Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. last week announced an
exclusive Internet link that will provide high-capacity
data transmission service for educational and research
institutions in the Baltimore metropolitan area that
connects to all major statewide networks. The Baltimore
Education and Research Network, known as BERnet, was
created by a consortium of Maryland universities, libraries
and government and will enable connected institutions to
share and transfer large amounts of research data, images
and files across the country.
"By providing a connection to the high-capacity
Internet 2, BERnet will extend resources in education,
research and human services to all areas of the state,"
Ehrlich said. "It will provide access to graduate-level
research and education to teachers and workers; provide
access to citizens via public libraries; expand medical,
social, legal and specialized technologies to rural areas;
and reduce the need to travel."
The consortium includes the University System of
Maryland; University of Maryland, Baltimore; University of
Maryland, Baltimore County; Johns Hopkins University;
Morgan State University; Enoch Pratt Free Library and
Maryland Public Libraries' Sailor Network; Mid-Atlantic
Crossroads, known as MAX; City of Baltimore; and State of
Maryland Department of Budget and Management.
Currently, the 13 USM institutions, several community
colleges, the Maryland State Department of Education, the
City of Baltimore, the Enoch Pratt Free Library and the
schools and public library systems connected to the Sailor
Network have access to BERnet.
Johns Hopkins, Morgan State and others will be
connected by January 2004.
State technology coordinator Christopher Foster, who
works to advance technology development within the Maryland
Department of Business and Economic Development, said,
"BERnet connects several Maryland networks that have been
built over the years and allows Maryland to be one of the
first states in the nation to establish a 'network of
networks' to increase speed, efficiency and dependability
of data transmission service."
BERnet builds on the early efforts of the University
of Maryland, College Park, which established one of the
first regional networks in the country, making it possible
for mid-Atlantic universities to connect to the first
generation Internet that has since grown into the Maryland-
District of Columbia-Virginia consortium that created the
MAX, which is the regional connector to Internet 2.
BERnet uses the state of Maryland's fiber-optic cables
along I-95 between Baltimore and Washington, D.C., to
connect the consortium through the MAX in College Park,
Md., to the national high-capacity data transmission
services known as Internet 2. Created by educational and
research institutions, Internet 2 provides 3,500 times the
capacity of a typical home broadband connection. Research
and educational institutions have found that the commercial
Internet is slowed by too many users and does not
adequately support their high bandwidth applications.
Consortium members access BERnet through the state
office building at 6 St. Paul St. in Baltimore.
BERnet's fiber-optic cables are part of
net.work.Maryland, a data transmission system built,
operated and managed by the Maryland State Department of
Budget and Management to meet the state's future data
transmission needs. Sailor, Enoch Pratt Free Library, has
been instrumental in spearheading the early efforts to
interconnect Baltimore City's academic institutions and
libraries to this valuable resource.
"The state of Maryland has taken a leadership role in
supporting economic development of the scientific
industry," said John A. Sabatini, acting secretary of
higher education. "This project shows the value of
net.work.Maryland in anticipating industry needs and will
be a boon to Maryland's higher education system and
William R. Brody, president
of Johns Hopkins, said, "BERnet has made it possible to
connect every level of public and private education in
Maryland to affordable next-generation network access and
has created an environment that will make it easier to
attract businesses to the Baltimore metropolitan area."
Carla Hayden, executive director of the Enoch Pratt
Free Library, said, "Through this partnership of
organizations, Marylanders will have equitable high-speed
access to the unique resources available on Internet 2."
The $200,000 startup cost of the network will be split
by consortium members; the annual cost per institution will
be approximately $5,000. If the consortium were to purchase
this level of service from a provider, annual charges could
exceed $1.5 million a year. Other colleges, schools and
research institutions in the Baltimore area will be
eligible to join and help defray the costs.