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Abstract -- Connecting China Education Community to the Global Internet - The China Education and Research Network Project Regional Track
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Connecting China Education Community to the Global Internet - The China Education and Research Network Project

Li, Xing ( xing@cernet.edu.cn)
Wu, Jianping ( jianping@cernet.edu.cn)
Liang, Youneng ( liangyn@tsinghua.edu.cn)


The global Internet has now become an ever so powerful information carrier in many countries. However, only very few regional networks in China are connected to the Internet. To change this situation, the China Education and Research Network (CERNET) project will establish a nation-wide academic network directly connected to the Internet in the next few years. Due to the huge population in China, CERNET will dramatically increase the number of users in the Internet community. For such a giant network, a careful plan has to be made in order to satisfy the current users and to cater for the development in the coming century.

First, this paper will introduce the background of the CERNET project. It is the first nation-wide education and research computer network in China. The CERNET project is funded by the Chinese government and directly managed by the Chinese State Education Commission. It will connect all the universities and institutes in China in the near future and will connect high schools, middle schools, primary schools and other education and research entities by the end of this century. Furthermore, it will link to the global Internet and will become a major part of the Chinese Internet community. The CERNET project will greatly improve the education and research infrastructure in China and train network experts as well as experienced network end users. In a word, it will help to boost China's education, research and economic developments.

Second, the present paper discusses the strategy of CERNET objectives, its planning, project organization and the different phases of its implementation. The main objective of the CERNET project is to establish a nation-wide education and research network infrastructure to support education and research in and among universities, institutes and schools in China using the up-to-date telecommunication and computer techniques. Its specific aims are as follows: (1) to establish a nationwide backbone which connects eight regional networks; (2) to establish connections to the global Internet; (3) to set up a national network center and several regional network centers; (4) to adopt TCP/IP as the major network protocol and provide Internet applications; and (5) to develop China's information resources and applications.

The CERNET organization structure is as follows: the CERNET Administration Board on the top level, the CERNET Technical Board on the second level, and the National Network Center and Regional Network Centers.

The strategies of CERNET planning are as follows: (1) centralized planning and decentralized implementation; (2) based on the open/standard principle, adopting TCP/IP as the major network protocol; (3) strategically supporting the promotion of the regional network nodes and the construction of campus networks; and (4) centralized management and operational control of the backbone and decentralized management and control of regional networks.

In the first phase of implementation (1994-1996), the national network center, ten regional network nodes, the nation-wide backbone and the global Internet connection will be established. There will be more than 100 universities and institutes connected to CERNET in this implementation phase.

In the second phase of implementation (1997-2000), CERNET will connect all the universities, institutes, thousands of middle schools, primary schools and other education and research entities in China. The data transmission rate of the CERNET backbone will be increased, new technology will be adopted and new applications will be available to most of the people in the education and research community.

Furthermore, the paper offers an introduction to the structure of CERNET, its topology, the network protocol and the major applications, as well as the issue of the Chinese character and other culture-related topics. CERNET has a three-layer hierarchy (the nation-wide backbone, regional networks and campus networks). The network center is located at Tsinghua University, Beijing. The backbone nodes are set in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Nanjing, Xi'an, Wuhan, Chengdu and Shenyang. The network implementation uses a multiple ring topology, which provides redundant paths between any two backbone nodes. The backbone nodes are interconnected by routers. The digital data network (DDN) provided by the Ministry of the Post and Communication and/or some telecommunication corporations will be used as the basic communication carrier. The data transmission rate starts at 64 Kbps to 2.048 Mbps (E1) in the first implementation phase. The public data network will be used as the backup channel. There will be one to three links to the global Internet, each with a data transmission rate greater than or equal to 64 Kbps. The planned remote nodes will be located in north America, Asia Pacific Region and Europe.

CERNET is a TCP/IP based network and will support all the Internet applications, which include communication between people - email, usenet news, talk, mbone, etc., obtaining information - anonymous ftp, archie, gopher, WWW, etc. and using computers - telnet, client/server systems, etc. The application research and development will focus on the Chinese environment and the establishment of the local information resources, as well as on multimedia communication and computer collaboration.

Then the scale of CERNET and related technical problems are discussed. In mainland China, there are 1,090 universities, 390,000 professors and staff members, 94,200 graduate students and 2,184,000 undergraduate students. More than 100 campus networks will be connected to CERNET in two years, each of which will, on average, consist of more than 1,000 computers. The rest of the universities and institutes will be connected to CERNET in five years. Following that, more than 39,412 middle schools with 55,120,000 students and 160,000 primary schools with 122,000,000 pupils will also be linked to CERNET. Since China has the largest population, CERNET will be the largest education and research network in the world. According to this figure, CIDR techniques will be used. The superblock plan, the routing protocol implementation will be discussed in this paper. Due to the huge requirement of IP addresses for the CERNET project, the establishment process of IPNG may get boosted.

Finally, the future of the CERNET project and its impact on China's communication infrastructure will be discussed.