Deal extends supercomputing access

The National Science Foundation and MCI WorldCom have agreed to continue

operating the system that provides advanced supercomputing to universities

and government agencies until at least 2003 at no cost to NSF.

The very high performance Backbone Network System (vBNS) connects 94 U.S.

universities to other research institutions at speeds up to 2.4 gigabits/sec.

Universities with access to vBNS gain access to NSF resources through the

agency's Partnerships for Advanced Computational Infrastructure program,

according to NSF. The vBNS also provides advanced connectivity to other

U.S. research networks, such as the Energy Department's ESNET and the NASA

Research and Education Network.

The original agreement with MCI ran from April 1995 to March 31, 2000. NSF

paid MCI $10 million per year during that time to build and manage vBNS,

according to NSF. MCI, which owns the vBNS infrastructure, will continue

to provide vBNS service for three more years at no cost to NSF.

Universities can still purchase MCI services on the network under existing

contracts at the prices provided in the original agreement.

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