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APPENDIX E 269 APPENDIX E International Issues Because the terms "NREN" and "NII" contain the word "national," it is easy to assume that problems of developing, implementing, and using information infrastructure are largely domestic. But this is misleading, because both the markets served by U.S-owned companies and the endeavors of the research and education communities are increasingly international. Thus, NREN and NII services will operate in a context of international connectivity; U.S. entities do and will use U.S. infrastructure to communicate with parties overseas, and foreign entities will use their local infrastructure to communicate with parties in the United States. Research networks have been international since the mid-1970s, when sites in the United Kingdom and Norway connected to SATNET, and thereby to the ARPANET. In the early 1980s, CSNET, BITNET, and UUCP all developed gateways to networks in other countries. For example, by 1984, CSNET was operating electronic mail gateways between the United States and Korea, Israel, Japan, France, Germany, Australia, and Scandinavia. In the same time frame, BITNET became international as it spread to Europe, via the European Academic Research Network (EARN). Similarly, the UUCP network developed a gateway to the European UNIX networks via Amsterdam, and the U.S. agency networks, SPAN and HEPnet, were linked to communities of interest in other parts of the world. By the mid-1980s, when the first NSFNET backbone was being discussed, electronic mail gateways already connected the various U.S. networks to a robust and growing global networking infrastructure. An early national network project outside the United States was JANET (Joint Academic Network) in the United Kingdom. Later, national network projects were initiated in large numbers of countries on every
APPENDIX E 270 continent. Examples include DFN (Deutsche Forschungsnetz) in Germany, UNINET in Norway, SDN in Korea, and JUNET in Japan. International collaborations included NORDUNET in the Nordic countries, EARN and EUNET in Europe, and PACOM in the Pacific Rim. The various national network projects have differed with respect to technology, financing, implementation details, and the extent of government participation and control. However, all are intended to support enhanced communication within their local academic and research communities as well as communication with colleagues in other countries. With the advent of the NSFNET backbone, connections between the United States and other parts of the world were expanded and an attempt was made to better coordinate routing and addressing. This led to formation of the Coordinating Committee for Intercontinental Research Networks (CCIRN) and the Internet Engineering Planning Group (IEPG). The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), the organization that sets standards for the Internet, has also developed an international character in recent years. This emphasis is reinforced by its recent location under the aegis of the Internet Society, an expressly international organization. U.S. government agencies have played an active role in helping to internationalize the global Internet. For a number of years, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has provided shared funding for network connections between the United States and other parts of the world, and NSF personnel have taken a leadership role in representing the United States in international forums. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have also been active in internationalizing their research networks for some time, largely to enable "remote science" and international research collaborations. Much of this effort has involved subsidizing international connections to laboratories and research facilities of interest to U.S. scientists. For example, DOE is working with European scientists in programs using telecommunications to conduct sophisticated experiments using U.S.-based science facilities. Telecommunications experts within that agency want higher transmission speeds to improve real-time response interactions involving scientists in Japan, Germany, and Russia, participants in the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor program. NASA seeks infrastructure improvements to collect and display in video format the enormous quantities of data being acquired by the Earth-observing satellites of other nations. The creation of a "Giant World-Wide NASA" as part of the international Earth Observing System will provide scientists with greater insight into global weather trends and facilitate identification of Earth resources. Both agencies are convinced that the degree and frequency of collaboration among the participants in their
APPENDIX E 271 international programs will increase dramatically with increased bandwidth and connectivity.1 In parallel with the development of national networks, a number of "volunteer" networks have developed, the most prominent of which is Fidonet. Fidonet reaches 84 countries, including many developing countries for which this is the only affordable network alternative. In this regard, Fidonet technology is used extensively by nongovernmental organizations working on economic development in Africa and Asia. Electronic mail gateways allow people in such countries as Kenya, Namibia, and Ethiopia to correspond with colleagues in other parts of the world. The global network environment now reaches over 140 countries. A variety of technologies are used, but the common denominator shared by all is the ability to exchange electronic mail. As new countries, such as those in Eastern and Central Europe and Latin America, have connected, the first international service has been electronic mail. A universal goal has been to move to the next level, interactive services and connection to the Internet. The principal barrier to such enriched communications is the high cost of international communications. There are several reasons for the high cost of international communications. Historically, an important factor has been the high cost of installing and maintaining the physical infrastructure coupled with the limited capacity of such facilities. But with the advent of optical transmission and the introduction of new technical innovations such as optical amplification and wave division multiplexing, capacity