roll out.

An important criterion for the selection of the networking technology is that it be sufficiently stable to provide real service to a community of innovative users, yet sufficiently leading edge to ensure applicability throughout the four year planning period, and that it is able to interwork with the services being deployed nationally.

There are major developments in telecommunications technology that will be implemented over the next four years. The most significant is the introduction of Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) switching. ATM promises a number of benefits in terms of performance and manageability, particularly for the emerging multi-media applications. It is, however, not yet a mature technology and will continue to develop.

A two part approach to implementation is therefore proposed consisting of:

- The immediate introduction of a high speed international service based on 34 Mbps access using an ATM Virtual Path based interconnect and the existing Internet Protocol (IP), which is the dominant technology in research networking today, to those countries which can already exploit a service at this speed, with expansion to other countries as they become ready. The ATM based service will at first support only existing IP based services, but will evolve to exploit directly the advanced features that ATM can offer. It is expected that these features will migrate progressively via a pilot service to a production service over a four year period.

- In view of the immaturity of ATM technology, the use of an ATM test bed is also required to new developments and features in advance of their introduction in pilot services. Collaboration with the JAMES project has been agreed to use their experimental ATM network for this purpose.

The geographic reach of the new high speed network for research will expand gradually. Even after two years there may be countries that will not be in a position to exploit the new infrastructure. There is therefore a need to maintain connectivity between all European countries. To achieve this, a continuing interconnection between the new high speed network and the existing network services via gateway services is required to provide continuity of service across Europe.

Some of the national research network are planning for access speeds of 155 Mbps at the national level during the course of the project, but, given the PNOs' planned timetables for making 155 Mbps services available internationally, it is not likely that similar services will be deployed internationally.

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