Global Lambda Integrated Facility

'HK Light' to Shine on Global Info Ring

Reprinted from The China Daily

November 30, 2004 -- China's development of the next-generation information highway gained new momentum as the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) formally announced a plan to establish the next-generation light wave "Hong Kong Internet Open Exchange Point - HK Light."

This is the first Open Exchange Point in Asia of the "China-US-Russia Global Ring Network for Advanced Applications Development" (GLORIAD), a cross-border high-speed information highway that is expected to be the foundation of the next-generation Internet.

The exchange point will serve as a venue where high-speed broadband Internet networks from Japan, South Korea and China's Taiwan Province will interconnect, according to the Computer Information Centre (CNIC) under CAS. CNIC is responsible for the computing and network service to all laboratories under CAS and providing large-scale scientific computing and data services.

"It is an exciting event for both Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland," said Qian Hualin, chief engineer of CNIC. "It puts Hong Kong in a very positive position in the future development and expansion of GLORIAD, as well as in the exchange of academic research information."

Qian revealed in a news conference last Tuesday that Hong Kong's success in hosting the Asian Open Exchange Point was hard won. "Many countries and regions, including Japan and South Korea, were vying for it, but Hong Kong's favourable geographic position in the midpoint of East Asia, Southeast Asia and Oceania helps a lot," he said.

The Hong Kong section of GLORIAD was also upgraded to 2.5Gbps from 155Mbps, according to the conference.

The China-US-Russia GLORIAD ring network, inaugurated in January this year, via direct optical fibre, begins in Chicago, in the United States, continues westward to Seattle, and crosses the Pacific Ocean to HK Light and Beijing Light.

It then continues through northeast China and Siberia, through the Russian science city of Novosibirsk and Moscow Light, and to the Netherlight facility in Amsterdam.

The network then crosses the Atlantic Ocean to New York, and continues to Chicago to complete the circuit, forming a "closed ring."

The ring network has adopted advanced optic-based transmission technology with an initial rate of 155Mbps.

Completion of a 2.5Gbps light wave closed ring network around the Northern Hemisphere is planned for early 2005 to support international co-operation in scientific research and education, Qian said.

It is probably the fastest international information highway so far that covers such a large area, he said.

Yet it is still in the process of upgrading and expanding.

With the development of online science and education applications, the network rate will be upgraded to 10Gbps. The Beijing-Hong Kong upgrade to 2.5Gbps is the first step in Asia towards this goal. "Before long we are expecting that HK-US will be upgraded to 2.5Gbps" said Yan Baoping, Director of CNIC.

GLORIAD, since its inauguration, has provided scientists in China, the US and Russia with an important tool for their research and has contributed significantly to the development of many key joint projects in high-energy physics, astronomy, atmosphere, and life science, Yan said.

As computing and model simulation become an integral part of scientific research, the GLORIAD network is taking on an expanding role in advanced scientific applications, allowing scientists in the Asia-Pacific region, North America and Europe to share scientific data, instruments, computing services and software and to co-ordinate their research, she added.

"We are committed to operating HK Light in an open way," said Yan. "We believe that this open exchange point will serve as a confluence of international networks to improve the regional network traffic."

HK Light will not only be an important point in the GLORIAD network, but will also serve as a key Internet exchange centre in the Asia-Pacific region. It may also turn out to be CNIC's significant contribution to regional Internet network development. The CNIC will undertake the construction, operation and servicing of HK Light, with technical co-operation from the other two open exchange points in Chicago and Amsterdam.

"Scientists and science educators are grateful to CNIC for taking the lead in this area," said William Chang, senior programme manager of the US National Science Foundation, one of the sponsors of GLORIAD.

Continuously expanding, GLORIAD may one day not be limited to academic use but open to the general public, experts said.

-He Sheng (China Daily 11/30/2004, page 14)