A Practical Navigator for the Internet Economy

Netera Offers CWDM Gig E Backbone

SUPERNET to Bring Fiber to Entire Province

Focus on Alberta in Assessing Canadian Development in Current Economic Downturn

 

A Canadian US Policy Technology Overview and Comparison,

pp. 1-15

We interview both Ken Hewitt, President of the Netera Alliance which runs Netera the gigabit Ethernet research network for the province of Alberta and Gary Finley, Director of Networking for Netera.

We preface the interview with a discussion of Canadian internet infrastructure development in the context of "The TSC Streetside Chat: Ravi Suria" by Brett D. Fromson. Found at http://www.thestreet.com/markets/marketfeatures/1359535.html. This interview looks at capitalization of the new network infrastructure companies and finds their balance sheets laden with much more debt than equity capital. Suria finds that the amounts of borrowing has been so large that the chances that most of these companies will be able to generate enough income on their investments to pay both their operating expenses and the interest on their debt is small. The result he says will be large numbers of bankruptcies and massive amounts of dark fiber available at fire sale prices.

To Bill St Arnaud this looks like an opportunity to further the revolution that Canarie is leading. He wrote: "We see this as good news. Many carriers are sitting on millions of miles of unused fiber and wavelengths. The coming credit crunch I suspect will force many of these companies to liquidate these assets. At first there will be the usual wailing and gnashing of teeth that they are selling off their crown jewels. But already a few forward looking telcos are starting to realize that treating telecommunications as an marketable asset, rather than as service has many benefits and significant new business opportunities." St Arnaud goes on to foresee the telecommunications industry moving from a service industry to customer owned assets industry in the same way as with the advent of the personal computer twenty years ago computing moved from the purchase o main frame services to ownership of PCs and local area networks. We also discuss with Tim Denton some of the regulatory issues that made the Canadian advances possible.

Moving to the Alberta situation, we interview Gary Finley in detail about his construction of a SONETless gigabit Ethernet backbone for Netera over a distance of 350 kilometers between Calgary and Edmonton. Finley decided on Coarse Wave Division multiplexing and fond a vendor (N-base Xyplex, now a division of I-Touch Communications) that would make the necessary modifications to a four-channel CWDM optical multiplexer designed for metro networks. The resulting box puts four full-duplex Gigabit Ethernet signals on a single fiber pair. Each box serves as a repeater spanning a distance of about 65 kilometers. Finley: "every 60 km or so that Gigabit Ethernet four- lambda multiplexed signal gets demultiplexed into four individual gigabit signals. These signals enter a new multiplexer which restores the optical signal strength for the next hop."

"We do that twice and then we pass the whole thing through a buffered Gigabit Ethernet switch in order to take care of a timing issue having to do with Ethernet frames. When one of my signals moves from Calgary to Edmonton, it travels 350 km. It goes through two O-E-O regenerations and then makes a complete conversion back down into electronic Gigabit Ethernet at the halfway point of the Edmonton-Calgary route." Editor; "the detailed discussion contains cost figures and a diagram comparing a pure optical gigabit Ethernet backbone with one using Ethernet and SONET.

SUPERNET is the second Albertan contribution to the ongoing Canadian telecom revolution. SUPERNET happened because the government of Alberta looked very broadly at what they call ICT (Information Communications Technology) as an economic driver. SUPERNET is designed for a three year build out to bring fiber to every village in the provence of Alberta. This is what broadband means in Canada where the discussion has nothing to do with the backward and simplistic American approach to broadband as either DSL or Cable Modem services.

The SUPERNET solicitation has been won by Bell Intrigna which is a Calgary based company that was created to represent an expansion by Bell Canada and others to operations in western Canada. They are two-thirds owned by Manitoba Telecom Services (MTS) and one-third by Bell Canada, with offices in Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver. They have a strategic alliance with Bell's subsidiary, Bell Nexxia. Bell Intrigna will be solely accountable and responsible for all aspects of the proposal. It will be responsible and accountable for building, operating and managing the network and infrastructure.

SUPERNET has been top down in origin. However, its implementation has been designed to support the open access condo style approach to fiber pioneered on Ontario and Quebec. Hewitt: "Bell Intrigna's offer of a fiber condominium to the government of Alberta played an important part in their winning the RFP. Their offer included an invitation to competitive players to participate in the fiber build as well as an affirmation of their continuing commitment after the build it to provide local and open access to the fiber. All these offers on their part combined to become an important factor in their receiving the bid.'

We close our Canadian coverage by republishing the contents of three recent Canarie mail list messages: Peer to Peer applications and related news, issue on tests of customer owned dark fiber and a summary of bandwidth commoditization issues.

How to Tell the Difference Between a Switch and a Router,

pp. 15

From the IETF list we reprint highlights of a brief discussion between Mike O'Dell, Noel Chiappa and Claudio Bernal.

