The greatest of faults, I should say, is to be conscious of none. - Thomas Carlyle 1975-1881

"STAR TAP -- Science, Technology And Research Transit Access Point -- is a persistent infrastructure, funded by the National Science Foundation CISE Networking and Communications Research and Infrastructure division, to facilitate the long-term interconnection and interoperability of advanced international networking in support of applications, performance measuring, and technology evaluations. The STAR TAP anchors the international vBNS connections program." [from the STAR TAP WWW site]

STAR TAP provides layer 2 ATM services based on service provided by Ameritech Advanced Data Services. It acts as a transient point for international connectivity. As such, all connections to STAR TAP are ATM-switched to other networks, including vBNS and other HPIIS networks.

STAR TAP is built on top of Metropolitan Research and Education Network (MREN) that is implemented on the same ATM switch infrastructure as MREN and Ameritech NAP. It currently has connections to:

  • vBNS OC-12
  • ESnet OC-3 (shared with NREN)
  • NREN OC-3 (shared with ESnet)
  • CANARIE 45Mbps (OC-3 coming soon)
  • SINGAREN 12 Mbps (45Mbps coming soon)

All incoming connections at STAR TAP are terminated at an ATM switch at Ameritech Central Office in Chicago. The topology of the STAR TAP is shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: STAR TAP Topology

The existing ATM switch (Lucent) at the STAR TAP will be replaced with a Stratacom BPX ATM switch with standard capabilities of inverse-multiplexing such that coming to STAR TAP at sub-T3 rates will be easier.

Connections between peers of STAR TAP are established on a bilateral basis. As mentioned earlier, STAR TAP does not offer layer 3 connectivity although this is to be added at a later time.

Traffic characteristics from the Lucent ATM switch is published every 5 minutes on secure web pages to members while public statistics web pages are updated daily. Per port statistics are being gathered at the current time and per VP/VC statistics gathering and publishing is under consideration.

Although STAR TAP is not a research network, it is offering extraordinary effort in making interconnectivity work. Experiences gained in this process will be shared with the networking community in establishing such a site in the future and improving on this model. STAR TAP will install and develop tools and technology in enhancing this network connectivity. It will work with all connected parties to integrate new technologies and services such as IPv6 and RSVP.

Organizations responsible for managing and implementing STAR TAP are

  • Electronic Visualization Laboratory
  • University of Illinois at Chicago
  • National Center for Supercomputing Applications
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Argonne National Laboratory
  • Ameritech Advanced Data Services

with commercial partner Teleglobe that is volunteering time and technology to STAR TAP.

Visit STAR TAP's website at

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Updated: 1999-09-

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