EBONE (standing for European Backbone) was a pan-European Internet backbone. It went online in 1992 and was deactivated in July 2002. Some portions of the Ebone were sold to other companies and continue to operate today.
In 1991 a certain number of research network managers, including Frode Greisen, from Denmark, Kees Neggers, director of the Dutch network SURFNet, and Francois Fluckiger at CERN sought to create a European Internet backbone open to publicly-financed academic networks and private commercial networks. The Ebone consortium was established at the RIPE meeting in Geneva in September 1991, and the network went online in 1992 after the initial IP backbone with 256 kbps links was completed. Frode Greisen became the general manager while Peter Löthberg served as de facto architect.
In 1996 the consortium was transformed into the Ebone Association which again established a private limited company Ebone Inc. based in Denmark. In 1998 the Ebone Association sold 75% of the company to Hermes Europe Railtel, and in 1999 the remaining 25% was bought by Global Telesystems Group Inc. (GTS) which had then acquired Hermes Europe Railtel.
The Ebone backbone increased by a factor of 40,000 in speed over nine years from 256 kbit/s to 10 Gbit/s and the traffic roughly followed, see table below:
In year 2000 Ebone provided international transit for around 100 Internet Service Providers based in most of the European countries.
In 2001 GTS re-branded all its data communications products as Ebone and Ebone was one of Europe's leading broadband optical and IP network service providers.
In October 2001, KPNQwest acquired Ebone and the Central Europe businesses of GTS and completed their EuroRings network.
Following the Dot com crash and various investigations, KPNQwest declared bankruptcy. In June 2002, it was announced that the Ebone Network Operations Center would be shut down, and the Ebone would be deactivated.
Employees in the Ebone Network Operations Center and elsewhere attempted to keep the network running for many weeks after the last possible sale of the company fell through, but eventually were told to shut down the network and abandon the building, which they did on July 2, 2002.
TO: xxx CUSTOMER CONTACT: XXX FROM: customer at ebone.com DATE: 06/JUN/2002 19:12:17 ATTN: XXX KPNQWEST TT NUMBER: 179256 KPNQWEST CONTACT: Iain Tweedie-Walker CSC PHONE NUMBER: Any Queries please contact theCSC. BROADCAST MESSAGE Hoeilaart 6 June 2002 / Message to all Ebone customers / The Administrators have not found any additional funding to continue Ebone operators and have asked personnel to evacuate the building and close down the network. Ebone employees have refused to do so and are motivated to keep the network up and running as long as possible. Ebone employees have requested the Belgian Government to help out finding a solution for the immediate future.
TO: xxx CUSTOMER CONTACT: XXX FROM: customer at ebone.com DATE: 02/JUL/2002 08:44:48 ATTN: XXX KPNQWEST TT NUMBER: 180969 KPNQWEST CONTACT: Iain Tweedie-Walker CSC PHONE NUMBER: Any Queries please contact theCSC. BROADCAST MESSAGE To all our customers despite the Efforts of the 40 people at Ebone NOC these last few months to keep the network up and running our efforts have been in vain, as finally the banks and other parties concerned have stopped the proposed sale of Ebone happening.As a result of this we have now been ordered by the curators to shut down the Network.this will happen today 2 July 1, 2002 at 11:00AM CET. I wish to thank our entire customers for their support over these last few months and only wish that things could have turned out differently.
Acquisition of assets
Two weeks after the 03 July 2002 message to the operating team at Ebone, the company's physical assets were sold to Interoute Communications, Ltd., for €15 million, or 100% of the purchase price KPNQwest had paid to acquire the asset five months prior. The Ebone asset provided critical Metropolitan Area Networks (MANs) to the Interoute infrastructure.
- Olivier H. Martin (October 2012). "The "hidden" Prehistory of European Research Networking Or "The sad saga of the obscurantism of some European networking leaders and their influence on European Research Networks"" (PDF). Ictconsulting.ch. Retrieved 2022-01-24.
- Fluckiger, Francois (February 2000). "The European Researchers' Network" (PDF). La Recherche (328).
- "Minutes — RIPE Network Coordination Centre". Archived from the original on 2011-08-02.
- Martin, Olivier (2012-06-18). The "Hidden" Prehistory of European Research Networking. Trafford Publishing. ISBN 9781466938724.
- Larson, Eugenie (July 15, 2002). "Interoute acquires Ebone". Lightreading.com.