Michigan company continues its work on information superhighway

NSF Announces Major Network Awards

Ann Arbor,  MI -- Feb. 14, 1994 -- The Internet will undergo a major transition following the announcement of new networking awards by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Among the winners are the Michigan based Merit Network, Inc., a non-profit company that has managed the National Science Foundation's network for the past six years under an existing award from NSF.

"Based on this announcement, Michigan will continue to be in the forefront of the development of the nation's information superhighway," said Michigan's Governor John Engler. "This is particularly good news for our state's educational system, as we can further leverage the national investment in technology to benefit all our students-from pre-school to college and beyond. Merit has a long history of working for the state's schools. This award confirms their ability to coordinate and lead technology projects, an expertise which will directly benefit Michigan education in the coming years."

According to the announcement from the National Science Board, NSF will finalize contracts for a high speed experimental network with MCI and for Internet routing coordination with Merit and the University of Southern California Information Sciences Institute (ISI). These awards are the result of a two-year planning and competitive bidding process aimed at replacing the current NSFNET Backbone Services, the largest segment of the global Internet. The negotiations are expected to result in five-year cooperative agreements totaling over $70 million. Additional awards resulting from the same competitive program are expected to be made at a later date.

Merit, a Michigan non-profit corporation with over 25 years experience in data networking, will continue to play a vital role in national and international Internet development and operations under the new NSF program.  In addition to its national activities, Merit operates the state-wide network, MichNet, linking universities, schools, government, research institutions, and businesses in Michigan and providing the main connection to the Internet for thousands of Michigan users. The National Science Board has committed $11.1 million to Merit for the new NSF project.

"This award marks a major turning point for the Internet," said Merit's President, Eric M. Aupperle. "We are very excited to be able to have our previous work for NSF lead to this new award, a mark of Merit's accomplishments and capabilities."

"Merit has been a key player as the Internet evolved from an experimental network for a few sophisticated computer scientists to a broad based service with more than 20 million users world-wide," he continued. "Merit has been a focus for coordinating technology change in the Internet. We will be able to build on the NSFNET experience to continue the successes which will make the data superhighway vision a reality. "

Under the new NSF program,  Merit and ISI will jointly implement the role of "Routing Arbiter."  Merit will have the central role in technical coordination for Internet service providers who need to interchange traffic. This function is needed to assure smooth operations and stability for the Internet during the transition to the new technologies resulting from this award program and beyond.

Merit will also work with ISI to implement new technologies for routing traffic among Internet networks, using high powered workstations that will serve as "route servers." Merit will be responsible for deploying the new technologies developed cooperatively by ISI and Merit. These new routing technologies are expected to be a key to accommodating continued Internet growth and complexity resulting from the many new users of the Internet in the next few years.

Merit Network, Inc. has developed, deployed and operated data networks at local, state, national and international levels. Established in 1966 with the goal of developing a state-wide computer resource sharing network for Michigan universities, Merit has grown to be a nationally acclaimed provider of data networking services. Merit has managed the National Science Foundation Network Backbone Services through a cooperative agreement with NSF since 1987. The NSFNET project has been a cooperative venture with IBM, MCI, Advanced Network & Services, Inc., and the State of Michigan. Merit also provides support services, including consulting, training, and on-line information services, to a nation-wide clientele. Merit staff are internationally known for their leadership of Internet standards bodies, and are active in numerous professional organizations.

"In this effort, Merit will assist American world leadership in high speed data networking. Merit will also continue its commitment to ubiquitous support of the research and education communities," said Paul Hunt, Vice Provost for Computing and Technology at Michigan State University and chair of the Merit Board of Directors.

Merit is a non-profit corporation governed by eleven of Michigan's state universities, with operational activities hosted by the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

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Merit/NSFNET/MichNet Information Services
2901 Hubbard Ann Arbor,  MI 48105   313-936-3000

Ellen Hoffman or Laura Kelleher
(fax) 313-747-3185
(email) nsfnet-info@merit.edu