Historic moment on the Internet

Fri Dec 11 09:36:00 CST 1992

Wednesday, December 2, 1992
National Science Foundation Network achieves major milestone
T-1 NSFNET now part of Internet history

(Wednesday, Dec. 2) Like it's predecessors, the ARPANET and
the 56 Kbps National Science Foundation Network (NSFNET), the
T-1 NSFNET passed into history today when the last router was
moved to connect to the T-3 backbone service. As of 12:01
a.m. EST on Wednesday, December 2, the T-1 NSFNET backbone is
no more--its circuits are turned off--marking the beginning of
a new networking era.

When first implemented just over four years ago, the T-1
(1.5 Mbps) NSFNET backbone was state-of-the-art for the
Internet, deploying new levels of speed and management. With
improvements in routing technology, the Internet moved from
an experimental service to a production commodity. Demands
for higher speed services and increasing backbone traffic led
to the T-3 (45 Mbps) backbone service implemented over the
Advanced Network & Services, Inc. Network (ANSnet) that has
replaced the older T-1 NSFNET technology. The growth of
NSFNET promoted a global internetworking industry estimated
as generating billions of dollars in annual revenues.

In five years, the communications capacity of NSFNET has
expanded almost 700 times through the implementation of
leading-edge technologies, growing from 56 Kbps to T-3. Today
the network's backbone service carries data at the equivalent
of 1,400 pages of single-spaced, typed text per second. This
means the information in a 20-volume encyclopedia can be sent
across the network in under 23 seconds!

Today every major research, graduate, and four-year
university is tied together through NSFNET, along with
private and federal research institutions and industries.
Over 700 colleges and universities are connected representing
80 percent of the nation's student population and 90 percent
of the nation's federally sponsored research. Further, NSFNET
provides access to hundreds of high schools, libraries,
community colleges, and smaller educational institutions.
With over 1,000 public and private research and education
institutions, NSFNET links an estimated 10 million users. As
the commercial Internet has grown, links are expanding
between education and business communities which are promoted
through expanding connectivity.

Access to the network over the past five years has
surpassed the most optimistic visions projected for it. The
National Science Foundation's 1987 solicitation for NSFNET
said, "It is anticipated that over the next five years NSFNET
will reach more than 10,000 mathematicians, scientists, and
engineers at 200 or more campuses and other research
centers." After five years, these numbers have been more than
exceeded and network growth continues to be exponential.

A reflection of that growth is network traffic. Total
NSFNET traffic grew from 195 million packets in August 1988
to almost 24 billion in November 1992, a 100-fold increase in
four years. During November, the network reached its first
billion-packet-a-day mark. Network growth increases an
averages of 11 percent per month. The total number of
connected networks grew from fewer than 200 to over 7,500, of
which one-third are outside the United States. Today NSFNET
makes it possible to reach educators and researchers in over
75 countries around the world. Recent surveys show over a
million host computers are connected to the Internet, with an
even greater number of individual users accessing those

Meeting the challenges of building the central
infrastructure for this high-speed data communications
network has been the focus of a joint government, academic,
and industrial partnership for the past five years. Merit
Network, Inc., in association with Advanced Network &
Services, Inc. (ANS), IBM, MCI, and the State of Michigan,
has led pioneering efforts to put in place a national network
service through a 1987 cooperative agreement with the
National Science Foundation. The partnership deployed the T-1
network on schedule in July 1988, and began the T-3 network
service implemented over ANSnet in late 1990.

"The T-1 NSFNET project has been a remarkable adventure,"
said Stephen S. Wolff, director of the National Science
Foundation's Division of Networking and Communications
Research and Infrastructure (DNCRI). "It's an experiment
whose success goes far beyond even the highest hopes we had
for it. Because of this program, it's now conceivable that
the U. S. can implement a network connecting every student
and teacher in the country--from kindergarten to post-college--
before the end of the century, revolutionizing education and
research. Five years ago, this seemed only a very distant

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