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MAE-East was an Internet Exchange Point spread across the east coast of the United States, with locations in Vienna, Virginia; Reston, Virginia; Ashburn, Virginia; New York, New York; and Miami, Florida. It was the eastern branch of the MCI Internet Exchange. Its name officially stood for "Metropolitan Area Exchange, East".[1]

MAE-East was founded in the 1990s as one of the first large Internet peering exchanges and by 1997 it was estimated half the world's traffic passed through it.[2] At the time it was located in the underground parking garage of an office building in Vienna, VA.[2]


MAE-East was originally created in 1992, primarily by Scott Yeager of Metropolitan Fiber Systems (MFS) and Rick Adams of UUNET.[3] Steven Feldman, an Internet architect, recalls "A group of network providers in the Virginia area got together over beer one night and decided to connect their networks."[4] The founding networks were AlterNet (UUNET's backbone service), PSINet and Sprint-ICM.[5] MFS was the service provider offering metropolitan fiber, co-location facilities, cross connects and switch ports for the ISPs to interconnect.[5] MAE-East was modeled after FIX East and Fix West.[5] It was established as a Distributed Layer 2 exchange (shared 10-Mbps Ethernet over DS3).[5] By February 1993, the 10-Mbps metropolitan Ethernet-over-DS3 connected the Sprint POP (ICMnet and AlterNet), College Park POP (AlterNet and NSFNet), MCI POP (SURAnet), and WillTel POP (PSINet).[5] It did not have a multi-lateral policy or have multi-lateral agreements, meaning it was a neutral exchange from the perspective that any ISP could join, all members were treated the same, but there was no requirement for any other members to peer with that ISP.[5]

In 1993, the National Science Foundation awarded MFS/MAE-East a grant establishing it as one of the four original NAPs (Network Access Point).[5] MAE-East then migrated to a collocation-based exchange in order to support higher speeds with the original colo at 1919 Gallows Road in Vienna, in a cinder-block room carved out of the underground P1 parking garage.[5] The MAE upgraded to switched Ethernet and shared FDDI in Fall 1994, growing to seven GigaSwitches] (a precursor to Gigabit Ethernet).[5] The FDDI architecture consisted of collocations at 8100 Boone Blvd (location of MFS offices across the road from Gallows Road), 1919 Gallows Road, and a number of private customer POPs.[5] The GigaSwitch access was limited to 100 Mbps, suffered from Head-of-Line Blocking, reached scaling limits, and was difficult to maintain (i.e., suffered outages).[5] MAE-East FDDI was closed to new customers after 1998 and was shut down in June 2001.[5]

MAE-East ATM was created as successor to the FDDI due to the FDDI limitations.[5] MAE-East ATM was trialed in 1997 and went into production in 1998.[5] ATM allowed for high-speed access (e.g. DS3 -OC-12c); managed resources to eliminate congestion; Virtual Private Interconnect (PVCs), which mitigated effects of some behaviors where a single customer could impact the entire exchange.[5] Frame Relay Access was added in 2002-2003 (OC-3c to OC-48c). In 2003, MAE-East ATM/Frame facilities were located at Boone Blvd, Sunrise Blvd, Tyco Road and Ashburn VA.[5]

BY 2009, many of the ISPs at MAE-East had moved to Equinix Ashburn, a competing Internet Exchange (IX). Today, several on-line resources (, suggest MAE-East is gone. In any event, large providers tend to connect directly to allow higher speeds and reduce costs. Many of the smaller providers are now simply customers of the tier 1 network operators.


The following providers were members of this exchange:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Who's MAE, and why is she so slow?" Archived 2012-07-16 at the Wayback Machine, Rob Robertson, 11 April 1997, accessed 3 July 2012
  2. ^ a b Brian Hayes (May 1997). "The Infrastructure of the Information Infrastructure". American Scientist. Archived from the original on February 14, 2005.
  3. ^ Gregory, Nathan; Yeager, Scott (2016). Securing the Network: F. Scott Yeager and the Rise of the Commercial Internet. ISBN 9781520155586.
  4. ^ James Bamford (2009). The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America. Random House. p. 187. ISBN 9780307279392. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Tom Bechly (June 23, 2004). "Enterprise Network Design". MCI. Archived from the original on August 13, 2014. Retrieved August 13, 2014. See pages 70-76.
  6. ^ "MCI Introduces Virtual Peering Services Across MAE® Facilities Nationwide". 10 August 2004.

External links[edit]

"How Equinix beat MAE-East," a blog written in 2009.