Microsoft announced on Wednesday it will contribute money and research to the Internet2 project, while IBM awarded $US1.9 million in research grants to three universities as part of its continuing participation in the development of the next generation Internet.
More than 150 universities and about 50 corporations are collaborating in the 30-month-old project to develop advanced network services and technologies not yet available on the Internet, said Internet2 spokesman Greg Wood.
In February, the project leaders announced completion of a high-speed, coast-to-coast fibre optic network called Abilene, which will act as the backbone for sharing Internet research. The network, with 13,000 miles of cable, initially connects 70 research institutions to develop advanced multicasting and quality of service technologies which offer the ability to guarantee network performance.
Researchers believe applications can be developed within five years to provide public access to advanced teleconferencing, telemedicine, and high quality video, television and telephony, Wood said.
Universities have contributed more than $70 million to the project, while more than $30 million has come from corporations, according to the Internet2 Web site at http://www.internet2.edu/.
Microsoft will contribute $1 million in goods and services with more likely to follow. But the importance of Microsoft's participation involves its research capabilities more than money, said Ron Johnson, vice president of computing and communications at the University of Washington, which is involved in the project.
"They (Microsoft) are responsible for most of the technology on peoples' desktops in America," Johnson said. "Any kind of transition to new modes of networking and applications needs to have Microsoft on the table.
"This isn't about money," Johnson added. "It's about corporations that are Internet-oriented helping to provide the resources to enable the collaboration."
A Microsoft executive said Microsoft will work on a variety of applications for the project.
"Microsoft product groups will see what they can do to support the next plateau of the Internet, but not in a proprietary way," said Joseph Mouhanna, Microsoft group manager for network architecture.
IBM plans to give $1.9 million to universities for research in creating applications to deliver live, or on-demand streaming and interactive digital video, audio and other multimedia capabilities for Internet2.
The universities who will receive the funds are the University of Pennsylvania, New York University and Northwestern University.
Last year, IBM donated $5.6 million to the Internet2 project, company officials said.