NSF Plans For Future Backbone Services

By Merit/NSFNET Information Services

At the end of November 1992, the existing five-year cooperative agreement which the National Science Foundation has with Merit for NSFNET backbone services comes to an end. For those who have come to rely on the NSFNET for the work they do in research and education, the question of "what happens next?" is critical to assuring stability and planning for the future.

Some answers are at hand since the National Science Board met at the end of November and approved a plan put forth by NSF's Division of Networking and Communications Research and Infrastructure.

"NSF plans to make a draft solicitation for the Backbone follow-on available sometime in March for a two to three month period of public comment," said Steve Wolff. He added that NSF hopes to issue the solicitation in May or June of this year.

No service interruption for users

The plan has two aspects: the first is a provision which will assure that users will see no interruption in service when the current agreement expires. The second is a set of solicitations for longer-term provision of services. "As an association of network and information service providers, FARNET [Federation of American Research Networks] has endorsed the principles of competition and choice, especially where the market for these services is maturing," said Laura Breeden, Executive Director of FARNET. "We are looking forward to working with NSF on the implementation of its plans for the INREN [Interim National Research and Education Network]."

Plan reflects FARNET recommendations

This past November FARNET submitted a number of recommendations to NSF regarding interregional connectivity after November 1992. The plan reflects some aspects of the FARNET input, as well as the input of many other individuals, federal agencies, and organizations with whom NSF consulted.

A complete copy of the document may be obtained via anonymous FTP to nis.nsf.net. The directory is /nsfnet/news.releases/ and the document to retrieve is: nsfnet.project.development.plan

Taken from The Link Letter, Vol. 5 No. 1, March/April 1992.