National Science Foundation Network Boosts Speed On Coast-To-Coast Research and Education Computer Network

WASHINGTON, June 13, 1990 -- PRNewswire -- The partners in the National Science Foundation Network (NSFNET), which links more than 1,500 university, industry and government research networks, today announced that they have begun implementing the nation's first coast-to-coast research and education computer network that will transmit data 28 times faster than any other publicly operational network.

The T3 network will send information at 45 megabits per second (Mbps) and is scheduled to be operating by the end of the year. It will enable researchers using the NSFNET across the United States to perform high-speed computing applications such as distributed computing and interactive remote graphics that require faster transmission technologies previously not practical or available.

Using NSFNET, hundreds of thousands of researchers are able to directly access state-of-the-art resources, including National Science Foundation-funded supercomputing centers, library collections, satellite data, medical imaging, scientific instruments, video applications, national databases, and other high-technology equipment.

"This significant increase in NSFNET's transmission capacity will greatly enhance our ability to use distant supercomputers for numerical aerodynamic simulation of airflows to study aircraft which travel at very high mach speeds," said Dr. Kenneth Powell, professor of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Michigan. "T3 transmission will help us calculate and study flows over complex configurations which may one day make a National Aerospace Plane possible." `@T3 technology will transmit information at more than 5 million characters per second (T3 speed) or the equivalent of 1,400 single- spaced typed pages per second. The NSFNET currently operates at T1 speed, which is almost 200,000 characters per second (1.5 Mbps), or the equivalent of 50 single-spaced typed pages per second.

"The implementation of the first coast-to-coast T3 network represents an unprecedented advance in the technological capacity of national computer networking. This further demonstrates NSFNET's commitment to research and education in the United States," said Dr. Stephen S. Wolff, division director, Division of Networking and Communications Research and Infrastructure, at the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The NSFNET backbone is already the nation's largest research and education network and is the result of pioneering cooperative efforts by NSF, the Merit Computer Network, IBM Corporation (NYSE: IBM), MCI Communications Corporation (NASDAQ-NMS: MCIC) and the State of Michigan. Of the existing 13 NSFNET backbone sites which connect mid-level networks or supercomputer consortium networks to the national network, six will be the first to operate at T3 speed. They are: Cornell Supercomputing Center, Ithaca, N.Y.; Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, Pittsburgh; Merit Computer Network, Ann Arbor, Mich.; National Center for Supercomputer Applications, Urbana-Champaign, Ill.; San Diego Supercomputer Center, San Diego; and Bay Area Regional Research Network, Palo Alto, Calif.

In addition, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology/New England Academic and Research Network (NEARnet), Cambridge, Mass., and the Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, Ill., will begin operation on the network at T3 speed. The Georgia Institute of Technology (SURAnet) will become a New T1 node. All three were added to the NSFNET's backbone today under a separate announcement by the NSF.

The NSFNET is managed and operated by the Merit Computer Network in Ann Arbor. Merit will coordinate the T3 implementation and will operate and maintain the new high-speed network. Merit is a consortium of eight Michigan Universities and is the longest-running regional network in the country. MeBie Oas managed the NSFNET backbone since 1987 under a cooperative agreement with the NSF.

"We at Merit are very pleased with the outstanding advances of the NSFNET backbone," said Dr. Douglas E. VaX$=Uweling, chairman of the board, Merit Computer Network. "ji services will enrich the already outstanding high-speed technology of the NSFNET and the new sites will extend access to this critical data smpLI|ighway."

IBM Corporation provides the NSFNET with network hardware and software for the routing of traffic, network management and information services. For the T3 network expansion, IBM will provide specially developed high-speed packet switching systems for routing TCP/IP traffic as it enters and exits the clear channel T3 network at each of the nodes through a high-speed local area network interface such as Ethernet and/or Fiber Distributed Data Interface (FDDI).

"Faster speeds mean faster solutions to the world's problems," said Dr. Frank R. Moore, applications solutions director of the Advanced Solutions Development Group of IBM. "Our nation will benefit from the new applications possible with a faster network. These include interactive control and graphical monitoring of remote computer-intensive calculations involving space exploration, global climate modeling and medical projects such as mapping the human gene."

MCI Communications Corporation, which provides the all-fiber optic circuit backbone network upon which the NSFNET operates, will also provide advanced circuit technology for the T3 upgrade.

"MCI's expertise in providing T3 capabilities directly to supercom uI 3acilities, coupled with the robustness and reliability of our network, made the T3 upgrade possible," said Lawrence J. Bouman, senior vice president, program management and systems planning for MCI.

Merit, IBM and MCI assumed the day-to-day operation of the NSFNET backbone in 1987 and implemented a 24-fold increase in the bandwidth capacity over the old 56 kilobits per second (kpbs) network. The new T3 upgrade represents another 28-fold increase resulting in an overall 672-fold increase in capacity over the last 2-1/2 years.

"We are excited about the future research activities that will move networking toward gigabit-speeds. However, NSFNET is significantly expanding the networking capability of our researchers today with this T3 implementation," said Eric M. Aupperle, president, Merit Computer Network.

"Implementation of this technology is another example of the NSFNET project's leadership in national computer networking," said Hans-Werner Braun, principal investigator for the NSFNET project. "Moving the NSFNET backbone to T3 speeds will keep our national research effort viable in a world of rapidly changing technological needs."

Last March at the National Net '90 conference, the NSFNET partnership provided an early glimpse of this new technology when they transmitted information over a T3 clear channel link between Washington and Ann Arbor, Mich., in the first demonstration of high-speed networking on a public access network.

CONTACT: Doug Dome of MCI Communications Corporation, 312-938-4995; Kathleen Ryan of IBM Corporation, 914-945-2958; or Kathleen McClatchey of Merit Computer Network


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