In 1991, in response to this growing need, the Ebone concept was firstly floated at the 10th RIPE meeting in September in Geneva and shortly afterward crystallized in a Memorandum of Understanding. It was discussed by all the most important National and International Academic Organizations in Europe, including EARN, at an historical meeting sponsored by SURFNet, the Dutch academic network organization, at the Amsterdam Zoo the 30th October 1991. In the paper, in order to avoid to upset the EU (since in the eyes of the European Commission in 1991 IP was as much as a bad word as EARN /NJE), Ebone 92  was supposed to be a transitory, short-lived, multi-protocol backbone “for production Internet IP and pilot ISO-CLNS to the Academia and Research community” that would migrate later to a backbone service provided by RARE: “it is expected that Ebone 92 services will be integrated into full multi-protocol services and the operational responsibilities passed on to the RARE proposed Operational Unit.”. In fact, as it became clear afterward, this was just a spectacular smoke screen to allow native IP services to operate in Europe without incurring in the wrath of the Commission.

 EBONE 1993
Ebone 1993




In December 1991 EARN organized and hosted in Paris the first technical meeting of the Ebone Action Team (EAT), the technical group in charge of the Ebone engineering. After a spirited debate the group agreed on two alternative backbone designs (of different costs) able to provide redundant network services because, among other reasons, based on a sound ring topology, to be submitted to the Ebone management group for final decision. As it happens the backbone topology proposed by EARN (which included a node in Montpellier (FR), one of the major EARN backbone nodes) was chosen, and during 1992 the first real pan-European IP network backbone was completed. EARN canceled its private line to the USA at the end of 1991, invested the money into Ebone, and was able to use Ebone to carry its traffic around Europe and across the Atlantic, drastically reducing the network cost for its members and granting to all EARN countries access to a total of 4.5Mbps (at the time a fairly large amount ;-)) redundant connectivity to the US.

EARN Topology in 1993

As it could be expected in time EBONE detached itself from RARE to become the first Pan-European ISP (Internet Service Provider) and continued its operations carrying mainly native IP traffic, for over a decade until it was acquired by GTS and subsequently by KPNQwest, which eventually went bankrupt in 2002.