A Practical Navigator for the Internet Economy

NSF TO IMPOSE PERFORMANCE CRITERIA ON VBNS PAYMENTS PP. 1, 19-22

A guaranteed throughput under high stress conditions of only 5 megabits per second on the 155 megabit vBNS service is a fall out of pushing the envelope by the NSF and MCI in a new technology where performance is difficult to measure and hardware and software interfaces are not yet complete. While practical service will be much higher than the minimum, some in the super computing community are saying that the vBNS will not be really useful until MCI expands capacity on its commercial ATM network to OC12 (622 megabits per second) - something not expected to happen until the second half of 1995. The vBNS will be simply a group of PVCs overlayed on MCI's commercial ATM backbone with tail circuits running to the Super Computer centers. The cooperative agreement with MCI for vBNS implementation also is not yet signed. DNCRI thought it best to recover from five months of protests by putting the agreements for the remaining parts of the new architecture in place first. The paper work for the vBNS is expected to go to the Foundation's Office of Grants and Agreements next week. Don Mitchell, the DNCRI Staff Associate who is the negotiations specialist for Steve Wolff's group, in a lengthy interview, explained that NSF hoped to have an operational vBNS in place on April 1 and stated that monthly payments to MCI for the vBNS would not begin until the vBNS with tail circuits to the NAPs was turned on. He also stated that payments to MCI would be dependant on MCI achieving mutually agreed on performance criteria. Such criteria would be set on a quarterly basis with throughput metrics rising throughout the project. Once set the criteria would be public as would measurements showing MCI's compliance. He explained that setting the criteria would be difficult because of the complex ways in which the performance of an ATM network can be measured. We include a technical note which Peter Ford kindly wrote for us and which explains in general terms why these metrics are so complex. We applaud DNCRI for taking steps which should bring more fiscal responsibility into what has been seen as a cooperative agreement process that gives the awardee too much of a blank check.

STEVE GOLDSTEIN DISCUSSES PAST AND FUTURE OF INTERNATIONAL CONNECTIONS PROGRAM, pp. 1-5

The NSF's International connections program is little known outside the inner circles of the Internet policy community. In an interview, Steve Goldstein describes the programs accidental beginnings and explains how Sprint as the first International Connections Manager worked with NSF to help make the US with its low international circuit rates one of the most desirable places in the world for other countries to come for their Internet connections. Steve also explains that the new solicitation will include plans to phase out NSF support for the major trans Atlantic links on the grounds that these links are becoming commodities that no longer need government subsidies. Other components of the new solicitation are likely to include support for high bandwidth connections to experimental networks like the vBNS and support for the delivery of network services to remote areas such as ships at sea and places like the rain forest.

LITTLE GARDEN, pp. 6-8

Tom Jennings tell us how a few in the San Francisco Silicon Valley hacker community created and extraordinarily successful home brew internet service provider designed on the premise that resale of network connections could work to everyone's advantage.

A CRITICAL LOOK AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN'S ROLE IN THE 1987 MERIT AGREEMENT, pp. 9-17

Recent University of Michigan graduate Chetly Zarko has spent much of the last two years digging in the University of Michigan archives and serving the University authorities with FOIA requests for the contents of computer conferences and other University documents. He sheds much light on the way in which Dr Doug van Houwelling was brought in to shepard a major technology push at the University one that including ousting Amdahl as the University mainframe and bringing in IBM who quickly became a joint study partner in the 1987 Merit Cooperative Agreement for the NSF backbone. Zarko describes the complex series of accounting arrangements between Merit and the University of Michigan as tempting University administrators to identify all possible loop holes in the cooperative agreement and manipulate them to the University's advantage. In early 1992 Robert Moore an accountant in the UM Information Technology division filed a False Claims Act against the University that resulted in an out-of-court settlement between the University of Michigan and the government. U-M agreed to repay nearly $3.1 million in computer processing overcharges that involved federally funded research. In exchange, the government accepted U-M's explanation that the charges were "inadvertent," and therefore dropped the case. While this affair was not apart of the Merit NSF cooperate agreement, Zarko shows it as part of the same institutional system that appears not to have enough checks and balances in it on behalf of the public interest. It is in this respect that this primarily historical research we believe has meaning for the present and future. Anything that the NSF in the future can do exert more effective oversight with regard to the way its money is spent is desirable. Zarko's article helps to underline the importance of DNCRI's movement toward a fixed unit price arrangement and away for payment for costs incurred with the vBNS Cooperative Agreement. We publish the University's rebuttal.

