January 6th, 2006

Developing the Advance Research and Education Network in Singapore


I wrote an article for the Dec issue of SingaporeWave the monthly newsletter published by IDA. Check out the other issues of Singapore Wave too while you are there.


In the early days, Internet is a research and education network among the major universities. It is a “playground” for academics to experiment with network technologies and develop new applications, many are still being use today like TCP/IP, Email and the World Wide Web.As the Internet became more commercialized in the mid 90s, US recognized the importance of having an advance research and education network (AREN) where innovations can continue. Thus, in 1996, Internet2 was born, modeled after the “old Internet”.

Singapore followed closely after US and started a national project in 1997 known as Singapore Advance Research and Education Network (SingAREN) to ensure that Singapore research and education (R&E) community is connected to the international R&E community. As a project, SingAREN was initially funded by then Telecom Authority of Singapore (now known as Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore) and National Science and Technology Board (now known as Agency for Science, Technology and Research).

On Oct 2003, SingAREN was officially registered as a Society. It also restructured itself to be self-funded via the services it provides to its members. Although SingAREN become an independent society, Technology Group of IDA continues to play an active role in SingAREN, advocating and championing for advanced network applications and technology in Singapore.

2005 is a particularly successful year for SingAREN.

First, SingAREN has successfully upgraded its network infrastructure to a Gigabit Ethernet network between the major universities and research institutions. The international connectivity to Internet2 has also increased to 155mbps. This S$1.2M project, known as SingAREN Gigabit Internet Exchange (GIX) is to ensure SingAREN has sufficient capacity to handle the increased R&E collaborations with US universities (e.g. Singapore-MIT Alliance or SMA) as well as the additional requirements from the National GRID Pilot Platform.

Beside the 155mbps link to US Internet2, SingAREN also gained a 155mbps link to Taiwan Acadeic of Sinica Computer Center (ASCC) and a 155mbps to Japan Gigabit Network II (JGN2), fully funded by the Taiwanese and Japanese respectively. The latter was established in November and several projects has already been planned, including an e-Learning platform connecting Catholic High School with the schools in Mitaka City and an e-Health project between Singapore National Eye Centre and Asahikawa Medicial College Hospital for 3D high-definition medical communications.

The most significant activity for SingAREN in 2005 is the Trans-Eurasia Information Network (TEIN2), a 10M Euro (S$20M) project largely funded by the European Commission. TEIN2 goal is to build R&E connectivity between Europe and Asia-Pacific region and within Asia Pacific-region for the benefit of developing countries in Asia. Although Singapore was not one of the named benefactors, SingAREN participated in the project representing the Singapore R&E community. Working together with industry and IDA, SingAREN successfully anchored Singapore as one of the three central core for the TEIN2 network in Asia-Pacific, serving Malaysia (45mbps), Thailand (155mbps), Indonesia (45mbps), Korea (622mbps), Australia (622mbps). In addition, Singapore hub will also have connectivity to the other two central core, Tokyo (622mbps) and Hong Kong (622mbps) as well as providing the primary Europe-Asia connectivity (2.1Gbps).

While these activities are not well publicise, these are important to the research and education community in Singapore, providing a conduit for Singapore researchers to do cutting edge network experimentation and also enhancing collaborations among Singapore academics with their overseas counterparts.

Most important of all, it has established Singapore as the leader and AREN hub for this region.

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