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Net2: New High-Speed Network Seeks Publishers' Input
James Lichtenberg -- 4/27/98
The product of a collaboration among 120 leading universities, high-tech companies and the federal government, Internet2 is an ambitious plan to launch a new high-speed Internet network infrastructure in about two years.
Given the enormous capacity of this new network, downloading a movie and virtual meetings with full audio and video in real time will be simple. The next generation of Internet infrastructure will feature high-speed computers with the ability to move huge amounts of data at speeds of 2.4 billion bps, the equivalent of downloading a 30-volume encyclopedia in less than a second.

New Business Models

What this means for publishers (assuming copyright protection and the right business models) is that there is no current product -- textbooks, distance learning, truly interactive instruction -- that could not be transmitted instantaneously over this new network. The same potential would hold true for professional, children's and even trade book publishing as these new technologies lead to the creation of new products and new ways of delivering those products to retailers and customers.

However, publishers have not yet joined with IBM, 3Com, Sun and Apple as members of the Internet2 working groups, said Ted Hans, director of Internet2 Applications Development. Hans told PW that publisher involvement "would help us understand publisher needs in exploiting these new Internet services." He noted that "those publishers who are already thinking `outside the box' of traditional publishing, should get involved early in the discussions and decisions which will affect the future of this new network."

The efforts to create this huge-capacity infrastructure are directed by a cadre of working groups composed of academic, government, corporate and nonprofit members of Internet2. Assuming a sufficient number of for-profit and academic presses were to become involved, publishers, Hans noted, could easily create a working group of their own. Basic membership is $10,000 per year.

A Start in Academia

Understandably, Internet2 will launch first in the academic setting, just as the Internet did. Integral to Internet2, however, is the mission to transfer new technologies to the public Internet as soon as possible. Publishers who may be discouraged by the current Internet capacity, a figurative two-lane road invariably clogged with all kinds of traffic, will be pleased that Internet2 will actually be multiple superhighways that will allow for many categories of users -- high and low priority, over dedicated or public pathways.

Publishers interested in more information should contact Ann O'Beay, director of corporate relations, at (800) 786-5918, or visit the Internet2 website.
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