Global Research and Education Networks: Factors Influencing Network Deployment and Use

15 Pages Posted: 29 Jan 2012

Date Written: September 25, 2011


A broad range of computational and network innovations, such as data mining and remote sensing, are becoming integrated into nearly all scientific disciplines. These developments have ushered in an era of global e-Science, characterized by internationally connected scientific communities with remote access to unique scientific equipment and scarce phenomena, and who in some cases form virtual scientific organizations.

The networks for global e-science often push the envelope of computational and network technology, as occurred decades ago with the development of the internet. For example, connecting just the astronomical research community to a new high resolution telescope in Chile requires a 10 GB/s link between the site and the U.S. data archive site to enable remote operation and global data access. This link is part of a global network connecting, among others, telescopes from as far south as Antarctica and South Africa to the northern reaches of Russia.

The international deployment of broadband infrastructure for e-science raises a variety of challenges. First, it requires the interconnection of national and regional academic research networks, even as these networks themselves are evolving. Second, the interconnection generates a need for joint planning to develop a coherent strategy for what is largely a decentralized global infrastructure. Third, joint planning in turn requires coordination between diverse international public and private entities. Fourth, global e-science requires integration of low income countries with limited network bandwidth.

To better understand the international and inter-organizational factors influencing deployment of global academic research networks, this study examines several U.S. based projects. In particular, the research provides insight into important questions, including: 1. Through which mechanisms are international academic network investments carried out? 2. What factors determine the nature of public-private partnerships in these projects? 3. What factors influence the types of access these projects facilitate? 4. What factors influence the outcomes of these deployments?

Given the likely influence of national institutional and organizational endowments, the research examines three projects, chosen for their international diversity. The first, the Global Ring Network for Advanced Applications Development (GLORIAD) Project, facilitates network connections primarily in the northern hemisphere and includes partners in the U.S., Russia, China, Korea, Canada, the Netherlands, India, Egypt, Singapore and the Nordic Countries. The second, America’s Lightpaths, ties together the major research networks of the U.S., Brazil, Canada, Chile and Mexico. The third project, Translight, connects U.S. networks with the South Pacific through Hawaii.

While these projects vary in terms of their goals, scope and stages of development, they were all partially funded through the U.S. National Science Foundation’s Program on International Research Network Connections and in particular its ‘production network connections and services’ (ProNet) track. This common source of funding enhances their comparability by requiring the projects meet a common set of program goals and requirements . These goals include connecting the largest communities of interest with the broadest range of services, leveraging existing infrastructure, integrating into the existing global network, and promoting a rational global network architecture. The program requirements include a 5 year duration, an explicit services and systems design, plans for operations, monitoring, quality assurance and security, as well as specification for the use of international links, including use policies.

The data for this research is collected through publicly available documents and interviews with project managers as well as their domestic and international partners. The findings will 1) provide insight into international academic network services, 2) shed light on the institutional and organizational factors influencing international academic networking, and 3) highlight the role of international public-private partnerships for academic networks in the global network innovation ecosystem.

Suggested Citation

Maitland, Carleen, Global Research and Education Networks: Factors Influencing Network Deployment and Use (September 25, 2011). TPRC 2011, Available at SSRN:

Carleen Maitland (Contact Author)

Pennsylvania State University ( email )

University Park
State College, PA 16802
United States

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