ISF FOREIGN OPERATIONS DIRECTOR ACCUSES LARGEST RUSSIAN NETWORK OF FRAUD, pp. 18-19

In a letter to the Editor Dr Alex Goldfarb accuses Relcom of plan to appropriate for its own use $1,000,000 in ISF and Russian gov't paid for hardware. Allegations against Relcom include involvement in a secret protocol, surrogate non profit entities, & behind the scenes deal as part of fraudulent scheme. We publish Goldfarb's letter and offer a rebuttal based on our own knowledge and research.

 

 

This is a special issue about the rapidly declining ability of the NSF to cope with increasing crises that will affect the outcome of network commercialization in very serious ways.


Slashed NSF Staff Faces "Catastrophic Situation" Endangering Creation of New Internet Architecture, pp. 1-24

At the most critical moments of Internet commercialization extremely important components of government oversight within the National Science Foundation have ground almost to a halt. Crises affecting the commercial viability of the Internet are beginning to blaze out of control. We describe four of them in separate lengthy articles. A source inside the Foundation calls the present situation "catastrophic."

Nearly a year to the day after the award of the vBNS to MCI, that cooperative agreement has still not emerged from the Division of Grants and Agreements which, out of fear of the NSF Inspector General, is tending to take a month to clear paper work that it used to clear in two weeks. What is worse a veritable rule by the IG since the departure of Eric Bloc as Director (as described to us by 4 different sources over two year's time) has created both an environment where "people are afraid to do their jobs" and cliques that have impacted the ability of the Division of Network Infrastructure and Communications Research (DNCRI) to function well. As a result, and unknown to almost all on the outside, staffing on the DNCRI Infrastructure side is down by almost 50% from its level of two years ago. Due to bureaucratic haggling and cliques outside of DNCRI, a serious search for Steve Wolff's replacement as Director did not get started until October - more than 6 months after he announced his departure.

Without a permanent director and working with half staff between now and April 30 DNCRI must execute (1) a roll out of the NAPs and shut down of the ANS backbone, (2) implementation by MCI of the vBNS at the 5 supercomputer centers, (3) debut the routing arbiter (4) transition the regional nets to the NAPs, (5) revamp the InterNic after the termination of the General Atomics component, (6) issue a new solicitation for an International Connections Manager, and (7) develop a new program for research connections to the vBNS.

This would be more than most people could be expected to handle. However the commercialization process has brought on new crises. It is the addition of these crises that have caused some of our sources to use terms like catastrophic. They will have several effects. Among them: increasing costs of usage for small ISPs and individual users, aggregating authority and consequent power in the hands of the of the telcos - both IXCs and RBOCs, and in general creating a rising danger that DNCRI's ability to maintain a level playing field through out the next critical months of commercialization may be lost. We describe four such flash points in great detail.

(1) Roughly two weeks ago DNCRI was the indirect target of a lawsuit filed by KnowledgeNet, a small IBM mid range consulting company in Illinois. This company lists as defendants, David Boone who runs his own consulting service using KnowledgeNet as an association and has registered it as a domain name, DIGEX Boone's service provider, and Network Solutions which assigned the domain name to Boone. The suit levels 5 charges against Boone including theft of trade marks and racketeering under the 1970 RICO statute!

Sources close to the case feel it is likely that the suit will go to trial. If Boone looses case law will be established linking domain names to trade marks. Regardless of what happens the next year will very likely see the imposition of charges for commercial domain names. A loss of this suit could mean that the registering authority would have to employ trademark attorneys to check a flood of new commercial domain name applications, and buy legal liability insurance. This would be likely to increase the annual cost of a domain name by an order of magnitude.

(2) For the first time in its history DNCRI has suspended a 5 year cooperative agreement before the second year was even up. The General Atomics part of the InterNic has gone nowhere since it began in April of 1993. In less than two years three different people (Susan Estrada, Kent England, and Bob Randall) were in charge. Things that GA had promised to do under the agreement were simply not done. At the end of last year 13 of 16 review panel members recommend to DNCRI that there be no funding to GA for years 3 through 5 beginning on April 1, 1995. We present interviews with Kent England and Susan Calcari, and a detailed chronology by Susan Calcari.

