A Practical Navigator for the Internet Economy

ATMnet Case Study, pp. 1 - 8

We describe the start up of ATMnet, a new backbone provider. ATMnet believes that by knowing how to purchase SONET circuits wholesale and run a high service quality, level two ATM mesh in high density business markets, it can expand nation-wide and provide healthy competition for Sprint, MCI, UUNET/MFS and BBN. Our interview with Mike Trest, ATMnet's Chief Scientist, explains both the market and price dynamics of building a major start up provider and why such a provider would commit itself so heavily to ATM technology.

ATMnet purchases SONET transport directly from railroads and utilities. By buying an OC-3 (155 megabit) backbone at good prices, it has gained the ability to leverage the multiplexing capability of an ATM mesh at level two. It can do this by assigning PVC's at bit rates fine tuned to customer's minimum needs with the opportunity to burst above a guaranteed floor if there is capacity left in the network.

In ten months it has built a substantial OC-3 network from San Diego through the San Francisco area. It is focusing both on corporate and ISP sales. As such when it reaches the East coast, it should begin to provide welcome competition for MCI, Sprint, UUNET and BBN. Its aggressive pricing in California is reported to have cut the average prices for a T-1 by a third. However its business pricing model seems a bit complex, and, since it does not post base prices on their web site, new customers who are strong negotiators may get better deals than those who aren't. Trest and the other ATMnet people seem to be quite clueful. We expect to see some interesting announcements from them between now and year's end.


Renumbering at TI, pp. 9 - 12

We interview Don Rolph, who has been the principal person responsible for TI's Attleboro Mass connection to the Internet. He describes the difficulties encountered in renumbering from a Class C to a Class B network at Attleboro and, from a distance, the even greater problems in renumbering a bridged, much more heavily used Class B at TI's Dallas Headquarters. The renumbering is costing TI a multi million dollar figure. Don points out that TI believes that it can avoid any further renumbering by having its firewall machines remap Internet to external IP addresses. However he adds that, although TI's internal IP numbers are not advertised to the public Internet, if they were ever to be used by another entity in the public network, it would render TI's internal nets almost unusable. Consequently TI considers itself to be the owner of its Class B network numbers. He does not see the PIER working group as doing anything particularly useful for a company in TI's situation. He concludes that, if TI is to remain a viable user of the Internet, the Internet must evolve in such a way that TI is not faced with mandatory renumbering at some future date.


Interviews with Don Heath and Dave Farber on Internet Governance, pp. 13-15

Don Heath, the new Executive Director of the Internet Society, describes his efforts to invigorate the Society through regional chapters. He indicates an interest on the part of ISOC in working with the Internet Law and Policy Forum, if the ILPF can work with ISOC and the IETF. Dave Farber, Board member of ISOC and EFF indicates a welcome for ILPF if it acknowledges that it does not wish to be the sole Internet governing authority. He also explains why a move of ISOC and IETF to the ITU in Geneva would be a bad idea.


"Peering" Evolves, pp. 16 - 19

Partly with interviews and partly with material from the Nanog and Inet-access lists, we examine peering once again. Sprint has 5 private exchange points with MCI and 4 with UUNET all in different locations around the US. We have also heard that, by year's end, the peering bar will be raised even further to three major NAPs in the US and one in Europe, all reached at T-3 speeds.

When ISP's by transit at MAE East they generally are doing so as customers of those like CAIS from who they purchase it. CAIS in turn is a customer of Sprint. Finally Sean Doran announces a new Sprint routing policy that will make multi-homing to non Sprint providers much less attractive. He also answers some of our own questions about peering and transit policies.


The State of the Russian Internet, pp. 19 - 20, 24

An interview done in Moscow in May with Marat Guriev, Yel'tsin's chief policy advisor on the Internet. Guriev emphasizes the Russian Government's investment as a tool for maintaining its investment in education. He thanks us for helping to shed light on the position of the International Science Foundation in the 1994 dispute over the Moscow backbone. He gives his opinion of Soros' latest proposals for investments in Russian networking.


NII and Seattle CPSR, and CPSR Board Jettisons It's Executive Director pp. 21 - 22, 24

The infrastructure people are at it again. This time Aki Namioka, the current President of Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility has co-authored, presumably as private citizen a promotional piece with Chris Rao, a Seattle web designer. Their article advocates that the City of Seattle build an information utility. In a city that already has several dozen ISPs and Doug Schuler's "famous" Seattle Community Network, they claim that it would be in the public interest to turn the City into an Internet & information provider and string fiber from its telephone poles. One thing that is missing from their analysis is the design for involving a broad swath of Seattle citizens in the process that the Seattle CPSR leadership would like to promote. In undertaking such advocacy it seems to us that Aki can separate herself neither from her CPSR role nor from the various infrastructure boards and projects with which she is involved in the Seattle area. Regardless of whether or not she was using any of her positions to endorse the Seattle project, it was misleading for her not at least list her affiliations in her advocacy piece.

We were informed that Namioka and Schuler had been involved in a dispute at the national level of the organization and pointed toward Jim Warren as a source of more information. The focal point of our article is Warren's on record account of the dispute between Audrie Krause and the Executive Committee of the CPSR Board that led to Krause's resignation several weeks ago under a gag order. Warren, not under the order, informed us of several points of friction between the Executive Committee and Krause - one of which included Doug Schuler's request as Board Chair to be paid for activities on behalf of CPSR that he had formerly done on a voluntary basis. Schuler was paid, but then stepped down from the Board. We do not intend this short article to be a definitive treatment of this subject and would welcome response from Schuler and Namioka to our draft that we published widely a week ago. We do include in this issue a response from Jim Warren expressing his opinion that we had insufficiently distinguished the actions of a very few at the top from those of the entire organization. We expect further public debate on these issues.