NSF Awards Extend Global Connectivity Through High Performance Network Connections To The Asia Pacific Rim And Russia

September 21, 1998

The National Science Foundation (NSF) today announced two major awards over five years to Indiana University and the University of Tennessee to lead international high performance research and education network connections between the United States and the Asia Pacific Rim and Russia. The two universities will be responsible for establishing these networks to support worldwide scientific, research and educational collaborations that require high bandwidth communications.

"These awards will help create a high-speed Global Information Infrastructure," Vice President Al Gore said. "They will also accelerate the pace of scientific discovery by linking scientists, research facilities, supercomputers and databases."

NSF Director Rita Colwell said: "Today, we celebrate two new giant steps in 'interconnectedness.' With connections like these, the expansion of information systems really constitutes a new 'Age of Exploration.' This age is made possible by computational power, instant communication, vast databases and extensive analytical capability."

These networks will enable researchers from the University of California at San Diego to remotely acquire and process tomographic data from a sophisticated electron microscope at the University of Osaka in Japan. Researchers from the Moscow Engineering and Physics Institute and Oak Ridge National Laboratory will use these networks for cooperative training in nuclear materials protection, control and accounting. Collaboration between researchers at Brookhaven National Laboratory and the Institute of Physical and Chemical Research in Tokyo will uncover the secrets of the spin structure of the proton. Robotics laboratories at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Moscow State University will use the networks to support their programs developing robotics for use in construction and hazardous environmental restoration operations.

With its $10 million award, Indiana University and its Asia Pacific partners will establish TransPAC, from the NSF's very high-performance Backbone Network Service (vBNS) to the Asia Pacific Advanced Network (APAN). Initially this will involve networks in Japan, Korea, Singapore and Australia. The main networking infrastructure for the connection is provided by two of the world's major international carriers: AT&T and Japan's Kokusai Denshin Denwa, Co. Ltd. (KDD). Principal Investigator for the IU award is Vice President for Information Technology Michael McRobbie.

"TransPAC will enable many U.S. and Asian research partners to develop new network-based collaborations in a broad range of disciplines, including astronomy, molecular biology, high energy physics, medicine and computational science. Indiana University is pleased to be leading this effort," said Indiana University President Myles Brand.

The TransPAC connection will be co-funded by the Japan Science and Technology Corporation (JST), one of the key organizations for implementing policies of Japan's Science and Technology Agency (STA).

"TransPAC is critical to the advancement of many scientific and research collaborations between Asia Pacific institutions and U.S. colleagues, and we are most pleased that this network is operational," said JST Vice President Kazuo Saito. He also noted that such partnerships will greatly expand and enhance scientific knowledge and will contribute to the economic development of the region. JST will provide more than $6 million dollars a year to support the TransPAC circuit.

The University of Tennessee and its Russian partners (Moscow State University, the Friends & Partners Foundation, and Russian Institute of Public Networking) have established the MirNET Consortium. They will use the $4 million award to the University of Tennessee to establish a connection from the vBNS to the emerging Russian high performance networks (currently in Moscow and St. Petersburg and being expanded to Russian scientific centers in Siberia and elsewhere). Principal Investigators for this award are Joe Gipson, director of Telecommunications and Network Services and Greg Cole, director of the Center for International Networking Initiatives at the University of Tennessee.

"Improving international relations, distance learning capabilities, and opportunities for collaboration between our top scientists and educators are important priorities for our university. The MirNET program will provide new support for these priorities and complement the many initiatives the University of Tennessee has developed with Russia over the last five years," said University of Tennessee President Joseph Johnson.

The Ministry of Science and Technologies of the Russian Federation is co-sponsoring the MirNET effort with a $2.5 million commitment for the life of the project. Among other responsibilities, the ministry promotes and manages international science and technology links, such as the MirNET infrastructure, to support an increase of international collaborative activity.

The TransPAC and MirNET networks will both connect to the vBNS through the Science, Technology and Research Transit Access Point (STAR TAP) in Chicago, Illinois. The vBNS, begun in 1995, is a federal investment of $50 million in a five-year project with MCI Telecommunications Corporation. University connections to this sophisticated network are evaluated by a peer review process and approved based on scientific and technical merit. Expected to remain several steps ahead of commercially available networking, the vBNS currently runs at 622 million bits per second and has begun a transition to operation at 2.4 gigabits per second (2400 Mbps).

