A Practical Navigator for the Internet Economy

ITXC Corp. Builds Internet Telephony Service Provider Wholesale Business

Tom Evslin on Voice over IP Technical Issues & Protocol Developments and Mary Evslin on ITXC Business Model, pp. 1- 9

We interview Tom Evslin on IP telephony protocol development and Mary Evslin on the ITXC (Internet Telephony Exchange Carrier Corp.) business model of functioning as an ITSP wholesaler. Tom Evslin lists protocol priorities as two: inter gateway communication - achieved for the first time in mid September between Lucent and VocalTec and secondly protocols that will support different classes of service on a single IP network - something that looks best attainable with IPv6. He is impressed with Lucent's PacketStar technology for quality of service in Intranets.

He is favorable to SIP saying: 'the debate about SIP is over whether or not H.323 is really the right protocol for gateway management at all, because H.323 was really developed as a multimedia standard and was grabbed and adapted for IP telephony. It is not very strong in all in the signaling area where SIP is strong." He laments the fact that existing gateway vendors tend to back H.323. Because of ITXC's middle man role necessitates it to perform settlement functions between ITSPs, he finds SS7 protocol compatibility necessary in order to take advantage of SS7 accounting features.

He provides a useful explanation of the kinds of criteria that carriers are likely to apply in standards body work. He suggests that in development of protocols addressing E .164 issues a pattern of operation from fax protocols might be copied. In such a situation the protocol would let gateways communicate with each other until they had defined all the communications capabilities that they shared in common with each other.

In an interview with Mary Evslin, we learn that ITXC is set up to facilitate the establishment of Internet Telephony Service Providers (ITSPs) to take advantage of the very high cost of international phone calls and to enable arbitrage competition by those companies against the rates charged by the local PTTs. ITXC is set up to certify that local ITSPs can provide adequate services, to educate potential ITSPs on how to enter the business and to provide call detail records and settlement services for those who choose to use ITXC's wholesale services.

Asked what ITXC would do after the estimated 18 month window for arbitrage on international phone call rates closes, he replied "I see us being a wholesaler of many different services which are Internet telephony based. The reason is that Internet telephony provides a basis for a lot more innovation than traditional telephony. I can see conferencing services, call forwarding services and integrated mail services -- some of these for people with PCs but a lot just for people with black phones that have a few more capabilities than the black phones of today."

Frontier Global Center OC48 WDM Build Out via Qwest Fiber Detailed

With an IXC Business Customer Orientation But Without WorldCom Debt, Company Well Positioned for Profitable Next Gen Telco Role, pp. 10 - 13

Jon Plonka, VP for IP Network Architecture and Network Engineering at Frontier Global Center describes Frontier's March 1998 acquisition of Global Center itself a group of dial up ISPs, web hosting and digital distribution center companies. Frontier Corporation (formerly Rochester Telephone) is the 5th largest IXC in the US. It made the first major purchase of Qwest fiber two years ago buying 24 of the 96 strands for $500 million dollars. With the most basic parts of the Qwest network in place it like BBN (GTEI) is building out a backbone. The buildout using SONET rings will be completed in the fourth quarter of 1998.

Frontier has chosen to build an OC48 WDM backbone where, by use of wave division multiplexing, it can turn each physical, fiber into 16 and soon upwards of 96 "virtual fibers". Frontier is both an IXC and a local loop provider with close to a million local loop customers. But it is also a CLEC in 80 percent of the U.S. business market with 140,000 plus business lines. According to Plonka: "We are deploying our own switches in many of those markets. So we are positioning ourselves as a player with one of the largest IP backgrounds in the US, one of the largest foot prints of any CLEC, and a significant long distance carrier connecting those markets." Frontier is built much like a smaller WorldCom with the advantage of a much smaller debt to equity ratio.

Issues of Internet Security: Cryptography, Buggy Software and Denial of Service Attack

Steve Bellovin Discusses Issues of IPSec Deployment, pp. 14 - 18

We discuss issues of internet security in an interview with Steve Bellovin of ATT Laboratories and the Internet Architecture Board. The interview covers three areas: cryptography, buggy software and denial of service attacks.

Discussing IPSec in some detail, we asked: So with perfect forward secrecy as a part of IPSec, if the government wanted to find out what to parties were doing, it would have to tap into their conversation in real-time? And Bellovin answered: If they had some sort of key recovery or key escrow system, they could play it back at any point. . . . . The mechanisms inside IPSec are not really designed to defeat government key of recovery or key escrow. They are designed to defeat real world threats to your communications security by an unauthorized intruder."

IPSec standards have only really just been solidified. What we have now is really a year's worth of beta tests where we can finally take what was learned and do stable implementation.

When Bellovin did an analysis of CERT advisories over the past decade, he found that only 15% reflected problems that cryptography could fix. He warns that passwords are a noteworthy security problem, and he laments, saying: "I don't have a big enough magic wand to fix the buggy software problem. This is been the single biggest problem in computer science as far as I'm concerned for the past fifty years. You can have IPSec everywhere, a cryptographicly protected channel and a buggy software subject to attack by a hacker where the main role of IPSec will be to prevent you from a monitoring the hacker's activities." Careful attention to software design methodologies are, he believes, the best defense in this area.

Smurf attacks are the leading denial of service problem. He sees these as purely the equivalent of tire slashing by teenage gangs - a form of digital vandalism. They can occur because it is possible to send a message to fifty or a hundred machines that will cause all of them to start broadcasting acknowledgments to a target machine. These acknowledgements will clog that machine's Internet link. Unfortunately, "there's no central fix you can do to turn off smurfing. The best way to do this do is turn off the ability of someone else to use your network site as one of the amplification points in making an attack on the target site. . . . If everyone did source address filtering in their routing, smurfing would go away, as well as a host of other kind of attacks that rely on forged source addresses."

Bellovin also explains why DNSSec deployment is critical and why multiple roots for DNS would be a very bad outcome for the DNS wars.

Magaziner tells COOK Report: at Least One More Draft NeededAn Overview of Recent Events as Creation of New IANA Enters Home Stretch, pp. 19-21

We publish a September 21st interview with Ira Magaziner in which Ira declares of the IANA/NSI draft of September 17: "Judging by comments I have seen, I think there will need to be at least one more draft to achieve a broad enough consensus."

Our article summarizes the disintegration of the IFWP process that occurred in no small part due to the CIX's abandonment of the goal of a wrapup meeting when Postel served notice that he would not attend. We note that Harvard professor Lawrence Lessig put the blame for the continuing lack of resolution squarely on the shoulders of Jon Postel in an article available at: http://www.thestandard.com/articles/opinion_display/0,1266,1718-0,00.html

Becky Burr at NTIA and Commerce has become the NSI Cooperative agreements' administrator in place of the NSF's Don Mitchell for the final days of the cooperative agreement. We expect that NSI will not capitulate to Becky's demands that it agree to an extension of the cooperative agreement. We would however like to see someone force NSI to overhaul its policy on trademark disputes via which small business users of DNS are held hostage to the money and legal clout of large corporations.

List of ISP's Trans Pacific Bandwitdh, p. 22

We republish with permission Barry Ravendraan Greene's list of Asian ISP's having 45 megabits or more of Trans Pacific bandwidth. the list includes network AS number and where known, trace sites and peering contacts.

Letter to the Editor from Ripe, pp. 22, 24

Daniel Karrenburg presents information about the country code TLDs designed to overcome what he feels to have been oversimplification on our part in our October issue article on pages 21 - 22, 24.