Digest for September 21, 1998
With this special issue of the digest, Friends and Partners would like to
announce an exciting new project designed to encourage closer collaboration
between scientists and educators of the US and Russia.
In Washington, DC this morning (September 21), US National Science
Foundation Director Rita Colwell announced a $4 million, five-year award to
The University of Tennessee to establish the new MirNET initiative -- a
high speed "next generation" Internet link between the US and Russian
scientific communities. The Russian Ministry of Science and Technology is
providing $2.5 million in matching funds over the life of this new project.
During the past year, we have been working with colleagues at the
University of Tennessee, the Russian Institute of Public Networks, Moscow
State University, the National Science Foundation, Ameritech, and Teleglobe
to develop this program. The five-year program will enable a new
generation of network-based applications between Russian and American
scientists and educators.
With this new link, it will be possible to engage in many shared activities
that have never before been possible. Examples include remotely
controlling and monitoring scientific instruments, using new data
visualization and teleimmersion technologies, transmitting high-speed
medical imagery as well as enabling remote medical diagnosis and
consultation, transmitting massive amounts of information that formerly
required the physical shipment of magnetic media, establishing virtual
parallel computing facilities distributed over thousands of miles, and many
others. It will also be possible (even simple) for the first time ever to
economically engage in distance learning activities -- including classroom
to classroom instruction, seminars, and high quality multi-point remote
video conferencing. In short, the new applications made possible and
supported by MirNET are the applications of tomorrow's Internet. Former
constraints of distance and the prohibitive cost of high bandwidth
communications will become ever smaller factors in determining the nature
of future collaboration between citizens of our countries.
Initial use of the link will be restricted to academic/scientific
institutions and to meritorious applications (those that could not be
accomplished with current "Internet1" infrastructure). Over the course of
the next five years, Friends and Partners will be working with its partners
in the US and Russia to grow the capacity of this link from its starting
point of 6 Mbps to capacities of from 45-155 Mbps and to develop a means of
supporting the project long-term. We intend to grow this program into one
capable of supporting a broad range of collaborative activities.
MirNET is described in much more detail at the new MirNET WWW site which is
available in the US and Russia at the F&P host sites:
http://www.friends-partners.org/friends/mirnet/ (US site)
http://www.friends-partners.ru/friends/mirnet/ (Russia site)
There is also an email listserver you can join to be kept apprised of new
The $4 million five year NSF Cooperative Agreement has been officially
awarded to the University of Tennessee and was formally announced today;
this award covers costs for the trans-Atlantic telecommunications costs and
US-based operational expenses. We are currently working with Teleglobe and
with partners in Moscow to establish the physical link between Moscow and
Chicago. The trans-Atlantic portion of the link (funded by the NSF) is to
be carried on submarine fiber from New York to Blaajberg, Denmark. The
trans-Europe/Russian portion will be carried on fiber from Blaajberg to
Moscow. The Russian Ministry of Science and Technology is funding the
expense of the Eastern portion of the telecommunications link. We intend
to have initial traffic flowing on the link by November 15, 1998.
While the project is only beginning and we have an enormous amount of work
to do before MirNET begins to deliver on its promises, there are many
individuals and organizations who have made it possible to come this far -
and whom we would now like to thank.
In particular we would like to thank Dr. Jerry Fryxell, formerly with the
University of Tennessee, for inspiring our confidence to develop the
program and for helping us with the initial proposal. Hai Li, Terry Moore
and Micah Beck played a big role in developing the initial proposal; Ed
Mahon kept the proposal alive and on-track during its early days.
Dr. Alexei Platonov, Director of the Russian Institute of Public Networks
and Dr. Valerii Vasenin, Deputy Vice Rector of Moscow State University
have been the earliest supporters of this effort in Russia and are now
working with Natasha on the project from Moscow. Joe Gipson, Director of
Telecommunications and Network Services from the University of Tennessee
and long time friend and supporter of Friends and Partners is serving as
co-PI with Greg on the US side of the project. Homer Fisher and Bill
Snyder, UT Senior Vice President and UTK Chancellor (respectively), have
been strong supporters of this effort and of the entire Friends and
Partners project since its beginning at the University of Tennessee many
years ago; we owe them an enormous debt of gratitude for their years of
steady support. Tom Garritano is another very special UT friend of ours
and of our F&P activities; we benefit often from Tom's support and advice.
Of course, we could (and would) accomplish nothing without the excellent
folks we have the privilege of working with every day in our offices. To
Angie, Ellee, Evgeny, Josh, Rebecca, Sonya, Tanya - thank you for what you
do every day to support Friends and Partners.
We would like to offer thanks to Ameritech Advanced Data Services and to
Andy Schmidt in particular for his keen interest in and support of this
project; we will continue working with Andy on STAR TAP connectivity. And
a very special thanks to Bob Collet, Vice President of Teleglobe, USA whom
we have begun working with to put into place the trans-Atlantic link. We
are also grateful to Tom DeFanti and Maxine Brown of the STAR TAP facility
in Chicago; we have the pleasure of working with Tom and Maxine on
activities related to global next generation Internet development through
the STAR TAP and its new policy advisory board.
Most importantly, we want to thank the individuals and organizations whose
vision and resources are making this project possible. In particular, V.V.
Nichkov and N. Gusev of the Russian Ministry of Science and Technology who
have supported the idea of MirNET from its early beginnings over a year
ago. We wish to thank the many others within the Russian Ministry and
within the Russian Academy of Sciences who have supported the development
We do not know how to adequately express our gratitude to the National
Science Foundation and especially to Dr. Steve Goldstein, our Program
Officer on the NSF grant. Steve and his colleague Don Mitchell are a part
of the original NSF team which guided the development of the Internet from
its early beginnings as an academic/research network to the Internet we all
know and use today. They have been pushing for many years for important
and often difficult programs involving international connections and are
largely responsible for the fact that our Internet is a truly global
network which makes efforts such as our own Friends and Partners possible.
It is a very special irony that this same global network -- developed from
technologies designed from the Cold War separating our countries years ago
-- is now being used with much success to bring folks from around the world
together. There is no better tribute we can pay to Steve, Don and their
colleagues than that they have made all this possible. It is a great
privilege to know and be able to work with such people and it is a very
special gift to us to consider them good friends.
To questions regarding the relevance of projects like F&P and MirNET at
such times of difficulty and turmoil in both countries - we can only offer
that furthering such basic infrastructure - human and organizational
relationships and the communications networks which enable and sustain them
- becomes an even more important goal and motivation for us.
We hope that the new staff and resources of this project and the momentum
which we hope to build will allow us to do a better job with all elements
of our Friends and Partners activities. Natasha and I consider it a
wonderful privilege to be able to serve this community and hope that we
will yet be able to do a better job. It has been nearly five years since
we started; we are more committed and more determined than ever to help
more citizens of Russia, the US, and other countries use new communications
technologies to better understand and learn from each other; ultimately, to
better live and work together.
Please let us know if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions on
this new MirNET project or on any of the other services that we are trying
to provide with Friends and Partners. Thanks for your continued interest
P.S. please visit the F&P site at the following locations:
http://www.friends-partners.org/friends/ (US site)
http://www.friends-partners.ru/friends/ (Russia site)