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Network Working Group G. Cook Request for Comments: 1527 Cook Report Category: Informational September 1993

       What Should We Plan Given the Dilemma of the Network?

Status of this Memo

 This memo provides information for the Internet community.  It does
 not specify an Internet standard.  Distribution of this memo is


 Early last year, as the concluding effort of an 18 month appointment
 at the US Congress Office of Technology Assessment (OTA), I drafted a
 potential policy framework for Congressional action on the National
 Research and Education Network (NREN).
 The Internet community needs to be asking what the most important
 policy issues facing the network are.  And given agreement on any
 particular set of policy issues, the next thing we should be asking
 is, what would be some of the political choices that would follow for
 Congress to make?
 It is unfortunate that this was never officially done for or by the
 Congress by OTA.  What we have as a result is network policy making
 being carried out now by the Science Subcommittee on the House side
 in consultation with a relatively small group of interested parties.
 The debate seems to be more focused on preserving turf than on any
 sweeping understanding of what the legislation is doing.  That is
 In the hope that it may contain some useful ideas, I offer a
 shortened version of the suggested policy draft as information for
 the Internet community.

Table of Contents

 The Dilemma of an Unregulated Public Resource in a Free Market
 Environment  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    2
 Regulation is a key NREN policy issue. . . . . . . . . . . . . .    3
 Technology Transfer Goals Achieved?  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    4
 The Context for Policy Setting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    4
 Whom Shall the Network Serve?  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    5
 Access to the NREN is a key policy issue . . . . . . . . . . . .    6
 How Far To Extend Network Access?  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    6

Cook [Page 1] RFC 1527 Cook Report on Internet September 1993

 A Corporation for Public Networking? . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    9
 Summary  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   14
 Security Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   17
 Author's Address . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   17

The Dilemma of an Unregulated Public Resource in a Free Market Environment

 As currently structured, the NSFnet and american Internet provide
 access to several million researchers and educators, hundreds of
 thousands of remote computers, hundreds of databases, and hundreds of
 library catalogues.  Money being invested in the network as a result
 of the High Performance Computing and Communications (HPCC) initiative
 should considerably increase the numbers and variety behind this
 unprecedented collection of resources.  No other computer network on
 earth currently comes close to providing access to the breadth and
 depth of people and information.  If access to information is access
 to power, access to the national computer network will mean access to
 very significant power.
 Furthermore, access to the american Internet and NREN is also
 access to the worldwide Internet.  According to the Director for
 International Programs at the NSF in February 1992, the development
 of the Internet over the past twelve years has been one of
 exponential growth:
             Date           Connected Hosts
             August 1981    213
             October 1985   1,961
             December 1987  28,174
             January 1989   80,000
             January 1991   376,000
             January 1992   727,000
 These hosts are computers to which anyone in the world with Internet
 access can instantaneously connect and use if there are publically
 available files.  Any host may also be used for remote computing if
 the system administrator gives the user private access.  These seven
 hundred thousand plus hosts are located in more than 38 nations.  But
 they are only part of the picture.  By system-to-system transfer of
 electronic mail they are linked to probably a million additional
 hosts.  According to Dr. Larry Landweber of the University of
 Wisconsin, as of February 10, 1992, Internet electronic mail was
 available in 106 nations and territories.

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 Unfortunately, our current regulatory system does not distinguish
 between the unique nature of the Internet and commercial systems like
 Prodigy and Compuserve where perhaps a million people pay monthly
 fees for access to systems offering a few dozen databases run from
 two or three hosts and electronic mail to several hundred thousand
 people instead of many millions.  (The picture is made somewhat fuzzy
 by the fact that Compuserve does provide electronic mail access to
 the Internet through a gateway and for an extra charge.)  The Federal
 Communications Commission (FCC) considers all three to be Value Added
 Networks (VANs) run by Enhanced Service Providers.  All use common
 carriers to provide their enhanced services and the FCC, in refusing
 to regulate them, reasons that all services are roughly alike.  If,
 for example, Compuserve charges too much, the consumer can quit
 Compuserve and move to Prodigy.  Or, if the monthly cost of access to
 the Internet were to become too much, access to Prodigy or Compuserve
 would be basically the same thing.  Here unfortunately the analogy
 fails: the Internet now and the NREN to be, with its unparalleled
 resources, is not the same.  Nevertheless, the FCC points out that
 without Congressional action it is powerless to regulate NREN service

Regulation is a key NREN policy issue.

