There are four large universities in Ternopil, Ukraine: Ternopil National Economic University (TNEU) with about 25,000 students; Ternopil State Technical University (TSTU) with about 10,000 students; Ternopil National Pedagogical University (TNPU) with about 15,000 students; and Ternopil State Medical University (TSMU) with about 5,000 students. These universities have some fiber optic cables (1 gigabit/sec), some copper cables (10 megabits/sec) and some wireless links (speeds up to 100 megabits/sec). The four universities collectively enroll about 55,000 students and have many research oriented programs. Before this project was initiated, all the universities in Ternopil were plagued by the slow speed of their Internet connections. Initially, our project will provide a 4 Mb/s Internet connection which is just a fraction of what the four universities need, but it will be a tremendous step in the right direction. As we write this paper, it appears that Ukrtelecom, the Ukrainian telephone monopoly that owns most long distance fiber optic lines, plans to reduce its prices soon, so we might be able to purchase an even faster Internet connection. There are several Internet service providers in Ternopil: Bitternet, Dilines, Megaline, and Infocom. The largest of these is Bitternet. It owns most of the fiber optic cables to the universities and many of the cables connecting other institutions. The Ternopil Educational Communication Center (TECC) is ensuring that all of the universities mentioned in the preceding paragraph will be connected to Bitternet through 1 Gbps fiber optic links, and also have a fiber optic 1 Gbps TECC backbone for inter-institutional connectivity. At present, the average university user experiences an effective Internet access speed of about 1-5 KBytes/s. Our goal is to increase this to an average effective speed of 8-32 KBytes/s. The NATO project provides some initial funding to purchase higher speed Internet connectivity, and it is expected that in the future all institutions participating in the TECC will pool their Internet budgets to sustain the network after its initial year of operation. This, together with the local caching that we intend to do, should provide significantly faster Internet service than is available today.
There are many benefits to creating the TECC. First, the TECC plans to not only connect the major universities, but to connect as many of Ternopil’s high schools as possible. The exact details of this part of the project are being worked out at this time. Second, creating and operating the TECC will also provide the universities with valuable experience in managing large networks. Third, part of the plan for creating the TECC is to create and manage a 16 CPU multiprocessor system that will be connected to the 128 CPU research cluster of the Kyiv Research Institute of Cybernetics. This link will be used for research in Grid computing. Fourth, this project will initiate the first widespread deployment of wireless systems throughout the city of Ternopil. The TECC project has three major components: hardware, software and information integration. The next several sections of this paper will provide more details about each of these components.