is increasing dramatically, and hence costs can be amortized over an enlarged user and application base. A second reason for the high cost of international communications has been the lack of competition. Until recently, most governments exercised either direct or indirect control over national telecommunications as well as international links. While this is still the case in some parts of the world, there has been a significant increase in competition resulting from deregulation and the opening of domestic and international markets to foreign companies. Despite the growing availability of bandwidth capacity, the cost differential between U.S. and overseas service is not something that is going to be resolved in the immediate future, although there are visible signs that change is on the way. In almost every nation of the world telecommunications services operate in a "contrived" economic system, that is, a system of cross- subsidization in which monies are collected to support a wide range of government goals. In the United States one of the goals is "universal service" or the provision of affordable telephone service for the greatest number of people. The Swiss, and many other countries throughout Western Europe, use monies collected from telecommunica
APPENDIX E 272 tions services to subsidize postal and transportation services. Introducing competition into these countries, such as we are now attempting to do in the United States, does not appear at this time to be in the best interests of many of these countries and, in fact, the telephone companies are discouraging anyone from building their own networks employing leased lines. Rather, the telephone companies are promoting integrated services digital network and expensive narrowband 8.25-kbps services on the basis that raising the price for leased lines high enough will encourage everyone to move toward these services. Considerable evidence exists to question that this strategy is working. In the case of satellite communications the lack of competition is equally discouraging, resulting in fewer choices and increased costs for major users. Satellite communication was initially introduced into Europe so that the Postal Telephony and Telegraphy organizations (PTTs) could communicate among themselves and serve as gatekeepers to the flow of information in and out of their countries. Revenues from these services have been rather substantial. Two factors, possible loss of control and income, have made the PTTs reluctant to enter into a market economy for telecommunications in which competition is encouraged. It is important to keep in mind that while networks have developed at different paces in different countries, the phenomenon has been global in nature. While the technologies most commonly used today, the Internet, BITNET, Fidonet and UUCP protocols, were developed largely in the United States, each national network activity reflects the unique characteristics (economic, legal, regulatory) of its local environment. These national efforts should be considered as peers to the U.S. networks, and it should be understood that the "global NII" will likely not be a reflection of the U.S. NII. IMPLEMENTATION OF INTERNATIONAL CONNECTIVITY Achieving international connections has three components: transmission between countries (in particular, transoceanic connections), distribution (local infrastructure and access points) within countries, and bilateral or multilateral agreements on technical (e.g., addressing, routing) and policy issues (e.g., acceptable use, financing). Intercontinental Transmission Several important considerations can affect the international connectivity of the NII. Some are technical in nature, and the others involve cost-of-service factors that must be the result of competitive forces and
APPENDIX E 273 cooperative efforts among nations. The availability of adequate bandwidthâ that is, whether or not the United States has in place, or in the planning stages, sufficient digital connections to Europe and the Pacific Rim to meet the high- speed bandwidth requirements of the NIIâis an important technical consideration. A quick review of this issue suggests that bandwidth capacity will not be a problem. The two major technologies underpinning high-speed transmission media are satellites and fiber-optic cables. In the case of satellite technology, Intelsat remains the primary service provider for most of the nations of the world.2 In addition, a large number of regional satellites provide a range of broadcast and point-to-point services.3 A recent development in the satellite arena is the expected growth in deployment of very small aperture terminal dishes (VSATs), which can facilitate the supply of connectivity to remote areas and significantly enhance local infrastructure (see "Local Infrastructure" below). PanAmSat is already being used for this purpose in Latin America, and both carriers and satellite systems vendors are expected to roll out VSAT services at very low cost. VSATs should dramatically expand Internet access worldwide. This will be accomplished as federal government regulations, policies, and attitudes regarding satellite and other communications technologies, devised and implemented in the 1950s and 1960s, are changed to reflect the vast capabilities of the technologies of the 1990s. These government changes will not end at the shores of the United States, nor will they be limited to technology considerations alone. The NII planners are committed to working with their international counterparts to promote a seamless, open structure that will be most effective when it becomes integrated into a global information infrastructure. This means addressing transborder data flow policy problems such as privacy, monitoring requirements of other governments, censorship, and the exchange of certain types of data between countries. International connectivity is also available via cable (coaxial or fiber), and as in the national context, experience suggests that the importance of fiber-optic cable for international transmission is likely to grow. One reason for this is that cable provides for better-quality service for interactive applications. The current large-scale capacity of fiber-optic connections between the United States and Europe (TATs-8, 9, 10, and 11) will be further enhanced in August 1996 with the availability of TATs-12 and 13. The two latter fiber-optic cables will operate at gigabit rates. Looking toward the Pacific Rim, there are in place several large-capacity fiber-optic cables (TransPac 3 and 4). These have the same capacity as the TAT-8 series of cables. TransPac 5, scheduled to be in operation by 1996, will offer gigabit rates. Submarine cables provide an attractive economic advantage for
