MERIT, IBM and MCI Form New Organization to Expand 'National Computer Superhighway'

WASHINGTON, Sept. 17, 1990 -- PRNewswire -- Merit, Inc., IBM Corporation (NYSE: IBM) and MCI Communications Corporation (NASDAQ: MCIC) today announced the establishment of Advanced Network and Service, Inc. (ANS), a new company that will help propel high-speed computer networking into the next century for the nation's research and education communities.

The new not-for-profit organization will manage and operate the federally funded National Science Foundation Network (NSFNET) backbone, under subcontract to Merit, as well as provide a broad spectrum of networking services to researchers and educators in universities, federal laboratories and the private sector. These services range from basic network monitoring to complete networking connectivity and support. ANS will begin to connect additional educational, industrial and government institutions to the nation's largest public computer network at speeds up to 45 megabits per second (T3).

ANS is being established to help build and expand current networking capabilities to meet the skyrocketing demand of the nation's scientists, engineers and educators for high-speed networking. This effort complements and is designed to support the concepts proposed in the National Research and Education Network (NREN) recently put forward within the administration and Congress as part of the High Performance Computing Program.

At today's press conference in Washington, Allan H. Weis, president and chief executive officer of the new company, said, "The High Performance Computing Program, of which the NREN is a critical component, is a vital national effort which must be vigorously pursued. We will need a partnership of government, industry and education if we are to be successful in building a national network. ANS is designed to help facilitate those partnerships and support federal government leadership in this crucial endeavor."

The goals of ANS are to assist in the expansion of the existing national network so that it broadly serves the research and education community; to increase the speed and capability of the network, maintaining it at the leading edge of technology; and to provide the highest quality network and services in helping to advance research and education.

"The achievement of these goals will lead to a broader and more productive national computer networking infrastructure," Weis stated. "Researchers, scholars and educators from institutions of every size will gain uniform access to current and evolving national information technology resources, such as national data bases, medical imaging, satellite data and supercomputer centers.

"The success of ANS will also expand the base of financial support for the evolving national network," Weis continued. Fees charged to ANS subscribers, together with contributions from industrial companies such as IBM and MCI, will help reduce the financial burden of the federal government in its initiative to provide the nation with a high-speed computer network, he explained. "Because we are broadening the community of those using the network, the fixed costs of national networking will be more widely distributed. This will free up funds which could then be allocated to assist the neediest organizations to connect to the national network, as well as to continue to support and enable the national network to remain in the vanguard of new technology."

IBM and MCI are providing ANS with initial funding, and Merit is providing network operations, network engineering and planning, and network information services. Under Merit's project leadership, the three organizations have also worked together on NSFNET.

As a result of a competitive bid won in 1987, Merit, in cooperation with its corporate partners, IBM and MCI, and with additional funding from the state of Michigan, has managed and operated the NSFNET backbone for the National Science Foundation. Merit has formed an agreement with ANS whereby it will work with the new organization to manage and operate NSFNET.

"The number of educational, government and industrial sites with access to NSFNET has tripled in the past year, resulting in traffic increases of over 500 percent," Weis said. "This overwhelming success underscores the need for greater access to national high-speed computer networking and increased speed and services. We believe that ANS provides the best framework to effectively manage this phenomenal growth, and expand the commitment to the future of national networking."

In providing for the future exchange of information at gigabit speeds (a billion bits of information per second) and beyond, ANS will build on the various research and test bed activities currently under way. It will also work closely with mid-level networks and academic and research institutions to help them meet the needs of the communities they serve. Committees will be formed to advise ANS on key aspects of its network and services, with representatives selected from the national networking community, network users and subscribing institutions. Other committees, including a technical committee, will also be established, Weis said.

Headquarters for ANS are in Elmsford, N.Y.

CONTACT: Advanced Network and Service, 800-456-8267

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