RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK — The North Carolina Research and Education Network has won a contract from the Internet2 consortium to participate in a new technology test bed.

NCREN is one of three organizations that will participate in the creation of the hybrid optical and packet infrastructure project, or HOPI. NCREN provides networking access and services for the University of North Carolina system and other organizations. It recently announced plans to expand the network outside of North Carolina.

Also participating in the Internet2 initiative is the Mid-Atlantic Crossroads, which is a consortium that includes Georgetown, George Washington University and the University of Maryland among others. The other HOPI participant is Indiana University.

HOPI is seen by Internet2 as a next-generation networking technology. The test bed will be used for experiments as well as providing monitoring and feedback to HOPI researchers.

The network program, which was launched in 2004, is exploring the potential of blending digital packet and traditional circuit-switched infrastructures into a hybrid. One goal is to create scalable future networks, according to Internet2. Internet2, which includes more than 200 universities as well as industry and government organizations, believes HOPI could be the backbone for its future network.

NCREN is also involved in other Internet2 networking projects known as Lambda Rail and the Abilene Network.

For HOPI, the Crossroads consortium will focus on software development to address dynamic provisioning of circuits.

NCREN will provider applications support.

The Global Research Network Operations Center at Indiana will provide engineering services.