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Two decades of networking with DANTE

Record breakers (see box below) Image courtesy DANTE.

In 1993, researchers relied on network connections of 64 kilobits per second, the term ‘email’ was relatively unheard of and the World Wide Web was still in its infancy. Today, data is transmitted at speeds of 100 gigabits per second across international networks to researchers in universities across Europe.

In July, DANTE (Delivery of Advanced Network Technology to Europe) celebrated its 20th birthday. The non-profit organisation was set up in Cambridge, UK, to coordinate and operate a fully integrated and reliable network of high-bandwidth connectivity for use by researchers and educators across Europe.

DANTE’s aim was to integrate the different national networks in Europe, which had emerged in the 1970s. Today, 43 NRENS (National research and education networks) are connected, and greater transmission speeds have helped with data exchange and analysis in large-scale global endeavors in medical diagnosis, food production, disaster mitigation, and high-energy physics.

DANTE's peak

Earlier this month, DANTE and US company Infinera set the Guinness World Record for the fastest provisioning of long-haul optical transmission capacity. Together, they were able to install and activate eight terabits per second of long-haul super-channel optical capacity — enough to simultaneously stream 1.6 million high-definition movies in each direction. The record was set using an Infinera Intelligent Transport Network deployed on the GÉANT backbone across a long-distance link from Amsterdam in The Netherlands to Hamburg in Germany.

You can read more about this world record on the GEANT website, here.

The total data capacity of the pan-European network infrastructure (GÉANT) managed by DANTE represents the equivalent of 1.2 trillion telephone calls per day. And the networking infrastructure also now stretches beyond Europe with a total fiber-optic global reach of 203,940km — enough cable to stretch around the earth five times!

Over the last two decades, DANTE has established a global research village reaching the Mediterranean (EUMEDCONNECT), Sub-Saharan Africa (AfricaConnect), Central Asia (CAREN) and supporting R&E networking organisations in Latin America (RedCLARA), Caribbean (CKLN) and Asia-Pacific (TEIN*CC). Today, there are 50 million people at 10,000 institutions, who can instantaneously connect, converse and collaborate as easily as if they were neighbors.

“I give my full congratulations to DANTE for 20 years of networking excellence,” says Neelie Kroes, European Commission vice president responsible for the digital agenda. “DANTE's work is essential to the European and global research community.”


- Zara Qadir

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