Pacific Northwest Gigapop


News & Events

Fiber Optic Based Research & Education Network Now Spans the Pacific

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON, USA and CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - July 31, 2001 - Collaboration among researchers and students "down under" with those in North America took a giant leap forward today as AARNet (the Australian Academic and Research Network) activated its transpacific optical fiber connection to the Pacific Northwest Gigapop (PNWGP) at the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington, USA. The Pacific Northwest Gigapop is a primary interconnection point for advanced research and education networks in Canada, the U.S., and now the Pacific Rim.

Dual 155 Megabit per second connections traversing physically diverse paths allow the Australian research community to communicate quickly and efficiently with researchers, and enjoy access to advanced research resources and apparatus in the Canada and the U.S.

The dual paths, running Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS), provide redundant capacity while retaining the ability to load balance and potentially burst to 310Mbps. The network also provides Quality-of-Service and Virtual Private Network capabilities.

"Having optical fiber circuits connected directly to advanced networks of North America via the Pacific Northwest Gigapop provides enormous opportunities for collaborative programs. The most significant achievement in bridging this transoceanic digital divide will be our newly acquired abilities to traffic in high quality remote sense, video, sound, and multimedia material as well as in huge scientific datasets and other demanding digital objects like medical images. This will make virtual neighbors out of our partner networks and resources across the world. Exploiting such mechanisms to develop relationships between researchers is key to fostering and sustaining excellence in research, education, and economic development," said George McLaughlin, Executive Director of AARNet.

"AARNet faced the challenges and isolating forces of extreme geographic distance head on with an audacious and well architected effort. With the continued leading edge work of their talented and determined network engineering staff, these circuits will support AARNet's role as one of the top research networks in the world. We are pleased to help them accomplish this and to provide them with the next-generation infrastructure they need to move their data efficiently among their partners around the world. This important addition to the global research and education network fabric will benefit us all," said Ron Johnson, Vice President and Vice Provost of the University of Washington.

The first connections through the Pacific Northwest Gigapop will be to CA*net 3 and Internet2 backbone networks, the advanced research and education networks of Canada and the United States, respectively. "In addition," McLaughlin added, "we will obtain immediate very high speed and lowest latency access to the research and education networks and the interconnected computational and information resources throughout the Pacific Northwest and California."

Early deployment of multicast multimedia connections across the new links will allow Australia's participation in SC2001, the first truly global technical conference on Grid technology and applications. The host site will be in Denver, Colorado, U.S.A., however Sydney, Australia will be one of a number of constellation sites throughout the world participating and contributing sessions to this unique global event.

Researchers in areas such as bioinformatics, satellite imaging, and online health applications have joint programs ready to take advantage of the new infrastructure.

The experience of AARNet's national deployment of Voice-over-IP will provide a useful framework to build on developments in new multimedia applications.

The transpacific fiber optic cable is part of the Southern Cross Cable Network with US landing and backhaul to PNWGP provided by WCI Cable and with the Australian backhaul to AARNet provided by Powertel. The cable spans 30,500 km under the Pacific with landing sites in Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Hawaii, Oregon, and California. It took 19 months to lay the cable.

About AARNet
AARNet Pty Ltd is a not-for-profit company that operates the AARNet2 network, providing Internet services to all 37 Australian universities, CSIRO Australia and their research and education partners. AARNet provides an incubator for development of advanced network infrastructure and applications. It has a national and international focus with access to the global research and education networks through the Pacific Northwest Gigapop. AARNet is also a member of the GrangeNet consortium which will build a 10Gbps backbone in Australia and develop advanced network and grid services to support advanced applications.

About Pacific Northwest Gigapop (PNWGP)
Pacific Northwest Gigapop is the Northwest's Next Generation Internet, Internet2/Abilene applications cooperative, testbed, and point of presence. PNWGP connects together high performance international and federal research networks with universities, research organizations, and leading edge r&d; and new-media enterprises throughout Washington, Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Canada, and now Australia.

About the University of Washington
The University of Washington is one of the world's top research universities. Perennially among the top three American institutions in peer reviewed research activities and related competitive contracts and grants, and with numerous top ranked programs, the UW is a university which truly embodies the ideals of "Learning @ the Leading Edge". (For more information see

About WCI Cable
WCI, headquartered in Hillsboro, Oregon, USA, is made up of World Net Communications, Inc., WCI Cable, Inc., WCI LightPoint, LLC, and Alaska Fiber Star, LLC. Collectively the group manages and constructs terrestrial and submarine fiber optic systems and telecommunications infrastructure. WCI provides carrier neutral colocation facitilites and undertakes new network projects throughout North America and the Pacific Rim.

About Internet2
Led by over 180 US universities, working with industry and government, Internet2 is developing and deploying advanced network applications and technologies for research and higher education, accelerating the creation of tomorrow's Internet. Internet2 recreates the partnerships of academia, industry, and government that helped foster today's Internet in its infancy.

About CA*net 3
CA*net 3 is Canada's Advanced Research and Education Internet backbone, connecting individual universities, federal and provincial government labs and research institutes through provincially based Regional Advanced Networks, or RANs.

About Powertel
PowerTel is the third largest provider of broadband telecommunications services to the corporate and wholesale market in Australia. Its 2,400km fiber optic network links Brisbane, Gold Coast, Newcastle, Sydney, Canberra, and Melbourne.

About SCCN
SCCL is the organization that has deployed the Southern Cross Cable Network (SCCN) which connects Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Hawaii, and mainland US. It is almost 30,500 km in length, consisting of two separate cables configured in three self-healing rings. Southern Cross was initially designed to deliver 120Gbit/s of fully protected capacity between Australasia and the United States but, by employing new higher capacity Dense Wave Division Multiplexing (DWDM) Technology, the network will now be upgraded to 240Gbit/s of protected capacity during 2002, with the potential to increase to 480Gbit/s at a future date.

Contact info:

George McLaughlin, Executive Director
AARNet Pty Ltd (ACN 084 540 518)
GPO Box 1142, Canberra ACT 2601 Australia
Tel: 61 2 6276 6900

Pacific Northwest Gigapop
Jan Eveleth, Manager
4545 15th Ave. NE
Seattle, WA 98105
Tel: 206-934-5588

WCI Cable
Patrick Estenes, Vice President, Business Development
Tel: 503-466-8620

Greg Wood,
Tel: 202-331-5360

CA*net 3
Shannon Cobb, Manager, Communications
Manager, Communications
110 O'Connor Street, 4th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1P 1H1 Canada
Tel: 613-943-5374

Teresa Perdiga
55 Clarence Street
Sydney NSW 2000
Tel: 61 2 8264 3888

Ross Pfeffer, Director, Asia Pacific Market
Tel: 64 4 496 3248