​25 years of the internet in the CZECH Republic


The Czech Republic, then Czechoslovakia, officially joined the Internet on Thursday, 13th February 1992.  Experts from the Czech Technical University (CTU) of Prague, led by Jan Gruntorád, currently CESNET CEO, gathered to celebrate the historic occasion that enabled Czechoslovakia to become the 39th country to connect to the Internet. The very first connection was established between Prague and Linz in Austria. 


Few people could have anticipated the tremendous boom of the Internet in the years to come. “Once all our calculations were completed, having taken into consideration Czechoslovakia’s macro-economic situation at the time, we discovered that the cost of sending one e-mail message would amount to a thousand Czech crowns (40 EUR). Hence, we first envisaged that the Internet would be exclusively used to support scientific and research collaborations.” Jan Gruntorád remembers. 


Back then, the Internet was not the open environment it is today. Connections required the consent of the US National Science Foundation (NSF), which ran and fully financed the only Internet network backbone at the time. Requisite for connection was its exclusive academic use; commercial operations were not ​allowed.  



In February this year CESNET organised a ceremony on the same day and in the same location where the original event took place 25 years ago. Leading representatives from the Czech and foreign Internet and academic sectors took part; CESNET, to celebrate the momentous occasion, invited the same experts who had helped make the initial connection happen. All participants had the opportunity to listen to Steve Goldstein from NSF – who had attended the first event in 1992 - and Vint Cerf “the father of the Internet”; in addition, Oliver Popov from the Central and Eastern European Networking Association (CEENet), Pavol Horváth and Tibor Weis from the Slovakian NREN SANET also gave talks. 



A series of lecture on Research Networks as Innovation Leaders focused on the present and future development of the Internet at academic level. Valter Nordh, a member of GÉANT’s Board of Directors, spoke about the importance of cooperation on the path to innovation, highlighting the very successful eduroam project.  

One of the speakers was Professor Cees de Laat, chair of the System and Network Engineering (SNE) research group in the Computer Science Institute of the Faculty of Science at the University of Amsterdam and co-founder of the Global Lambda Integrated Facility (GLIF). Professor de Laat emphasised the need for further research and development; his contribution began with a brief overview of the vast amount of research data that currently flows through the Internet. Another contributor was Joe Mambretti, director of the International Center for Advanced Internet Research at North-western University and director of the Metropolitan Research and Education Network (MREN) in the USA. His talk focused on research and development services for high-speed networks. ​



The closing talk was given by Jan Gruntorád who briefly recounted the key moments of the growth of the Internet and its development in the Czech Republic. He then described how CESNET has since become a leading provider of the country’s e-infrastructure, managing the backbone network at speeds of up to 100 Gbps. In addition to the communications infrastructure, CESNET also provides data storage, cloud and grid infrastructure for distributed computing, infrastructure for remote collaboration (video conferencing, streaming), security services (CSIRT security team, forensic laboratory, Antispam Gateway) and network identity management (eduID.cz, eduroam, PKI services). Some of the most recent achievements of CESNET’s work were displayed in the event venue’s lobby: these included a COMBO card for 100Gb networks and the Photonic Services of CESNET e-infrastructure, plus traffic monitoring and analysis services. 

CESNET also specialises in the transmission of high-quality video, including HD, 4K and higher resolution and minimum latency transmissions (including real-time transmissions to multiple locations). It has also been developing UltraGrid, a software solution to enable video compression through graphics adapters, and MVTP (Modular Video Transmission Platform), a hardware system which is capable of achieving extra-low latency. UltraGrid has won an international award and MVTP has been patented. It is also worth mentioning last year’s TNC conference in Prague where the public enjoyed a unique distributed concert for two organs. It was an impressive example of collaboration between partners within the GÉANT community and a demonstration of the technical possibilities of today’s Internet. 



The celebrations generated unprecedented media interest and coverage. The Director of CESNET gave extensive interviews and the Czech TV transmitted live from the event, broadcasting on ČT24 every hour throughout the day. All the major Czech TV networks reported on the anniversary celebrations in their evening news programmes. CESNET confirms that at least 76 media outlets covered the event. 

Further information

For further details about sessions and speeches, visit:  https://25let.online/en ​​

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CONNECT Is​sue #2​​​​​​​5​​