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THE ROOTS OF NORDIC NETWORKING. The worlds first international, multiprotocol network. Rolf Nordhagen University of Oslo. The beginning. An Open network is a network that follows a common, open standard, OSI National academic networks, UNINETT 1978, SUNET 1980, Centernet, X25 packet switched

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The worlds first international, multiprotocol network

Rolf Nordhagen

University of Oslo

The beginning
The beginning

  • An Open network is a network that follows a common, open standard, OSI

  • National academic networks, UNINETT 1978, SUNET 1980, Centernet, X25 packet switched

  • ARPANET to NORSAR, Kjeller, Norway 1973

  • Minicomputers, Timesharing, KOM Stockholm, Oslo

  • International Dial-up

Enter nordunet

  • Nordic Council of Ministers, NORDFORSK

    Bjørn Grønlund

  • The first meeting 1980, Dalarne, Sweden

  • 1983-84, the NORDUNET application

  • May 1985 9.2 Mill.NOK for 4 years

  • Initially NORDFORSK, then Stockholm QZ/SICS, Mats Brunell

  • Technical manager Einar Løvdal, Oslo

The requirements
The requirements

  • A stable, operating computer network, connecting Nordic Education and Research

  • Build on existing university networks

  • Use the Nordic telecommunication networks and international standards for tele- and data-communication.

  • Make a common use of data-resources, programs and databases available througout the Nordic area. Users shall be given access to Nordic and international networks and information services

  • Give the same opportunities for collaboration and information exchange as in European countries and the North American research communities


  • Establish a common Nordic infrastructure for the NR&E community by connecting the national nets.

  • New competence and services be created for the smaller communities.

  • The resources to be found in the national network organisations, with the local, university services operating the net.

  • A computer network would greatly increase bridging the large geographical distances caracteristic in the Nordic countries. Thus opportunities for research in remote communities would be greatly improved.

Interim services
Interim services

  • In 1984, IBM donated machines and leased lines for EARN, European Academic Research Network (modelled on Bitnet)

  • Local Ethernets, private networks X.25, PAD services - chaos

  • Make popular services Nordic wide, X.400 mail EAN

  • EARN to Europe, DECnet/HEPNET for physics

  • Work to local groups, EARN in UNI-C, EAN in UNINETT etc.

Difficult challenges
Difficult challenges

  • Firm belief and political pressure for CO OSI-protocols.

  • Standards slow in coming from ISO and CCIT

  • Slow development of common services.

  • Independent development of services in NORDUNET regarded as unrealistic

  • Reorientation of original goals

Reorientation strategy
Reorientation strategy

  • Continued support of interim solutions, but prepare for OSI migration (!)

  • Interim solutions to connect to international networks, EARN, UUCP, DECnet and Internet

  • Active participation in European OSI-efforts in RARE and COSINE, to build competence

  • Migration pilots, file transfer, base for further work, JANET coloured books, ISODE (X.25 over IP) ?

  • Reliable standards and services still regarded as 10 years off (JANET)

In 1987 new possibilities
In 1987 new possibilities

  • No continuation of support for the EARN leased lines. NORDUNET urged to connect the main Nordic nodes.

  • A major technological breakthrough, bridges to run Ethernet over slow lines, Vitalink bridges.

  • Sudden realisation of a possible Nordic Ethernet connecting the major nodes

  • National Ethernets based on the same technology connect to a clean Nordic net.

  • Institutional Ethernets on national nets connect users.

  • The X.EARN project quickly adopted early 1988

The nordunet multiprotocol plug
The NORDUNET multiprotocol plug

  • the basic X.25 service

  • EARN and RSCS

  • DECnet

  • TCP/IP

    The challenge not technolgy but organisation

    The distributed service concept

    An international, multiprotocol network

Nordunet the operational net
NORDUnet,the operational net

  • One stop shop for lines, Scantele

  • 64 kb/s Copenhagen, Helsinki, Stockholm, Trondheim, 9.2 Reykjavik

  • Central node KTH, Stockholm

  • US NSFnet to Princeton via satellite, 56 kb/s

  • KTH connected Europe, EARN, HEPnet

  • Peering with EUnet

  • European interchange, GIX

  • Operating late 1988, official opening Oct.89

Not only a network
Not only a network

  • Inter-Nordic work-groups created competence on many levels

  • Catalytic effect on national networks and early commercial introduction

  • Joint activities creating international recognition and status in international bodies

International recognition
International recognition

  • The first DNS root-server outside US

  • RIPE as European Internet coordinator

  • Participating and forming IEPG and IETF Operation WG, other IETF work, MIME

  • In RARE WG8-management introducing open support of protocols and services, including TCP/IP as well as ISO OSI work


Europe and tcp ip
Europe and TCP/IP

  • Work on service harmonisation and OSI migration continued

  • Einar Løvdals urge for TCP/IP migration met with mixed reactions (Trieste 1989)

  • Support from research communities collaborating w. US and Canada

  • RIPE formed 1989, RIPE NCC in 1992

  • Large European communities forged ahead with OSI based services

    - and fell behind -

Nordic internet penetration
Nordic Internet penetration

1999 97 1999 97

1 Canada 42,82 7 8 Australia 34,33 5

2 Sweden 41,42 8 9 Singapore 31,08 9

3 Finland 40,80 1 10 N.Zealand 26,49 6

4 U.S. 40,65 4 11 Netherland 25,56 13

5 Iceland 40,35 3 12 Switzerland 24,58 11

6 Denmark 39,60 10 13 United

  • Norway 37,96 2 Kingdom 23,64 12

% per capita

And finally TCP/IP

US link

The rest is history !

NORDUnet is now a limited company NORDUnet A/S,owned and financed by Nordic states or state institutions


FI - Ministry of education SE - Högskoleverket IS - University of Iceland



20 M$

Small secretariat

Director Peter Villemoes

10 M$

All work done

by partners

The network in 2001


The network in 2001













Communication is cooperation
Communication is Cooperation

  • Services could not be done by one provider alone

  • The necessary level of competence could not be reached on a country by country basis

  • Institutional groups too small both in

    • people with interest and knowledge

    • resources and demanding users

  • Development cooperation required on all levels

The nordunet lesson
The NORDUNET lesson

  • Many institutions scattered across several countries worked together by each getting major responsibilities

  • Distributed projects create joint enthusiasm and work towards common goals

  • Shared responsibilities

  • All got benefit from building competence

  • Network communication is working together

Networks are communication

Communication is cooperation

etworks are cooperation

"Skalat madr rúnar rísta,

nema ráda vel kunni”

Egill Skallagrimsson