APPENDIX E 274 selected routes where there is a high rate of growth in demand for communications capacity. Local Infrastructure Although intercontinental transmission technology is rapidly advancing, there is a distinct absence of a generic infrastructure that is capable of taking advantage of this capacity in most developing nations and in some developed countries. The disparity between U.S. and foreign data communications environments (including networks and associated hardware and software) is a source of operational frustration to businesses and, in particular, members of the research community when they seek to effect or use international connections. Within a country, distributionâlocal infrastructureâis largely a matter of local policy and investment; it is the area of greatest unevenness across countries. For example, in countries such as China and Russia the infrastructure for very high speed links is almost nonexistent. A major finding of the 1990 Report of the Task Force on Telecommunications and Broadcasting in Eastern Europe, commissioned by the U.S. State Department, stated: "The years of political bias against private access and dissemination of information have left all Eastern European countries, regardless of GNP, with telecommunications and broadcast infrastructures which are among the very poorest and most antiquated in the world. Massive investment will be required to bring the telecommunications and broadcasting infrastructures up to developed country levels."4 And, of course, whatever the situation in this part of the world, conditions are far worse in most of Africa and parts of Asia and Latin America. Since that report was written a number of major changes have been initiated by the governments of most of these countries to improve their telecommunications infrastructures, such as the move from analog to digital circuits, the introduction of cellular radio, the passage of legislation to encourage investments by Western companies marketing products and services in telecommunications, and so on. But despite the gains being made, the finding of the State Department report remains valid; significant investments are required to bring these nations to "telco equality" with developed nations. These investments depend to a large degree on the ability of these countries to promote market economies and to demonstrate a business environment that will provide investors a reasonable risk and return on their investments. Further, the financially poor condition of the universities, a widespread situation, rules out any purchase of expensive services in the near future. As suggested above, VSATs hold the promise of upgrading local in
APPENDIX E 275 frastructure, sometimes providing a capability that overlays an existing wireline infrastructure, at a relatively low cost. Such overlay connectivity is the goal of some new university-local business consortia being formed in Eastern Europe, encouraged in some cases by the World Bank. In more advanced countries, such as Japan and some in Western Europe, the problems are mostly political, not based on a lack of underlying telecommunications infrastructure. In such countries, state owned or chartered PTTs control both domestic and international communications. It can be nearly impossible to acquire a direct link into a specific site, and often use of an expensive X.25-based and PTT-operated network is mandated. When available, obtaining leased line service may involve substantial delays and/or costs that are very high compared to U.S. costs. A paper written by two information technology specialists, part of a research team in CERN working at the world's largest particle accelerator facility, lamented the fact that reasonably priced leased circuits were not available and the situation was adversely affecting their research activities. One example of a political issue is the approach in some countries toward standards. For reasons of competitiveness or, in some cases, to avoid adopting what has been perceived as a U.S. standard (the Internet protocols), some governments and intergovernment groups have decreed that national networks must use the ISO/CCITT OSI- compliant protocol suite. However, software has not been readily available and some of the standards have been slow in coming, leading to delays in implementation. One possibility for overcoming shortcomings in local distribution is wireless communication technology, including microwave cellular telephony. In addition, cable telephone technology might also enhance local infrastructure in some countries. It is important to keep in mind that local infrastructure is a national issue for each of the countries involved. It is not appropriate for U.S. private or government groups to try to dictate national network approaches to other countries despite the fact that many U.S. companies are competing in foreign countries for intra- and international telecommunications business. Moreover, while policies such as those cited above have limited communication between academics and researchers, they have also had the effect of stifling the development of national industries to compete with U.S. companies in this area. Foreign Research Networking U.S.-based research networks have provided a vehicle for overcoming some of the foreign interconnection hurdles. Some government agen