Karsten Blue, the young son of GA owner Neil Blue (observers report unanimously that Karsten appears to be in his mid twenties) was installed last fall as President of a newly created subsidiary that ran both CERFnet and the InterNic. When Karsten received notice from NSF in late January that the GA Internic was being suspended April 1, he proceeded to immediately lay off Susan Calcari, the remaining co PI on the project. Unfortunately Susan was governed by a key personnel clause that stipulated that she could not be laid off without the prior consent of the National Science Foundation. In doing so GA committed a serious breach of the agreement. As a result they received a letter from NSF this week notifying them that the agreement was suspended immediately with some transitional processes running until February 28 when total suspension would take place a month earlier than other wise would have happened. These events have robbed and will continue to rob DNCRI staff of time they simply do not have.

(3) During the last three months CIDR blocks of network addresses have become increasingly difficult to get. Net99 describes their problems in an interview. Network solutions is taking the position that unless a strong case to the contrary can be made new blocs of addresses (needed by every ISP to sell and run SLIP accounts without which WEB browsers cannot be used) will go only to the largest providers with national backbones. These large providers are then expected to parcel them out to their resellers. And as long as the web surfing craze lasts they become like a fuel without which the smaller ISPs simply cannot do business. Yet the stocks of "fuel" are under the control of their larger competitors. This situation is complicated by the fact that there is a valid technical reason for handing the addresses out this way - namely to keep the size of routing tables under control so that the memory requirements for routers do not get out of hand.

(4) At the Chicago and California NAPs technical problems caused by the lack of router to ATM switch interfaces (and warned about last August by Milo Medin) have forced the imposition of FDDI LANs. The Ameritech NAP has been further marred by a controversy with NET99 where it lost this customer's $173,000 5 year contract for T-3 service in December. After being reamed out by Net99, Ameritech proceeded to loose the replacement contract a second time in January! The result is an approximate 60 day delay for NET99 in connecting to Chicago. We have on record statements and interviews with NSF, Bellcore, Joe Stroup of Net99 and George Clapp, Mark Knopper's boss at Ameritech. Clapp's remarks indicate to us that responsible parties in AADSnet, the Ameritech unregulated subsidiary in charge of the NAP had every possible reason to believe that Net99 was trying to connect as early November. A cynic might wonder if AADSnet's misplacement of Net99's applications had anything to do with the fact that Karl Denninger the proprietor of MCS is Net99's VP of Engineering, and is by far the strongest provider in the Chicago area. Denninger is connecting himself as a part of Net99 to the NAP, and is therefore the most significant competitor of AADSnet's planned Internet service in the largest city served by Ameritech. In other areas that we explore AADSnet's presentation has not been very professional. When a source inside Ameritech told us that Ameritech's internal security was investigating AADSnet business practices in both Michigan and Illinois, Clapp replied that the investigation actually was directed against incursions into AADSnet machines coming from outside. These events indicate that RBOCs in control of NAPs in the current frenzy is fraught with possibilities for conflict of interest.

Some general policy considerations: DNCRI is in need of urgent help from the highest levels of management of NSF and the White House. Appointing a new director who is beholden to no particular research or infrastructure constituency should be the top priority. Filling staff vacancies the next. Finally, having once criticized the vBNS, we have come to support it. We are told that some in the foundation would like to merge DNCRI into oblivion and deliver the vBNS completely to the supercomputer centers who have no real interest in networking research. However DNCRI has won a commitment from MCI for a parallel but totally separate test network announced so far only in last month's COOK Report. It is believed that this test network will be the only viable opportunity to explore theories of high speed data networking that do not depend on ATM into which the telcos are sinking tens of billions. Some in the community are claiming valid reason to believe that there are better ways to do data networking than ATM. The test net is seen as an opportunity to find out and pull the telco's chestnuts from the fire should the researchers be right - something that is certainly in the national strategic interest. It is an opportunity that will be lost, insiders believe, if bureaucratic infighting at NSF merges DNCRI into Advanced Scientific Computing.

We have taken these concerns by telephone and email to Tom Kalil of the White House Economic Council and Mike Nelson of OSTP. These are Vice President Gore's top two staffers on these issues. Last evening Kalil replied. His message contained among other things assurances that "senior management at NSF is working hard to fill the vacancies at DNCRI," and that "we have indicated to NSF that the White House would be happy to help them in their recruitment efforts."


