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Press Release

March 22, 2002

School of Internet Working Group

Multicast verification testing carried out with universities in the USA and Japan:
IPv6 and multicast technology used for public transmission of multi-location global high-quality lectures

Jun Murai,
General Chairperson, WIDE Project

School of Internet (SOI) is a Working Group belonging to the WIDE Project[1] (General Chairperson, Jun Murai, Director, SFC Research Center and Professor, Faculty of Environmental Information, Keio University). Having set out to formulate and implement an Internet platform that would make university-level education available all over the world, at any time, anywhere, to anyone who wants to learn, SOI has carried out an ongoing research program in parallel with verification testing. An experimental multicast environment linking a number of universities, some on the east coast of the USA and some in Japan, is now in place, and currently undergoing verification testing.

The SOI Working Group set up the WIDE University[2] in 1997, and dubbed it "School of Internet" (SOI). Since then, the WG has been exploring various ways of using an Internet platform to provide higher education, subjecting its work to verification testing in parallel with ongoing research. As of March 2002, over 9,000 people (more than half of them adults) had enrolled as students with SOI, and the institution's archived lectures-some 1,100 hours' worth-were being used for their studies.

The latest verification test was a comprehensive round-up of the entire test series to date. Guest speakers were invited to the SOI East Coast USA Studio on the premises of Fujitsu Laboratories of America, at College Park, Maryland, for a panel discussion attended by students at four universities in Japan (University of Tokyo, Nara Institute of Science and Technology (NAIST), Kurashiki University of Science and The Arts, and Keio University, Shonan Fujisawa Campus. This experimental multi-location global, high-quality presentation was carried out using IPv6[3] and multicast technology.

This test was, of course, an important landmark on the road to a truly open-access global academic infrastructure. However, it was also extremely helpful in identifying some of the hurdles to be cleared regarding the stable operation of the new technologies (chiefly IPv6 and multicasting) used by Internet2 and the Japan backbone.

Activities of the SOI Working Group
Launched in 1997, the SOI Working group has focused on building a global educational environment. Its first Japan-USA multi-location lecture was held in 1998. With the cooperation of multiple universities, including the University of Tokyo, NAIST, and Keio University, the WG also delivered high-quality experimental two-way lectures using wide-area IPv6 multicasting and other new-generation Internet technologies. In 2000, it began experimenting with real-time lectures in addition to on-demand lectures.

2001 saw the launch of the SOI Studio Project, whose goals were to set up next-generation studios and create a system enabling lectures with digital-video quality visuals to be made readily available. Studios were set up in the American states of Maryland[4] and California[5], and a program of experimental lectures has been in progress since October 2001. The aim is to make both studios easily accessible to any university connected to Japan's high-speed IPv6 network, using the Abilene Internet2[6] network in the USA, the high-speed Japan-US network, and the WIDE Backbone in Japan. At present, plans are to transmit the lectures to Japan only, but in the future the system will be developed to the point where it can be used as the shared property of the educational institutions of the world. The ultimate aim is to make a real contribution to the creation of a global educational infrastructure.

This project is being realized with the support of the Telecommunications Advancement Organization of Japan (TAO) and the Communications Research Laboratory (CRL) (a Japanese national institute), and with the cooperation of NTT Communications, NTT Multimedia Communications Laboratories, the USA, and Fujitsu Laboratories of America.

In April 2001, the SOI-Asia Project was launched. Many parts of Asia consist of islands, which are difficult to link to the Internet with cable. By using satellite Internet links instead, the Project has created a comparatively wide-area Internet platform covering these areas. By using this platform to transmit lectures in real time and to make lectures from the archives[7] SOI has already amassed available for transmission on demand, SOI-Asia aims to address the problem of Asia's shortage of academic staff and to help tackle disparities in the educational level of the Asian populaces. Receiving financial backing from Japan's Ministry of Economy and Industry, the Communications Research Laboratory (CRL) and JSAT Corporation, the SOI-Asia Project is working in cooperation with the Asia-SEED Institute, the Asian Internet Interconnection Initiatives (AI3) Project[8], and the Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (JAIST) Hokuriku.


Footnotes

  1. The WIDE Project is a university-led Internet research and development consortium launched in Japan in 1983.
  2. The WIDE University is an experimental institution used by WIDE Project members to perform verification testing of university education programs. URL: http://www.soi.wide.ad.jp/
  3. IPv6, which stands for Internet Protocol Version 6, has a far greater address capacity than the Internet Protocol currently used (IPv4), and allows an almost infinite number of devices to be connected to the network. It also facilitates improved security and service quality.
  4. The SOI East Coast USA Studio is located on the premises of Fujitsu Laboratories of America at College Park, Maryland, USA.
  5. The SOI West Coast USA Studio is located on the premises of NTT Multimedia Communications Laboratories (MCL) in Palo Alto, California, USA.
  6. Internet2 is a USA-based university-led research and development consortium, and Abilene is the next-generation ultra high-speed backbone network providing connectivity between Internet2 members.
  7. Lectures recorded on video
  8. The AI3 Project, a member of the WIDE consortium, is using satellite links to interconnect multiple locations in Asia over the Internet. The participating countries and places are Japan, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Sri Lanka.

Verification Test carried out on March 22, 2002

Locations connected and participants:

  • SOI East Coast USA Studio
    • Jun Murai, Keio University
    • Kazuhiro Matsuo, General Manager and Vice President of Fujitsu Laboratories of America
    • Donald R. Riley, Vice President and Chief Information Officer, University of Maryland
  • Kurashiki University of Science and the Arts
  • University of Tokyo, Hongo Campus
  • NAIST
  • Keio University, Shonan Fujisawa Campus

Participating universities and cooperating sites (in no particular order):

Organizations providing the SOI Project with backing and cooperation (in no particular order):

SOI Project: http://www.soi.wide.ad.jp/

< Inquiries about the SOI Project >
Delta Building N109, SFC Research Center, Keio University
5322 Endo, Fujisawa, Kanagawa 252-8520, Japan
Tel: +81 466-49-3618 Fax: +81 466-49-3622
e-mail address: press@wide.ad.jp
URL : http://www.wide.ad.jp/


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