A Practical Navigator for the Internet Economy

Routing - The Key To Survival. Routing Arbiter And Route Charging, pp. 1-9

Remember the fears that when the "big boys" took over the Internet, they would starting charging everyone by the megabyte? For reasons that we have described in the last several issues this is not likely. What we may see instead is charging of providers for routing announcements that cannot be aggregated and have to be carried by the over-taxed backbone routers of the national service providers. Our lead article describes routing problems faced by the majors and examines the rationale for charging for routing announcements.

With the strain put on the network by continued rapid growth, routing is becoming the key to technical survival. It may also become the key to financial survival before the new year is out. We examine the services of the Routing Arbiter (RA) which, through use of a Routing Arbiter Data Base and Route Servers located at the NAPs, is making it possible for those connected at the NAPs to run a single peering session with the Route Servers rather than multiple peering sessions with each of the other connected service providers. This would take some considerable load off backbone routers and their crowded routing tables.

However, the Route Servers are being relied on only by the smaller players. Larger ones, although they may peer with the route server, peer also with each other. Why? Because they like to maintain control of their peering sessions. A complicating factor is that other large national providers do not use the route server at all. Sprint is one of those who do not. Sprint states that it doesn't because the Routing Arbiter Data Base, that the servers run, is populated with addresses from the old NSFnet Policy Routing Data Base (PRDB) that are no longer accurate. ANS, which ran the PRDB is cleaning up the old addresses but will apparently not be done any time soon. Some tell us the dispute is as much about prescriptive versus descriptive philosophies applied to routing, and some NSP's antipathies to the old MERIT ANS way of running the NSFnet backbone service, as it is about route accuracy.

In any case, what we found is that a laudable effort in which the NSF is investing $4 million a year is *so far* only marginally useful. What is interesting is that one way in which the Routing Arbiter could become exceedingly useful is, if it were to be used, for charging for routing announcements. Yakov Rekhter, who is a co principal investigator for the ISI side of the RA project, is now with Cisco. We republish a presentation in favor of figuring out how to charge for routing announcements that Yakov gave at the December IETF. Route announcement charging is predicated as a means to alter the behavior of those who use the defaultless core of the internet and burden the Cisco routers of that core with unnecessary routing announcements. By charging a substantial amount (5 to 10 thousand dollars per route) - an amount more than the cost of renumbering existing networks, it is assumed that providers will be motivated to aggregate and renumber rather than pass multiple new routes upstream.

Route charging won't happen over night. But because it is predicated on alleged technical necessity, it has a much greater chance of happening than settlements based on measured use traffic which seems to be motivated by economic considerations alone. If routing announcement charging does come, the way in which it is implemented will play a critical role in the death or survival of smaller providers.

Interview With Paul Mockapetris On Future Of IETF, pp. 10-13

Paul Mockapetris, the current chair of the IETF talks with us about the future of the IETF. Paul points out that he expects that more and more IETF standards work may run into areas where others will claim a patent affecting some part of the standard. The catch 22 is that during the past two years, as the internet gold rush has taken off, we may expect that many more patents will have been filed affecting internet technology than earlier would have been the case. Only in 1996 will the effects of patents filed 12 to 36 months ago begin become apparent. If a patent affecting a proposed standard can't be licensed on a very reasonable basis, the result could become the abandonment of the standard.

The interview also covers the SNMPv2 controversy, liability insurance concerns, relations with ISOC, and the NSF's move to create an intellectual infrastructure fund.

Interview With Russell Pipe On Global Information Infrastructure Commission, pp. 14-18

In an interview with the co-organizer of the GIIC, we seek to learn the nature of the organization. What we see is an effort by large multinational information technology corporations to supersede G-7 governments in setting policy on building a global information infrastructure. Though Mr. Pipe might disagree, it seems to us that the interests of the multi-nationals sponsoring the commission are paramount and the interests of everyone else secondary. Clearly when it comes to the questions of transborder data flow and issues of personal privacy, it seems that corporate concerns are first and that any concept of the public interest is left to be up held by national states which seem to be increasingly obsolete for they appear to be unable to do much of anything on behalf of individual citizens .

Sprint Fails To Open The Pennsauken NAP To Small Providers, pp. 19 -21

In a deal that has since fallen through, MFS was to have provided bridged access to the Sprint NAP to regional ISPs. We publish a complaint from an ISP and answers from Bob Collet of Sprint and John Hardie of MFS. Collet says that he never imagined that small ISPs would want to go to a NAP. In saying this, he fails to realize how important going to a NAP has become for sizable regional ISPs that want to be certain that they can keep control of their own CIDR blocs and routing.

Sprint has been saying since the summer that it would connect new customers at its NAP within 90 days. Unfortunately the window seems to remain eternally fixed at 90 days. Except for NYSERnet, a large Sprint customer who has just raised hell and has been promised prompt admission to the NAP. For remaining ISPs, the problems with Pennsauken availability are making it increasingly likely that a NAP with be opened in Manhatten.

Access Indiana: The Origins In 1990 & State Opens Project To Commercial Sector, pp. 18, 21-22, 24

We find that Stan Jones, ardent Ameritech backer, authored the 1990 state law that started Ameritech involvement with the Indiana super highway. Ameritech LDIP for Access Indiana, contrary to the intent of the original program positions itself to sell to private business. The Director of the Ameritech effort Mike James in interview with COOK Report moves to distance himself from the state bureaucrats.