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TAPSCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND RESEARCH TRANSIT ACCESS POINT
a nutshell, Science, Technology and Research Transit Access Point (STAR
TAP) has become the global crossroads for advanced networks and networking
The project is nearing the end of the initial operational funding, and
NSF has renewed the project for three more years.
NSF believes STAR TAP has achieved a critical mass of connected networks
and networking specialists, and that STAR TAP's added value services will
continue to attract the contributions of many members of the networking
An Internet hub
in Chicago and operated by Ameritech Advanced Data Systems, STAR TAP is
the central location where many of the international Internet service
providers exchange traffic with each other.
Ameritech's record in keeping the switch operational without failure and
without congestion is considered superb. Because the Chicago location
employs an ATM switching "fabric,"
the result is thatnetworks
can choose to exchange traffic directly with each other via the switch
without having to use common pathways of other networks.
In short, other networks'
traffic will not congest the exchange medium and burden traffic.
for international matters, there is an even greater benefit: national
networks' choices to peer with each other are strictly bilateral decisions,
free from policy constraints that could otherwise be imposed by the hosting
For example, if France's Reanter 2 chooses to exchange traffic directly
with Taiwan's Tanet 2, neither NSF, Ameritech nor anybody else other than
France and Taiwan is involved in that decision or in deciding just what
kinds of traffic France and Taiwan will exchange. STAR TAP was purposely
set up that way.
Over the past two years, more than 100 universities and national laboratories
have been linked to many international premier networks through STAR TAP
through the University of Illinois-Chicago's Electronic Visualization
In summer 1998, NSF announced that it will extend STAR TAP's original
three-year grant with another $5 million award through 2003.
A proving ground
STAR TAP is a proving ground for long-term interconnection and interoperability
of advanced international networking.
Launched in 1997, it provides a universal peering point in the U.S.A.,
where international networks have formal agreements to exchange data traffic
with the NSF's very high speed Backbone Network System (VBNS) and other
advanced networks, such as Internet2's Abilene, and those of the Department
of Energy (DOE), the DOD and NASA.