 Perhaps there will be no need for regulation.  Hopefully, the
 marketplace for the provision of network services will remain
 competitive and higher prices and cream skimming will not keep the
 national network out of the reach of the general public who wish to
 avail themselves of what it has to offer.  However, given the scope
 and power of what is contemplated here, Congress should realize that
 there are important considerations of social and economic equity
 behind the question of access to the network.  This is especially
 true since libraries and groups representing primary and secondary
 schools are demanding what could be considered as universal access to
 the network without having any knowledge of how such access might be
 The economic stakes are huge.  Other players such as US West's
 Advanced Communications division are entering the market and AT&T is
 expected to do so by the spring.  When combined with the award of the
 EINet backbone to Uunet, their entry should help to level the playing
 field.  While one company is less likely to dominate such an
 uncontrolled, unregulated market, those concerned about widespread
 affordable access to the network would do well to watch unfolding
 events with care.

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Technology Transfer Goals Achieved?

 Policy makers may ask how much priority the Federal government should
 continue to give technology transfer in a market where the technology
 that allegedly still needs aiding is showing remarkable signs of
 maturity?  As they debate the course on which they wish to take the
 network over the next five years, policy makers may find that one
 answer to the apparent disparity between the emphasis in the
 legislation on the provision of the network by the government, and
 the growing number of commercial sources of network availability is
 that the market matured very rapidly while the HPCC legislation
 remained unchanged.
 In view of all the remarkable commercial achievements (outlined in
 this essay) in the four years since the NREN idea arose, perhaps the
 policy objective of technology transfer for economic competitiveness
 could be considered to be achieved!  A commercially viable high speed
 data networking industry, with the entrance of Sprint in January 1992
 and the anticipated entrance of AT&T, has reached maturity.
 Therefore, having successfully achieved its technology transfer
 goals, the Congress must decide whether to continue to underwrite the
 network as a tool in support of science and education goals.  It
 seems reasonable to assume that this support could be undertaken in a
 way that would not seriously undermine the commercial TCP/IP data
 networking market place.

The Context for Policy Setting

 In order to make informed choices of goals for the network, Congress
 must understand the context of a rapidly commercializing network.
 The resulting context is likely to produce serious impacts both on
 the user community and the development of future network technology.
 It is likely to make some goals more easily attainable than others.
 Given its maturity, the commercialization of TCP/IP wide area
 networking technology is inevitable.
 Some have already begun to question whether the government should be
 providing backbone services where commercial alternatives are
 currently available and are expected to grow in number.
 Supporters of the NREN vision argue that the NSF is using government
 funds to build a leading edge network faster than the commercial
 alternatives.  They say that use of public funds on such technology
 development is appropriate.  Their critics state that the T-3
 technology (also called DS-3) is dead end and point out that the next
 logical step is refining the network so that it can use ATM and
 SONET.  For aggregate gigabit speeds along the backbone, use of ATM

