A Practical Navigator for the Internet Economy

ATM: GRAND UNIFYING TECHNOLOGY OR BRAIN DAMAGED TRANSPORT PRODUCT? pp. 1-3

ATM is a level 2 connection oriented transp ort technology composed of 53 byte long cells. As such its architectu re does not mesh at all with connectionless TCP/IP and its variable length packets. Nevertheless we find a heavy interest in ATM among the major phone companies which have invested billions in the technology. One reason appears to be the desire to multiplex switched traffic between backbone nodes of a network before sending it else where. Another is to bring Switched Virtual Circuits (SVCs) to market. These are connection-oriented circuits between users that are set up and torn down by software upon command.

Reserved, on demand bandwidth will depend on SVCs - or possibly on an IETF "developing" protocol: RSVP. The National Science Foundation has just announced a new high speed Connections Program to develop the capability to define and reserve differing priorities of data service.

Ironically Ethernet is as the last mile to the desktop is seen as a major barrier to SVCs. ATM and Ethernets are not compatible. However, we report on Cells in Frames, a project at Cornell that is developing an inexpensive ATM "attachment device" that will drive a 10 megabit ATM connection to a workstation from a 10-BASE T Ethernet hub. Converting LANs to this technology will permitt merging of PBX phone lines with the ATM network.

Meanwhile, in wide area backbones, ATM suffers from various overheads, referred to by its detractors as a Cell Tax, that, according to a Minnesota Supercomputer Center report, would drive OC-3 155 mega bit bandwidth available to IP down to 116 m bits per second.


RESOURCE RESERVATION IMPACTS, pp. 4 - 6

Noel Chiappa, in an interview with the COOK Report, discusses two competing philosophies of network design: resource reservation and over engineering. Chiappa: "What ever the future is will be greatly influenced by the answer to that question of yours as to "whether you do or do not need resource reservation?" If you decide that you need it, the kind of solutions that you look at start out by looking very different from the solutions that offer themselves in the absence of a resource reservation effort. The answer to these questions will also drastically impact the kind of switching architecture you adopt."

INTERNETMCI STAKES FUTURE ON ATM pp. 7 - 13

In interviews with Steve von Rump, MCI Data Services Marketing VP, and Steve Tabaska, MCI Data Services Engineering VP we discuss in detail MCI's backbone expansion and its transition to ATM.

MCI expects to be able to do SVCs desktop-to-desktop before the end of next year. In the meantime, it will open a switched ATM OC-3 backbone fabric by the end of April 96. It has changed from General Datacom switches to Fore ASX 1000 switches and is starting with 10 of these $100,000 a copy top-of-the-line switches.

Tabaska expressed doubts about technology arriving at the NAPs that would allow them to scale adequately to permitt multiple peering sessions at bandwidths of 155 megabits per second and higher. MCI, he said, is beginning to rely in part on private exchanges with one or two other large NSPs in places other than NAPs.

By this time next year MCI anticipates running OC-12 on their backbone. To do this OC-3 cards in the Fore switches will need to be replaced with OC-12 cards and Cisco will ha ve to come out with an OC- 12 interface for its routers. They have lo oked at the NetStar Giga- router by are not quite ready to go with it. They plan some months from now to run a dual architecture of PVCs to handle things like telnet, and DNS lookups and SVCs to allow reservation of bandwidth on demand.


GARTNER MISCUE, p.13

We repudiate the Gartner Group's misleading appropriation of parts of our web page glossary for an advertisement in the Business section of the March 24 New York Times. Gartner did not ask permission to use our material which appeared as an indestinguishable part of a poorly done glossary of their own making.

ROUGH ROAD FOR AGIS CONTINUES pp.14 -20

AGIS has been consolodating NET99 customers into its infrastructure and will we believe soon close Net99 down. In the meantime the Net99 customers are extremely unhappy and continue to make their unhappiness well known on the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . We present a summary of the discussion from early February through mid March. We are harsh with AGIS because they bought the one provider which came into existence to help the small ISP and have effectively dsmantled it. They appear to be unresponsive to their customers who also have complained about their business practices. Readers may remember that AGIS was the company which, last October, said it would use lawyers to impose order on the internet. We would not like to see the Internet reshaped in its image, and will continue to confront it editorially with the reality of its own making.

TONY RUTKOWSKI & PETER FLYNN TALK ABOUT STANDARDS ISSUES FOR THE WEB pp. 21 - 22

Many Web standards are now being developed outside the IETF. Flynn expresses concern. Rutkowski shares a bit of the concern, but explains why he is generally optimistic.

IMPACT OF AT&T'S DIAL UP INTERNET, pp. 22, 24

As Kent England said "BBN will teach them (AT&T) how to run a commercial Internet service. But it will take a long, long time in Internet Years for them to learn." We wonder why AT&T entered a low profit and already crowded mass-market rather than focus with BBN on the industrial grade quality of service market that the auto industry would like and BBN could help deliver. Dial up service nationally doesn't scale when compared to service that good small ISPs can provide locally.