Xing Li <email@example.com>
Jianping Wu <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Youneng Liang <email@example.com>
At INET'95, under the title "Connecting China's Education Community to the Global Internet: The China Education and Research Network Project," the CERNET project was introduced and gained a lot of attention. This paper is a report on the CERNET project one year later. As a result of strong support from the Chinese government and the great demand for Internet access, we are happy to announce that the first phase of the CERNET construction was completed in December 1995, one year earlier than our original plan. At present, more than 100 universities and other academic entities are connected to CERNET and to the global Internet.
In this paper, we will first discuss the original design concepts of CERNET and their current implementation. The project management strategy will also be addressed. The network operation and network information service will then be described, and some of the important operation and information statistics will be analyzed. Next, we will describe CERNET's information resources and network applications. Finally, the impact of the CERNET project and China's Internet future will be analyzed.
CERNET is the first nationwide education and research computer network in China. The CERNET project is funded by the Chinese government and directly managed by China's 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. 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 will train network experts as well as experienced network end users.
The CERNET project has a three-layered structure, including a nationwide backbone, eight regional networks, and campus networks, as shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1. CERNET structure.
Since China has a territory of 9.6 million square kilometers, a population of 1.1 billion, 28 provinces/autonomous regions, and 517 cities, it may be necessary for CERNET to add a provincial layer due to administrative considerations.
The CERNET national backbone uses a digital data network (leased line) offered by China's Ministry of Post and Telecommunication (MPT). It forms a multiple ring topology and has an international link connected to the Internet in the United States via Sprintlink, as shown in Figure 2. Links to Hong Kong and Europe will be installed in the near future.
Figure 2. CERNET backbone.
The provinces/autonomous regions covered by eight CERNET regional networks are shown in Figure 3. This figure also presents the number of universities and number of students in each region.
Figure 3. Regional network.
CERNET finished its first phase of implementation in December 1995. Currently, more than 100 universities are connected to CERNET, from all provinces except Tibet. The regional distribution of these universities and the corresponding IP blocks (CIDR) are shown in Figure 4. It is clear that the Internet development in coast areas is much faster than in remote areas in China, the former having enjoyed much faster economic growth. This indicates the correlation between Internet development and economical development.
Figure 4. CERNET current connectivity.
The CERNET project is supported by the Chinese government. The CERNET Administration Board is the highest level of the CERNET organization; it is composed of government officials and is in charge of policymaking. Currently, three documents have been released as CERNET "Acceptable Use Policy". (Management Regulations of China Education and Research Network, China Education and Research Network Safety Management Contract, China Education and Research Network Users' Regulations).
The CERNET Technical Board is a technical administration board for planning, designing, implementing, and updating the network. The National Network Center is an entity responsible for the backbone construction, execution, maintenance, management, and operation. It is also in charge of setting up CERNET information resources. The Regional Network Centers constitute regional network service nodes, which undertake the role of providing the necessary connections and services for linking the provincial networks and campus network of each university/institution to the CERNET backbone. The campus networks are at the bottom of the structure and directly serve the end users.
Due to the clear distribution of responsibility, the CERNET project is very efficient, and implementation is ahead of schedule.
The CERNET national Network Operation Center (NOC) is located in Beijing, and the regional Network Operation Centers are located in Xi'an, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Wuhan, Nanjing, Shanghai, and Shenyang, respectively. The NOCs are in charge of the day-to-day network operation, including
Figure 5. Sample of international traffic (1-4 March 1996).
The national Network Information Center (NIC) and regional network information centers are in charge of the network information service, including
CERNET is a nationwide education and research network in China. CERNET has very rich information resources about China in both English and Chinese. The starting point for CERNET information is www.edu.cn. Figures 6 and 7 show CERNET's Chinese and English home pages, respectively.
Figure 6. CERNET home page (Chinese version).
Figure 7. CERNET home page (English version).
The CERNET information resources fall into seven categories:
New information is added to the computer servers almost every day.
Due to the size of China's territory and population, the regional network centers are playing a very important role in the CERNET project. The IP addresses are well aggregated by the regional networks (see Figure 4). The regional information and development is managed by the regional network center (http://www.net.edu.cn/cernet/china.html).
Although English is pretty popular on the Internet, localization is a very important issue for CERNET's development. Most of the CERNET home pages are written in two versions: Chinese and English. Since there are different coding schemes for the Chinese language (for example, GB and BIG), standards for exchanging codes are proposed and implemented. Under APNG internationalization sub-working group, Chinese exchanging codes named ISO-2022-CN and ISO-2022-CN/EXT have been submitted to the Internet. In addition, searching and indexing tools for the Chinese documents have been developed (http://www.chisa.edu.cn/~zhli).
In China, the Internet has been developing very rapidly in the past few years. The APNIC database indicates that more than 190 networks are registered under the country code CN. Among them, 19 are self-defined as Internet service providers. Besides CERNET, the other most important ISPs in China today are the following:
There are important issues related to China's Internet that call for a closer coordination between ISPs in China, such as,
CERNET is the first nationwide Internet in China and is developing fast in Chinese universities. This project is very important for the development of China's information infrastructure. In many respects, CERNET is unique:
Xing Li is professor of Electronic Engineering at Tsinghua University, Beijing, China. He is a member of the CERNET Technical Board. His mailing address is Electronic Engineering Department, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China. His telephone and fax numbers are 86-10-62595983 and 86-10-62595933, respectively.
Jianping Wu is professor of Computer Science at Tsinghua University, Beijing, China. He is the head of the CERNET Technical Board. His mailing address is Computer Science Department, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China.
Youneng Liang is professor of Engineering Physics and vice president of Tsinghua University, Beijing, China. He is the head of the CERNET Administration Board. His mailing address is President's Office, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China.