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 and SONET will be necessary.  Critics claim that the T-1 backbone
 could be engineered to accommodate the network for a while longer
 while Federal funds would be more appropriately invested now in an
 ATM and SONET development effort.  They say that Federal policy is
 being used to enable IBM to have a testbed for the development of
 DS-3 TCP/IP routers when Network Technologies makes a comparable
 product that is already proven and reliable.  Whether the Federal
 Government should be providing backbone services or merely support
 for access and improved network features is a key policy issue.
 Finding the best answer to the questions raised by this issue is
 likely to center on the ability of the Federal mission agencies
 involved in high speed network development to articulate a long term
 plan for the development of new network technology over the next
 decade.  How we shall use what is learned in the gigabit testbeds has
 not yet been clearly addressed by policy makers.  Continuation of the
 testbeds is currently uncertain. There is also no plan to apply the
 outcome to the production NREN.  These are areas deserving of federal
 involvement.  The current players seem to be incapable of addressing
 them.  Some possible courses of Federal action will be identified in
 the discussion of a Corporation for Public Networking to follow.
 In the meantime, we face a period of four to five years where the NSF
 is scheduled to take the NSFnet backbone through one more bid.  While
 Federal support for the current production backbone may be
 questionable on technology grounds, policy makers, before setting
 different alternatives:
  1. must understand very clearly the dual policy drivers

behind the NREN,

  1. must define very clearly the objectives of the network,


  1. must carefully define a both a plan and perhaps a

governing mechanism for their achievement.

 A sudden withdrawal of Federal support for the backbone would be
 likely to make a chaotic situation more so.  However, the application
 of focused planning could define potentially productive alternatives
 to current policies that could be applied by the time of the backbone
 award announcement in April of 1993.

Whom Shall the Network Serve?

 The HPCC legislation gives the FCCSET a year to prepare a report to
 the Congress on goals for the network's eventual privatization.
 Thanks to the NSF's decision to rebid the backbone, this task may no

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 longer be rendered moot by premature network privatization.  The
 FCCSET Report needs to address many questions.
 One question is the extent to which, in the higher education
 environment, Congress through the National Science Foundation, or
 perhaps through another entity of its own choosing will continue to
 underwrite networking.  A related question is whether or when
 Congress should act in order to preserve a competitive networking
 provider environment.  A question subsidiary to this is whether a
 competitive commercial environment is adequate to ensure a fertile
 data networking technical R&D environment?  Another related question
 centers on what is necessary to preserve network access that is as
 widely available to post-secondary education as possible?  Further
 issues center on what type of access to promote.  Should Congress
 support the addition to the network of many of the expensive
 capabilities promoted by the advocates of the NREN vision?   What if
 funds spent here mean that other constituencies such as K-12 do not
 get adequate support?

Access to the NREN is a key policy issue.

 If network use is as important for improving research and education
 as its supporters allege it to be, Congress may wish to address the
 issue of why, at institutions presently connected to the network,
 only a small minority of students and faculty are active users.  If
 it examines the network reality carefully, Congress may sense that it
 is time to leverage investment in the network by improving the
 network's visibility and usability within the communities it is
 supposed to serve through improved documentation and training rather
 than by blindly underwriting massive increases in speed.

How Far To Extend Network Access?

 With the broadening discussion of the NREN vision, expectations of
 many segments of the population not originally intended to be served
 by the network have been raised.  An avid group of educators wishing
 to use the network in K-12 education has arisen.  If
 commercialization brought significant price increases, it could
 endanger the very access these educators now have to the network.
 Native Americans have begun to ask for access to the network.  How
 will Congress respond to them?  And to the general library community
 which with the Coalition for Networked Information has been avidly
 pressing its desires for NREN funds?  And to state and local
 government networks?
 Congress should recognize that choices about network access for these
 broader constituencies will be made at two levels.  Access for large

