A Practical Navigator for the Internet Economy

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.