A Practical Navigator for the Internet Economy

Wireless Becoming Viable Local Loop: Dave Hughes Reports on NSF Wireless Field Tests -- Progress in Spread Spectrum Technology Outstrips FCC Policy Process -- Availability of $500 T-1 Radio Modem in 98 Could Mean PSTN By Pass for Current Dial up Customers pp. 1- 10

For the past 20 years the voice of Dave Hughes, the "Cursor Cowboy" has been one of the most eleoquent and creative in Cyberspace. Now as Principal Investigator of the National Science Foundation funded K-12 wireless field tests Hughes' voice is beginning to exert an influence on policy making. In a long interview with the COOK Report, Hughes discusses his findings from the project so far.

He explains why spread spectrum gets high performance at low power levels and is both resistent to interception and interference. He also explains how unduly restrictive FCC provisions have increased the cost and lowered the performance of these radios at the very time the Administration and FCC declare their support for affordable K-12 educational, and local community networking. Because the radios can use TCP/IP, have a speed of up to ten megabits per second and can transmitt up to 20 miles line-of-sight in the unlicensed ISM bands, they can serve as an alternative local loop (dial-up modem, or dedicated telephone line) for internet access. Higher speed radios come with their own routers built in.

Through trials with public school systems in the rural San Luis Valley of Colorado and urban schools and libraries in Colorado Springs, Hughes is evaluating the radios' ability to serve as a backbone link from an ISP to a school system, as zero-cost links between the schools of a school district, within each school, and finally, high speed but free links from the schools to teachers and students at home. For two of these uses he explains why point to multipoint communication capability is a requirement.

He explains the FCC rule making process where Apple asked for an NII band for community networks but without stressing the need for power to give point-to-multipoint communications and then unaccountedly failed to submit the technical backup required to support its claim that its proposal would do the job. He details the requirements of the final rulemaking anounced in late January 97 for what is now called the U-NII band in the 5 gigahertz range. It is one where, in a direct challenge to George Gilder, FCC Chairman Reed Hundt calls on manufacturers to produce radios with up to 20 megabit speed per second speed to reach across communities and between schools, and minimize interference. But, at the same time, the FCC severely limits the power at which they are allowed to operate and thereby cuts their point-to-multipoint range.

In an open letter to FCC Chairman Reed Hundt, Hughes asks why no representatives of the forty spread spectrum manufactures were invited to the FCC bandwidth forum on the problems of alleged over crowding of LEC central office switchs by Internet users. If the NSF funds another proposal now before it, TAPR the major digital HAM organization in the US will by this time next year begin licensing the production of T-1 $500 or less, radio modems. ISPs could very affordably shift a significant portion of their local dial up and leased line users from the PSTN to wireless. In some cases ISPs could also use the ten megabit radios to replace their wireline connections to their upstream provider and completely avoid paying their LEC any local loop charges.

Hughes is contemplating bringing the 40 manufacturers into an effective industry association and getting them in a face-to-face meeting with the FCC before the end of this year in in the hope that the FCC will see the need to enable an American manufacturing base that could (as well as support domestic use) be exporting 100,000,000 US built radios per year to third world countries where they could bring undreamed of communications capability to large parts of the world, while stimulating US trade, and bringing domestic radio prices down.

Paul Mockapetris on QoS, @Home, Internet Cable ROI & Cable Modems, pp. 11-14

Paul Mockapetris shares some wide ranging opinions on QoS issues. He notes that @Home buys PVCs from Sprint for its 45 megabit backbone. He comments on efforts of consumers (including Ira Richer at CNRI) to impose some performance criteria on their upstream providers. He explains how @Home is applying ROI analysis to its trials. If the results look good, he assures us that the need for very large amounts of capital for modernizing the plant of the cable industry will be easily met. He summarizes recent progress in cable modem standardization (almost none) but explains why prospects look better in 1997. He concludes with an explanation of features available to users of @Home.

Craig Labovitz Explains MERITs Efforts to Measure internet Performance, pp. 8 - 11

In an interview with the COOK Report, Craig talks about the funding of probe platforms at some public exchange points and other interesting spots in the network to better understand how to cut down on packet loss. Work on the Internet Routing Registry continues. Part of the thought behind this is to create an acceptable way to avoid having to hand edit backbone routing tables where a single mistake can cause massive routing instability. Craig also describes NetNow as a means of enabling partcipating ISPs to better understand the performance of their own networks and thereby be able to improve their operations.

Big Five Urged to Consider Changes in Peering at Public Exchanges pp. 18 - 19

Paul Vixie on NANOG mentions complaints he has received about restrictive peering on the part of some of the big five. He suggests that the industry approach this subject with considerable care lest it wind up regulated. "We really do just need to send each other local-region routes, which keeps local traffic local, does not give away wide area telecom to noncustomers, takes away some causes for lawsuits and new legislation, and moves us back to a level playing field where folks without wide area networks have to buy transit and do so without complaining."

Beta Test of Filtering at MFS FDDI Based Public Exchanges to Begin in Feb. pp. 20 - 21

We provide our own explanation of how single party peering and failure to implement next-hop-self in one's routing can be used to get "free" peering with the most of the ISPs at a FDDI based exchange. We conclude with NANOG discussion of the new MSF service designed to prevent this Rtheft of serviceS at MFS exchanges.

Sean Doran Suggests a Tier 1 vs. Tier N, p. 22

In a letter to the Editor Sean Doran suggests an interesting strategy whereby would be Tier 1 providers might buy connectivity at multiple places to the big five instead of concentrating on expanding their own backbones enough to get free peering with the big five. If they made five year purchases they could try to get sufficient market share during that period to force entry into the top Tier at the end of their contracts.

Heker & Sale of GES, pp.14, 22

An interview with a source at WNA makes it clear that Sergio Heker is completely removed from operation of and customer contact with GES. Our interview was prompted by an ambiguous announcement to customers.