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Toward A National Research Network 5 CONCLUSIONS There is a clear and urgent need for a national research network. This nation stands to gain considerably from the many direct and indirect benefits that would accrue from an NRN. The OSTP report begins to address the basic issues for an NRN, but it is silent on many important issues, especially those pertaining to the relationship between the NRN and commercial network services. (Nevertheless, the fundamental recommendation for an NRN is sound, as far as it goes.) The committee strongly endorses the NRN concept. However, there are many other technical considerations beyond those raised by OSTP. A major research effort must be initiated rapidly for the phase 3 advanced network technology, but it must take into account existing technical and administrative strengths within the computer and communications industries. Planning must consider the best sources for all of the expertise required, and it must also identify how technical leadership will be provided. Moreover, funding, management, local connectivity, and the role of commercial networks are major areas of concern to which critical attention must be paid if the NRN is to be a success. This review has touched upon only a few details of these issues. The committee has raised more questions than it has answered and believes that a major planning and evaluation effort must be launched quickly if the United States is to establish a viable and effective national research network.
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Toward A National Research Network FIGURE 1 An illustration of the proliferation of networks used by researchers worldwide. (Modified from IEEE Spectrum, Vol. 25, No. 2, February 1988, pg. 56.)
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Toward A National Research Network FIGURE 2 OSTP funding projections for the three phases of the national research network. Source: Office of Science and Technology Policy, Federal Coordinating Council for Science, Engineering, and Technology, Committee on Computer Research and Applications. A Research Development Strategy for High Performance Computing, p. 26, November, 1987.
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Toward A National Research Network This page in the original is blank.
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