But today, some 15 million Americas (a conservative estimate) log on to the Internet every day.1 With the amount of traffic generated by so many users, the information superhighway sometimes slows down to a virtual crawl.
In response, the government has set aside $12.3 million to begin building a next generation Internet. Known as vBNS (very-high-speed backbone network service), this system would connect colleges at speeds 100 to 1,000 times faster than today's Internet. As an example of how much information could be sent over this new network, advocates say that when the vBNS is completed, they will be able to transfer the equivalent of 30 volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica in ... three seconds.
Sixty-four institutions have been given part of that money to connect to the vBNS, which has been nicknamed "Internet II." The money was awarded in the form of a grant from the National Science Foundation. Universities such as Dartmouth, Harvard and Johns Hopkins, and a number of schools in the University of California system, will participate in the network.
The project will take three years and cost about $300 million to build. It will be designed and constructed by companies such as MCI, General Electric and Lucent Technologies. For more information on the vBNS, visit the Next Generation Internet Project at http://www.ngi.gov.
1. UCI hooking up to Internet
2. Orange County Register, May 25, 1997;B10.