Qwest originally provided the backbone service for Abilene in 1998, and extended the contract for five years in October 2001. The new extension carries the service through September 2007.
Abilene, an academic and research system that connects more than 3 million users in 220 research institutions and 34 state education networks, uses 10,000 route-miles of Qwest's optical backbone. It also uses direct native Internet Protocol services and Sonet services.
The network can send 9.7 million five-paragraph e-mails per second. Qwest upgraded the host network to support advanced IP services such as IP multicast and IP Version 6.