A Network Access Point (NAPS) where Internet Service Providers (ISPs) can connect to each other. The original MAE (now known as MAE-East) was set up in Washington, D.C., by a company called MFS. Later, MFS built another one, in Silicon Valley, dubbed MAE-West. In addition to the MAEs from MFS, there are many other NAPs. Although MAE really only refers to the NAPs from MFS, the acronyms MAE and NAP can be used interchangeably. MAE-West actually consists of two networks: an ATM network that can switch a billion bps, and an FDDI ring that's limited to 100 Mbps.
Companies connect to these networks by Ethernet, FDDI, or ATM over OC3. MFS now has MAEs in Chicago, Dallas, Houston, and Los Angeles, with Paris, Frankfurt, and New York next. Regional Internet exchanges are a good idea, and sooner or later, every city will likely have its own.