A Practical Navigator for the Internet Economy

ALOHA Networks Applies Spread Spectrum To Increase Satellite Bandwidth Efficiency

-- Will Offer Inexpensive Satellite Local Loop Bypass Internet Connections to Small Business in Americas & Soon Globally, pp. 1- 7

We interview the CTO of ALOHA Networks, Norman Abramson. ALOHA intends to start by tripling the efficiency of its use of satellite bandwidth via the application of spread spectrum. Abramson describes his technology as SAMA (Spread Aloha Multiple Access) and explains that, with refinement, they expect to go far beyond their immediate tripling of efficiency. He says: Spread Aloha is CDMA without the CD. That is to say - it is Code Divsion Multiple Access. But that instead of code division with multiple codes, we have only a single code for all users. In other words there is no code division per se and this fact is the key to why this technology is so simple to implement. The basic Spread Aloha technology deals with the fundamental issue of how to share a common channel among an extremely large number of bursty users.

They will begin operations with a hub using nine Field Programmable Gate Arrays. The hub will be located at their operations center and eventually they will have multiple hubs at multiple teleports. The hub can service 3,000 customers. Each customer has a dish and receiving equipment costing $2500. Bandwidth from the customer to the satellite and back to the customer is two-way, burstable up to two megabits per second, never touches a telco local loop, and will cost a small business having 15 to 20 computers on a LAN about $200 a month.

Serving Latin American customers in general will be ALOHA Network's first test. It will use the SatMex 5 satellite (launched 12/4/98) but, since its system is geographically insensitive (providing it has satellite coverage), its first test users could be anywhere in the satellite footprint -- which is North and South America.

It is going for the Latin American market first because it is "crystal clear that there are no viable, economical alternatives and because the demand is growing so rapidly." It will come back to the US market at a later time -- or in response to distributors who want to use SkyDSL [the name of ALOHA networks commercial service]. It will begin testing in 2nd quarter 99 and be in operation at mid year. It will start by installing and operating its own hubs and will have a network operations center in the San Francisco Bay Area. It will connect to the commercial Internet via the California Exchanges.

As we went to press, we learned that ALOHA Networks has just laid off some engineers. When we reached Norman Abramson to inquire we learned that ALOHA had decided, rather than building the production hardware necessary to begin operations, to seek a joint venture partner to do the necessary commercial production. With this change in direction they are redirecting capital allocated to the engineering of in house production. They hope to announce a joint venture partner shortly.

Cisco's David Oran Discusses Forces Propelling Development of Voice over IP

-- Surveys Device Control Protocol Issues from SGCP to IPDC, pp. 8 - 12

We interview David Oran who, at Cisco, functions in the capacity of systems architect for voice over IP protocol design. Oran explains what he calls "the four enablers" of Voice over IP. First is progress in the development of Digital Signal Processors (DSPs). Second: recognition of TCP/IP as the ubiquitous protocol over which packetized voice would run. Third: the standards committees understood the possibilities early on enough to be able to get enough cooperation among the possible players to create a real market. Fourth: tremendous changes in the regulatory environment with the 1996 telecom act in the US and telecom deregulation in Europe created major opportunities for voice bypass solutions in enterprise networks.

The motivation for infrastructure investment now appears to come from what looks like an essentially boundless demand for data capacity. Within this context, a major recent activity of Oran's has been the development of SGCP (Simple Gateway Control Protocol). Oran says: "Its view of life is that for much of what people want to do now - at least with Internet telephony - is to replace the infrastructure of a circuit switched network with a more cost effective and forward looking IP network. However, they may not be prepared to turn upside down the complete call control, billing, service and feature infrastructure that has been in place through the intelligent network all at the same time. So what SGCP attempts to do is to emulate the call control system of the existing network only enabling you to do the emulation on top of IP."

Asked to compare SIP to SGCP he replied: "SIP places all the call control intelligence in the network at the endpoints on the network. SGCP centralizes the call control intelligence in servers and the end points are simply slave devices. I expect that both SGCP and SIP will co-exist in the network. If you have a smart end point like a PC, SIP is the appropriate thing to do because it has state and understands things. It can go and talk to directory servers for example. If you have a dumb end point like a simple gateway or a cable modem, or some appliance type thing like an IP telephone, SGCP would be the more appropriate protocol."