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 numbers could be purchased by the government from commercial
 providers at considerable expense - an unlikely development in view
 of the Federal budget deficit.  In the meantime, given the current
 mix of government supported and commercial providers, the environment
 for these user classes is quite competitive.  Those who are able to
 pay their own way can generally gain access to the network from a
 choice of providers at reasonable cost.  Congress can act on behalf
 of these constituencies by ensuring that the market for the
 provisioning of network services remains open and competitive.  Short
 of either regulating the industry or establishing a new government
 operated network, careful use of subsidies will have the most impact
 on ensuring an open and competitive network.  Congress can also
 choose to view access as a function of price.  If Congress does opt
 for this course, it has several choices to ensure that prices will be
 affordable.  It could seek to impose regulations on the network
 providers through the FCC at a national level or urge the state PUCs
 to do it at the local level.  (Of course the viability of state PUC
 regulation, becomes questionable by the near certainty that there
 would be little uniformity in how the PUCs in each state would treat
 a national service.)  Congress also could impose a tariff on network
 providers profits and use the tariff to subsidize universal access.
 It should, of course, understand that these courses of action would
 raise touchy questions of conflicts between Federal and state
 Congress may also have been vague in dealing with these broader
 network constituencies, because it wishes to sidestep making these
 difficult choices.  The origin of most of these choices may be traced
 to the addition of education policy goals for the Network symbolized
 by the changing of its name from the National Research Network to the
 National Research and Education Network in the OSTP Program Plan in
 September 1989. While this action got the attention and support of
 new constituencies for the Network, it did not bring any significant
 shift to the science and mission agency oriented direction of network
 development.  The legislation remained essentially unchanged:
 "educators and educational institutions" were as specific as the
 language of the bills ever got.  Perhaps this was almost on purpose?
 Having goals that were more specific might imply the need to justify
 with some precision why some individual segments of the networking
 community deserved service while some did not.
 Unless Congress were able to construct a separate rationale for the
 needs of each of the network constituencies - from supercomputer
 users to grade school students - specific goal setting by Congress
 might imply that Congress was arbitrarily judging some network
 constituencies to be more worthy than others.  This would be a
 difficult course to follow because those who were left out would want
 to know what the basis for such a judgment would be?  Solid answers

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 would be difficult to come by because networking as enabling
 educational technology is so new that no one is as yet quite sure how
 to measure its value.  Without such assurances, it may be difficult
 for Congress to know how to justify its spread on any other grounds
 than equity of opportunity.
 Indeed there is a constituency of grass roots-oriented, small-scale
 network builders allied with elements of the library community.  This
 constituency suggests that computer networks will very quickly become
 such powerful means of access to information that lack of access to
 them will soon will carry serious implications for social and
 economic equity within the nation.
 These groups can be expected to be very vocal in their demands that
 some minimal level of access to the national network be widely
 available and affordable.  They are likely to ask that Congress turn
 its attention to the feasibility of establishing the goal of
 universal access to the national network.  Although the technology
 and economic conditions are quite different from the conditions of
 the 1934 Communications Act, they are likely to demand action
 analogous to that.
 Motivated by these concerns, Mitch Kapor has been arguing very
 eloquently for the building of the NREN as a National Public Network.
 Asked to define what he saw as being at stake, he said the following
 to the author in September 1991:
    "Information networking is the ability to communicate by means of
    digitally-encoded information, whether text, voice, graphics, or
    video.  Increasingly, it will become the major means for
    participation in education, commerce, entertainment, and other
    important social functions.  It is therefore important that all
    citizens, not just the affluent, have the opportunity to
    participate in this new medium.  To exclude some is to cut them
    off from the very means by which they can advance themselves to
    join the political social and economic mainstream and so consign
    them to second-class status forever.  This argument is analogous
    to that which was made in favor of universal voice telephone
    service - full social participation in American life would require
    access to a telephone in the home."
 Kapor through his Electronic Frontier Foundation, (EFF) is working
 hard to make sure that Congress is compelled to address the question
 of universal network access.  The EFF has also begun to press for the
 use of ISDN as a technologically affordable means of bringing the
 benefits of a national network to all Americans.
 If Congress wishes to promote widespread access to the network and to

