NSF backs next-gen Internet plans

The National Science Foundation is now funding an Internet pioneer to develop requirements for the next version of the Internet.

David Clark, senior research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and chairman of the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board, said his yearlong preliminary study for a new Internet architecture is a small part of NSF's next big vision. But it marks NSF's first step toward the broader mission of developing the next Internet, said Clark, who has been an important figure in the development of the Internet since the mid-1970s.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which funded the first iteration of the Internet, used to focus on academic computer science research. However, DARPA now supports advanced weapons systems development more than some forms of basic research, and NSF is shouldering more of the computer science responsibility, said Guru Parulkar, NSF program director.

NSF has funded some networking research within its Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering since 1986.

During the next year, following the requirements of his Small Grant for Exploratory Research, Clark will work to answer the question: If you could design the Internet from scratch, would you do anything differently?

His answer, as of this week: Make it secure.

"I don't want to have a sudden meltdown, blackout or have the Internet used as a vector for a widespread terrorist attack," Clark said.

He added that NSF will issue a solicitation in the fall to develop the next Internet.

NSF officials declined to comment on Clark's grant and the agency’s upcoming initiative, stating such discussions would be premature, but said there would likely be an announcement in August.

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