Nation's Largest Research and Education Computer Network Establishes International Link

WASHINGTON, March 15, 1990 -- PRNewswire -- Partners in the National Science Foundation Network (NSFNET) today announced the establishment of a new high-speed data communications link between the United States and Europe.

For the first time, researchers will have high-speed access to distant supercomputers and other high-technology information resources on both sides of the Atlantic.

The NSFNET is the nation's largest research and education computer network. The NSFNET partnership -- the National Science Foundation, the Merit Computer Network, IBM Corporation, MCI Communications Corporation and the state of Michigan -- made the U.S. announcement of the new link at the National Net '90 networking conference in Washington.

IBM, with support from MCI, is sponsoring the new trans-Atlantic service that will enable NSFNET to provide the largest and fastest data communications pipeline connecting researchers and educators on both continents. This new connection will speed the exchange of information in such critical areas as studying global change, mapping the human gene, analyzing particle physics, exploring space and predicting weather.

Using this new link, researchers will be able to exchange information at a rate equivalent to transmitting 50 single-spaced typed pages a second. U.S. and European researchers will be able to collaborate on projects more effectively than ever before. They will be able, for example, to share research data at rapid speeds and to see the same graphic images and text almost simultaneously.

Access to these kinds of resources, especially at higher speeds, will make it possible for researchers here and in Europe to share technology, information and expertise in new and important ways," said Stephen S. Wolff, a division director at the National Science Foundation. "It is clear that this kind of collaboration has the potential to speed up the research process and lead us to new scientific breakthroughs that today we cannot even imagine."

Through the NSFNET, U.S. researchers can collaborate though they may work thousands of miles apart. The NSFNET is a national computer network that links more than 1,000 university, business and government research networks and provides access to supercomputer centers funded by the National Science Foundation. The NSFNET is managed and operated by the Merit Computer Network in Ann Arbor, Mich. Merit is a consortium of eight Michigan universities and is the longest-running regional network in the country. The state of Michigan provides additional financial support.

IBM provides the NSFNET with hardware and software for all of the network routing, management and information services. The same IBM switching technology used in the United States will transport data packets through the European gateway and throughout several countries in Western Europe.

MCI provides an international link that connects the NSFNET to the European Academic Supercomputer Initiative Network (EASInet), a partnership of IBM and 18 European academic and research institutions in nine European countries. The European gateway, which connects EASInet to the trans-Atlantic link, is at CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics, on the French-Swiss border near Geneva.

MCI's Fiberline Digital Service is provided via TAT-8, the trans-Atlantic undersea digital fiber optic cable system. The link will operate at T1 speed, the equivalent of 1.5 megabits per second (Mbps), or nearly 200,000 characters per second. This will provide faster throughput and reduced message delay time compared with existing low-speed international satellite links. To support Fiberline services on TAT-8, MCI constructed a dedicated digital facility directly connecting its network with its operations center at the Tuckerton, N.J., cablehead.

The U.S. gateway for the trans-Atlantic link is at the Cornell National Supercomputer Facility at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. The private line circuit enters the MCI Global Highway network via the MCI International Test and Maintenance Center in New York City. The center accepts the NSFNET access line and transports traffic to the N.J. cablehead.

/NOTE: MCI's Fiberline Digital Service is a service mark./

CONTACT: Kathleen Ryan of IBM Corporation, 914-945-2958; Kathleen McClatchey of Merit Computer Network, 313-936-3000; or Doug Dome of MCI Communications Corporation, 312-938-4995/

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