Net Fast Lane: France upgrades research network

The French government last week presented a high-speed network designed to give members of the research, technology and higher education community faster and more robust communications with their colleagues in France and the rest of the world.

GIP Renater, the agency that over sees the French national research network, last week launched Renater 2, an upgrade to the Renater 1 network. Renater 2 is capable of transmitting data, voice and video files at 155Mbit/sec to the US -- via its connection with STAR TAP, the Chicago-based hub for research networks -- and to the rest of Europe.

The faster network underscores France's increasing commitment to technology projects and widespread, national use of the Internet, an effort backed by Claude Allègre, the French minister of education, research and technology.

"I won't wish a long life to Renater 2 because I want us to pass quickly to Renater 3," said Allègre at the Renater 2 launch. "The presence of a very high-bandwidth network on French soil is a top priority."

The Renater 2 network has room to grow, however, with the capability of reaching traffic at speeds of up to 622Mbit/sec as a next step and then ultimately up into the realm of gigabits per second, GIP Renater said. (GIP Renater stands for Groupement d'intérêt public, Réseau pour la technologie, l'enseignement et la recherche, or the public interest group for the network for technology, teaching and research)The new network accommodates ATM and IP (Internet protocol) traffic, according to Renater director Dany Vandromme.

France Telecom SA's Jean-Pierre Temime, director was on hand at the launch to say that his company will offer dial-up ADSL services to consumers here by year end.

France Telecom snagged the contract to oversee Renater 2 and has pledged to have no more than five hours of down time per year for Renater 2. Internet traffic in 1998 was four times greater than the year before and represented some 70 per cent of all French data traffic -- compared to being only half of the data traffic in 1997, the telecom provider noted.

GIP Renater also runs SFINX (Service for French INternet eXchange), an Internet exchange launched in 1994 and with 40 ISPs and telecom operators connected to it today. A SFINX 2 project is also underway, GIP Renater said.

More information about Renater is available on the World Wide Web at http://www.renater.fr/.

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