Three companies are investing in the project. Qwest Communications, one of the world's fastest growing telecommunications companies, is donating 16000 miles of fibre optic cabling to the project, while Cisco Systems and Nortel have offered equipment 'in kind'. All three companies see Internet-2 as an ideal test bed for the next generation of high-speed switching equipment. Prototypes of their latest designs will be tried out on the new network before going into general use.

The project is being led by the University Corporation for Advanced Internet Development (UCAID), a consortium of universities that is concerned about the poor performance of the existing Internet. UCAID had originally planned to operate Internet-2 at 622 million bits per second (bps), but the new investment means that it will now be capable of sending four times as much information.

"I applaud the extraordinary commitments of these companies, " said Gore. "In the coming years, this investment may enable the best medical specialists to give advice to patients in rural hospitals, scientists to use remote supercomputers to predict tornadoes, and adults to get new skills through distance learning."