A Practical Navigator for the Internet Economy

CORPORATIZATION AND AT&T DIAL UP, pp. 1 - 6

AT&T, MCI and Sprint have all taken the plunge into the national Internet dial-up market. We examine AT&T's WorldNet service in the context of large corporations moving into the Internet with the scale of operations necessary to make a profit. We point out a range of instances where corporate moves, abetted by Clinton Administration policy to seed further corporate development, are causing a significant change in the Internet climate. While the change to the direct of hoarding information on behalf of one's commercial advantage is not entirely surprising, we point out that it is likely to slow the pace of innovation that has made the Internet so successful.

We present an interview with Erik Grimmelmann who has direct operational responsibility for WorldNet. He explains that AT&T calculated that because of large network economies of scale, at a certain level of subscribers, it could cover costs and begin to make a profit even at today's low market prices. He also explains how WorldNet has linked modem pools via call forwarding to ensure that customers will never get busy signals.

We conclude, both with evaluations of Sprint's service, and some possible reasons for the IXC moves that may not be linked directly to profit considerations. Finally Dave Farber gives his own brief evaluation of WorldNet.

DIGITAL PA INTERNET EXCHANGE, pp. 1, 7 - 10

We interview Stephen Stuart and Al Avery who are responsible for Digital Equipment's new Palo Alto Internet Exchange (PAIX). Digital is using its GIGAswitch/FDDI and expertise gained from operation of its Palo Alto Internet gateway to set up a commercial data center combined with a level two Internet exchange point. Since Digital is not a carrier, all carriers are welcome to bring fiber into PAIX. In addition ISPs, who become PAIX customers, are welcome to place the web servers of their own customers behind their routers at the Exchange. The interview explains the advantages in bandwidth utilization that can accrue from this topology.

TELEGLOBE, pp. 11 - 14

Pierre Reeves, Director Business Services, Teleglobe, describes his company's venture into provisioning of international Internet backbone services. He explains in some detail how the lease back process on a trans Atlantic circuit works. He also explains the reasons why he believes that increasing Web resources in Europe will eventually lead to some form of settlements on trans Atlantic links.

SEAN DORAN ON NETWORK ISSUES, pp. 16 - 18

Sean Doran has been the effective public spokesman for SprintLink for nearly two years. He has been the policy implementor for the SprintLink backbone. He has also been a very informative voice on some important technical mail lists. He left Sprint on September 9. We hope to see him land at a place where the corporatization of the Internet will not silence him. His voice has been one of the very last of significant network providers to be heard on a regular basis. He talks in what we publish about the problems of using bridges at interconnect points, new router technology on the horizon, competition between big telcos and ISPs and how this playing field is changing, and bandwidth acquisition.

IP PROVIDER METRICS, pp. 19 - 20

The IPPM mail list is trying to figure out how to develop performance measurement tools that go beyond ping and traceroute in their ability to give ISP customers metrics for judging the quality of service received from their service providers. Achieving this goal is regarded as critical for the automotive industry to successfully place their parts suppliers on the public Internet. We reprint some of the discussion that highlights why meaningful metrics will be difficult but probably not impossible to attain.

JOHN CURRAN ASSESSES ATM, pp. 21 - 22

We publish a transcript of John Curran's talk on ATM delivered at the TeleStrategies Conference on July 25. John's general hypothesis was that, although there are reasons why ATM may be desired by backbone providers, there are shortcomings in such implementations that may not be good for customers.

NEWS BRIEFS

THE DNS WARS, p. 6

We present some of the findings of a paper by Robert Shaw of ITU, and second one by Don Mitchell of NSF, Scott Bradner of Harvard and Kim Claffy of NLANR. These papers are absolutely critical for anyone who hopes to cut through the misinformation on what has become a festering and highly divisive topic.

WORLD NET ACCESS, pp. 10, 24

World Net Access is a cooperative effort between venture capital firms in Denver and Minneapolis, and Brooks Fiber. Its business plan is to buy up strong ISPs and connect them to a Brooks Fiber provided backbone. On the technical side, the venture has hired Randy Bush and Andrew Partan, two outstanding talents. Sources have expressed concern at a lack of comparable depth on the business and marketing side.

ROUTING TABLE BULGE, pp. 14-15

After a period of stability, the routing tables of the Internet's defaultless core have grown by 25% over the past several months. Eighty percent of that increase has been in the advertisement of Class C networks. We present a discussion aimed at identifying the reasons for the increase. Efforts, already partially successful, are underway to drive the total (that had hit 40,000 advertised networks) back down to the roughly 30,000 figure that had been maintained for nearly a year.

THE SYN ATTACK PROBLEM, pp. 15, 22

While Syn attacks won't kill the Internet, they appear to be the most serious problem to hit the net in a long time. We present a short comment by Kent England. It is one that we consider the best overall assessment of the problem that we have seen.