Author: Pavel Satrapa, CESNET

The host of The Networking Conference 2016 is the CESNET Association, the operator of the Czech National Research and Education Infrastructure. CESNET celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. However, the beginning of academic networking in the Czech Republic actually dates back to before the establishment of CESNET. We have to return to the early 1990s to see the first steps: getting connected to the EARN, UUnet and DFN networks.

The turning point came in February 1992, when the internet was officially launched in what was then Czechoslovakia. The first academic national-wide network named CESNET (Czech Education and Scientific NETwork) started its operation one year later and interconnected eight academic cities at a bandwidth of 19.2 and 64 kbps. The network was operated by the Czech Technical University in Prague and grew rapidly due to enormous demand.

It soon became evident that the further development of this rapidly evolving infrastructure needed some institutional background. Changes were accelerated by the TEN-34 project, which aimed to build a high-speed European academic backbone. Czech universities and the Czech Academy of Sciences agreed to form an autonomous organisation for a full-fledged participation in this European project. This resulted in the establishment of the CESNET Association on March 6, 1996.

This started an amazing 20 years of developing an academic backbone, breaking limits, introducing new services, performing in-house research and participating in international projects. The Czech Republic was the sole country from the former Eastern Bloc which participated in the TEN-34 project. The TEN-34 CZ network — a Czech branch of TEN-34 launched in 1997 — was a huge step forward. It raised the available bandwidth from 2 Mbps to 34 Mbps and delivered world-class services to the domestic academic community.

CESNET then participated in a long series of projects developing the European backbone — from the initial TEN-34 project through to the contemporary GÉANT 2020. The parameters of the national backbone reflected this cooperation: 155 Mbps came in 1998, 2.5 Gbps in 2000, DWDM providing multiple 10 Gbps channels in 2004 and 100 Gbps in 2012.

Besides the computer network, CESNET continuously expanded the portfolio of its services. It added computational grids (and participated in the series of DataGrid, EGEE and EGI projects), multimedia services, collaborative environments and many more. The last major contribution to the portfolio offer was the launch of data storage services in 2012.

CESNET is a well-established entity in both the Czech internet community and the international NREN environment. It has achieved some great results throughout its history and aims to achieve even more in the future.

Hopefully, the upcoming The Networking Conference 2016 will be one of these.

You can read more about the rich CESNET history in the 20 years of CESNET brochure (PDF, 5 MB).