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 design an network that is amenable to widespread use, it will do well
 to examine carefully the position that the EFF is articulating.  It
 would also do well to look outside the confines of the Federal
 Networking Council (FNC) and the FNC Advisory Commission that is made
 up of members similar in orientation to the FNC and is scheduled for
 only four meetings and a two-year-long existence.  If it wishes to
 increase secondary and elementary school access to the network, it
 could investigate enlarging the very small role granted by the
 legislation to the Department of Education.  Unfortunately, without
 careful planning what would be gained by this is unclear.  The
 Department of Education has never played a significant role in
 computer networking.  The immediate needs of the K-12 arena are
 focused mainly around maintaining the existence of affordable low
 bandwidth access and the support of successful pioneering efforts.
 When Congress states its intentions for the scope of access to the
 network and, as a part of doing so, sets priorities for investment in
 network bandwidth versus ease of use, it can then turn its attention
 only to one other area.

A Corporation for Public Networking?

 Network governance and oversight are key policy issues.
 If Congress has doubts about the current situation, it might want to
 consider the creation of an entity for NREN management, development,
 oversight and subsidization more neutral than the NSF.
 Action should be taken to ensure that any such an entity be more
 representative of the full network constituency than is the NSF.  If
 Congress decides to sanction network use by a community broader than
 the scientific and research elite, it must understand the importance
 of creating a forum that would bring together the complete range of
 stake holders in the national network.
 While such a forum would not have to be a carbon copy of the
 Corporation for Public Broadcasting, given the half billion dollars
 to be spent on the network over the next five years and the very
 confused and contentious policy picture, it might make sense to spend
 perhaps a million dollars a year on the creation of an independent
 oversight and planning agency for the network. Such an entity could
 report its findings to the Congress and respond to goals formulated
 by the Congress.
 Congress could declare the development and maintenance of a national
 public data network infrastructure a matter of national priority. It
 could make it clear the government will, as it does in issues of
 national transportation systems, the national financial system, and

Cook [Page 9] RFC 1527 Cook Report on Internet September 1993

 national communications systems, maintain an interest in the
 development and control of a system that serves both the goals of
 improved education and new technology development.
 To carry out such a mandate, a Corporation for Public Networking
 (CPN) could have fifteen governors nominated by the members of the
 network community and subject to the approval of the Congress.
 Each governor would represent a network constituency.
             1. The NSF
             2. Department of Energy
             3. National Aeronautics & Space Administration
             4. Advanced Research Projects Agency
             5. Corporate Users
             6. K-12
             7. Higher Education
             8. Public Libraries & State and Local Networks
             9. Commercial Network Information Service Providers
            10. Interexchange Carriers such as AT&T, MCI, Sprint, etc.
            11. The Regional Bell Operating Companies
            12. Personal Computer Users
            13. Computer Manufacturers
            14. Disabled Users
            15. University Computing
 Since the legislation calls for backbone nodes in all 50 states, such
 a structure would be a reasonable way to coordinate Federal support
 for the network on a truly national basis - one that, by
 acknowledging the network as a national resource, would give
 representation to the full breadth of its constituencies.  Governors
 could use the network to sample and help to articulate the national
 concerns of their respective constituencies.
 If it adopted these goals, Congress could give a CPN a range of
       1.   The CPN could be a forum for the expression of the
            interests of all NREN constituencies.  In the event the
            network were to be administered by the NSF, it could be
            serve as a much more accurate sounding board of network
            user concerns than the FNC or the FNC Advisory Council.
       2.   The CPN could be authorized to make recommendations to NSF
            and other agencies about how funds should be distributed.
            Such recommendations could include truly independent
            assessments of the technical needs of the network