APPENDIX E 276 cies are applying their resources and traffic to specific generic networks operated by organizations within a country, supporting a major research institute in an effort to increase Internet usage. For example, in Japan NASA is leveraging its resources to enhance the Tokyo International Science Network operated by the University of Tokyo. In Russia NASA works closely with the Space Research Institute to achieve the connectivity it requires in this country. While technology may help to lower the costs of connectivity, the essential barriers to foreign access and enhanced foreign distribution are pricing, standards, and trade barriers. These issues are discussed below. COST AND PRICING OF TRANSMISSION CAPACITY Any effort to create a high-speed network to Europe and to the Pacific Rim nations must first consider who pays and how payment is to be made. Network users in Europe spend, on the average, ten times more for circuits than similar users in the United States; and in some regions of Europe T1 service is unobtainable at any price. The disparity between the costs of international circuits initiated in the United States and those of other countries seriously constrains the cost-sharing efforts of government agencies using these circuits. Today some government agencies pick up the costs of the long-haul transmission channels and their international partners pay for the local distribution circuits within their own countries. For example, when DOE or NASA arrange international connections, they have typically provided the international circuit in exchange for provision of distribution by the foreign partner. There is an important policy question involved here: To what extent should U.S. agencies, and therefore U.S. taxpayers, support non-U.S. networking facilities even though this support might help U.S. scientists? It is likely that there will be different answers for different countries. A related issue is the degree to which the U.S.-supported facilities carry traffic other than that dedicated to the particular application that justified the link. STANDARDS FOR GLOBAL INTERCONNECTIVITY The international connectivity issue is made even more complex because of the different standards in place and being planned. Achieving consensus on standards in the current international environment has been difficult at best. Historically, many countries have emphasized and promoted conformance with the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) protocol suite, in contrast to the Internet choice of the
APPENDIX E 277 TCP/IP protocol suite. One U.S. marketing specialist, who works for a major interexchange carrier, refers to this environment as ''religious political wars" wherein government bureaucrats decide which protocols are "politically correct." His description of the standards adoption process is shared by many government network users and U.S. telecommunications manufacturers and service providers doing business overseas. They see the standards developed by slow-moving international committees over many years as not serving the needs of the user community; yet, these governments, commissions, and large research funding organizations representing one or more countries often mandate the acceptance of these standards. However, the market for OSI products has been weak and, in the opinion of some experts, both U.S. and foreign, the whole OSI development process has been flawed because of its cumbersome design process (design-by-committee and consensus) as opposed to a reliance on experience and market forces. In contrast, commercially successful protocols (e.g., Ethernet, Token Ring, TCP/ IP, X.25) have been those that have been defined, implemented, and revised based on experience prior to being standardized. In recognition of such problems, OSI appears to have been dealt a deathblow by the Fall 1993 announcement of the European Union through EWOS that its efforts will now focus on the Open Systems Environment (OSE) rather than OSI; OSE is meant to encompass all open system standards. To a great extent this decision only validates what has actually been happening in many countries where network builders have already begun to base their networks on TCP/IP, currently the standard of choice for multivendor data networks. Where this decision was made a number of years ago, e.g., Scandinavia, the growth of research and education networks as well as the commercial availability of network services has paralleled that in the United States. Similar rates of growth are now under way in many countries throughout the world. EXPORT CONTROLS AND INTERNATIONAL NETWORKING Achievement of full international connectivity hinges on reducing inequities in local distribution infrastructures. One dimension is broadening access to essential technologiesâfirst those related to physical facilities, and then those related to information services. The access issue is one where different U.S. policy perspectives appear to have collided. The export of certain kinds of communications equipment and systems is restricted under a program of controls intended to protect national security. Some of these controls are specific to the United States, and some have been broadly shared among industrialized nations under the
APPENDIX E 278 Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls (CoCom) umbrella, which is expected to be replaced by a new multilateral structure.5 Experience in the international networking arena has raised questions about the designation of products that fall under controls, the tightness of the controls, and the degree to which U.S. vendors may be or have been disadvantaged relative to vendors of comparable products in other countries. The March 30, 1994, announcement that the United States would relax many of its controls on the export of computing and communications technology gives rise to a more positive outlook than has been evident to date. 6 In the recent past the export of many items ranging from 9,600-kbps modems to electro-optical equipment and digital subscriber interface equipment having transmission rates in excess of 156 Mbps and 144 kbps, respectively, has been restricted. Technologies for encrypting communications in the interests of privacy or security fall under even tighter controls than transmission and switching technologies. Those tight controls continue to be in effect, although they are coming under increased scrutiny. Inasmuch as export controls succeed in limiting the capabilities in foreign infrastructure, there is a possibility that traffic originating in the United States would have to be throttled for distribution in other countries, slowing the delivery of communications, and that certain applications (e.g., video, real-time communications) would be less feasible in other countries, militating against certain forms of research collaboration, for example. Such impacts on research collaboration have already posed problems for U.S. government agencies whose missions require increased technology transfer to other countries to ensure strong international connectivity. An example is the