Data communications: IFIP's international "network" of experts
RFC 828

Document Type RFC - Unknown (August 1982; No errata)
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Network Working Group                                            K. Owen
Request for Comments:  828                                          IFIP
                                                             August 1982


     (This report has been written for IFIP by Kenneth Owen, former
                Technology Editor of The Times, London)

[ This RFC is distributed to inform the ARPA Internet community of the
activities of the IFIP technical committee on Data Communications, and
to encourage participation in those activities. ]

A vital common thread which runs through virtually all current advances
in implementing and operating computer-based systems is that of data
communications.  The interconnection of the various elements of complete
systems in new ways has become the driving force behind a substantial
research and development effort.

In both national and international systems, a variety of new options has
been opening up in recent years.  Increasingly the development of these
new systems involves people and groups from a variety of
backgrounds--the computer industry, the telecommunications industry, the
national telecommunications authorities and the national and
international standards bodies.

In an area where the formerly distinct technologies of computing and
telecommunications have so clearly converged, the new technology
presents both opportunities and problems.  And this convergence of
technologies demands an "interconnection" also between the various
groups mentioned above.

For different purposes, and in different parts of the world, the
specific technological solutions will vary, though drawing on the same
basic research and development.  Global, regional, national and local
systems are all involved.  Systems are being designed at a time when the
technology itself is continuing to advance rapidly and there are many
uncertainties in choosing the best directions fo follow.  Nonetheless,
international standards must be developed and agreed.

This background -- of interacting elements of a complex, rapidly
advancing technology -- lies behind the work of Technical Committee 6
(TC 6) of the International Federation for Information Processing
(IFIP).  IFIP's membership consists of the appropriate national
professional organizations, one per country, and its aims include the
promotion of information science and technology and the advancement of
international cooperation in this field.

The broad field of information processing is subdivided for IFIP
purposes into a number of specialist areas, each of which is covered by


RFC 828                                                      August 1982

one of the Federation's technical committees.  TC 6 aims to promote the
exchange of information about data communication; to bridge some of the
gaps that exist between users, telecommunications administrations and
the manufactures of computers and equipment; and to cultivate working
contacts with other relevant international bodies.

Chairman of the committee is Professor Andre Danthine of the University
of Liege, Belgium.  "The main interest of TC 6", he says, "is to have a
real exchange of technical information, on an international basis, in
two ways which are completely intermixed."  In essence these two aspects
reflect the respective needs of people in the developed and the
developing nations.

In the developed countries where the technology is advancing most
rapidly, the basic need is for a full information exchange between the
researchers and the professional practitioners.  The research will
include work which draws on voice and video communication; and the
practitioners will come from the traditional computer and
telecommunications industries (now competing with each other in this
area) and from the new "telematics" industry.

This interchange of ideas between experts in the developed nations is
complemented by the second category of the work of TC 6:  the
interchange of information with the developing countries.  "One of my
main objectives as a technical committee chairman", says Professor
Danthine, "is to try to keep a balance between meeting the needs of the
expert, and the responsibility of the expert to explain the state of the
art to people in the developing nations."

These "state of the art" or review conferences are an important part of
the TC 6 programme.  Each of IFIP's technical committees is made up of
national representatives (plus working group chairmen, whose work is
described later in this article); and the strength of the TC 6
membership is such that, when necessary, the committee can mount
comprehensive "state of the art" conference programmes with speakers
drawn from its own ranks.  In this role the committee is a technical
"travelling circus" -- one in which, as for IFIP activities generally,
the performers receive no fees.

The technical committee plans its overall programme of events and acts
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