A Practical Navigator for the Internet Economy


The lead story is a 12,000 word interview with Ferdi Serim on new developments in K-12 use of the internet. Because of time sensitive details in our story, we will publish this summary to the network on Weds morning March 9, - having already delayed publication for a full week.

We break three other stories:

1. PSI opens commercial internet venture in Japan.

2. Ameritech expected soon to announce region wide IP network to connect to Chicago NAP.

3. We also talk publicly for the first time about our experience as an NREN analyst at the US Congress Office of Technology Assessment.

Read more: February 1994

The Internet as a Corporate Marketing and Communications Platform, pp.1 - 5.

This article is the first announcement of MecklerWeb, a very innovative Internet publishing and communications service.

We describe Chris Locke's ideas about the future of electronic publishing and the Internet. Locke notes that most publishers have so far thought only in terms of transfering the standard Gutenburg hard copy paradigm to electronic format. He is not impressed by the ability to read Time or the New York Times online.

He also describes the controlled circulation technical publication as an endangered species. Why? Because as Internet growth and technical capability continues to increase, companies will so begin to question spending large dollar amounts for one time non dynamic hard copy advertisements. He foresees the ability to mount text and visual data on an internet gopher or web server at an order of magnitude less cost as an attractive alternative.

We conclude with Locke's description of MecklerWeb the commercial service he is launching for Mecklermedia. This service will companies a turnkey service for establishing an internet presence via the ability to announce goods and services on a World Wide Web based server accessible via such browsing tools as Mosaic. Additional services coordinated by industry based coalitions are planned.

COX Enterprises, BellSouth & Prodigy Involved in Joint Ventures in Atlanta Area, pp. 6-8

COX Enterprises has initiated a joint venture with BellSouth that will offer an N11 dial up service for electronic yellow pages and for the classified ads of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. It also is about to initiate a regional Prodigy Service.

We publish a detailed summary of a talk given by COX Public Policy VP Alex Netchvolodoff at the TeleStrategies Bell Atlantic TCI Merger Conference in mid December. Netchvolodoff emphasizes that the great financial resources needed to develop converging media call for cooperative ventures of the kind that COX has undertaken.

COXÕs decision to develop a local Prodigy is wise. However an interview with David Scott, the person in charge, shows that the venture will be hobbled by its ties to the national prodigy with a surcharge for the use of local bulletin boards and email charged for at national rates. Not surprisingly perhaps the emphasis on measured usage and transaction based billing is a long way from the Internet model.

Interviews Show Advanced Network and Services Commercial Marketing Efforts in Disarray, pp. 9-10.

Over nearly three months from present and past ANS employees, we have sought an understanding of the workings of the company. We learned that from the inside its functioning as a government funded testbed for the products and services of its sponsors was more important than its commercial mission. Employees told us that this mission was hindered from the very beginning CEO Al Weis' lack of understanding of the InternetÕs culture and the needs of the commercial market place.

ANS was never able to get a clear marketing mission statement put together and signed off on by everyone. As a result many marched to their own tune while the company with its basic operating infrastructure costs paid for by the NSF never fully understood what the actual cost of its delivery of commercial services was. The boundaries between CO+RE and the non profit branch of the company were never clearly demarcated. Both the image of the company and responsibilities of individuals were blurred.

Run by research oriented technologists, ANS had difficulty developing a close rapport with its customers. Long term marketing functions were never developed and a plan to salvage the regional sales effort rebuffed. On January 1, 1994 Joel Maloff sales vp left the company.

One Person's View of Technical Synergies Between ANS and NT, p. 10

In looking at the convergence of telephony and data networks our expert found that "the technology required for highspeed networking really is a combination of the two worlds: switching to shuffle the bits around fast enough and routing to know which direction to send them. NTI has the switching experience, and IBM the routing experience."

MCI and ANS Will Win the vBNS - NSF Spreads Prizes Widely - Can of Worms Seen in Inter Regional Connections. pp. 11-12

We believe that we have been able to piece together with a great deal of certainty the identities of the winners of at least the first two components of NSF Solicitation 93-52.

Herewith the prize winners:

1. The very high speed backbone: MCI with ANS as subcontractor.

2. The Network Access Points: New York City - Sprint Chicago - Ameritech and Bellcore Washington DC - Metropolitan Fiber Systems California - BARRnet and PacBell

3. Inter-regional Connectivity is the messiest of the lot. CoREN apparently gets the award for its mid-levels while not yet having a transport agreement signed with an IXC. CoREN has apparently had a falling out with MCI which has been unable to bid the desired ATM srevices. The other mid-levels we hear are being funded to do their own thing. There is the making of a chaotic situation as a result of which the connectivity of ANSnet may be very difficult to replace opening the possibility of a third extension for MERIT and ANS.

Has ANS Fulfilled Conditions Imposed on it By NSF in September 1990? pp. 12-13

Response to a COOK Report FOIA reveals that the NSF does not know. NSF oversight has no teeth.

IBM Buys Bandwidth Managers for ANS, p. 13

With network running at true T-3 capability for the first time in December 1993 application of this equipment becomes practical.

We Lobby National Science Board, pp.14-16

We reprint a January 25th briefing for the National Science Board that reminds them of the controversial elements of the NSF 93-52 award they will be asked to approve on Feb. 10 -11, 1994. Summarizing the checkered history of the last 3 years we present the case against an ANS-MCI reaward.

The NSF Director's Role in the Solicitation - Can the National Science Board Exert Effective Oversight? pp. 17-18

We reprint com-priv comment from Steve Wolff explaining his role in the selection process for NSF 93-52. We add the results of our research into the actions of the National Science Board which having 40 to 50 NSF recommendations per meeting to approve seldom if ever refuses to endorse what comes up from below. We include a telling comment on the weaknesses of the peer review system. Finally we list the names and addresses of the 23 members of the National Science Board.

Computer Networks and Health Care - Part 4, pp. 18 - 21

We publish the final installment of our special report, Computer Networks and Health Care. The installment is in two parts: a short Policy Agenda for Using the Internet for Medical Commerce and lengthy section called a Short Guide to Resources. This Guide gives detailed information on the Computer Based Patient Records Institute and brief information on the American Medical Informatics Association and the Agency for Health Care Policy and Resaerch. Information about two companies (Integrated Medical Systems, and Health Information Technologies) follows. The Guide concludes with a list of Federal officials (inc. internet addresses), information on how to get the report of the Working Group on Electronic Data interchange, and how to subscribe to the CPRI mail list.


We interview Hybrid's founder Ed Moura to get an in depth look at the origin and development of Hybrid's asymmetric networking technology. Moura points out that the only applications that don't fit well into the asymmetric pattern are one-on-one electronic mail, real time video and the activity generated by an information services provider. Moura says that Hybrid will soon be prepared to offer upstream internet connect channels via wireless and via cable as well as by telephone.

We point out that according to statistics published in the November Internet Letter the data usage of the Internet by a very large customer (Morgan Stanley) is asymmetric with 10 times more incoming than outgoing data. We mention Hybrid's new alliance with General Instrument and Intel to produce a low cost card for a personal computer. This card will replace the more expensive Hybrid modems and software in permitting local loop by pass in connecting to the Internet.

Finally we discuss where the Hybrid technology fits into the picture of National Information Infrastructure policy as recommended by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. When the EFF emphasized the need for high bandwidth upstream as well as down, some thought it was coming out against assymmetric networking. EFF senior Counsel Dan Weitzner assured us that this is incorrect and that the EFF supports the asymmetric concept embodied by Hybrid.

Read more: January 1994