Additionally

In addition to a general introduction to the situation, our February issue contains articles on each of the four crises described above. We also publish in full the Bellcore progress report on the California and Chicago NAPs sent to NSF on February 3, and the complete text of the KnowledgeNet Domain Name lawsuit described above.

 

 

SPRINT VERSUS MCI & NSF: HPCC BACKBONE AWARDS DRAW PROTESTS, pp. 1- 13.

We examine very closely the MCI protest of Sprint's win of the ESnet backbone, Sprints filing of February 28 with GAO in protest over the MCI preaward of the vBNS, and finally Sprint's March 15 filing in opposition to NSF's Motion for Summary Dismissal. (Length just over 12,000 words.)

We learn that MCI has a fine-tuned legal department that, when it wants to strike, moves swiftly and professionally. We also learned some points behind the evaluation process that MCI, understandably, seems to have ignored.

We see that Sprint has been caught off guard, has not had its legal department tracking these developments and when it decided to protest was left with only a few days to build both its strategy and supporting case. In its February 28 appeal to GAO it had to first establish that GAO had jurisdiction. To do this it had to show that the NSF solicitation should have been for a contract and not a cooperative agreement and to explain why it went along with the solicitation process rather than challenge it initially. It also tried to establish GAO jurisdiction of the grounds that NSF allowed a conflict of interest to exist with MCI subcontractor ANS having a board of directors member who was also a member of the National Science Board. Unfortunately for Sprint this conclusion was false.

NSF responded with a Motion for Summary Dismissal and on March 15 Sprint replied with a 7,000 word rebuttal. This document is vastly improved. Sprint now argues that while the NSF may have had the right to run the solicitation as a cooperative agreement, such solicitations must be run in a competitive manner. It accuses NSF of pledging to its own Inspector General to run the VBNS in accord with a strict acceptable use policy and then when the intent to award is announced, abandoning that policy by allowing MCI commercial resale of the vBNS.

It introduces legal precedent that says if a procurement under a Coopartive Agreement is run in a non competitive manner such procurement must then be treated by all parties according to contract rules and not those that govern Cooperative Agreements. Thus GAO has jurisdiction and its complaint is timely because, when it decided to compete under the C. A. rules, it could not have been expected to know that the NSF would corrupt the procurement process!

As part of its argument it says that NSF is violating the intent of PL 102-194 by using Federal money to allow a large profit making Federal company to play technology catch up and, worse, to fund the development of a commercial service by that company. Its language becomes quite scathing.

However, when Sprint then says that the change by NSF in the application of acceptable use policy to the backbone is critical to its case, it takes quite a chance. For it apparantly is unaware of a public statement by Wolff that will allow him to claim that he not only is following AUP but is doing so with Congressional intent behind his policy. However, we reveal here for the first time that when Wolff was asked by FOIA for documents that would show NSF or explicit Congressional backing of his interpretation, he responded that he had none.

Sprint says: "The actions of the NSF, which exceed the requirements and limitations of the Act which the NSF claims to be implementing, should be declared illegal. The NSF should not be permitted to hide behind legislation which permits flexibility and maximum discretion in obtaining goods and services through cooperative agreements rather than procurement contracts when the agency has demonstrated such a cavalier disregard for the laws of Congress and such abuse of the public trust. In this case, the agency should not be entitled to shield its actions from review through its claimed ability to award cooperative agreements for a "public purpose"--the public is far better served by imposing some accountability on this errant agency."

The third area is Sprint's conviction that the solicitation had been marred by conflict of interest. Having been "burned" with its first formulation of this approach it is somewhat more cautious. Submitting some materials from the COOK Report as an attachment it says in effect that this is an area that it has under continued developement.

The NSF in its March 16 rebuttal says that it finds Sprint's arguments in the first two areas 'spurious'. In the third area it somewhat derisively dismisses Sprint for bringing up the "report" of a private individual, Gordon Cook. In only two pages it does not attempt to refute Sprint's basic legal argument. whether it doesn't because it can't or it feels that it doesn't need to is not clear.

Sprint may lose within GAO - hung by its thumbs on the weaknesses of its first filing. We hope not. Why? Because it seems to be prepared to seek adjudication, we hope in Federal Court if need be, of some of the most significant policy issues on which we have been focusing for more than two years.

