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The National Knowledge Network (NKN) is a major step towards building a knowledge society without boundary. It is a multi- gigabit, unified, high speed network that aims to connect over 1500 institutions like universities, research institutions, libraries, laboratories, healthcare and agricultural institutions, nuclear, space and defence research agencies in the country. Such a connectivity will allow free flow of data / information/ knowledge and allow researchers, students, scientists and other stakeholders from diverse fields to access and use the same with ease. This initiative is expected to help build quality institutions in the country and improve the level and quality of research by making it multidisciplinary and collaborative. It will also help create a pool of highly qualified and trained professionals. Besides these, the NKN is also expected to facilitate advanced distance education in specialized fields such as engineering, science, medicine etc, an ultra high speed backbone for e-Governance and integration of different sectoral networks in the field of research, education, health, commerce and governance.
The Government approved the establishment of the National Knowledge Network (NKN) in March 2010, at an outlay of Rs.5990 crore. A High LevelCommittee (HLC) has been set up for establishment of NKN, under the Chairmanship of the Principal Scientific Advisor to Govt of India. National Informatics Centre has been designated as the implementing agency and the action plan has been developed by the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) set up by the HLC.
What are the main features of NKN ?
The NKN will consist of an ultra-high speed Core (multiples of 10Gbps and upwards), and over 1500 nodes. It is scalable to higher speed and more nodes also. The Core shall be complemented with a distribution layer at appropriate speeds. The participating institutions can directly or through distribution layer connect to the National Knowledge Network at speeds of 100 Mbps /1 Gbps. The architecture of the network aims to provide reliability, availability and scalability.
NKN enables creation of Virtual Private Networks (VPN) for special interest groups. It also provides international connectivity to its users for global collaborative research. Presently, NKN is connected to Trans Eurasia Information Network (TEIN3). Similar connectivity to GLORIAD network is in the pipeline.
What are the expected application areas of NKN ?
Countrywide Virtual Classroom
The NKN is a platform for delivering effective distance education where teachers and students can interact in real time. The network enables co-sharing of information such as classroom lectures, presentations and handouts among different institutions.
The NKN enables collaboration among researchers from different entities like GLORIAD, TEIN3, GARUDA, CERN etc. NKN also enables sharing of scientific databases and remote access to advanced research facilities.
The virtual library involving sharing of journals, books and research papers across different institutions, is a natural application for NKN.
Sharing of Computing Resources
High-performance computing is critical for national security, industrial productivity, and advances in science and engineering. The network enables a large number of institutions to access high performance computing to conduct advanced research in areas such as weather monitoring, earthquake engineering and other computationally intensive fields.
The NKN has the capability to handle high bandwidth with low latency and provision to overlay grid computing. Some of the grid based applications are climate change/global warming, science projects like Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and ITER. The NKN can be the platform to realize many such innovative applications.
Network Technology Test-bed
NKN provides test-bed for testing and validation of services before they are made available to the production network. NKN also provides an opportunity to test new hardware & software, vendor interoperability etc.
NKN acts as a super highway for integrating e- Governance infrastructure such as government data centres and networks. NKN provides bulk data transfer facility required for e-Governance applications.
What is the current status of NKN ?
The initial phase of NKN was inaugurated by H.E. Smt. Pratibha Patil, Hon’ble President of India on April 9, 2009. Its Logo and website (www.nkn.in) were inaugurated by Shri Kapil Sibal Hon’ble Minister for Communications & Information Technology on February 5th, 2011. A core Backbone consisting of 18 Points of Presence (PoPs) has been established with 2.5 Gbps capacity. A total 96 number of Institutions have been connected to National Knowledge Network and 15 virtual classrooms have been setup. Total 102 links and 50 core links have been commissioned and made operational. Trans Eurasia Information Network (TEIN3) links is integrated with National Knowledge Network. MoU has been signed between the National Knowledge Network (NKN) , Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) and GLORIAD (The Global Ring Network for Advanced Applications Development).