WorldCom opens two new Internet peering exchanges

Two more facilities that provide backbone services for the Internet were opened Monday in Chicago and New York in a move expected to increase the speed and security of the public Internet.

WorldCom Inc., which operates five facilities around the world that are used to route and exchange data between ISPs (Internet service providers), has lit up two more facilities, said Vint Cerf, WorldCom senior vice president of architecture and technology. Cerf spoke in a conference call with media and analysts Monday.

"There's a continuing need to increase the capacity of Internet exchanges," Cerf said. "This will enhance the flow of traffic over the Internet by providing advanced alternative Internet access points."

WorldCom's Internet exchanges, known generally as NAPs (network access points), go by the name of MAE, and were first launched in 1992. MAE Chicago and MAE New York are the newest members of the family of exchanges, which are located in various U.S. locations as well as Frankfurt, Germany, and Paris. MAE originally stood for "metropolitan area exchange."

The new locations are intended to increase the security of the Internet by diversifying the geography of WorldCom's NAPs, Cerf said, noting concerns that arose after the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S. about having centralized data exchanges.

The new exchanges should also benefit Internet service providers in the Midwest and Northeast regions of the U.S. by offering NAPs that are closer geographically to customers.

Additionally, the new facilities should increase the resiliency in the infrastructure of WorldCom's networks, Cerf said. WorldCom's service provider customers are growing in numbers and are serving more customers, leading to the need for more traffic capacity.

New technology installed at MAE Chicago and MAE New York will increase the speed at which data can be exchanged, according to WorldCom. The facilities are capable of operating at speeds of about 2.5G bps (bits per second), also known as OC 48 (Optical Carrier 48). WorldCom's current MAE facilities only support OC 3 and OC 12, which top out at 622M bps, he said.

"It is becoming quite clear that the larger ISPs ... are all moving towards higher and higher data rates," Cerf said. The higher data rates are expected to decrease bottlenecks and increase data transmission speeds, he said.

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