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BBN to operate NEARnet

Bolt Beranek and Newman Inc., Boston University, Harvard University, and MIT jointly have announced that BBN Technology Services Inc. (BBNTSI) has assumed responsibility for the activities of the New England Academic and Research Network (NEARnet), effective July 1. BBNTSI is a wholly owned subsidiary of BBN that was recently formed to offer NEARnet services.

NEARnet is a data network service enabling users to exchange electronic mail and access remote computing resources, databases, and information on the Internet, a worldwide communications internetwork. Organizations connecting to NEARnet become NEARnet members, with access to technical and user seminars, on-line discussion groups, publications and newsletters about networking topics, and more. Members also have access to a staff of experts to help solve problems and answer questions.

The NEARnet service was created by BU, Harvard and MIT in 1989 to support the research and academic communities, and to strengthen the regional competitiveness of New England. Operated by BBN since 1989, NEARnet is a self-funded regional network connecting with networks serving other regions to form the Internet. NEARnet has grown from less than 10 members in the Boston area to more than 200 members throughout the six New England states.

NEARnet's success is due in large part to the participation of users in the Steering, Planning, and Technical Committees, each of which will continue its function. Individuals from the NEARnet community-James Bruce of MIT, Stephen Hall of Harvard, and John Porter of Boston University-have been named to the BBNTSI Board of Directors, which also includes Frank Heart and Alexander McKenzie from BBN. BBNTSI officers include Richard Edmiston, president, and John Rugo, vice president.

"BBNTSI is the next logical step in NEARnet's evolution," Professor Bruce said. A cooperative agreement among the universities in 1989 appointed MIT to manage the project, and required that MIT establish a contract with a facility operator for NEARnet. BBN was subsequently selected to operate NEARnet. According to Harvard's Stephen Hall, "BBN has successfully established NEARnet as the premier regional network in the United States, setting operations standards for the Internet community. The expansion of membership into the commercial sector and the growth of the commercial use of the network has brought us to the point where it makes sense for a commercial firm to offer the NEARnet service." BU's John Porter emphasized that "this next stage is important for the continued growth of the network in a manner which is responsive to the needs of NEARnet's member organizations."

Stephen Levy, chairman and chief executive officer of BBN, stated, "BBN is extremely pleased with the development of the NEARnet community in New England and with our participation in that effort. We at BBN view data networking as an exciting and vital business area, and are committed to continued development of NEARnet."

Headquartered in Cambridge, Bolt Beranek and Newman Inc. concentrates on creating and applying advanced networking and software technologies. BBN conducts its business in three areas: building systems, including communications networks and undersea surveillance systems; developing and marketing products, including network products and data analysis software; and performing contract research and development in computer, communications, and acoustics technologies. For its fiscal year ended June 30, 1992, BBN had sales of $258 million.

A version of this article appeared in the July 14, 1993 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 38, Number 1).

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