Internet2 is a not-for-profit networking consortium, which operates a next-generation Internet Protocol and optical network. As the Internet gained in public recognition and popularity, universities were among the first institutions to outgrow their bandwidth limitations. The National Science Foundation and MCI developed the very-high-performance Backbone Network Service (vBNS) in 1995 to support high-bandwidth applications like data mining, medical imaging and particle physics. The Internet2 project was established in 1996, and in partnership with Qwest, built the first Internet2 Network, called Abilene in 1998.

In 2003 it was a prime investor in the National LambdaRail project, the first transcontinental 10-Gigabit Ethernet network. In 2007, Internet2 officially retired Abilene and now refers to its new, higher capacity network as the Internet2 Network. The network itself is a dynamic, robust and cost-effective hybrid optical and packet network. It furnishes a 100Gb/s network backbone to more than 210 U.S. educational institutions, 70 corporations and 45 non-profit and government agencies.

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