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NEW PROTOCOLS INTEGRATE IP NETS & PSTN -- PUBLIC NET IS NO LONGER IMPREGNABLE BASTION --

LEVEL 3 - TAC IP DEVICE CONTROL SPECIFICATION COMPLETED -- RESULT OF MULTIPLE EFFORTS WILL PERMIT PACKET NETWORKS TO ENVELOP PSTN & EMPOWER END USER DRIVEN APPLICATIONS pp. 1- 9

Protocol development, that is now underway and likely to be completed in record time, will allow the IP networks of the "next gen" telcos to plug into and seamlessly inter-operate with the PSTN. The global trillion dollar PSTN isn't going to vanish overnight. However, these new developments are of major importance because, in allowing the new packet networks to inter-operate with SS7 circuit switched networks, the most important barrier to the unimpeded growth of the next gen telcos and to CLECs will have been eliminated. At that point, the final barrier represented by the ILEC copper local loops will be brought under siege.

We examine, in detail, the achievement of Level 3 Communications and its Technical Advisory Council in producing, on time, the IPDC specification that will be published during the week of August 3rd. While we publish an in-depth interview with Ike Elliott the lead architect for IPDC, we also, by means of interviews with Christian Huitema of Bellcore (on SGCP) and Richard Shockey on related protocol developments, describe the IPDC accomplishment in the larger context of what needs to be done to achieve a complete transfusion between the PSTN and the new IP networks.

Level 3 was evaluating Bellcore's SGCP spec in March 98 when it discovered XCOM, a Massachusetts CLEC that had written IP Device Control (IPDC) software that enabled its IP gateway devices to understand SS7 input in the areas of 1. signaling transport, 2. device management, 3. media control and 4. connection control. Level 3 considered the XCOM accomplishment so important that it bought the company. It saw IPDC as a market enabler for the new IP based telco industry and determined to turn it into a specification and hopefully an appropriately blessed standard to be given away.

Level 3 acquired XCOM on April 29. By May 29 it had convinced the most of the world's top switch/router manufacturers to form a Technical Advisory Council (TAC) pledged to turn the XCOM IPDC specifications into an interoperable specification that they would make available in their hardware before the end of the year. The TAC members are: Cisco, Nortel, Lucent, Ascend, 3COM, Ericsson, Alcatel, Tekelec, Stratus, Selsius, and Vertical Networks. These companies sent top engineers to the TAC which worked IETF style and completed the spec before the end of July. The spec will be publicly released the week of August 3. It will be immediately presented to IETF and ITU telecommunications standards bodies.

IPDC commands a universal port access device to do: either voice over IP, or circuit switching, or modem call termination, depending on the nature of the incoming call. Consequently, IPDC eliminates the need for someone in the data network-IP network business to purchase any circuit switches in order to get into voice services in a big way. With the IPDC protocol added to one of the devices at the edge of a network, the incoming traffic arrives at the IP network's media gateways in the same way as calls arrive at a circuit switch.

In conversations with Christian Huitema we explore Bellcore's SGCP which, IPDC architect Ike Elliott, says performs a subset of the IPDC functions. We also explore the broader significance with Richard Shockey who points out that "SS7 interconnection is a weighty issue since it is really about formally interlinking the Internet with the switches at the core of the PSTN. But Level 3's IP Device Control protocol is just one of a family of necessary protocol adjustments. Bellcore's simple Gateway Control Protocol looks at some of the same issues from a different point of view. Finally we have the E.164 discussions on the IPTel working group mail list and August Chicago IETF BOF's. These are looking first at how to map the location of end point gateways to the routing of packetized voice carried by the IP backbones and second at the issue of how to map existing E.164 telephone numbers to IP services and gateways. All of this is the beginning of the discussion of how IP telephony will function when it is driven toward edge of the network and is installed in customer premise equipment and in telephone keysets."

"Huge bandwidth at the core of the PSTN is opening up. Part of that core will be circuit switched and SS7 powered for a long time. But the newer parts of the core will be connectionless and IP packetized. The old and the new are in need of protocols that will enable them to work smoothly together. This is happening faster than anyone thought possible. There will be BOF in all these areas at the Chicago IETF.

