Critical issues for Internet Business, pp. 1-3

Some see Quality of Service capability as a technology that will give the Internet a new and much more viable business model. As an introduction to an issue focusing on Quality of Service, we survey the key issues facing the Internet in 1997. They include what some see as the likelihood of a fiber shortage caused by the current insatiable demand for bandwidth, for it appears that our fiber inventory is not inexhaustible after all. We include a synthesis of our own research and some emerging press coverage of the fiber problem. National Service Provider interconnects is a second unsettled issue. Perhaps as many as ten companies built coast to coast DS-3 backbones last year in the hope of becoming first tier providers. They did this just as the five largest companies moved the first tier to private interconnects and away from public exchanges. Finally we will begin to see in 1997 tools for use by ISP customers in the evaluation and comparison of the services which they are being offered.

Cisco Offers Software Capability to Give Different QoS Precedence to Labeled Packets pp. 4-7

Fred Baker, senior Cisco software engineer and current IETF Chair, describes algorithms that may be used in routers to give some IP packets delivery priority over other packets -- allowing large ISPs to experiment with the adoption of quality of service offerings. Packets may be prioritized by labels attached either to the IP precedence field or the tag switched, class of service field. When traffic rises above a user definable level on a given link, by using a weighted Random Early Detection algorithm, the user may drop packets labeled "routine" with greater frequency than those labeled "priority." If the traffic continues to increase, the rate at which the different proportions of packets are dropped may also be increased.

A second algorithm called weighted Fair Queuing was released as part of Cisco's IOS 11.0 more than a year ago. This forces different IP flows to interleave with each other and run at speeds that are an average of what they'd be without the algorithm. It also looks at IP precedence bits and applies different weights to IP traffic based on that precedence. As a result, if an application runs precedence seven traffic, that particular flow will get eight times as much effective bandwidth as something that is running precedence zero traffic.

RSVP as a signaling protocol under which these algorithms can run is discussed. Settlement issues related to RSVP are also discussed. Baker explains how virtual channels having different bandwidth allocations or different QoS characteristics may be established between routers. With a hook in the router, it becomes possible to direct one class of packets down a "fast" (CBR) virtual circuit and another down the "slow" (ABR) virtual circuit. In such a way a major provider could set up a portion of its backbone to provide best effort delivery and use the remainder for more important quality of service traffic.

VPNs of Single Provider Networks Best initial use for QoS? pp. 8 -11

Scott Bradner explains the implications of Integrated Services and RSVP. Because of the political and economic problems of settlement negotiation and accounting across multiple providers, this technology may find its first use by the summer of 1997 within the network of a single provider. In such a case it could be used by the provider to guarantee a corporation bandwidth between offices, if that corporation decided to replace its leased lines and run a virtual private network over the public internet -- something that would not be acceptable without QoS guarantees.

Design Considerations for Quality of Service, pp. 12 - 15

We interview Noel Chiappa, the developer of the multi-protocol backbone and router. Noel outlines some of the design considerations involved in establishing a workable Quality of Service model for the Internet. While using an algorithm like weighted RED would involve little more than setting precedence bits that are already in the IP packet header, additional strategies for establishing guaranteed performance for certain IP applications would require IP packet headers to carry additional information. If the amount of information crammed into the header becomes too great, the overhead imposed by the header on the system will slow down transmission.

One fix is to put this information or "state" into the routers instead of into the packet headers. Tag switching attempts to do this. However, if the total amount of state in terms of the combined effect of information for a single transmission and the cumulative information contained in hundreds or thousands and more of such sessions increases too much, the resulting hardware and software demands on the router may exceed the ability of the router to function in a reasonable way. For this reason widespread usage of RSVP across the networks of several providers may produce more "state" that backbone routers can comfortably handle. This is one more reason why use of RSVP within a single network will be viable long before implementations throughout the Internet.

Automotive Network eXchange Set to Begin Certification Process, pp. 16, 24

Bob Moskowitz explains plans to choose an overseer to work with automotive industry on the certification of ISPs. Comparatively few ISPs are expected to be able to meet Automotive Network eXchange certification standards. Nevertheless ANX plans to exert pressure on industry to use certified providers.

American Registry for Internet Numbers, pp. 17 - 18

A move has been made to bring Americas into line with IP number registries in rest of the world. The function is to be removed from Network Solutions and centered in new non profit body.

Internet Policy and Technology for K-12, pp. 19 - 22

A debate between Jeff Michka and Ferdi Serim. (Part 1. Part 2 in the March COOK Report.)

Internet II, p. 22

A brief discussion with Scott Bradner on the focus and goals of Internet II.