AT&T association with UC Berkeley is first to bring together scientists, industry to help develop future Internet architecture

By Kevin Compton, AT&T Labs

BERKELEY -- AT&T and the International Computer Science Institute today announced an agreement to form the AT&T Center for Internet Research (ACIR) in association with the University of California at Berkeley. The goal of this unique center will be to perform basic research on Internet architectures and related networking issues, thereby bridging the gap between the Internet research community and the interests of commercial industry.

The agreement calls for AT&T to fund the multimillion-dollar ICSI center for at least three years and to work with ICSI researchers in close collaboration with staff from the UC Berkeley Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences department and the School of Information and Management Sciences. In addition to the researchers at ICSI, AT&T is also forming a new Internet research group at AT&T Labs in nearby Menlo Park, Calif., along with an expanded group at AT&T Labs in Florham Park, N.J. headed by Hamid Ahmadi, vice president of Networking and Distributed Systems Research, who will oversee the effort.

"While the Internet has enormous potential, it faces a problem something like we do on the roads here in the San Francisco Bay Area: The usage is outgrowing the original infrastructure," said David C. Nagel, AT&T Labs President and AT&T Chief Technology Officer. "By bringing in top-notch researchers and focusing on commercial interests related to AT&T's network, we intend to address some of the fundamental underlying architectural issues, and to become widely recognized as the foremost Internet research center in the world."

As more applications such as multimedia, telephony and electronic commerce move to the Internet, issues such as scaling, security, global access and network management could adversely affect its growth and performance. ACIR will be a focal point for discussions with other commercial Internet service and equipment providers, as well as with standards bodies such as the Internet Engineering Task Force, in order to help create a future Internet architecture that addresses these issues.

"This center will place leading industrial researchers in the Internet engineering community alongside Berkeley's highly respected groups in Internet-scale systems research," said Randy Katz, Chair of the Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences Department at the University of California, Berkeley and United Microelectronics Corporation Distinguished Professor. "We expect that the close and productive collaboration between the ACIR staff and the faculty and students on campus will make Berkeley the epicenter of Internet-based engineering research for the 21st Century."

The Berkeley center will be led by ICSI Director Merrick Furst, and will benefit from contributions by the university's Internet-Scale Systems research group ­ led by Professors Katz, Steve McCanne, Eric Brewer, David Culler and Anthony Joseph ­ which works on Internet protocol design; local- and wide-area access technologies such as mobile and wireless networking; and highly scalable processing and storage infrastructure based on cluster technology.

"The combined resources of AT&T Research, UC Berkeley, and ICSI are coming together to create overnight the world's best Internet research group," said Furst. "By locating a new group at ICSI, AT&T is enabling the kind of academic, industrial, and international research advances that are required for practical improvements to the Internet in the areas of network architecture, electronic commerce, communities-of-practice and security." ICSI is an independent, non-profit basic research institute affiliated with the University of California campus in Berkeley, Calif.

AT&T's funding of the center is complementary to its corporate participation in the Internet2 project, a consortium of over 170 universities (including UC Berkeley) and industry leaders working together to further U.S. leadership in research and higher education and accelerate the availability of new services and applications on the Internet.

AT&T Labs, the research and development unit of AT&T, is working to create the information services and communications network of tomorrow. AT&T Labs is a leader in the development of technologies and standards for audio, speech, video and image compression; electronic commerce and digital copyright management; search and directory services; speech processing and coding of all sorts; network architecture, design, engineering and operations; and other areas critical to the advancement of new communications and Internet offerings.

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