A Practical Navigator for the Internet Economy

New Business Model For All IP Network

Enron's IP Over Fiber Network Alternative Way To Deliver High Bandwidth Web Content -- Overlay Of Public Internet Has Significant Qos Implications, pp. 1- 10

We interview Stan Hanks who is Vice President, Research and Technology for Enron Communications. Enron is using power company rights-of-way to build its own fiber links from Portland Oregon to Salt Lake City, to Las Vegas, to Los Angeles and from Salt Lake City to Denver to Houston, Texas. Enron is using access to this fiber to do swaps with Frontier that will give Enron a national fiber network. Unlike Qwest and Level 3 and Williams, Enron is building a pure IP network. Namely IP over DWDM without SONET and without ATM.. This helps them to keep both capital and labor costs low by eliminating the purchase of ATM and SONET equipment as well as the need to employ engineers for the maintenance of SONET and ATM.

Enron's business model is very different from that of the other next-gen telco networks (Qwest, Level 3 etc.). It is offering an overlay of the public Internet that can be used by large scale content aggregators such as Real Networks to deliver their content more cost effectively than possible by the purchase of multiple upstream connections and transit through congested NAPs.

In the case of Real Networks, Enron would have high-speed connections into their major distribution centers. The content that they originate and Enron distribute gets sent instantaneously to all servers at all of Enron's network pops. High-speed connections to ISPs, CLEC's and cable modem providers run from these pop's.

The Enron business model is predicated on the assumption that it can function as a content aggregator getting content from producers content to local ISPs and hence to the audiences the content producers want to reach more efficiently and cost effectively through its network than through the public Internet.

In addition to this Enron offers a managed infrastructure where they handle all the network connections and routing and all the computing aspects of delivering the content. For example Enron places a router and a server under its control and management into the pops of their local distribution partners. The router comes, at Enron's expense, with a high-speed leased line into the partner's pop. Enron then provides from its infrastructure to that of their partners all necessary high-speed interfaces. Enron sees itself as having a fix for many of the things that are broken about the current Internet traffic scenario. The fix is to move the more demanding content across Enron's transmission infrastructure. But note that Enron is not a general backbone network. ISP's can not buy access to the Internet via Enron. Enron is, in effect, a private overlay of the public Internet.

In the Real Networks model Enron is paid when the Real Networks servers are able to deliver requested flows via Enron's network rather than via the public internet. Last November Enron bought Modulus Technologies in order to be able to gain access to its Inter Agent real time control software. Enron content aggregator customers place this software on their web servers. When Inter Agent receives an http request it does a look up of the requestor. If that person can be reached on the Enron network, it ships the packets that way and writes the transaction to software that over time determines the total data delivered by Enron on behalf of its client.

Enron's overlay network is an interesting answer to the quality of service issue. In looking at the traditional IP class of service parameters, you find that you have a very small number of bits to play with. Network operators have to deal with the dynamic tension between the requirements of operating a core network and the requirements of operating the intelligent network at the edge. They find that, at the edge, if they want to, they may offer very many flavors or gradations of Service. But, at the same time they will find that, as they take your bits across their backbone, the limits of technology require them to cut down those flavors and gradations to very small number.

While Enron has relatively few customers, it can certainly deal with QoS issues by applying a bandwidth solution to them. But when Enron to grows from dozens to hundreds, to ultimately perhaps thousands of customers, its ability to throw bandwidth at problems becomes much more elusive and it begins to need network engineering solutions.

Wither Telephony In IP Dominated World -- IPtel Engineers Debate Merits of Innovation Versus Predictability in Ip Telephony Protocol Design, pp. 11 - 16

In late January on the IETF IPtel Working Group mail list, a question by a 3Com employee about the SIP protocol kicked of a discussion that migrated from the technical aspects at hand to a very informative discussion of the general role of the IETF process in Voice over IP protocol development. The debate pitted those who want the implementation of an entire suite of standards that would yield a total voice over IP solution, versus those who are happy to see more rapidly evolved modular solutions that may be packaged to serve varying needs and environments even if they are all less than 100% interoperable.

The debate is also about accommodation versus innovation. Should we be striving to move the public switched telephone network to the Internet? Or should we use IP and computer technology to build an entirely new phone systems and set of services? The legacy phone companies and their mentor the ITU not surprisingly want a cautious conservative transition to globally interoperable standards at all levels. The engineers of the IETF favor innovation over predictability as they push for a process that can offer a mixture of computing and telephony services independent of POTs.

In a "net head" versus "bell head" display of experiment versus conservatism one of the discussants concluded: Give me choices in how to locate users. Give me choices in how to select IP/PSTN gateways. Let me choose which QoS choice I want (by giving ITSPs choices in products to deploy.) I want a choice in what happens when I pick up the phone to call grandma. I *do* want it to connect. I do want some base level functionality - just as HTML/SMTP/... all do their basic job on the 'net. But let extensibility roam free. If in the process products don't work with each other, fix 'em. Everything does *not* need to be perfect day-one. This has plenty of precedent in the IP world.

Business Model of a Third World Isp -- Dileep Argawal Explains the Dynamics of Building World Link, Nepal's Largest ISP pp. 16 - 19

We interview Dileep Agrawal, an entrepreneur who has grown Kathmandu based World Link from his bedroom to a 50 person company in less than 3 years. Dileep shows the creative role portrayed by Teleglobe in offering reasonably priced satellite bandwidth down linked to Copenhagen and sent by Teleglobe infrastructure across the Atlantic to US based connections. (One of Teleglobe's policies was a three month moratorium on his monthly $4,000 half link bill in order to help him build up a cash flow.) He explains how the internet begins to play a role in the Nepali economy beyond that of mere tourism He shows how he must diplomatically work with the Nepali PTT in a country where a percentage of telecom revenue traditionally goes to support social programs something that makes cutting prices quite difficult.

ICANN AUTOCRACY pp. 19, 21- 22, 24

ICANN continues its assault hiring a PR firm rather than opening its board meetings and getting ready to impose certification procedures for registrars which are so restrictive that Einar Stefferud commented on Feb 25: "ICANN threatens to destabilize all businesses that depend on stable DNS name arrangements."

While ICANN appears ready to steamroller its agenda through at the Singapore meeting next week, it is also so broke that Vint Cerf publicly appealed to ISOC supporters on its behalf. Meanwhile WITSA, the international technology arm of the Information Technology Association of America sent out an astroturf brochure replete with factual inaccuracies asking its members to support the DNSO draft and the rights of trademark owners against the rights of ordinary domain name holders.. Finally we note an October 1997 Reuters article on the leaders of the EC and the GIP calling for the creation of the kind of international regulatory body for the Internet that ICANN seems intent on becoming.

ITU'S BUSINESS MODEL, pp. 20 - 21

A discussion of the contrast between the ITU's and IETFs handling of standards documentation