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World: U.S. Vice President Unveils Plans For A Faster Internet

Washington, 16 April 1998 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. Vice President Al Gore says an American telephone company will donate about $500 million worth of high-speed telecommunications service to universities and schools to help construct an even faster Internet.

Gore says the firm, Qwest Communications, has agreed to provide access to its 25,800-kilometer fiber optic network which stretches from Los Angeles to New York City.

He says two other American companies, Cisco Systems and Northern Telecom, are donating network equipment, such as routers and switches.

Gore made the announcement Tuesday on the start of the new project at a special White House ceremony.

He says the project, also referred to as "Internet2," will make the Internet up to 1,000 times faster. The connection will be able to transmit the entire content of a 30-volume encyclopedia in just one second. It would take nearly 27 hours to transmit the same material over a conventional modem at current Internet speeds.

About 130 of America's leading research universities will be hooked up to Internet2, Gore says. The new network will not be available to the general public, but he says that eventually the technology and applications created as a result of the new system are expected to benefit everyone.

Gore says that the U.S. Defense Advance Research Projects Agency, the organization responsible for the creation of the Internet, will also invest about $50 million in 27 long-term research projects to help develop the necessary technology that will make the Internet even faster, more dependable and capable of connecting billions of computers together.

Gore says the U.S. government is well-satisfied with its monetary investments in the telecommunications and computer industry, much of which helped make the Internet possible. He says the American government has already recovered its initial investment and much more.

Adds Gore: "In fact, just in the last 18 months alone, the Internet has created more than $200 billion in new wealth. Last year alone, more than 2.7 trillion electronic mail messages were sent. Those numbers are staggering, and they really just hint at the promise of what is to come, because this technology is still in its infancy."

Gore says there are even more exciting possibilities for the Internet. So many more, he adds, that "we can't even imagine" them all.

Gores says new technology will focus on letting people take the Internet with them wherever they may go.

Gore says: "We think of access to the Internet in terms of desktop computers today. But a whole new generation of small devices that people carry with them at all times will give each individual continuous access to the Internet so that our daily routines will be transformed."

He concludes: "When you're trying to think of a name or think of a fact or consider an idea, no matter where you are, no matter what you're doing, soon you will be able to instantly gain access to knowledge stored throughout the Internet without worrying about going to a desktop computer."