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Strategic Partnerships

An agreement between FAPESP and Terremark will improve the traffic exchange points on the Internet, a service hitherto provided to the community by the ANSP Network

FAPESP signed a term of technical cooperation with Terremark Latin America (Brazil) Ltda., transferring to this company the task of operating, maintaining and marketing the Network Access Point (NAP), a service hitherto operated by the ANSP (Academic Network at São Paulo) Network. The NAP is a neutral point of interconnection on the Internet where access providers and telecommunications concessionaires – including UOL, IG (Brazilian access providers), Terra, AT&T LA, Telefonica, Diveo – exchange the traffic from common customers directly, without the intermediation of Embratel (the national telecommunication company).

The partnership with Terremark will allow FAPESP to benefit from all the investments in information technology that the company will be making to expand the NAP, and also to guarantee the access of the São Paulo academic community to the American networks, including Internet 2. The conditions will also be created for the expansion of the special program, Information Technology in the Development of the Advanced Internet (Tidia in the Portuguese acronym). “The ANSP Network is mature and ready to become a basis of infrastructure support for universities and research institutes, bringing still more benefits for the academic community”, says José Fernando Perez, FAPESP’s scientific director.

Traffic exchange
The ANSP Network was created in 1989 as a special program of FAPESP. Nowadays, it is one of the main points of connection with the Internet abroad, and it is responsible for the interconnection of the academic networks at São Paulo’s universities and research institutes and centers. From 1998 onwards, ANSP has been betting on new technology to improve the quality of access by the community to the Internet, until then very slow and quite inefficient. It implemented a NAP, connecting providers and telecommunications concessionaires, with the objective of speeding up the traffic exchange, creating a sort of shortcut between backbones (a connection of several local networks).

“It was the first NAP in Brazil”, recalls Hartmut Richard Glaser, a director of the ANSP Network. With a router donated by 3Com, the ANSP Network set up, in those days, a neutral point of interconnection on the Internet, where the ANSP Network itself and another 26 large customers started to exchange traffic directly. “All the customers connected to these companies and institutions, just like the São Paulo’s universities, no longer need Embratel to exchange traffic”, explains Glaser. Besides speeding up the exchange of information on the web, the NAP also reduced the connection costs, since the amounts charged by Embratel include the cost of an Internet gateway.

“Today, all the customers connected with these companies and institutions, like the universities of São Paulo, no longer need Embratel to exchange traffic”, Glaser explains. Besides speeding up the exchange of information on the web, the PTT has also reduced the costs of connection, since the amounts charged by Embratel include the cost of an Internet gateway. “Today, the ANSP and its customers just pay for connection that links them to the NAP, instead of paying for an Internet gateway. And a gateway of 2 megabits a second (Mbps) costs more or less R$ 15,000. Using the network access point, two providers split between them the maintenance of the hub and they would pay for a common 2 Mbps link something around R$ 5,000″, is the example Glaser gives.

The ANSP Network’s NAP works on the third floor of FAPESP’s building, dividing the space with the Foundation’s Data Processing Center and the Registry of Internet Domains. There, each customer maintains his own equipment – optic fiber cable, servers, routers, modems, etc. -, sharing the same space, services and costs (electricity, air conditioning, and technical services, amongst others). The following companies are customers of the ANSP Network: Agência Estado, Brasil Telecom, .comDominio, COMSAT, Diveo, Global One (Equant), Hexxa, IG, Impsat, KDD, Netstream (AT&T LA), 0RNP, UOL, Unisys, Via-Networks (Dialdata), Intelig, NTT do Brasil, Metrored, Telefônica, CTBC, Terra, IFX, Genuity, Compugraf, Telemar, Pegasus.

The lack of space, however, is limiting the expansion of the NAP, which, in spite of the increased demand, is operating at the limit of its capacity. And FAPESP had no plans for expanding it. “This is an investment by private enterprise, which FAPESP could not do”, Perez explains.

Better connection
The growth of Internet traffic in Brazil, the quality of access of the ANSP’s NAP and, above all, its condition of neutrality – since being connected with FAPESP the service has no connections with nor does it represent the interest of any provider or communication company – attracted the attention of Terremark Latin America Ltda., a subsidiary of Terremark Worldwide Inc., the company responsible for the operation of the NAP for the Americas, installed in Miami, in Florida. This NAP is a large terminal for services supplies to providers, telecommunications concessionaires and major customers, which, amongst its functional features, includes a hub similar to the one of the ANSP Network.

Terremark’s interest in the ANSP’s NAP is justified: the company is getting ready to implement a NAP in Brazil and will be investing US$ 40 million to set up the service, according to its president and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Jairo Klepacz. In Brazil, Terremark’s NAP will have investments of US$ 15 million in its first stage. This ranges from the optic fiber cable infrastructure to the construction of a building with a floor area of 15,000 meters within the period of one year, which will house commutators, routers, and data centers, among other services offered to the future customers. The expectation is that the customers of the ANSP Network’s NAP will migrate to the Terremark NAP, benefiting from the other services offered by the company.

For Terremark, the partnership with FAPESP is a strategic one, since it guarantees the neutrality demanded by this kind of service. “The Foundation will be a permanent guarantor of impartiality”, says Klepacz. For FAPESP,the transfer of the operation of the NAP to Terremark will expand the operating capacity of the ANSP and bring benefits to the scientific community, with even a reduction of costs in the order of US$ 120,000, which is spent on the maintenance of this service. “It will be an excellent opportunity for improving the quality of a service offered to the scientific community, without burdening the Foundation, as well as bringing international investments to São Paulo, in such a strategic area as Information Technology”, says Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz, FAPESP’s president.

