Table of Contents Implementations
TCP/IP Tutorial and Technical Overview

1.4 Future

The long-term view described in the United States Federal High Performance Computing and Communications (HPCC) Program indicates that all the Internet networks will be absorbed into the National Research and Education Network (NREN).

The High Performance Computing Act of 1991 was signed into law in the United States in December 1991. This bill allocated to the NREN approximately US $100 million per year for the next five years.

The NREN network is being developed to provide distributed computing capability to research and educational institutions and to further advanced research on very high-speed networks and applications.

NREN has already scheduled the integration, coordinated by the NSF, of the DoD's Defense Research Internet (DRI), NSFNet, NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) Science Internet (NSI) and Department of Energy (DOE) Energy Science Network (ESnet).

The NREN program specifies a three-phase project coordinated by the DARPA to increase data transmission speeds to 3 Gbps (gigabits per second) over the next 10 to 15 years. The program also includes the exploration of pricing mechanisms for network services and applications and the initiation of a structured transition to commercial service.

In August 1992, under the NREN program, the DOE awarded a five-year, US $50 million contract for high-speed public switched Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) services to Sprint Corporation. Under this contract, Sprint Corporation will provide the DOE and NASA with ATM service at 45 Mbps (T3) speed. Livermore, California was an initial test site, with more sites added in 1993. Soon after, 15 DOE sites and 11 NASA sites were added to the production network.

At this time, the evolution of the NREN program towards high-speed networking is well advanced. It would be useful at this stage to describe the infrastructure of this developing high-speed network.

The Network Access Point (NAP) is a critical interchange in the new Internet architecture. A number of organizations have been selected by the National Science Foundation to operate the NAPs. Among these organizations are:

The Network Service Provider (NSP) is a provider of Internet services that qualifies to receive regional connectivity funding from NSF. This means that the NSP must connect to the three primary NAPs in California, Chicago and New York (see above). Among these organizations are:

In addition, there are a number of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) who do not qualify for the NSF regional connectivity funding. Among these organizations are:

A Routing Arbitor (RA) is an NSF funded organization that provides routing information at each NAP. A Routing Arbiter Database is maintained at on the World Wide Web.

The NAPs are currently providing high-speed services based upon ATM, frame relay and FDDI to the NSPs and ISPs. For more information on ATM, Frame Relay and other high-speed networking technologies refer to the next section.

More information on selected NAPs is available via the World Wide Web at and at

1.4.1 Future - High-Speed Networking

The future of NREN is influenced at least partially by advances in high-speed networking technology. We summarize here several emerging technologies and standards:

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