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NSF Press Release


NSF PR 03-123 - October 23, 2003

Media contact:

 David Hart

 (703) 292-7737

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 Joseph Evans

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 Kevin Thompson

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NSF Announces Awards to Develop Network Testbeds for Cybersecurity, Next-Generation Wireless and E-Science

ARLINGTON, Va.—The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently made 23 awards for 11 projects that will develop networking testbeds for research into cybersecurity, next-generation wireless and optical networking and leading-edge scientific applications. These testbeds will let researchers push new networking technologies to the breaking point and beyond, paving the way for a more reliable Internet of tomorrow.

"Fundamental networking research has an essential role in advancing the country's digital and physical infrastructure," said NSF's Mari Maeda, acting division director for Advanced Networking Infrastructure and Research. "These testbed projects demonstrate how NSF contributes both to cutting-edge research and the next-generation networks we will depend on in our daily lives." Through NSF support, the testbeds, once deployed, will be open to experiments by networking researchers from other institutions.

To enhance the country's cyber-defenses, the University of California (UC), Berkeley, and the University of Southern California (USC) will deploy a large-scale testbed for experimenting with methods to protect networks against computer worms, viruses, denials of service and other cyber attacks. The attacks can be unleashed on the testbed without threatening the security of operational networks.

A companion project led by researchers at Pennsylvania State University, UC Davis, Purdue University and the International Computer Science Institute will develop scenarios for testing and evaluating proposed defense systems. To support these efforts, NSF collaborated with the Department of Homeland Security, which is co-funding a portion of $10.8 million awarded to these two projects.

The explosion of "wi-fi" networking, from coffee-shop hotspots to scientific networks of remote wireless sensors, is changing the dynamics of what used to be a primarily wired Internet. NSF has made awards to deploy five testbeds where researchers can develop technologies for next-generation wireless networks.

The testbeds will provide opportunities to benchmark new wireless protocols, evaluate prototype hardware and examine emerging issues such as interference and efficient spectrum usage. These five testbed efforts each target a different aspect of wireless networking and are led by scientists at UCLA, Rutgers University, MIT, the University of Kansas, and the Stevens Institute of Technology.

While wi-fi networking has emerged as a key technology for getting on-line, the links for network backbones and leading-edge scientific applications require the blazing performance of wired, optical networks. The $6.7 million DRAGON testbed, deployed by the University of Maryland, USC and George Mason University, will advance networking architecture research and bring about the intelligent control of optical transport networks.

A $3.5 million optical testbed deployed by the University of Virginia, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the City University of New York's City College and North Carolina State University will allow development and testing of cutting-edge science applications.

For networking research that requires the most realistic networked environments, two additional projects totaling $8.8 million will support ongoing testbed activities. In the first such project, the University of Utah and the University of Wisconsin, Madison, will link Utah's Netbed and the Wisconsin Advanced Internet Laboratory in a testbed that can emulate more than 150,000 wired and wireless connections between tiny wireless sensors, personal computers, routers and high-end computing clusters.

The second ongoing testbed activity, PlanetLab, is being supported by NSF awards to Princeton University, the University of Washington and UC Berkeley PlanetLab is a worldwide network "overlay" that runs on top of, but doesn't disrupt, existing networks and lets networking researchers conduct experiments at the scale of, and with the unpredictable behavior of, the global Internet.


The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering, with an annual budget of nearly $5.3 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives about 30,000 competitive requests for funding, and makes about 10,000 new funding awards. The NSF also awards over $200 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

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