A Practical Navigator for the Internet Economy
CIX's RECENT TROUBLES DOCUMENTED BY FORMER EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR - Washburn in Interview Offers Candid Explanations - Hopes Reform Efforts Can Revive Organization - BBN's John Rugo Elevated to Leadership PositionThe interview is 60 kilobytes and runs from pp.1-12

Herewith a summary:

On October 11 we talked with Bill Washburn for two and one half hours. The interview, which covered the whole range of the recent CIX controversy, was handled by Washburn with great candor and diplomacy. While he occasionally voiced a no comment, he also provided a frank assessment of the CIX's troubles. What he had to say made it clear that he wants the CIX to survive and that he very scrupulously wants to avoid any appearance of settling any scores. We felt that he has done the CIX a real service - for the only way that it can survive is first with very serious answers to the embarrassing questions raised by the actions of the last months. Second there must be serious reform from the CIX Board.

If Washburn's assessment is accurate, and in the absence of compelling evidence to the contrary, we believe it to be so, what we see in the CIX is much more of a comedy of errors than any nefarious plot. The CIX was created as an attempt to block the emergence of Advance Network and Services as the all powerful arbiter of the Internet. As it was succeeding in this, it attempted to take on the role of a trade association for a rapidly increasing group of members in an industry faced by extraordinarily rapid development and change. The attitude of the two key board members who had been locked in the earlier struggle essentially stayed focused in a siege mentality that saw their views of the Internet as the only correct ones and showed no interest in consensus building. The Board was as a result seldom united, and, driven by what Washburn describes as a technology arrogance of almost religious intensity operating in a political vacuum, was unable to focus on the long term picture of the development of the industry, and unable to communicate satisfactorily with its members.

Both the Editor and Washburn believe that the CIX principle of no settlements and multi-lateral peering with all members are well worth preserving. The CIX Board has recently met. It elected John Rugo Chairman. Rugo is talking serious reforms and, we are told by an insider, threatening to walk if the remainder of the Board doesn't comply. If Rugo can force through and appreciation for the necessity of the CIX focusing on consensus building in the political arena, the overblown emphasis on the importance of the CIX router may go away. (Washburn maintains that the CIX could get out of the routing business very quickly if it decided to.) If the CIX does leave the routing business, the last barriers preventing the CIX from acting as a trade association in the interests of all its members should fall.

We have been told by some of the participants that a CIX Board meeting occurred on Wednesday October 26. So far we have heard no results. To be regarded as serious we believe that any reform efforts must (1) present a direct plan to get the CIX out of the routing business in less than a year. (2) adopt tiered membership fee schedules. (3) abandon immediately any threat to filter routes. (4) develop service and performance standards as criteria for membership in place of policies that would force virtually every provider to join at the threat of route blockage. (5) enlarge the Board by at least three seats at an open membership meeting at the Spring Interop. (6) embrace meaningful goals of consensus that will allow the hiring of an Executive Director empowered to act on behalf of those goals. Given Washburn's experience, it is hard to imagine anyone in his right mind who'd be willing to become executive director in the absence of such assurances. (7) adopt specific member service criteria and a Washington lobbying program and a timetable for implementing them. We wrote in late July that the CIX had 100 days in which to grow up. The 100 days are almost over.

NAP Update: Early September Debate between NASA's Milo Medin and Bellcore's Dave Sincoskie pp. 13-15

NASA's Milo Medin finds reliance on ATM switching technology at the NAPs to be ill advised. As the most critical interconnect points for a production Internet, he ponders why Bellcore is backing a technology that it itself acknowledges in DSUs and routers is not mature. He is concerned that the criteria of what the NAPs must do have not been given the right priorities saying that combining dessert topping and floor wax will make for a dish that will leave no one happy.

MecklerWeb Blowout Chronicled and updated, pp.16-20

We reprint our interviews with Alan Meckler and Chris Locke released to the net earlier in the week We add a new section with material from the MecklerWeb partner's list that sheds some fresh light on how the partners are sorting themselves out.

Wireless as Internet On Ramp Part 2, pp. 21-33

We discuss PCS and the Frequency Auctions. We then explore ARDIS, Ram mobile, WYND, RadioMail, Nextel, and Nationwide Wireless as two way wireless data and email services. We go on to discuss Metricom's spread spectrum wireless micro-cellular data network in great detail. We include its major business deals and beta tests as well as its innovative Internet services. We offer an exclusive interview with Metricom president Bob Dillworth, and a technical assessment of its radio technology. We shall publish the 3rd and final installment in December.

Finally we offer a brief technical alert on the FCC's purported plans to auction off some of the unlicensed spectrum on which spread spectrum wireless radios depend.

NATO Sponsored Conference on Establishing a Cooperative Framework for Networking in Russia p.34

We report on our experience as a presenter at this significant conference in Moscow at the end of September. This conference gathered most of the significant players in the Russian internet together for three days with the hope that they would begin to cooperative in extending connectivity to each other. The conference seems to us to have been reasonably successful. We were surprised to see the great interest that was expressed in our June report on the Russian Internet. (Apparently Russian providers don't talk with each other much.) We also were disappointed to see that the Moscow backbone has now evolved into two separate and disconnected networks. We shall write more on this in December and attempt to conclude the June report for which we had no room in this issue.

EFF Co-Founder Admitts: Could Have Killed Digital Telephony, pp. 1, 34, and 36.

We summarize our recent com-priv posting and include a short essay (3 k) from a "disillusioned" Dave Hughes.