Nordunet: The Roots of Nordic Networking
NORDUNET began as an informal cooperation between Nordic “networkers” in 1980. With support from the Nordic Council of Ministers, a NORDUNET project for a common Nordic academic network began in 1985. Mats Brunell (Sweden) and Einar Løvdal (Norway) led the work. Originally based on existing interim services of EARN, DECnet and ISO OSI support, lack of services led to complete reorientation in 1987. With bridges running Ethernet over slow lines, a Nordic-wide Ethernet connecting major nodes in the countries linked national Ethernets to a common node at KTH, Stockholm. The major services of the time, X.25, EARN and RSCS, DECnet, and TCP/IP, were connected in through switches, bridges and routers called “the NORDUNET plug”. The operational network NORDUnet, a first international multi-protocol network, began services in 1988 and officially opened in 1989. Major links to the US NSFnet and European networks connected to the KTH node. The project had a strong impact on Nordic networking competence that influenced the European move to TCP/IP services in opposition to the prevailing adherence (politically supported) to ISO OSI. Over time, TCP/IP won the “protocol war”. The early introduction of TCP/IP gave the Nordic area a head start in internet penetration, still reflected in the countries being in the front of public use of the internet. A major lesson was the success of Nordic cooperation on all levels, through sharing of responsibilities, joint development of competence and creation of enthusiasm. NORDUnet is today owned by the national ministries, run through cooperation by the national networks, and able to supply the Nordic academic internet with exceptionally cost-effective bandwidth to all major international networks such as Startap and Geant.