High-Performance Computing:

High-Speed Computer Networks in the United States, Europe, and Japan

IMTEC-91-69: Published: Sep 4, 1991. Publicly Released: Sep 11, 1991.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the efforts of the United States, Europe, and Japan to develop high-speed computer networks for research and education.

GAO found that: (1) the United States leads Europe and Japan in the development of high-speed computer networks for research and education; (2) to enhance network services for the research and education community, federal sponsors and academic participants plan to transform the United States' portion of Internet, a loosely organized system of interconnected, unclassified computer networks linking over 500,000 computers nationwide and overseas, into a higher-speed network with nationwide coverage; (3) although their networks are generally less developed than those in the United States, Europe and Japan recognize the importance of high-speed networks and have plans and projects under way to enhance the speed and capability of these networks; (4) some European participants believe that the United States' National Research and Education Network, which would operate at gigabit speeds, represents the kind of network they need, but lack of a centralized organizational structure and a supportive regulatory environment may prevent the development or expansion of their network infrastructures; (5) only one Japanese network provided a high-speed backbone; and (6) Japan's success in developing high-speed computer networks may depend on such factors as its ability to obtain the necessary funding and gain coordinated support from its government ministries.

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