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February COOK Report on Internet -> NREN Published
From: David Farber <farber () central cis upenn edu>
Date: Fri, 10 Feb 1995 11:43:57 -0500

Date: Fri, 10 Feb 1995 00:43:55 -0500 (EST)
From: Gordon Cook <gcook () tigger jvnc net>


The February issue of the COOK Report on Internet -> NREN is
published tonight.  It is a special issue about the rapidly
declining ability of the NSF to cope with increasing crises that
will affect the outcome of network commercialization in very
serious ways.


Headline:  Slashed NSF Staff Faces "Catastrophic Situation"
Endangering Creation of New Internet Architecture


At the most critical moments of Internet commercialization
extremely important components of government oversight
within the National Science Foundation have ground almost to a
halt.  Crises affecting the commercial viability of the Internet are
beginning to blaze out of control.  We describe four of them in
separate lengthy articles.  A source inside the Foundation calls
the present situation "catastrophic."


Nearly a year to the day after the award of the vBNS to MCI, that
cooperative agreement has still not emerged from the Division of
Grants and Agreements which, out of fear of the NSF Inspector
General, is tending to take a month to clear paper work that it
used to clear in two weeks.  What is worse a veritable rule by
the IG since the departure of Eric Bloc as Director (as
described to us by 4 different sources over two year's time) has
created both an environment where "people are afraid to do
their jobs" and cliques that have impacted the ability of the
Division of Network Infrastructure and Communications
Research (DNCRI) to function well.  As a result, and unknown to
almost all on the outside, staffing on the DNCRI Infrastructure
side is down by almost 50% from its level of two years ago.  Due
to bureaucratic haggling and cliques outside of DNCRI, a serious
search for Steve Wolff's replacement as Director did not get
started until October - more than 6 months after he announced
his departure.


Without a permanent director and working with half staff
between now and April 30 DNCRI must execute (1) a roll out of
the NAPs and shut down of the ANS backbone, (2)
implementation by MCI of the vBNS at the 5 supercomputer
centers, (3) debut the routing arbiter (4) transition the regional
nets to the NAPs, (5) revamp the InterNic after the termination
of the General Atomics component, (6) issue a new solicitation
for an International Connections Manager, and (7) develop a new
program for research connections to the vBNS.


This would be more than most people could be expected to
handle.  However the commercialization process has brought on
new crises.  It is the addition of these crises that have caused
some of our sources to use terms like catastrophic.  They will
have several effects.  Among them:  increasing costs of usage for
small ISPs and individual users, aggregating authority and
consequent power in the hands of the of the telcos - both IXCs
and RBOCs, and in general creating a rising danger that DNCRI's
ability to maintain a level playing field through out the next
critical months of commercialization may be lost.  We describe
four such flash points in great detail.


(1) Roughly two weeks ago DNCRI was the indirect target of a
lawsuit filed by KnowledgeNet, a small IBM mid range consulting
company in Illinois.  This company lists as defendants, David
Boone who runs his own consulting service using KnowledgeNet
as an association and has registered it as a domain name, DIGEX
Boone's service provider, and Network Solutions which assigned
the domain name to Boone.  The suit levels 5 charges against
Boone including theft of trade marks and racketeering under the
1970 RICO statute!


Sources close to the case feel it is likely that the suit will go to
trial.  If Boone looses case law will be established linking domain
names to trade marks.  Regardless of what happens the next
year will very likely see the imposition of charges for
commercial domain names.  A loss of this suit could mean that
the registering authority would have to employ trademark
attorneys to check a flood of new commercial domain name
applications, and buy legal liability insurance.  This would be
likely to increase the annual cost of a domain name by an order
of magnitude.


(2)  For the first time in its history DNCRI has suspended a 5
year cooperative agreement before the second year was even up.
The General Atomics part of the InterNic has gone nowhere since
it began in April of 1993.  In less than two years three different
people (Susan Estrada, Kent England, and Susan Calcari) were in
charge.  Things that GA had promised to do under the agreement
were simply not done.  At the end of last year 13 of 16 review
panel members recommend to DNCRI that there be no funding to
GA for years 3 through 5 beginning on April 1, 1995.  We
present interviews with Kent England and Susan Calcari, and a
detailed chronology by Susan Calcari.


Karsten Blue, the young son of GA owner Neil Blue (observers
report unanimously that Karsten appears to be in his mid
twenties) was installed last fall as President of a newly created
subsidiary that ran both CERFnet and the InterNic.  When
Karsten received notice from NSF in late January that the GA
Internic was being suspended April 1, he proceeded to
immediately lay off Susan Calcari, the remaining co PI on the
project.  Unfortunately Susan was governed by a key personnel
clause that stipulated that she could not be laid off without the
prior consent of the National Science Foundation.  In doing so GA
committed a serious breach of the agreement.  As a result they
received a letter from NSF this week notifying them that the
agreement was suspended immediately with some transitional
processes running until February 28 when total suspension
would take place a month earlier than other wise would have
happened.  These events have robbed and will continue to rob
DNCRI staff of time they simply do not have.