Cook [Page 10] RFC 1527 Cook Report on Internet September 1993

            community and the most cost effective ways of achieving
       3.   The CPN could itself be given responsibility for funding
            distribution.  Such responsibilities would incur an
            increase in administrative costs and staff.  Nevertheless,
            by creating an opportunity to start a process from scratch
            and one that would consequently be free of the vested
            interests of the National Science Foundation in high-end
            network solutions, Congress would likely get a clearer
            picture of where and how effectively public monies were
            being expended. With such responsibility the CPN could
            also keep extensive pressure on network providers to
            remain interconnected.  When thinking about cost, Congress
            should also remember that effective oversight of subsidies
            funneled through NSF would imply the hiring of extra staff
            within that agency as well.
       4.   Congress might want to ask a CPN to examine the use of the
            $200 million in NREN R&D monies. Policy direction
            dictating the spending of Federal funds is still suffering
            from the fuzzy boundaries between the network as a tool
            for leveraging technology competitiveness into commercial
            networking environments and the network as a tool to
            facilitate science and education.  If Congress decides
            that the major policy direction of the network should be
            to develop the network for use as a tool in support of
            science and education, then it may want monies directed
            toward ARPA to be focused on improved databases, user
            interfaces and user tools like knowbots rather than a
            faster network used by fewer and fewer people.  A CPN that
            was representative of the breadth of the network's user
            constituencies could provide better guidance than the
            FCCSET or ARPA for spending Federal subsidies aimed at
            adding new capabilities to the network.
       5.   Additional levels of involvement could have the CPN act as
            a national quasi-board of networking public utilities.  It
            could be given an opportunity to promote low cost access
            plans developed by commercial providers.  If it borrowed
            some of the fund raising structure of National Public
            Radio, it should be able to raise very significant funds
            from grass roots users at the individual and small
            business level who are made to feel that they have a stake
            in its operation.
       6.   If congress wanted to increase further the role given the
            CPN, it could decide that with network commercialization

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            and technology transfer goals completed, the majority of
            the NREN funds go to the CPN which could then put out a
            bid for a CPN backbone.  In effect Congress could dictate
            that the backbone announced by the NSF for implementation
            in 1993 be implemented and run as a joint project between
            the NSF and a CPN.
            All entities should be considered eligible to join and use
            the CPN in support of research and education.  Commercial
            companies who wanted to use the CPN to interact with the
            academic community should pay a commercial rate to do so.
            With the availability of a parallel commercial network,
            commercial restrictions on the CPN could be very much
            loosened to include anything in support of research and
            education.  The CPN would study and report to Congress on
            how gateways between commercial TCP/IP networks and the
            CPN network could be maintained.
       7.   Some suggest that the Congress go even further. These
            people emphasize that a replacement for the R&D aspects of
            the Internet in the context of commercialization and
            privatization is uncertain.  Bell Labs and Bellcore remain
            as the research arms of the Public Switched Telephone
            Network.  However neither of them have ever developed
            major strengths in wide area data networking. Nor do they
            appear to be likely to do so in the near future.  Despite
            this situation, the major private investment made in the
            Gigabit Testbeds indicate that the american
            telecommunications industry feels a need to invest in
            continued research.  This is something that the current
            commercial players are too small to do.  Furthermore, it
            is something that the larger players driven by pressure to
            report quarterly profits may find difficult to do.
            Congress could make a decision that Federal investment in
            the technology should emphasize less pump-priming to
            increase the pace of what most see as inevitable
            commercialization and more the continued building of new
            networking technology for both technology transfer and
            support of the technology as an enabling tool.  In this
            case Congress could direct the CPN to plan, deploy and
            manage a state of the art public information
            infrastructure. With goals for constituencies and levels
            of service defined, the CPN could produce for Congress
            multiple scenarios for developing and maintaining two