Launched in 1997, the STAR TAP anchors the vBNS international connections program and is a persistent proving ground for international high-performance networking. A significant number of high performance international research and education networks now connect to U.S. networks at the STAR TAP, and several new connections will be made before year's end.

Editors: For More Information, See:

Attachment: List Of Institutions Participating In TransPAC And MirNET Connections

Institutions Participating In Transpac And Mirnet

NSF is an independent federal agency responsible for fundamental research in all non-medical fields of science and engineering, with an annual budget of about $3.3 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states, through grants to more than 2,000 universities and institutions nationwide. NSF education programs in science, mathematics and engineering account for about 20% of the agency's budget. http://www.nsf.gov

Indiana University is one of the oldest state universities in the Midwest and is also one of the largest universities in the U.S., with more than 100,000 students, faculty and staff on eight campuses. IU was also recently selected to host the network operations center for Abilene, an Internet2 backbone network for research and education, announced by Vice President Al Gore earlier this year. http://www.indiana.edu

The Japan Science and Technology Corporation (JST) was established through the integration of two corporations: The Japan Information Center of Science and Technology (JICST) established in 1957, and the Research Development Corporation of Japan (JRDC) established in 1961. JST is responsible for developing an environment to enhance and promote science and technology through information dissemination and exchange. JST also activates and promotes advanced and creative research and development projects such as TransPAC. http://www.jst.go.jp

The Science and Technology Agency (STA) was established in 1956 to support Japan's science and technology administrative structure. Since then, STA has been planning, formulating, and implementing basic science and technology policies, and coordinating those policies developed by other administrative bodies. In addition, the agency has been advancing large-scale projects dealing with atomic energy, space and ocean development, and has been encouraging research and development in various pioneering fields of science and technology, including earth sciences, disaster prevention, special materials, life sciences and aeronautical technology. http://www.sta.go.jp

The University of Tennessee-Knoxville founded in 1794, is Tennessee's state university and land-grant institution. It serves more than 25,000 students in 15 academic colleges and schools and is a Carnegie One research university with close ties to Oak Ridge National Laboratory. http://www.utk.edu

The Ministry of Science and Technologies of the Russian Federation is responsible for devising state science and technology policy, identifying priority areas for research and development, and coordinating R&D efforts with national objectives. The federation stimulates scientific activity, promotes legal and organizational support to facilitate the transfer of important scientific achievements and technologies to private industry, and develops plans for central support and funding of national S&T programs.

STAR TAP launched in 1997 is a three-year project to establish a persistent infrastructure to facilitate the long-term interconnection and interoperability of advanced international networking in support of applications, performance measuring and technology evaluations. It is funded by a $1.2 million NSF grant and maintained through a partnership among the University of Illinois at Chicago, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), Argonne National Laboratory and Ameritech Advanced Data Services. http://www.startap.net

AT&T Corp. is the world's premier voice and data communications company, serving more than 80 million customers, including consumers, businesses and government. With annual revenues of more than $51 billion and 119,000 employees, AT&T provides services to more than 280 countries and territories around the world. AT&T runs the world's largest, most powerful long-distance network and the largest wireless network in North America. The company is a leading supplier of data and Internet services for businesses and the nation's largest direct Internet service provider to consumers. http://www.att.com

Kokusai Denshin Denwa, Co. Ltd. is Japan's major communication services company, providing international telephone services to 232 countries and territories around the world. KDD owns and operates practically all the optical fiber submarine cables connecting Japan to the world. In addition, KDD is now constructing the so-called Japan Information Highway, a 100 gigabit fiber ring encircling Japan using the state-of-the-art WDM technology, to be ready for service early next year. KDD is the pioneer of the Internet in Japan, having been involved in Internet development from as early as 1983. http://www.kdd.com

Media contact:
Beth Gaston, NSF Public Affairs
(703) 306-1070

Karen Adams, Indiana University
(812) 856-5596

John Clark, University of Tennessee
(423) 974-2255

Program contact:
Steve Goldstein
(703) 306-1949
Teleglobe is recognized as a world leader in the intercontinental telecommunications industry. The Teleglobe network includes submarine cable and satellite facilities linking North America with 240 countries and territories, meeting the global connectivity needs of established and emerging wireline and wireless carriers from around the world, as well as those of Internet service providers, multinational corporations and broadcasters. http://www.teleglobe.com

National Science Foundation

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