We are puzzled by the NSF's insistance on once again granting its intended awardee commercial resale of a government paid-for backbone. We wonder why granting this favor seems so important to NSF, OSTP and the Administration for we suspect that the viability of Sprint's protest hinges on it. Sprint's next decision date with GAO is April 8.


PROTESTER'S OPPOSITION TO RESPONDENT'S MOTION TO DISMISS pp.14-19.

The Complete Text of Sprint's March 15 Submssion to GAO, We publish the complete 7,000 word text of Sprints submission.

CONTROVERSY OVER NSF NETWORK ACCESS POINTS UUNET AND PSI QUESTION NSF MOTIVES - SAY THEY SEE NO REASON TO CONNECT, PP. 20-21.


THE VBNS: WHAT MCI OFFERED THAT AT&T & SPRINT DID NOT A SOURCE RECOLLECTS CONTENT OF MERIT REVIEW PANEL FINDINGS, p. 21.

A source who has been permitted to read the Merit Review Panel Report says that while there was some significant disagreement both about the NAPs and vBNS, that AT&T and Sprint both appear to have suffered in making what turned out to be an unwarranted a ssumption that the NSF wanted an off- the-shelf high speed ATM network The source shows how MCI seems to have used its almost seven year old relationship with NSF to ensure its customers continued comfort by having a better idea than anyone else what continued "leadership in high speed networking" meant.

COREN TEST NETWORK IN OPERATION, p. 23.

A source reports that CoREN members have installed a network to test routing using their commercial connectins to the NSF/ANS backbone.

LATE NEWS: NSF ON AUTO -PILOT?

We report that our FOIA request for documents detailing discussios on NSFnet privatization, commercialization, ANS, MERIT, IBM etc between NSF Directors (Lane, Massey, Bernthal, and Brownstein.) came up empty We are headed in a new direction (Lindberg at NLM).

UUNET Initiates FOIA Lawsuit Against NSF

When we were alerted to UUNET's action as the result of NSF asking if we minded their release of our May 1993 solicitation questions to UUNET as result of a UUNET Foia Lawsuit, we said that since we had already published them of course UUNET was welcome to them. At that point we put in our own request and in only 18 days NSF responded with a fat package of all or nearly all questions asked about the solicitation last May and June. Examination shows that the NSF was asked many questions on its intentions for commercial use of the vBNS and in other areas - questions that it declined to answer.

 

 