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            The first would be an experimental network where the very
            newest technologies could be explored.  It could be very
            similar to the current gigabit testbeds but this time with
            all five projects linked together.  The second would be a
            state-of-the-art operational network that can provide wide
            spread field trials of technology developed on the
            experimental network. With the maturation of the
            technology on the operational network it would be
            available for open transfer to commercial service.  It
            should be remembered that such a continuous widespread
            network R&D environment would provide wide spread training
            experience for graduate students that would otherwise be
            Initial seed money would come from public funds. However,
            the bulk of support could come from a percentage of
            profits (as cash or in kind contributions) that
            participating companies would be required to contribute to
            the CPN as the price of admission for developing and
            benefiting from new technology.  Care should be taken in
            structuring contributions in a way that small start-up
            firms would not be locked out.  To ensure this, Congress
            could mandate that the CPN commissioners (perhaps with
            appropriate oversight from the National Academy of
            Sciences, the IEEE, or the ACM) develop a plan to ensure
            that the cost of entry to such a testbed not exceed the
            capitalization of the current small commercial players.
            It could also require the development of proposals to
            handle the issues of interconnection billing, billing for
            actual use versus size of connection, and interoperability
            among network providers.
            A different financing model could be explored if the CPN
            were instructed to report on the feasibility of selling
            shares to commercial carriers in a national networking
            testbed and R&E network where carriers could, over a long
            term basis, develop and mature new networking technologies
            before transferring them to the commercial marketplace.
      8.    In its November 1, 1991 recommendations to the National
            Science Foundation, FARNET suggested that the NSF should
            consider the issuance of several separate solicitations
            for the development of software tools for end-user
            applications and network management and operations.  To
            emphasize its point it added:  "we believe that the lack
            of useful tools for information retrieval and display is
            one of the biggest impediments to the productive use of

Cook [Page 13] RFC 1527 Cook Report on Internet September 1993

            the network and has impaired the credibility of the NREN
            in the eyes of the target user populations."  FARNET
            admonished the NSF to emphasize open architectures and
            standards in its solicitations, adding that "where
            standards are not adequately understood or developed, the
            NSF should support programs to test, evaluate and improve
            FARNET concluded by recommending
                 "that the NSF, working with the user community and
                 the providers, define and implement clear criteria
                 for the award of additional funding to mid-level and
                 campus networks . . . The new criteria should be
                 designed to further . . . goals such as the extension
                 of network services to new or underserved communities
                 (for ubiquity); the improvement of network
                 operations, procedures and tools (for reliability);
                 the enhancement of existing services through
                 development activities, upgrading of existing
                 connections to 'have not' institutions; leveraging of
                 state, local, and private funds (to maximize the
                 impact of Federal investment), and training and
                 support for end-users (in cooperation with national
                 and local programs)."
            If a CPN is created, it should be directly involved with
            working toward these important goals.  If implementation
            of the network is left to the National Science Foundation,
            Congress should emphasize the importance of the NSF's
            meeting these goals.
       9.   Finally, a strong and broad-based CPN might be able to
            make recommendations to Congress on the identification and
            resolution of problems of telecommunications policy
            engendered by the continued growth of this network
            technology.  It could perhaps play an educational role in
            advising state Public Utilities Commissions on the long
            term implications of their decisions.


 Policy makers must soon decide whether the National Research and
 Education Network is a public or a private good.  Although
 privatization appears to be proceeding apace, since the network
 backbone will be rebid, there should be time for some careful
 planning for the development and evolution of what can, within 10 to
 20 years, become an extraordinarily powerful system that is as

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 ubiquitous as the current telephone network and provides all
 Americans with access to information in much the same way as public
 libraries were created for a similar purpose a century ago.
 Congress must understand that the NREN is not just a new technology
 (indeed much is of it is old technology), but has the potential to
 become the most powerful means of access to information ever created.
 Within this context it must decide whom the NREN shall serve.  It
 must decide whom shall have access to the NREN.
 Once it has done this further options fall into four major areas:
            First:    Congress must decide degree of oversight
                      that is necessary to extend to the network. Such
                      oversight could range from legislating that the
                      FCC regulate the network, to strict reviews of
                      the NSF's actions, to vesting oversight powers
                      in a Corporation for Public Networking.
            Second:   It must decide whether the appropriate place to
                      subsidize technology transfer is within a
                      privatized operational NREN or within the
                      experimental gigabit testbeds.  Without a better
                      understanding both of how the technologies are
                      evolving in the commercial market place, and the
                      evolution of both the testbeds and the NREN, it
                      will be difficult to make make a wise decision.
                      In addition, we must expect that the nature of
                      its choice will be further influenced by its
                      decision on whom the network is to serve.
            Third:    It must decide whether to subsidize a backbone
                      for an NREN.  If it does subsidize such a
                      backbone, it must decide whether it shall be
                      built as a private network or as a part of the
            Fourth:   It must decide whether to subsidize additional
                      connectivity or broader use within connected
                      institutions or both.  In other words, should
                      more institutions be connected to the network,
                      or should the network be made easier to use by
                      the members of those institutions already
 To the extent that Congress chooses to pursue options three and four,
 it will want to explore the scenario for the Corporation for Public
 Networking discussed above.