He is optimistic about MGCP which is the result of progress in converging Level 3's IPDC with SGCP. Asked whether he believed that we have a series of on-going events that will make it possible for the next generation telco's to in effect surround and begin to swallow the PSTN, he replied that he does believe this but he also pointed out that, before it will happen, issues of telco reliability must be faced. "Skeptics say what happens when the TCP/IP network breaks and that is what the telephones are also running on? . . . To ensure the internet's continued growth, it must be engineered for higher reliability which means more backup trunking paths, more backup equipment, better and more seamless ways of switching to backup equipment than we have presently deployed today."

Evaluating SONET in High Speed, Mission Critical, Private Data Network

-- NANOG & Conscientious List-User Yield Unusually Good Technical Summary: Criteria, Strategy, and Choice of Vendors and Equipment, pp. 13 -16

We present a long discussion of the use of SONET in a mission-critical TCP/IP VPN in the New York metropolitan area. The discussion reprinted from NANOG with the permission of its compiler Peter Polasek. The information presented ranges from how to negotiate with the LECs to designing network topology for maximum reliability to the issues involved in selecting network equipment.

ICANN Constitutes Itself in Order to Apply "Adult Supervision" to Internet -- Esther Dyson Acts as Mouthpiece for Shadow Cabinet Mike Roberts Transmission Belt for ISOC & IBM Wishes

-- Backing Interests Threatened by Ubiquitous TCP/IP, ICANN Prepares to Overturn the Values that Made Possible Currant American Dominance of Telecommunications Technology, pp. 17 - 22

Since late October ICANN has constituted itself in order to apply "adult supervision" to the Internet. Esther Dyson acts as mouthpiece for a Shadow Cabinet composed of the Mighty Five, IBM's Roger Cochetti, and Jones Day's Joe Sim's. As interim President, Mike Roberts serves as a transmission belt for ISOC and IBM wishes. Backing interests threatened by the emergence of ubiquitous TCP/IP, ICANN prepares to overturn the values that made possible current American dominance of telecommunications technology. Before readers consider the foregoing to be an excessively dire evaluation, they should ponder carefully the following statements by three of the Might Five.

Vint Cerf said in an interview . . . it's time for the IETF to let the Internet grow up. "The fact that a constellation is being built to do what one or two people did is astonishing," said Cerf, senior vice president of MCI WorldCom. "But then again, when the Internet started, it wasn't of commercial value. Now it is and it has attracted all parties, including the lawyers. That means it's valuable and that's good." "Oversight of the Internet has become a legalistic business," Roberts said. "We have to deal with lawyers and bankers and unfortunately we have to do it in a way that makes some of you uncomfortable." Source: Sandra Gittlen Network World, 12/11/98 (Article regarding rough reception of ICANN at IETF.) Finally Dave Farber: to the Presidents Information Technology Advisory Commission: "The DNS Problem . . .. will decide whether "adult" supervision of the internet is needed. "

Editor's Translation: Cerf's "grow up" means let the big corporations make the rules so the little guys get screwed. Roberts "deal with the lawyer's and bankers" means that unless you have the bucks for the lawyers, don't even bother to play. Farber's "adult supervision" is exactly what the "five" have crafted ICANN to deliver. We thank Dave, Vint and Mike for making our points about the lead paragraph above although we are especially saddened to see the father of the Internet make such a statement.

Part One of our article is a narrative version of the presentation we made to the Third Annual Canarie Advanced Networking Workshop in Ottawa on December 15. Our major point was that the way ICANN has been put together is a fundamental betrayal of Internet values and culture. The Internet would best be served by ICANN's failure. Absent Jon Postel ICANN simply cannot be trusted. Part Two contains the high lights of mail list debate since late October.


Rob Frieden, "Without Public Peer: The Potential Regulatory and Universal Service Consequences of Internet Balkanization" and Xipeng Xiao "Internet QoS: the Big Picture".