Access Indiana and Ameritech, pp. 1-16

In a 13,000 word article we examine successful moves by Ameritech to exchange profit cap for price cap regulation in each state of its five state service area. We take an in depth look at ACCESS INDIANA which we see as a, perhaps unwitting effort, by the Governor to sell the state's future on the information super highway to large corporate interests. Ameritech has been arguing successfully in front of state PUCs that with cable, wireless and IXCs ready to compete on its turf, it needs to be freed from regulatory limits on profits and to have limits on price increases imposed instead. In return it promises to introduce a large range of new digital services and agrees to actually reduce residential rates. What is not made very clear in its filings is that the technology that it is adopting will reduce its costs far more than the residential rate reductions it offers. Consequently it is guaranteed vastly increased profits and the economic muscle to be able to buy out competitors who get in its way. Meanwhile sensing that Internet transport may not be where profits lie, Ameritech is acquiring substantial interest in content. CivicLink is one example. ACCESS INDIANA another. The company put an employee in Indianapolois city hall for a year to find out how Ameritech (with a donation of $1,000,000 in the computer system) could create a system for the electronic dissemination of the public records of the city and county. The result is about to go on line selling the information at a hefty profit to Ameritech and local government. The only problem with CivicLink is that all public information accessible in electronic form is required to be disseminated via the Ameritech system and the prices charged are as much as a ten fold increase over hardcopy costs. The first of the three components of ACCESS INDIANA is a request by the state for companies to bid on providing state government with a system - at no cost to the state - that would do statewide what CivicLink has done in the capital. While defenders of the proposal say that some public information would be provided by the state system at little or no cost, they also admit that they have as yet been unable to come up with any comprehensive definition of what that would be. Meanwhile the list of state data bases that the vendor is expected to put into the system is exhaustive of the full range of state government activity. Also the official state document, that is expected to lead to a contract with the state for this activity, says that the state believes that the vendor will receive enough income to pay for the costs of the system and an adequate rate of return on its investment. It adds that the state also expects to derive substantial income from selling commercially valuable public information. The second of the three components are grants of $900,000 a year that may continue for up to fours years to enable the establishment of community networks. The money comes in thirds from the state Department of Education, the State Library, and an entity called CEC which disburses funds from Ameritech as a part of its Opportunity Indiana settlement that bought Ameritech freedom from profit cap regulation. The goal of the community network program is to enable communities to get local community information content - including that with commercial value - onto the community network and readily available. The program makes plain that the public sector contribution is content delivered to private sector vendors and that, in return for this content, the private sector will build the infrastructure necessary to put the community networks on the air - all of which is fine until one considers the following. 1. Ameritech is already committed to build a $120 million dollar statewide fiber backbone for schools and libraries as a result of the Opportunity Indiana settlement with the state PUC. 2. None of the 900,000 a year may be used by the successful community network applicants to buy hardware or software for the community network to run on. The network is expected to buy service from an existing commercial service provider and mount its content on a service that it does not own. Now the community is free to select an existing service provider located in the community. Fine idea - except that we suspect that the awards will go primarily to communities without existing providers. We think that only communities who have no local service will be willing to hand over their local independence to a foreign facilities owner as well as $12,000 a year in membership fees to a state association beginning with their 3rd year of operation. In return for doing this they will get a 50,000 dollar start up grant. Unfortunately such an arrangement would be one where they sell control of their information future to forces outside their immediate community. If this happens, it will mean that ACCESS Indiana becomes a giant vacuum cleaner sucking money from local communities onto the on ramps of the I-way and funneling it to corporate coffers of Ameritech in Chicago. It would hold the danger of foreclosing each community's ownership of and economic control over its information future by means of a network that - as an alternative to what the Governor wants - could be an engine of local economic development within such a community. The third part of the ACCESS INDIANA program is an RFP for a statewide backbone service to connect local schools, libraries and government offices to the each other and to the Internet. The state wants mutiple organizations to offer backbone services but since it is spending no money on the network, it is unable to guarantee the bidder any usage figures. Organizations are being asked to post a $200,000 performance bond and name flat and very low prices for turnkey connections at 56 kbs and T-1 of state agencies to the state network. The price named is by bandwidth and must be location independent. Since Ameritech has already obligated itself to build virtually this network, it is difficult to imagine any other company willing to take the risk of locking itself into loss leader competition in Indiana for the next 3 to 5 years. At the end of this time the state manadated entry prices expire and Ameritech, having bought market share, will be free to charge any price that it wishes. For these resasons we believe that the actions of Indiana government are not in the interests of the citzens of the state. They will certainly exert a chilling effect on the ability of any new information service providers to set up shop within the state's borders. Finally in a just announced deal with DEC Ameritech is buying up to $40 million dollars worth of DEC's alpha video servers for rapid deployment in midwestern communities in order to drive the demand for content in the local community. Yes, it shouldn't be surprising that the talk in the press release is video on demand and home shopping.

Colorado State Study, pp. 17-22

We republish the first 6 pages of our 80 page Colorado Special Report originally released in mid January. They include the introduction and our interview with Lieutenant Governor Sam Cassidy. It is unlikely that we shall ever publish more than a third of this study in the monthly issues of the COOK Report.

Internet Society Rumblings, p.17

Efforts are underway to increase the number of seats on the ISOC Board and to get the three permanent members (CNRI, EDUCOM, RIPE) to put their seats up for vote. In a short article based on insider comment we attempt to sort out fact from rumor.

 

 

CIX Reorganization. pp. 1-7

We publish an interview with CIX Association President Bob Collet. In January the CIX appointed Susan Fitzgerald as its new Executive Director. Given the uncertain situation of the CIX, Susan's position is part time while she continues to run her network consulting company. Nevertheless Collet and Fitzgerald have been hard at work on a strategic plan and telecom white paper designed to turn the CIX into a trade association. While the CIX is still running its router and filtering has just gone into effect, the environment of the Internet has been so totally transformed since last summer that that the interconnect and peering services offered by the CIX router have become essentially meaningless with the opening of the NAPs and MAE West and the expansion of MAE-East.

However, the change in network topology has done interesting things to the cost of directly connecting to the core Internet. A year ago this could be done via a connection at the CIX router for perhaps $40,000 a year for the membership, connect fee and T-1 transit to the router. Now connection at T-3 speeds to multiple NAPs is necessary at a base cost that we estimate to be about $400,000 a year.

