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BBN(1) (Body-to-Body Network) A theoretical mesh network that uses people to transmit data within a limited geographic area. Using devices such as a BBN-enabled smartphone, a signal is sent from the sender to the nearest BBN user, which is transmitted to the next-nearest BBN user and so on until it reaches the destination user. See also personal area network.
(2) (BBN Technologies, Cambridge, MA, www.bbn.com) A consulting firm that participated in the development of some of the most extensive networks in the world, including ARPANET, which evolved into the Internet. It was founded in 1948 as a consulting service in acoustics by Dr. Richard Bolt and Dr. Leo Beranek. Two years later, Robert Newman became a partner, and the company was known as Bolt, Beranek and Newman for many years.
In 1997, BBN was acquired by GTE and certain assets were merged into its network services organization, which was renamed GTE Internetworking and then BBN Planet. In 2000, GTE merged with Bell Atlantic and became Verizon, while BBN went its separate way, renamed Genuity. In 2004, BBN was reestablished as an independent company when its former, core R&D management, along with two venture capital firms, purchased it from Verizon. It was acquired once again in 2009 when Raytheon bought the company to shore up its defense technology and cybersecurity sectors. BBN has sometimes been referred to as "Cambridge's third university," after MIT and Harvard. See Level 3.