"But if we look at the bigger picture, we will see that the real problem is that we have the ILEC's messing up the middle of the network. The edges (ie corporate LAN's) have plenty of bandwidth. The new IP backbones of Qwest and Level 3 have bandwidth. And even the legacy parts of the PSTN long haul backbones will have plenty of bandwidth. So we have a problem: the core has bandwidth. The edge has bandwidth. But you cannot get seamlessly from the core to the edge since you have to go the "last mile. " The ILECs control the last mile. The changes coming on from the PSTN core will give that ILEC last mile control a major challenge."

INTERNET PERFORMANCE MONITORING SERVICES CAN SHOW DETAILS OF PRIVATE INTERCONNECTS

MATRIX INFORMATION AND DIRECTORY SERVICES ANNOUNCES EXPANSION OF INTERNET WEATHER REPORT TO SERVE ISPS, pp. 10 - 13

John Quarterman discusses the evolution of his Matrix Information and Directory Services (MIDS) Internet Weather Report into a fully commercial performance monitoring service, Matrix Internet Quality, for the large ISPs. He will offer to apply the ping measurement software on which the weather report is based along with trace route, web response and other related tools to get a more complete picture than otherwise possible of conditions inside his clients networks in close to real time conditions.

In a recent project he carried out, in April and May 98, 500,000 trace routes through every domain on the Internet. This makes it possible for him to identify private interconnect points. When we asked him about this he said: "The ISPs should take into consideration that, without having beacons inside of their networks, we already know where their peering points are. . . . We have accounts of the IP links of the entire Internet worldwide that were done without having to have beacons inside of any ISP. While I understand the certain ISPs have agreements whereby they will not reveal their interconnect points, the fact is that it is very possible -- because we've done it -- to figure out where the interconnect points are without violating anyone's non- disclosure agreements. This can be done entirely by doing probes from outside the affected ISPs. The data that we have -- doing this -- was derived from a just completed consulting project for a customer. The other thing I need to point out is that while we have data that demonstrates the principle, we do not claim to have every interconnect point inside our data set at this time."

IRA MAGAZINER EXPLAINS U.S. VS. NSI POSITION --

NEGOTIATIONS' INTENT NOT TO DISMEMEBER NSI BUT TO PROTECT INTERESTS OF REGISTRANTS AND COMPETITION -- NSI PRESENTS APPEARANCE OF ARROGANCE & amp; COMMUNICATES POORLY , pp. 14-16, 20

In a July 14 interview with Ira Magaziner we discuss the transition period with NSI. Ira maintains that NSI has always recognized that its database software and contents have always been in the public domain and that therefore current NTIA negotiations with NSI should not be unexpected. Still, we were quite surprised to ascertain that the US government at this point could not clearly articulate just what it needed from NSI and why it needed it other than to "ensure competition."

We pointed out to Ira that Tabnet, a successful reseller of .com addresses, had been sold to Verio for 45 million and asked if that didn't already represent the existence of successful competition, he said that he was unaware of these events. He indicated that he was also unaware of Karl Auerbach's announced intentions to initiate a lawsuit against the NSF under the privacy act statutes if the US government forced return of the database.

At the same time. we found out that NSI has done a miserable job of making its interests known when Ira indicated that NSI was more clearly attached to the retail registrar role than it was to its back office registry role. From conversation we have had with various sources inside and out of NSI, we know there is intelligent life there in. Unfortunately ,as we point out in an editorial conclusion, with continued confrontational blundering by NSI spokesperson Christopher Clough you have to dig hard to find it.

WEB PROXY CACHING BY DIGEX SLAMMED DOWNSTREAM CUSTOMERS NOT INFORMED - - ACTION CAUSES CYBERCASH USERS PROBLEMS, pp. 17 - 20

We publish an edited debate from NANOG at the end of June in which DIGEX is taken to task for trying to speed up its backbone responsiveness for its customers by installing web proxy caching by Inktomi without telling the customers what it was that they had done. Unfortunately many customers using Cybercash found that their applications were broken and did not know why until considerable time was spent in debugging the problems. The event brought out the fact that while caching is considered a good idea, it can be tricky to implement it in such a way that it doesn't cause problems for some users.

TEXAS INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDERS ASSOCIATION PLAYS VARIED ROLE IN ASSISTING ITS MEMBERS, pp. 21- 22

A brief interview with Association Director Gene Crick yields examples of the need for political cooperation amount ISPs at the state and federal level.