Digest for September 21, 1998


Dear Friends,

With this special issue of the digest, Friends and Partners would like to 
announce an exciting new project designed to encourage closer collaboration 
between scientists and educators of the US and Russia.

In Washington, DC this morning (September 21), US National Science 
Foundation Director Rita Colwell announced a $4 million, five-year award to 
The University of Tennessee to establish the new MirNET initiative -- a 
high speed "next generation" Internet link between the US and Russian 
scientific communities.  The Russian Ministry of Science and Technology is 
providing $2.5 million in matching funds over the life of this new project.

During the past year, we have been working with colleagues at the 
University of Tennessee, the Russian Institute of Public Networks, Moscow 
State University, the National Science Foundation, Ameritech, and Teleglobe 
to develop this program.  The five-year program will enable a new 
generation of network-based applications between Russian and American 
scientists and educators.

With this new link, it will be possible to engage in many shared activities 
that have never before been possible.  Examples include remotely 
controlling and monitoring scientific instruments, using new data 
visualization and teleimmersion technologies, transmitting high-speed 
medical imagery as well as enabling remote medical diagnosis and 
consultation, transmitting massive amounts of information that formerly 
required the physical shipment of magnetic media, establishing virtual 
parallel computing facilities distributed over thousands of miles, and many 
others.  It will also be possible (even simple) for the first time ever to 
economically engage in distance learning activities -- including classroom 
to classroom instruction, seminars, and high quality multi-point remote 
video conferencing.  In short, the new applications made possible and 
supported by MirNET are the applications of tomorrow's Internet.  Former 
constraints of distance and the prohibitive cost of high bandwidth 
communications will become ever smaller factors in determining the nature 
of future collaboration between citizens of our countries.

Initial use of the link will be restricted to academic/scientific 
institutions and to meritorious applications (those that could not be 
accomplished with current "Internet1" infrastructure).  Over the course of 
the next five years, Friends and Partners will be working with its partners 
in the US and Russia to grow the capacity of this link from its starting 
point of 6 Mbps to capacities of from 45-155 Mbps and to develop a means of 
supporting the project long-term.  We intend to grow this program into one 
capable of supporting a broad range of collaborative activities.

MirNET is described in much more detail at the new MirNET WWW site which is 
available in the US and Russia at the F&P host sites:

        http://www.friends-partners.org/friends/mirnet/ (US site)

        http://www.friends-partners.ru/friends/mirnet/ (Russia site)

There is also an email listserver you can join to be kept apprised of new 
MirNET developments.

The $4 million five year NSF Cooperative Agreement has been officially 
awarded to the University of Tennessee and was formally announced today; 
this award covers costs for the trans-Atlantic telecommunications costs and 
US-based operational expenses.  We are currently working with Teleglobe and 
with partners in Moscow to establish the physical link between Moscow and 
Chicago.  The trans-Atlantic portion of the link (funded by the NSF) is to 
be carried on submarine fiber from New York to Blaajberg, Denmark.  The 
trans-Europe/Russian portion will be carried on fiber from Blaajberg to 
Moscow.  The Russian Ministry of Science and Technology is funding the 
expense of the Eastern portion of the telecommunications link.  We intend 
to have initial traffic flowing on the link by November 15, 1998.

While the project is only beginning and we have an enormous amount of work 
to do before MirNET begins to deliver on its promises, there are many 
individuals and organizations who have made it possible to come this far - 
and whom we would now like to thank.

In particular we would like to thank Dr.  Jerry Fryxell, formerly with the 
University of Tennessee, for inspiring our confidence to develop the 
program and for helping us with the initial proposal.  Hai Li, Terry Moore 
and Micah Beck played a big role in developing the initial proposal; Ed 
Mahon kept the proposal alive and on-track during its early days.

