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RNP becomes a member of Internet2 Commons

From now on, RNP's users can already benefit from Internet2 Commons, the American initiative that offers free videoconference services to the teaching and research community. At least a week in advance, the interested person fills in a request with basic information about the event he/she would like to transmit and has resources such as videoconference recording and streaming available. The new partnership is ideal for projects involving the interaction of the teaching and research community in Brazil with foreign collaborators since the equipment that makes the service available is in the United States.

The Internet2 Commons is part of the North American Internet2 project, aimed at the development of Internet network technologies and advanced applications for the academic and research community. Its network involves more than 200 North American universities, in addition to governmental agencies and the industry and it has the purpose of developing new applications such as telemedicine, digital libraries, virtual laboratories, among others that are not feasible with the current Internet technology.

RNP's participation in Internet2 Commons happened thanks to Graciela Machado, a technician at RNP's Operation Support Service (OSS). When she decided to write her Master's dissertation on videoconference, Graciela started following the projects developed by the national and international research communities on that topic. At that moment her attention was drawn to the work of the Internet2 Commons initiative of offering that service free of charge and fostering the development of collaboration tools.

In order to become a member of the initiative, the institution had to be affiliated to the Internet2 or be an international partner, have a specialist in videoconference recognized by the project and formally ask to participate in it. Interested in qualifying RNP as a new member, Graciela took part in the Internet2 Commons Site Coordinator Training, mandatory training to become a specialist recognized by the initiative.

- After that, since RNP was already an international Internet2 partner, it was only necessary to make a formal request to participate in the organization. I needed to answer a few technical questions, and, a few days later, I had the confirmation and received the necessary information to be able to use the application.

The new service made available by RNP is not limited to its users. Other teaching and research institutions in the country can also benefit from the technology; however, all the requests will be subjected to approval.

The steps to be taken by the interested institution are simple. This institution must send a request to the address req-video@rnp.br . The body of the message must contain: the name of the organization; the name of the event; a name, telephone number and e-mail for contacts; the date of the event; the time the event will begin and end; the number of simultaneous connections; the bandwidth (options: 128 Kbps, 384 Kbps, 512 Kbps, 768 Kbps); the need of continuous presence or not (in case it is needed, inform how many images should appear on the screen simultaneously - 2, 3 or 4); the need of streaming or not (if it is needed, inform how many people the audience will consist of) and, if necessary, additional information.

- It is important to remember that the request must be submitted at least a week in advance since it has to be previously approved.

The service has been available for less than a month, during which time some experiments were carried out in Campinas, Distrito Federal and Rio de Janeiro.

- We made a test involving the three places and used a room configured for 384 Kbps of bandwidth with the support of 3 to 9 simultaneous connections. The test was carried out by the OSS and counted on the participation of the local support from the support units in Campinas, DF and RJ. There was a little delay, for we were connected to a service in the USA, but the quality of the videoconference was good and we could hear and see one another without any problems.

According to Graciela, the next step will be the creation in the country of a national videoconference service, gathering the resources already available Brazil.

- In order to reach this, we will need to invest in equipment and users' training. The Educational Applications WG, coordinated by the professor Liane Tarouco, has been doing a great training job.

[RNP, 06.02.2003]

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