Thoughts on the National Research and Education Network
RFC 1167

Document Type RFC - Informational (July 1990; No errata)
Author Vinton Cerf 
Last updated 2013-03-02
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Network Working Group                                            V. Cerf
Request for Comments: 1167                                          CNRI
                                                               July 1990


Status of this Memo

   The memo provides a brief outline of a National Research and
   Education Network (NREN).  This memo provides information for the
   Internet community.  It does not specify any standard.  It is not a
   statement of IAB policy or recommendations.

   Distribution of this memo is unlimited.


   This contribution seeks to outline and call attention to some of the
   major factors which will influence the form and structure of a
   National Research and Education Network (NREN).  It is implicitly
   assumed that the system will emerge from the existing Internet.


   The author gratefully acknowledges support from the National Science
   Foundation, The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the
   Department of Energy and the National Aeronautics and Space
   Administration through cooperative agreement NCR-8820945.  The author
   also acknowledges helpful comments from colleagues Ira Richer, Barry
   Leiner, Hans-Werner Braun and Robert Kahn.  The opinions expressed in
   this paper are the personal opinions of the author and do not
   represent positions of the U.S. Government, the Corporation for
   National Research Initiatives or of the Internet Activities Board.
   In fact, the author isn't sure he agrees with everything in the
   paper, either!


   The expression "national research and education network" is taken to
   mean "the U.S. National Research and Education Network" in the
   material which follows.  It is implicitly assumed that similar
   initiatives may arise in other countries and that a kind of Global
   Research and Education Network may arise out of the existing
   international Internet system.  However, the primary focus of this
   paper is on developments in the U.S.

Cerf                                                            [Page 1]
RFC 1167                          NREN                         July 1990


   1. The NREN in the U.S. will evolve from the existing Internet base.
   By implication, the U.S. NREN will have to fit into an international
   environment consisting of a good many networks sponsored or owned and
   operated by non-U.S. organizations around the world.

   2. There will continue to be special-purpose and mission-oriented
   networks sponsored by the U.S. Government which will need to link
   with, if not directly support, the NREN.

   3. The basic technical networking architecture of the system will
   include local area networks, metropolitan, regional and wide-area
   networks.  Some nets will be organized to support transit traffic and
   others will be strictly parasitic.

   4. Looking towards the end of the decade, some of the networks may be
   mobile (digital, cellular).  A variety of technologies may be used,
   including, but not limited to, high speed Fiber Data Distribution
   Interface (FDDI) nets, Distributed-Queue Dual Bus (DQDB) nets,
   Broadband Integrated Services Digital Networks (B-ISDN) utilizing
   Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) switching fabrics as well as
   conventional Token Ring, Ethernet and other IEEE 802.X technology.
   Narrowband ISDN and X.25 packet switching technology network services
   are also likely play a role along with Switched Multi-megabit Data
   Service (SMDS) provided by telecommunications carriers.  It also
   would be fair to ask what role FTS-2000 might play in the system, at
   least in support of government access to the NREN, and possibly in
   support of national agency network facilities.

   5. The protocol architecture of the system will continue to exhibit a
   layered structure although the layering may vary from the present-day
   Internet and planned Open Systems Interconnection structures in some

   6. The system will include servers of varying kinds required to
   support the general operation of the system (for example, network
   management facilities, name servers of various types, email, database
   and other kinds of information servers, multicast routers,
   cryptographic certificate servers) and collaboration support tools
   including video/teleconferencing systems and other "groupware"
   facilities.  Accounting and access control mechanisms will be

   7. The system will support multiple protocols on an end to end basis.
   At the least, full TCP/IP and OSI protocol stacks will be supported.
   Dealing with Connectionless and Connection-Oriented Network Services
   in the OSI area is an open issue (transport service bridges and

Cerf                                                            [Page 2]
RFC 1167                          NREN                         July 1990
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