Researchers in North America and Europe should soon be able to collaborate more closely, after the world's first intercontinental 100Gbps transatlantic link for research and education was demonstrated at the Terena Networking Conference in the Netherlands.

Six research and education networks are taking part in a pilot project over the next 12 months to put the 100Gbps link through its paces. This will involve engineering and testing new applications, resources, monitoring techniques and advanced technologies such as software-defined networking.

As many as four open exchange points will be used, including MAN LAN in New York City and NetherLight in Amsterdam. The 100Gbps link, known as the Advanced North Atlantic 100G Pilot project (ANA-100G), will help to determine the operational requirements needed to meet the growing demands of specialised research organisations.

The research and education networks participating in the project are Internet2, NORDUnet, ESnet, SURFnet, CANARIE, and GÉANT. Networking companies Ciena and Juniper are also providing equipment for the pilot, including the recently released sub-sea version of the 100Gbps WaveLogic 3 transponder.

“The ANA-100G collaboration shows what we can do together in a public-private partnership, which would have been impossible for any single organisation to accomplish, especially taking into consideration the short time frame in which we got this first intercontinental 100Gbps up and running,” said Rene Buch, chief executive officer of NORDUnet.

“This project ushers in a new era in research and education networking. We don’t know exactly what the future will hold, but we do know that this transatlantic foundation opens doors to extraordinary opportunities in innovation and research that are unconstrained by bandwidth,” added Jim Roche, president and chief executive officer of CANARIE.

A number of the potential advanced applications for science, research and education were demonstrated at the Terena conference, including big data transfers between Maastricht in the Netherlands and Chicago, Illinois, taking a few minutes rather than many hours over the public Internet.

The demonstrations also included the use of multipath routing of network information, OpenFlow software-defined networking technology and other advanced technology applications.

It is expected that ANA-100G will eventually be used to advance high-end projects such as the experiments at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland, the ITER fusion reactor in France and similar international programs, enabling researchers from around the globe to collaborate on large-scale experiments at the tera-scale level.