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NEARnet (New England Academic and Regional Network) was a high-speed network of academic, industrial, government, and non-profit organizations centered in Cambridge and Boston, Massachusetts. NEARnet was the precursor to New England's regional Internet, established by Boston University, Harvard University, and MIT late in 1988, after DARPA announced plans to dismantle the ARPANET, then accounting for 71 of its 258 host connections. By June 1990, NEARnet included 40 members, including universities, high-tech companies and non-profits.

NEARnet was operated by BBN Systems and Technologies under contract to MIT.[1] NEARnet used the TCP/IP protocol suite and had a backbone consisting of 10 Mbit/s, FCC licensed microwave links, and leased line connections to smaller, more remote members. The microwave was a core technology helping to fund the network by eliminating recurring transmission charges and was designed, installed and supported by Microwave Bypass Systems, Inc.

NEARnet had the goal of creating a regional information infrastructure in New England to support education, research and development. Special services and facilities, such as the Connection Machine, the Massachusetts Microelectronics Center, and library catalogs, were made available over NEARnet. NEARnet was linked to the NSFNet backbone via connections to the John von Neumann Center network and NYSERNet. It also has a link to the Defense Research Internet[clarification needed].[2]


  • James Bruce; Kent England; Laura Breeden; David S. Theodore (June 1990). "NEARnet Profile" (PDF). ConneXions, "The Interoperability Report": 2–5. 
  • "MIT News" (PDF). MIT Tech Talk. 38 (1). July 14, 1993. 
  • G. Kessler; S. Shepard (December 1994). "A Primer On Internet and TCP/IP Tools". The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF®). Section 2.4: Hill Associates, Inc. Retrieved 30 March 2016.