NSF PR 00-20 - April 10, 2000
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NSF and MCI Agree to Three-Year No-Cost Extension
Network will be available
to U.S. universities through March 2003
The National Science Foundation and MCI WorldCom have
agreed to a three-year, no-cost extension that will
keep the very high performance Backbone Network System
(vBNS) operating until at least 2003.
The network connects 94 U.S. universities to other
research institutions at speeds up to 2.4 gigabits
per second. Most of the schools connect at 620 megabits
per second. A gigabit and a megabit equal one billion
and one million bits, respectively.
The original cooperative agreement ran from April 1,
1995 to March 31, 2000. NSF paid MCI $10 million per
year during that period to build and manage vBNS.
The extension means the network will remain in service
at least until March 31, 2003, at no cost to NSF.
MCI owns the vBNS infrastructure.
NSF has made High Performance Connections (HPC) awards
to 177 universities, which may connect to either vBNS
or Abilene, a similar research network. At present,
vBNS provides connections for 101 institutions, including
94 HPC awardees.
The two-year HPC awards average $350,000, matched equally
by each recipient. The extension agreement means that
MCI will continue to make the service available, although
universities will incur 100 percent of the costs once
their HPC grants end.
The vBNS schools can continue to purchase MCI services
under existing contracts, at prices guaranteed in
the original NSF-MCI agreement.
"The extension upholds our responsibility to ensure
that the university research community is well-served
by vBNS," said Aubrey Bush, director of the NSF Advanced
Networking Infrastructure and Research (ANIR) division.
"The three-year extension aligns with the known lifetimes
of other networks like Abilene and STAR TAP to keep
us moving forward with multiple, interoperable backbones."
STAR TAP is the NSF-funded hub connecting U.S. research
networks internationally to sites in Europe and Asia.
Universities with high performance connections capitalize
on supercomputing resources made available through
NSF's Partnerships for Advanced Computational Infrastructure
(PACI) program. The vBNS also provides advanced connectivity
to other U.S. research networks, including the Department
of Energy's ESNET and the NASA Research and Education
NSF is an independent federal agency that supports
all fields of science, mathematics and engineering.
MCI WorldCom is a global communications company with
revenue of more than $30 billion and operations in
over 65 countries.
For more information about ANIR and vBNS, see: http://www.cise.nsf.gov/anir/.