Budget cuts jeopardize NGI

The Energy Department continues to bolster the Clinton administration's

initiative to build a faster Internet by providing its own funding, but

Congress' decision not to provide specific NGI funding to DOE in fiscal

2000 may be detrimental to all agency NGI projects.

DOE had used the Next Generation Internet (NGI) funding to provide grants

to universities to support research for the Energy Sciences Network (ESNet),

which is one of the five networks that will make up NGI.

Agencies involved in the NGI program have relied on discoveries made

by the universities, but DOE's funding cut will result in a reduction on

such research. "Technology we were looking at for 2000 and 2001 probably

won't be developed," said Kenneth Freeman, associate director of NGI at

NASA's Ames Research Center.

Nevertheless, NGI will move forward thanks to DOE's December award of a

$50 million contract to Qwest Communications International Inc. to upgrade

and replace ESNet. Qwest will build a network capable of transmitting more

than 1 trillion bits of data per second.

NGI is a multi-agency R&D program established in 1997 to kick-start

the development of network technology and applications. DOE, the Defense

Advanced Research Projects Agency, NASA, the National Science Foundation,

the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Standards

and Technology have been working on NGI.

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