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Knoxville — The University of Tennessee has joined a consortium of other colleges using a new connection to the next generation of the Internet.

The “Abilene” data system is a series of high-speed connections linking universities and research centers in many parts of the United States.

The director of UT’s Division of Information Infrastructure said high-speed information transfers are vital to the university.

“The whole goal is to get optimal pathways between schools that want to do research with each other,” said Dewitt Latimer. “If you’re on the same backbone, or high-speed connection, communication is going to be much more efficient.”

Latimer said UT used the “VBNS-Plus” data lines until March of this year, before joining other universities in switching to “Abilene.”

“From a technical point of view, the two systems are no better or worse than each other,” Latimer said. “The greatest advantage of Abilene is the number of member schools that agreed to join it.”

UT has experimented with transmitting a video conference over the next generation Internet, also called Internet2. More such experiments are expected in the future.