Internet concerns -- an answer ("James W. Beauchamp" )

Subject: Internet concerns -- an answer
From:    "James W. Beauchamp"  <James.Beauchamp(at)IRCAM.FR>
Date:    Thu, 8 Dec 1994 18:15:15 +0100

In response to concerns that our Internet plugs might be pulled, or at least inhibited, I give a copy of a posting which has been on the net since 1993. This article gives the prognosis for Internet functionality at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, but it is probably also reasonably accurate for other major research institutions. I believe the author can be reached at melissa(at) |Date: Sat, 17 Jul 1993 17:32:14 GMT |Subject: [] Changes in the Internet won't much affect UI computer users | |Message-ID: <CA9v8x.4v5(at)> | |Changes in the Internet won't much affect UI computer users | |By Melissa Mitchell | |Most likely, UI users of the Internet - a major international computer |network - won't be affected by some monumental changes about to take place |in the networking world. | |The biggest of those changes promises to take place as the federal |government slowly begins to get out of the business of providing network |access, and the enterprise shifts to the private sector. Currently, the UI |is one of a small number of institutions that has a direct connection to |the Internet throught the National Science Foundation's backbone network, |NSFNet. Most institutions, however, gain access to the Internet via one of |about 30 regional networks, or service providers. The service provider for |much of the Midwest is CICNet, operated by the Committee on Institutional |Cooperation, a consortium that includes the Big Ten universities plus the |University of Chicago. | |"Service providers, most of whom serve a limited geographical area, attain |national and international coverage via the NSFNet Backbone Service, which |has hitherto been centrally funded by an award to Merit Inc. and provided |to the regional service providers at no charge," said Stephen Wolff, |director of the National Science Foundation's Division of Networking and |Communications Research and Infrastructure. | |"Since the beginning of the current NSFNet Backbone Service in 1987, a |lively and competitive commercial market in Internet carriage has emerged, |with multiple vendors offering robust, nationwide, commodity-level |services. Continued centralized funding of a backbone service by the |foundation [NSF] is no longer justified, as it would place the federal |government in direct competition with the private sector," Wolff said. | |NSF doesn't actually intend to pull its support of educational and |research use of the networks so much as it plans to redirect it, he said. | |"Awards made under the currently active solicitation will include awards |to regional networks to purchase backbone service on the open market. That |is, the NSF will switch from supplier funding to user funding," Wolff |said. | |The bottom line, he added, is that "the NSF is committed to continuity of |network service to the research and education community. We will take |whatever steps are necessary to assure it." | |Last month, eight of the nation's regional networks - including CICNet |-announced that they were joining to form a for-profit company, the |Corporation for Regional and Enterprise Networking. COREN, whose interim |president, Michael E. Staman, also is president of CICNet, has signed a |five-year, $200 million agreement with MCI Communications Corp. to provide |a private backbone network that would link the eight regionals and allow |them to sell backbone services to other regional networks throughout the |country. The new company may ultimately compete with telephone and cable |companies and others seeking to cash in on the development of the nation's |much-touted, still-under-construction "information superhighway." | |Working with MCI, COREN eventually is expected to offer high-speed network |services that will allow users to transmit large amounts of data, |including high-resolution still images and video over the network. | |Meanwhile, some Internet users have become alarmed by rumors that, under |proposed changes, NSFNet would be reserved for use by the national |laboratories and supercomputer users. "An earlier solicitation was less |inclusive," and did propose limiting access to the nation's supercomputing |centers, said George Badger, the UI's associate vice chancellor for |computing and communications. That plan has been scrapped, however, in |favor of maintaining widespread access, he said. | |Users also have expressed concerns that pending changes would limit the |"free" use of the Internet. Wolff said such concerns are based on a |misunderstanding of the current operating structure. | |"In the first place," Wolff said, "there is no such thing as 'free use of |the Internet.' Each and every institution with Internet access pays a |service provider real money every year for the institution's connection. |Most institutions do not, however, trickle those charges down to users, |but pay for them out of general operating funds." | |At the UI, costs include an annual $50,000 CICNet membership fee, which is |funded by the campus, Badger said. He added that regardless of how the |networking cards ultimately fall, "We have no intention to pass [costs] on |to users; such a move would be impractical given today's technology." | |Overall, UI users should be unaffected by the shift to increased |commercialization of the national networks, Badger said. "We won't notice |very much change in access to this campus, but one of the concerns is that |we will notice some people dropping off the network at less financially |well-off schools." | |Another issue to consider, Badger said, is whether commercialization could |ultimately make it necessary to control how faculty, staff and students |use the networks. | |For now, there are no plans to restrict use in any way. "The thing that is |relatively easy to control is who has network access; but how it is used |is more difficult," Badger said. | |However, "If we have to pay for traffic explicitly, this campus may be in |a position to look at what kinds of traffic will appear to be legitimate," |he noted. "Anything that can be defined as research or education would be |legitimate." | |Should costs become exorbitant, such things as national news groups - |bulletin boards that are used primarily for entertainment, rather than |educational, purposes - could be eliminated. Still, Badger doubts that |will be necessary. | |"A campus like this one can't afford not to have network access of good |quality," he said. "The costs may change, but we'll find a way to do it |without getting into the issue of how it will be used." |======== End of "Changes in the Internet won't much affect UI computer users" ================ |For reference, the "bookmark" for this gopher item is: | Name=Changes in the Internet won't much affect UI computer users | Type=0 | Port=70 | Path=0/UI/II/July15/changes_in_the_inter |

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