Cook [Page 15] RFC 1527 Cook Report on Internet September 1993

 Access to information is access to power.  The creation of a National
 Research and Education Network based on the NSFnet and the remainder
 of the american Internet will mean the creation of a national
 information access system of unprecedented power.  In its ability to
 affect the lives and well being of Americans, the NREN, if properly
 designed, will be just as significant as the national Interstate
 highway system and the national electric power grid.  The national
 highway, or the national power grid, or the national telephone system
 could serve as models for implementation.  The Federal Government
 provides a public but otherwise unregulated Interstate highway system
 with universal access available to all Americans.  Private industry
 provides our electric power.  However, it was allowed to do so only
 in return for submitting to Federal and state regulation designed to
 ensure affordable national access by all citizens. The national
 telephone system has been established under a similar "social
 contract".  If the nation is not to be dangerously split into
 information rich and information poor classes, policy makers have
 about five years in which to choose a Federally provided National
 network, or a privately provided but nationally regulated network.
 During the development and maturation of the national network, policy
 makers should also be very attentive to its impact on the public
 switched telephone network (PSTN). The technology involved and the
 speed with which it is changing will only increase the potentially
 serious impact from the freedom of unregulated components of the
 telecommunications industry to pursue market solutions that will keep
 regulated companies from becoming viable players.  We must realize
 that we are about to enter a power struggle for the control of the
 information resources of the 21st century that promises to be every
 bit as harsh and bruising as the power struggle for natural resources
 was at the end of the last century.
 While the intentions of most appear to be good, as this study has
 shown, the playing field is terribly confused. Gigabit technology (if
 properly understood) is desirable. Still we should take great care
 that its cost does not raise the price of low bandwidth or "low end"
 entry into the network.
 Lack of a specific definition of communities to be served, lack of an
 agreed upon plan for how they shall be served, and lack of funds to
 serve everyone have combined to create the present chaotic situation
 in which many of the players have been motivated primarily by a
 desire to increase their institutional role in order to get larger
 Federal allocations of funds.
 In the absence of both a well-thought-out plan agreed to by all
 parties and adequate monetary support, the grand push to accelerate
 both the speed and scope of the technology could have the ironic role

Cook [Page 16] RFC 1527 Cook Report on Internet September 1993

 of weakening the entire foundation of the network.  Until the
 Congress provides more direction, the squabbling that has developed
 is likely to continue.  In the absence of such direction, at best
 large sums of public funds may be ineffectively spent, and at worst a
 picture of empire building could emerge that would make any Federal
 support for research or educational networking unlikely.
 Such an outcome should be avoided because the potential of a well
 designed and developed network to do great good in both policy arenas
 is very significant.  Unfortunately with the NSF under mounting
 criticism, ANS on the defensive and rumored to be financially
 weakened, and Congressional hearings scheduled for mid-March, the
 potential for a destructive free-for-all is very great.

Security Considerations

 Security issues are not discussed in this memo.

Author's Address

 Gordon Cook, Editor and Publisher
 COOK Report on Internet
 431 Greenway Ave
 Ewing, NJ 08618
 Phone: (609) 882-2572

Cook [Page 17]

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