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The network For Research, Education and Engineering




N.D.Zelinsky Institute of Organic Chemistry (ZIOC RAS)


47, Leninskii prospekt, Moscow, 119991, Russian Federation


Russian Association of Academic and Research Networks





Max speed

15 Gbit/s


3 Gbit/s


1 Gbit/s

Customers connected







CEENGINE status assessment





General Overview

FREEnet (the network For Research, Education, and Engineering), a corporate noncommercial computer network, connects the academic and research computer networks of the Russian Academy of Sciences research institutes, universities, higher education institutions and other scientific, educational, and research organizations.


FREEnet was established on 20 June 1991 by N. D. Zelinsky Institute of Organic Chemistry (ZIOC) of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) with the Network Operation Center at Computer Assistance to Chemical Research of RAS. In nineties, when research and educational community in fSU countries lacked the Internet services, FREEnet has developed infrastructure integrated 15 Russian regional RENs as well as some NRENs abroad. The total number of universities and research institution using FREEnet services at those time overcome 350. Later, in accordance with both academic community changing needs, and with general trends of Russian research and educational networking, FREEnet concentrated mostly on providing network infrastructure and advanced services, which users need especially for their research projects, rather than providing just basic Internet services.

FREEnet participated in numerous national and international projects, including those supported by the Ministry of Sciences, Russian Foundation for Basic Research, etc.


Currently, FREEnet provides the following services to its users:

  1. High-speed Internet access via a dedicated line. Both IPv4 and IPv6 protocols are available on each access link. The choice of the protocol stack used is up to each user.
  2. Creation of fault-tolerant systems
  3. Remote management of the user's network infrastructure
  4. Traffic classification and assured forwarding services (Class Based QoS)
  5. VPNs over MPLS network infrastructure
  6. Collocation of user's equipment at FREEnet PoPs
  7. IPTV broadcasting over multicast IPv4 and routing of multicast streams among users.
  8. Dark fiber and L2 channels via Ethernet infrastructure.

A word from the chairman

My first experience as a network user was as early as 1986 when I was a visiting scientist in Orsted Institute of Copenhagen University. I was impressed by the technology, but being an acting chemist I could not even imagine that few years later I will initiate the NREN project.

There were two important events that shaped my future in these years. First, my home organization - Zelinsky Institute of Organic Chemistry (ZIOC) has been selected as a host of the Computer Assistance to Chemical Research Center (CACR) with the objective to investigate the area now called e-science. Second, during perestroika the scientific information service existing in the USSR had been dismantled almost completely. As a newly elected head of CACR I could see no way to overcome the information starvation but to connect to NREN infrastructure already existing in some European countries and in the USA. Very soon we had found that we are missing just one pre-requisite - only a national network, not a single institute could be connected. So CACR had no choice but to establish FREEnet (what stands for network For Research Engineering and Education)., what happened on July 20th 1991. We could attribute this success to our highly qualified personnel, able to complete their tasks despite extremely hard financial situation facing research institutions in these years.

But this was not the end of the struggle - at that time, the existing COCOM restrictions banned IP connection to USSR/Russia. This forced us to use X25 and NJE protocols with corresponding gateways for international connectivity. This situation lasted for a couple of years and the international restrictions had been lifted as late as 1993.

The FREEnet was the first NREN and one of the first two IP networks established in Russia. Later a lot of things done by FREEnet may be named the first in the country: the first multicast usage; the first international ATM channel; the first IPv6 address block etc.

Of course time and efforts spent on FREEnet development had been torn out from my beloved chemistry, but frankly speaking I do not regret that, at least not much.