Dr.  Alexei Platonov, Director of the Russian Institute of Public Networks 
and Dr.  Valerii Vasenin, Deputy Vice Rector of Moscow State University 
have been the earliest supporters of this effort in Russia and are now 
working with Natasha on the project from Moscow.  Joe Gipson, Director of 
Telecommunications and Network Services from the University of Tennessee 
and long time friend and supporter of Friends and Partners is serving as 
co-PI with Greg on the US side of the project.  Homer Fisher and Bill 
Snyder, UT Senior Vice President and UTK Chancellor (respectively), have 
been strong supporters of this effort and of the entire Friends and 
Partners project since its beginning at the University of Tennessee many 
years ago; we owe them an enormous debt of gratitude for their years of 
steady support.  Tom Garritano is another very special UT friend of ours 
and of our F&P activities; we benefit often from Tom's support and advice.

Of course, we could (and would) accomplish nothing without the excellent 
folks we have the privilege of working with every day in our offices.  To 
Angie, Ellee, Evgeny, Josh, Rebecca, Sonya, Tanya - thank you for what you 
do every day to support Friends and Partners.

We would like to offer thanks to Ameritech Advanced Data Services and to 
Andy Schmidt in particular for his keen interest in and support of this 
project; we will continue working with Andy on STAR TAP connectivity.  And 
a very special thanks to Bob Collet, Vice President of Teleglobe, USA whom 
we have begun working with to put into place the trans-Atlantic link.  We 
are also grateful to Tom DeFanti and Maxine Brown of the STAR TAP facility 
in Chicago; we have the pleasure of working with Tom and Maxine on 
activities related to global next generation Internet development through 
the STAR TAP and its new policy advisory board.

Most importantly, we want to thank the individuals and organizations whose 
vision and resources are making this project possible.  In particular, V.V. 
Nichkov and N. Gusev of the Russian Ministry of Science and Technology who 
have supported the idea of MirNET from its early beginnings over a year 
ago.  We wish to thank the many others within the Russian Ministry and 
within the Russian Academy of Sciences who have supported the development 
of MirNET.

We do not know how to adequately express our gratitude to the National 
Science Foundation and especially to Dr.  Steve Goldstein, our Program 
Officer on the NSF grant.  Steve and his colleague Don Mitchell are a part 
of the original NSF team which guided the development of the Internet from 
its early beginnings as an academic/research network to the Internet we all 
know and use today.  They have been pushing for many years for important 
and often difficult programs involving international connections and are 
largely responsible for the fact that our Internet is a truly global 
network which makes efforts such as our own Friends and Partners possible.  
It is a very special irony that this same global network -- developed from 
technologies designed from the Cold War separating our countries years ago 
-- is now being used with much success to bring folks from around the world 
together.  There is no better tribute we can pay to Steve, Don and their 
colleagues than that they have made all this possible.  It is a great 
privilege to know and be able to work with such people and it is a very 
special gift to us to consider them good friends.

To questions regarding the relevance of projects like F&P and MirNET at 
such times of difficulty and turmoil in both countries - we can only offer 
that furthering such basic infrastructure - human and organizational 
relationships and the communications networks which enable and sustain them 
- becomes an even more important goal and motivation for us.

We hope that the new staff and resources of this project and the momentum 
which we hope to build will allow us to do a better job with all elements 
of our Friends and Partners activities.  Natasha and I consider it a 
wonderful privilege to be able to serve this community and hope that we 
will yet be able to do a better job.  It has been nearly five years since 
we started; we are more committed and more determined than ever to help 
more citizens of Russia, the US, and other countries use new communications 
technologies to better understand and learn from each other; ultimately, to 
better live and work together.

Please let us know if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions on 
this new MirNET project or on any of the other services that we are trying 
to provide with Friends and Partners.  Thanks for your continued interest 
and support!

P.S. please visit the F&P site at the following locations:

        http://www.friends-partners.org/friends/ (US site)

        http://www.friends-partners.ru/friends/ (Russia site)