What Should We Plan Given the Dilemma of the Network?
RFC 1527

Document Type RFC - Informational (September 1993; No errata)
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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
   unlimited.

Abstract

   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
   unfortunate.

   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.

Cook                                                            [Page 2]
RFC 1527                Cook Report on Internet           September 1993

   Unfortunately, our current regulatory system does not distinguish
   between the unique nature of the Internet and commercial systems like
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