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IP: An old ITU dinosaur -- Comm Week Int'l Article
From: Dave Farber <farber () cis upenn edu>
Date: Mon, 29 May 2000 21:27:58 -0400




From: "A.M.Rutkowski" <amr () NGI ORG>
Subject:      relevant Comm Week Int'l Article
To: CYBERTELECOM-L () LISTSERV AOL COM

BOTTOM LINE by A. M. Rutkowski

An old ITU dinosaur that became extinct in the
early 1990s has once again reared its head.

Operating under the simple moniker of SG3, this
group and its predecessors controlled for over
150 years not only the rates charged for
international telecoms services, but also the
ability of competitors to enter the market. Now
10 years later, like some Creature from the
Black Lagoon, SG3 has been electrified into
existence, ready to take on the Internet world.
Part of the "electrification" has come from
mischievous prodding by the ITU general
secretariat staff over the past couple of years
on the perceived inequities of a global free
market in Internet connectivity. In other
words, if you are an ISP and want your customer
traffic hauled everywhere in the world, you
find another ISP capable of doing that and cut
a deal. It's called the market.

Several months ago, the prodding of the SG3
beast paid off. Australia introduced a proposal
in the ITU's Asia-Pacific TAS group calling for
SG3 to begin regulating Internet settlements.
The idea was to garner a large bloc of
developing country votes by evangelizing the
proposal as the way to achieve "Universal
Internet Access"-an amusing twist of the
Digital Divide theme.

Sure enough, the juggernaut began to roll. In
February, the TAS group approved an Internet
settlements norm; and with the bloc votes
secured, energized SG3 into action and rammed
through formal approval last month over the
strong objections of the United States, Canada,
the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Russia.
It is now headed to the ITU's World
Telecommunications Standardization Assembly in
September for likely approval.

This new infamous D-Series norm-called
"International Internet Connection"-is as
ignorant as it is simple. It requires that any
ISP that gets an international circuit for
Internet traffic can demand compensation from
every ISP that "generates" the traffic over the
circuit. Scraping off the veneer, it is of
course the old ITU telephony settlements scheme
that glued the global cartel together and drove
up end user costs tenfold. What this would
require is essentially impossible except on a
very limited scale. At up to gigabit or even
terabit-per-second transmission rates, the
source address of every IP packet would need to
be read, an inverse lookup done, an attribution
to a source ISP made, an aggregation of traffic
accumulated, and billings effected on a global
base.

Ludicrous or not, this hoax has been enacted,
subject only to the imprimatur of the ITU WTSA.

It's tempting for pundits to laugh and view
this as more thrashing about of a legacy
creature from Jurassic Park. It is certain that
the major Net user countries and ISPs will
refuse to abide by these provisions. But what
often occurs in these circumstances is that
developing countries unfamiliar with the
Internet and seeing a mirage of instant cash
sign up to the scheme. Developed countries that
attempt to impose the scheme will be relegating
themselves to the status of Internet developing
countries. But the real victims of this hoax,
as usual, will be those who can least afford
it. The solution: Just Say No in September.

Copyright (c) 2000, Communications Week International


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