The CIX task force that was recruited when Collet became President late last November has turned its attention to such tasks as the definition of lobbying positions before the FCC in an effort to keep a level field for ISPs faced with the entry of RBOCs into their markets. In its Strategic Plan it has also outlined a new infrastructure model of High Bandwidth Packet Exchange Points (HPEPs), First Tier Providers, Large ISPs and Third Tier Prodivers which may aggregate their traffic in Packet Exchange Points before being sent on the HPEPs. One of the possible roles posited for the CIX is providing the basic language of interconnect agreements between the various levels of the new infrastructure. Running a routing registry for members is another possible service for members that is discussed.

While press accounts list 155 members Susan Fitzgerald told us that the current count is actually 145. She said this figured is taken from the total number of networks that had ever joined the CIX, including the large number that signed up last fall paying a partial year's fee in order to be able to attend the Atlanta membership meeting. Critical to the CIX's future will be the number who pay 1995 dues. Because the first thing that Fitzgerald had to do was reorganize the CIX's books, invoices for 1995 dues were not even sent out until February. Members will have until June 1 to pay up in order to attend the membership meeting at I- Net in Hawaii later that month. The Strategic Plan and Telecom White Paper were sent to memebrs on March 30, with the hope that they would give members sufficient reason to renew. With only a single tier of dues set at $7500 a year, our guess is that the number of members at the June meeting will be much diminished from the current 145 total. Last week NYSERnet announced that it would not be renewing its CIX membership - not a good sign for the future viability of the CIX.

While there is nothing about the program that Collet has put together that looks especially negative to us, there are parts of the infrastructure model design that may not be well received by all quarters. More important however is the question of communication with the network community at large. If the CIX is ever again to speak for the preponderance of the commercial internet, those on its Board must take the organization's new program before the internet community as a whole and argue openly for its support. The fact that we have not seen this happen combined with an increasingly active role by an Internet Society showing signs of wanting to move into the vacuum created by the end of the NSFnet, is not a sign that bodes well for the CIX's future.


ISOC, Network Infrastructure, IETF & NAPs pp.1, 8 -9

Who will put money into commercial domain name registration and into the IETF is a current critical topic among Internet policy makers. We state some NSF assumptions on these issues, publish responses from ISOC Director Tony Rutkowskii and describe the decision taken by the Federal Networking Council to continue supporting IETF to the tune of nearly 1.5 million a year in order to be certain that IETF maintains its independence. Updates on PacBell and Ameritech NAPs - including a PacBell communications slip.

MCI May Impose Metered Pricing pp. 10 - 11

MCI's John Houser side stepped our questions after New Hampshire ISP asserted that his MCI sales reps had said metered pricing would begin some time in May.

Routing in the Post NSFnet World, pp. 12-16

The MERIT Policy Routing Data Base is being replaced by the Routing Arbiter Database and Route Servers. But in the new decentralized multiple backbone world we have just enetered, not everyone has committed to use the Routing Arbiter. This combined with heavy pressure on Sprint's routers, caused Sprint to begin to restrict the portability of some CIDR blocks for routing purposes. After a heavy flame war between Sprint, PSI and MCSnet, the likely out come will be to restrict greatly the portability of IP numbers obtained via CIDR blocs should a customer using those numbers decide to change providers.

Access Indiana Revisited, pp. 17-20

The award of the state preferred provider contract has been delayed until late May. In the meantime it has become clear that a centralized head end, top down model into which all community networks will be plugged is intended. A 12 county private sector effort to link K-12 schools was polity told to stand aside in early April since it would be duplicating the centralized effort of state government. When a private ISP offered to extend service into a rural community, she was also rebuffed. Ameritech, State Dept of Education and State Library money is going not into community owned infrastructure but rather should go according to organizer Ed Tully into professional web page design so that Indiana communities will have attractive content to give a state choosen central provider. When many communities said they had adequate talent to design their own Web pages, Tully sharply disagreed.

Washington State Porn Bill pp. 21-22

Under this grossly misguided legislation now on Governor Mark Lowry's desk, ISPs would be liable to the tune of $5000 a day and one year in jail for each instance of pornographic material found on their systems by minors. The legislation would effectively force ISPs to deny access to minors.