Bell Atlantic Chairman Ray Smith touts impact of 'Next Generation Internet' project

Federal grant program will fuel bold experiments needed to inspire networks of tomorrow, CEO says.

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ARLINGTON, Va. -- The federal program to fund super-fast Internet hook-ups between universities and national research labs and to support bold experiments using these networks will help draw the blueprint for "the world to come," according to Raymond W. Smith, chairman and CEO of Bell Atlantic.

Smith, a leading proponent of networked information as a foundation for all kinds of interpersonal commerce, added his endorsement to the Next Generation Internet Initiative being spearheaded by the Clinton administration's National Coordination Office for Computing, Information and Communications.

Smith's endorsement coincides with the announcement Tuesday by Bell Atlantic and the State of West Virginia that they will build a versatile $20 million network linking government agencies, colleges and universities, schools and not-for-profit health care providers. The WEST VIRGINIA 2001 will employ Bell Atlantic's asynchronous transfer mode (ATM) cell relay service to consolidate voice, data and video services on single phone lines at extremely high speeds.

"The Internet is the most important development in mass communications in our time," Smith said. "It is a major driver of economic growth in the United States and around the globe.

"The President described the Net as 'our new town square, changing the way we live, the way we work and the way we learn.' We at Bell Atlantic endorse the initiative and look forward to the world to come," Smith said.

Using NGI grants, links up to 1,000 times faster than today's Internet will be built between universities and research centers. Additional grants will support development of technologies that apply that kind of capacity and experiments in putting the technologies to work. Grants will fund experiments in distance education, health care applications, environmental monitoring, manufacturing engineering, national security and various research projects.

Bell Atlantic continues to experiment with transmission and switching technologies applicable to Internet activity, leading up to what some people are calling Internet 2. The company has developed a number of high-speed, intra-campus network applications now being tested, including one at Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

"Bell Atlantic's broadband area network deployment is establishing a foundation to help bring Internet 2 to life even today with projects like WEST VIRGINIA 2001 and Net.Work.Virginia," said Diane Gongaware, Bell Atlantic vice president-sales. The ATM technology used in both networks is a natural for information retrieval because it allows vast amounts of data to flow toward a customer while lesser amounts of information, generally to guide or control the inflow, flows "upstream" through the network.

"There are virtually no limits to what researchers -- and ultimately, end-users -- can do with transmission capacities that are orders of magnitude greater than what we have today," she said. "Networking experimenters together, through the Next Generation Internet Initiative, is an exciting and important step that will allow them to begin to devise the applications that will one day be commonplace."

Gongaware noted that the Internet began as a university and government communications experiment that grew to the network it is today because of the innovations and experimentation of many individuals in all segments of society.

The NGI Initiative, launched last year by the Clinton administration, will rely on $100 million in funds budgeted for 1998. It will be guided by various agencies, including the National Science Foundation, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Department of Energy, National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the National Institutes of Health.

The new Bell Atlantic - formed through the merger of Bell Atlantic and NYNEX - is at the forefront of the new communications, information and entertainment industry. With 40 million telephone access lines and 5.5 million wireless customers worldwide, Bell Atlantic companies are premier providers of advanced wireline voice and data services, market leaders in wireless services and the world's largest publishers of directory information. Bell Atlantic companies are also among the world's largest investors in high-growth global communications markets, with operations and investments in 21 countries.

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