Texas.net - Business Oriented ISP Serves State's Four Major Metro Areas

Focus on Leased Lines, Usenet Outsourcing and Management Services for Web Farms

So Far Has Not Needed to Follow Net Access' Dark Fiber Model,

pp. 16- 23

We interview Jonah and Ron Yokubaitis founders of Texas.net. The discussion recounts how they grew the business from 12 dial up lines in San Antonio in the fall of 1994 to the current business of leased lines connecting San Antonio, Austin, Dallas -Fort Worth, and Houston. Here the orientation is servicing the Internet connectivity needs of large corporate customers. Texas.net however also has 60,000 dial up customers.

Although they use some dark fiber where appropriate (getting to an exchange point in Austin, for example) they have so far not found long haul fiber to be cost effective. As Jonah explained: "In 1997 we bought a fiber IRU between two of our major pops. We wound up selling the IRU because we found that at least for five years into the future (we are four years from that already) we could buy capacity from the carriers a lot cheaper than we could build it even if the fiber were free. Maybe the cost for circuits in the North East is just a heck of a lot more than down here in Texas? There seems to be a tremendous glut of fiber locally. We have prices being put in front of us that we just cannot refuse. Given the distance between our four major cities we haven't seen any indication yet that gigabit Ethernet is really feasible on an inter city basis."

They state that the bandwidth and other infrastructure requirements for handling a full, global Usenet News feed have now grown so intense that there are now less than half a dozen companies providing this service. Their entry is a separate company called Giga News. They run it on roughly ten very large servers allowing customers in 100 countries streaming access to three terabytes of data - an operation that consumes a bandwidth of 500 megabytes per second. They are finding that they need multiple OC48s to handle the load. They can't get this bandwidth in Austin and, as a result, are planning to move their servers to California.

Their first choice has been the Equinix IBX in San Jose. Amazingly they have been unable to get the sales staff to understand their needs. They report that the sales droids seem to be fixated on finding customers who will agree to locate in all present and future Equinix Centers. More than three weeks ago we called Equinix on their behalf. We know Al Avery the CEO and Jay Adelson the CTO. We left voice mail for both people.

We were greeted with silence. As of Friday April 13, Texas.net also had not heard and were reluctantly preparing to take their business elsewhere. We find this silence rather amazing. Despite the collapse in their stock price, we believe Equinix to be a good company run by good people. We can only wonder whether perhaps none of the owners of the various fiber builds into Equinix San Jose are willing or able to provision an OC48?

Data Foundary is the other Texas.net subsidiary. Data Foundary uses software that it developed to manage the networks of many customers. If an application service provider where a Data Foundary customer, the business model would be managing the network operation of the ASP itself. According to Jonah, "in a data center environment we handle all the firewalls and switches, the data recovery, the storage, the servers themselves. We handle everything except the customer application, which of course the customer runs. Now say we have network infrastructure that we are managing for 100 different customers. Rather than just take our word for what is happening, why shouldn't the customers have the tools to look inside their own networks in order to see for themselves what is happening? But with existing network monitoring and management packages, the customer cannot do this. Our tools give them this capability."

BGP Routing System Scaling Problems IETF Sets Out to Redesign BGP4

A Known Problem: Noel Chiappa in Pages of April 1997 COOK Report Called for Redesign of BGP,

pp. 24 - 26

In April 1997 we published a long interview with Noel Chiappa on the technical aspects of inter domain routing. In this article Noel outlined the reasons why BGP would not scale indefinitely. He also explained that given the enormity of the task, it would not happen quickly. Now four years later with the defaultless core of the Internet having grown to over 100,000 routes, alarm bells are ringing and the IETF has announced the To tackle these questions of how best to revamp BGP4, the IETF has launched a new effort called Prefix Taxonomy Ongoing Measurement and Inter Network Experiment (Ptomaine). The IETF BOF was held on March 20, 2001 . We have not yet heard any further announcements. During the week of April 2 there was a long discussion on NANOG of a page one article in the Network World of April 2. We do not publish that discussion but instead several more pointed analyses by Sean Doran and Bill St Arnaud.

How Media Companies are Conspiring with Hardware Companies to Misuse Copy Protection in Order to Cripple What Consumers Have Rights to Do

An Excellent Survey, by John Gilmore,

pp. 27 - 30

In January 2001 John Gilmore wrote an indictment of the copyright lobbies IP land grab. We republish it courtesy Ted Byfield and Netime.

Gilmore explains how copyright interests have acted hand in hand with hardware manufacturers to restrict often well beyond what is legally mandated the ability of the devices to make either high quality or more than a limited number of copies. The following is but one example from a series of well done litanies:

What is wrong is that a tiny tail of "copyright protection" is wagging the big dog of communications among humans. As Andy Odlyzko pointed out, (http://www.research.att.com/~amo/doc/eworld.html, see "Content is not king" and "The history of communications and its implications for the Internet"), "The annual movie theater ticket sales in the U.S. are well under $10 billion. The telephone industry collects that much money every two weeks!" Distorting the law and the technology of human communication and computing, in order to protect the interests of copyright holders, makes the world poorer overall. Even if it didn't violate fundamental policies for the long-term stability of societies, it would be the wrong economic decision.

Coming in the July COOK Report Jonathan Thatcher and Howard Frazier on Ethernet in the First Mile.