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15 June 2013

Heart and Backbones of the Internet

This is a thumbnail description of what Edward Snowden called NSA's "Architecture of Oppression."

Location map and photos of the Sprint Pennsauken Network Access Port (NAP):

Sprint is the world's premier Internet Service Provider and was the first major communication carrier to provide public commercial Internet service. Sprint experience in providing interoperability on the Internet dates back to before Commercial Internet services were available. Sprint was awarded a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation (NSF) in January 1991 to act as NSF International Connections Manager (ICM), responsible for implementing and operating a TCP/IP-based router network service connecting the domestic NSF network (NSFnet) with research and education networks overseas.

Initially, Sprint provided connectivity to research networks in Stockholm, Sweden, and Sophia Antipolles, France. Today, this network extends to London, Paris, Tokyo, China, Bonn, Malaysia, South Africa and the Middle East. Sprint remains the ICM in the aftermath of the NSFnet decommissioning in April 1995. Sprint also provides high-speed connections to the Internet in 28 countries worldwide - more international connections than any other carrier.

To a large degree, the ICM provides the interoperability of the domestic Internet with the rest of the world. This interoperability with the rest of the world includes literally scores of other carriers and international PTTs.

The Internet is essentially multiple networks interconnected to form one unified network. These interconnect points are gateways connecting different Internet Service Providers' (ISPs) networks together. This network of internetworked ISPs communicates through high-speed Network Access Point (NAPs), the backbone of the Internet. Sprint supports both public NAP and private peering connections, and currently provides the public New York NAP service in Sprint's Pennsauken, NJ office. Sprint IP Service currently far exceeds the Government's stated interoperability requirements.

Currently, the heart of the Internet remains the four "official" network access points or NAPs in San Francisco, Chicago, Washington, DC, and Pennsauken, NJ. The NAPs provide a place of interconnection; anyone at a NAP can choose to interconnect with anyone else there. This relationship, called a basic agreement to allow the agreeing ISP traffic to transit the backbone. Sprint has a presence at all of the NAPs and other major connection points. Our peering relationships with the NAPs and the peering relationships with the other possible FTS2001 contractors ensures the Government that a user of IPS service from one FTS2001 contractor will be able to communicate through SprintIP service. This relationship also ensures the Government that E-mail and other TCP/IP messages sent across town will be delivered by way of the nearest connection rather than transmitting it across country on SprintIP services and then delivering it.

There are currently eight major interconnection points - including four official NAPs. Any national backbone operator has a peering connection at these interconnects.Table 1 identifies the eight (8) major Internet interconnection points. [X indicates Sprint redaction.]


This series of NAPs could be considered the heart of the Internet. Currently, most backbone operators are cross-connecting with other backbones at virtually any location of convenience where they both have equipment rooms. There are several hundred of these "private" exchanges in operation at this point and all operate under a common peering arrangement.