Education and research network operator AARNet has announced plans to trial a cross-Australia 'terabit' connection next year.
AARNet currently connected schools, universities and vocational training institutions at speeds of between 1 and 10 Gbps, depending on the end-point technology these customers used.
Seven or eight institutions currently had 10 Gbps end user connections. By contrast, the much debated National Broadband Network promised to deliver 100 Mbps over fibre.
AARNet chief executive Chris Hancock told journalists today that the not-for-profit operator aimed to "stay ahead of the curve".
Researchers' networking demands far exceeded those of home users, he said, referring to the data generated by astronomy, oceanography and e-health projects.
"When the NBN talks about 100 Mbps to the home, we'll be somewhere along the line of 100 to 500 Gbps [by 2017]," he boasted.
"We see ourselves as almost a testbed for the NBN - future-proofing the NBN if you will."
Hancock said the terabit trial would involve several 100 Gbps streams and take place over long distances - "not just from Melbourne to Sydney".
He expected demand for more network capacity to be driven by the growing uptake of video telephony, mobile technologies and collaboration.
AARNet enhancements would also support the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP), and the region's bid to host the 1.5 billion Euro international SKA in 2013.
"Network is plumbing", Hancock said, noting that AARNet data transfers had grown 70 percent in the past year - double previous year-on-year growth rates of 30 to 40 percent.
"We want to make sure that we are in the position where the science doesn't overtake us," he said. "It will be in the foreseeable future that people will need 100 Gbps."
In accordance with its newly developed five-year strategic plan, AARNet would develop "four pillars": network build and operation; a network roadmap; applications and services; and developing user communities.
The organisation was currently involved in several Government initiatives including the Regional Backbone Blackspots program, which reached 60 percent completion this month.
AARNet was also a part of the Department of Innovation's $37 million National Research Network and Vocational Education Broadband Network projects.