The partnership with Terremark will also mean a revenue boost as the Foundation will have a share in the Brazilian NAP’s income. The term for technical-scientific cooperation, signed between the parties in February 28th and valid for 20 years, provides for FAPESP receiving a 6% share of the services revenues supplied by the NAP in Brazil for a period of five years, 5% during the following five years, and 1% during the last ten years. The profit sharing time span may be extended for an additional ten-year period, during which the Foundation will be able to count on 1% of the services income provided by the company, on a quarterly basis.

Terremark will shortly start the construction of the building that will house the NAP in Brazil. According to Klepacz, the building will be ready within more or less 12 months. Until then, the NAP will continue to be operated in FAPESP’s premises, jointly run by Terremark and the ANSP. Terremark will be responsible for all the costs that exceed FAPESP’s present expenditure. It is also provided for, that in the first six months of operation of the new NAP inside FAPESP’s installations, all the income will go to FAPESP.

After this period, Terremark will take on the payroll the social security taxes of the network team. When it deems necessary, FAPESP is authorized to carry out a bookkeeping analysis of Terremark’s books and documents, so as to confirm the correctness of the amounts, for the purposes of the calculations. When the installations of the NAP in Brazil are ready, the company commits itself to supply FAPESP, free of charge, room for ten stations that will house technicians and members of staff of the ANSP Network.

The partnership, already approved by FAPESP’s Board of Trustees, was assessed by specialists who analyzed the details of the company and the terms of the agreement and obtained a favorable opinion from the Getúlio Vargas Foundation (FGV). “We have to do a good deal for the scientific community. We cannot run any risk”, explains Perez.

Internet 2
One of the requirements of the technical cooperation agreement is Terremark must adopt new telecommunications and Internet technologies, raising the ANSP’s TXP to a Tier 1 status – a category attributed to NAPs that combine large customers with a large capacity for traffic exchange. These innovations will evidently bring enormous benefits for the ANSP’s customers and for the academic community. But, in addition, it has already been agreed that Terremark is going to offer FAPESP connection points and electricity at the NAP for the Americas, in Miami, which will have a great repercussion on the development of research in São Paulo.

This is so because the NAP of the Americas houses American Path (Ampath), a virtual network maintained by Florida University in collaboration with Global Crossing, which connects researchers from ten universities of South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean. Ampath is a gateway of access for Internet 2, maintained by a consortium that congregates 180 universities and 45 companies from America and the University Consortium for Advanced Internet Development (Ucaid). Access to Internet 2 is strategic for the development of research in the country, since this high speed network has the objective of expanding the capacity of data and information exchange in the research community, and of seeking new applications for the Internet.

Brazil already has a link to Ampath in Rio de Janeiro, through the National Research Network (RNP in the Portuguese acronym), maintained by the Ministry of Science and Technology (MCT). The ANSP Network also asked for, and has now obtained, authorization for a link with Ampath , a fact not yet consummated. São Paulo’s universities and institutes are equally accredited, since the beginning of last year, to access Internet 2. In this case, the passport for entry was through the Biota/FAPESP and the Genome projects. Access to these networks, however, depends on agreements for the use of physical connections, which includes submarine cables. FAPESP has now started negotiations with Global Crossing Ltda. – a supplier of broadband services and the owner of the submarine cable – to use its network of optic fiber. The partnership now formalized with Terremark, guaranteeing access to the NAP for the Americas, is going to take the ANSP closer to Internet 2.

FAPESP’s special program, Information Technology in the Development of the Advanced Internet (Tidia) – which has the objective of transforming the Internet into a subject for research -, will also be benefited by the cooperation agreement signed between FAPESP and Terremark. “Researchers will have access to the NAP and a more advanced technology than we have today”, celebrates Hugo Luis Fragnito, from the Gleb Wataghin Institute of Physics, of the State University of Campinas, and one of Tidia’s coordinators. He foresees that the agreement will allow a good part of the projects that make up the program to be tested in the field.

And he gives an example: “One of the bottlenecks for the development of the Internet lies in the development of a technology capable of switching, in an efficient and cheap manner, the traffic from one fiber of a logical network to another one. And the solution for this has to be tested on the network”. The link with Ampath, he goes on, should also give the program a boost, since Florida University has similar research lines.

Commercial network
There are at least 200 NAPs in operation in the United States. A NAP can be defined as a neutral environment, with high technology, where Internet access providers and telecommunications companies, albeit in the capacity of competitors, exchange traffic, store customer data and keep information, among other functional features, with security and in a shared manner.

The first four NAPs were created by the National Science Foundation (NSF), in the United States – New York, Washington, DC, Chicago and San Francisco – during the period of transition from a network financed by the government to commercially operated networks. The four connection points, however, came to be operated by companies with interests in providers that controlled prices. “So the idea arose of creating a neutral consortium in the south of Florida, made up of one hundred members, including AT&T, Global Crossing and Sprint, to attend to customers with the same operational scale”, says Klepacz.

Implemented in partnership with Telcordia, the NAP for the Americas is installed in theTechnology Center of the Americas (Tecota), an armor-clad building, catastrophe proof, with an area of 85,000 square meters, to which 56 large customers who exchange traffic of around 120 million packets a second are connected, through optic fiber cables. This volume of transactions and its capacity for the exchange of traffic put the NAP for the Americas amongst the five classified in the Tier 1 category. The service also has a 100% guarantee of electricity, and, according to Klepacz, is the only “zero-defect” one in America.

Terremark is betting that Brazil will be an excellent market for the expansion of this mass connectivity, since this is a precondition for the expansion of the banking system and of the telecommunications networks, for example, besides creating the conditions for the implementation of telemedicine, teleschooling, digital TV, among others.