Northern Virginia: Hub for the next 'Net

Region will be home to key Internet 2 connect points

Blacksburg, Va. - People using the Internet in Virginia will soon be able to avoid long waits to get on the World Wide Web.

Virginia Tech has joined a group of high-tech companies and other universities in an effort to provide high-speed Internet service to businesses and the general public.

A consortium called the Mid-Atlantic Crossroads - MAX for short - will connect computer networks in Northern Virginia. The new network will allow for instant transmission of images, sound, data and video. MAX will use high speed networks that move information faster than the current rate.

The network will link Internet 2, a quick Internet service being developed by research universities, with a worldwide network championed by Vice President Al Gore and a Virginia Tech-run high speed network linking schools, governments and homes in Virginia.

"This next generation information exchange will provide Internet 2 or next generation services to everyone in the mid-Atlantic region," said Jeff Crowder, project director for NET.WORK.VIRGINIA at Virginia Tech.

Universities are expected to benefit first, but by combining the networks, businesses and individuals will eventually be able to connect to high-speed Internet lines.

"The average person, come Sept. 1, won't know this network is up and running," said Dennis Elwell, director of the Internet 2 program at Bell Atlantic. But Elwell said "We're going to be able to use a lot of new technologies and hopefully make a successful transfer of these technologies to the private sector."

The consortium also includes the Southeastern Universities Research Association, the Washington Research and Education Network, Bell Atlantic, GTE and George Washington University, Georgetown University and the University of Maryland at College Park.