(3) During the last three months CIDR blocks of network
addresses have become increasingly difficult to get.  Net99
describes their problems in an interview.  Network solutions is
taking the position that unless a strong case to the contrary can
be made new blocs of addresses (needed by every ISP to sell
and run SLIP accounts without which WEB browsers cannot be
used) will go only to the largest providers with national
backbones.  These large providers are then expected to parcel
them out to their resellers.  And as long as the web surfing craze
lasts they become like a fuel without which the smaller ISPs
simply cannot do business. Yet the stocks of "fuel" are under the
control of their larger competitors.  This situation is complicated
by the fact that there is a valid technical reason for handing the
addresses out this way - namely to keep the size of routing
tables under control so that the memory requirements for
routers do not get out of hand.


(4) At the Chicago and California NAPs technical problems caused
by the lack of router to ATM switch interfaces (and warned
about last August by Milo Medin) have forced the imposition of
FDDI LANs.  The Ameritech NAP has been further marred by a
controversy with NET99 where it lost this customer's $173,000 5
year contract for T-3 service in December.  After being reamed
out by Net99, Ameritech proceeded to loose the replacement
contract a second time in January!  The result is an approximate
60 day delay for NET99 in connecting to Chicago.  We have on
record statements and interviews with NSF, Bellcore, Joe Stroup
of Net99 and George Clapp, Mark Knopper's boss at Ameritech.
Clapp's remarks indicate to us that responsible parties in
AADSnet, the Ameritech unregulated subsidiary in charge of the
NAP had every possible reason to believe that Net99 was trying
to connect as early November.  A cynic might wonder if
AADSnet's misplacement of Net99's applications had anything to
do with the fact that Karl Denninger the proprietor of MCS is
Net99's VP of Engineering, and is by far the strongest provider
in the Chicago area.  Denninger is connecting himself as a part of
Net99 to the NAP, and is therefore the most significant
competitor of AADSnet's planned Internet service in the largest
city served by Ameritech.  In other areas that we explore
AADSnet's presentation has not been very professional.  When a
source inside Ameritech told us that Ameritech's internal
security was investigating AADSnet business practices in both
Michigan and Illinois, Clapp replied that the investigation
actually was directed against incursions into AADSnet machines
coming from outside.  These events indicate that RBOCs in control
of NAPs in the current frenzy is fraught with possibilities for
conflict of interest.


Some general policy considerations: DNCRI is in need of urgent
help from the highest levels of  management of NSF and the
White House.  Appointing a new director who is beholden
to no particular research or infrastructure constituency
should be the top priority.  Filling staff vacancies the next.
Finally, having once criticized the vBNS, we have come
to support it.  We are told that some in the
foundation would like to merge DNCRI into oblivion and deliver
the vBNS completely to the supercomputer centers who have no
real interest in networking research.  However DNCRI has won a
commitment from MCI for a parallel but totally separate test
network announced so far only in last month's COOK Report.  It is
believed that this test network will be the only viable
opportunity to explore theories of high speed data networking
that do not depend on ATM into which the telcos are sinking
tens of billions.  Some in the community are claiming valid
reason to believe that there are better ways to do data
networking than ATM.  The test net is seen as an opportunity to
find out and pull the telco's chestnuts from the fire should the
researchers be right - something that is certainly in the national
strategic interest.  It is an opportunity that will be lost, insiders
believe, if bureaucratic infighting at NSF merges DNCRI into
Advanced Scientific Computing.


We have taken these concerns by telephone and email to Tom
Kalil of the White House Economic Council and Mike Nelson of
OSTP.  These are Vice President Gore's top two staffers on these
issues.  Last evening Kalil replied.  His message contained
among other things assurances that "senior management at
NSF is working hard to fill the vacancies at DNCRI," and that
"we have indicated to NSF that the White House would be happy
to help them in their recruitment efforts."


In addition to a general introduction to the situation, our
February issue contains articles on each of the four crises
described above.  We also publish in full the Bellcore progress
report on the California and Chicago NAPs sent to NSF on
February 3, and the complete text of the KnowledgeNet Domain
Name lawsuit described above.




********************************************************************
Gordon Cook, Editor & Publisher       Subscript.: Individ-ascii  $85
The COOK Report on Internet -> NREN        Non Profit.          $150
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(609) 882-2572                             Corporate            $350
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********************************************************************


Subject: Feb COOK Report- A Correction
To: com-priv () psi com
Mime-Version: 1.0


We listed in our public summary for the network Susan Estrada, Kent England,
and Susan Calcari as the three people incharge of the GA Internic during a
period of less than two years.  We inadvertantly confused points of view.
Although Susan Calcari was a co Principal Investigator for the life of the
project, the three people placed in charge by General Atomics were Susan
Estrada, Bob Randall, and Kent England.  These facts are clear in our full
story.


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