inability of NASA to get Cisco and Proteon routers into Russia. But perhaps even more critical today are restrictions on export of equipment employing dynamic adaptive routing, i.e., network routers. This technology, developed in the 1970s with support from the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), is essential to the operation of the global Internet. And today, U.S. companies are the major suppliers of such equipment in all parts of the world. Since the algorithms used are well known, continued restrictions on the export of U.S. manufactured equipment would lead to loss of market share by U.S. companies. The scope of this problem is such that the Federal Networking Council, an organization of 15 government agencies, put in place a special advisory group to study the problem and to make recommendations. The FNCAC indicated in October 1993 that it "endorses full connectivity of federal (and commercial) networks to non-allied countries." It argued that security mechanisms are better placed in host systems than in the network. It noted that key packet switching and cryptographic technolo
APPENDIX E 279 gies are available from non-U.S. sources. It urged reevaluation and some relaxation of controls. Demands from research and industry for high-bandwidth communications between countries suggest that there is a need to periodically assess existing export controls and to explicitly weigh and balance policy goals for protection of national security, promoting international research collaboration, and fostering foreign market development for U.S.-based producers of communications technologies. At a minimum, the performance ceiling (e.g., the bandwidth level permitted for exports) should be frequently reevaluated to prevent perpetuation of outdated rules. To date, U.S. superiority in networking technologies and applications has been a source of competitive advantage to U.S. businesses operating internationally; not only physical facilities but also higher-level services and applications are areas in which the United States has exhibited leadership. That leadership is threatened to the extent that U.S. vendors are hindered from selling (e.g., by long delays in the export approval process) products available from vendors elsewhere. Until the recent relaxation of controls, many U.S. companies were prohibited from selling products being marketed by Japan, Germany, and other industrialized nations competing with U.S. vendors in global markets. Controls on exports are not the only trade problem constraining the development of worldwide information infrastructure. There are business practices and export control devices being employed by other nations that may be regarded as "unfair" by U.S. standards. These practices and procedures tend to build economic walls that favor specific technical standards, products, and architectures, oftentimes initiated to limit the sales U.S. technology abroad. The result of this is to seriously impede the growth of U.S. export markets in information technology. In addition, there are information walls involving the unequal sharing of information and information-related material on the part of our trading partners. Since the enhancement of information infrastructure in the United States will provide new opportunities for foreign parties, benefiting other nations, questions arise as to whether better access by U.S. parties to foreign information infrastructure and resources should be arranged as a quid pro quo. CONCLUSIONS International connectivity must be maintained and expanded as foreign networks develop and proliferate. Beyond physical access, one or more bodies (organizations) may be needed to develop and monitor bilateral and multilateral agreements on standards, transborder problems, and transborder legalities.7 For example, as the growth of commercial networking
APPENDIX E 280 proceeds to expand, international agreement on address space management, use of encryption technology and methods, authentication of signatures and senders, management of rights and funds transfers, and so on is needed both to maximize connectivity and communication and to enable international electronic commerce. Agreements and mechanisms also need to be negotiated to handle security problems in the international network environment, including mechanisms for communicating and resolving problems and for dealing with perpetrators. In addition, both to assure the maximum usefulness of international connections and to support U.S. vendors, export control restrictions on the sale and deployment of U.S. infrastructure technology should be reviewed and, as appropriate, relaxed. Many players are already addressing some of these issues (e.g., the Internet Society is addressing protocols; the State Department participates in international standards and coordinating conferences; the Department of Commerce addresses export controls through its Bureau of Export Administration and comparative national infrastructure development through its National Telecommunications and Information Administration; the National Institute of Standards and Technology (U.S. Department of Commerce) and the National Security Agency have begun to address some international security issues; and so on), but a consistent framework, coordination, and mechanisms for gaining input from the research, education, and other communities are needed, and there should be a clear demarcation of authority in these areas, so that affected communities in the United States and counterparts overseas know whom to contact for what. NOTES 1. Personal communications: Robert Aiken, U.S. Department of Energy, and Anthony Villasenor, National Aeronautics and Space Administration. 2. Intelsat is an international consortium of countries that owns and operates 18 satellites in the Atlantic, Pacific, and indian Oceans, with which it provides voice, data, and television services. Approximately 65 percent of all revenues are derived from voice circuits. Inmarsat is a 44-member organization of nations that purchase services from it for such applications as telex, voice, fax, and data transfer up to the T1 level. Inmarsat does not own its own satellites but leases circuits on satellites operated by Intelsat and other carriers. Growing demand for increased competition in the international satellite communications industry has resulted in recent loosening of the regulation of the U.S. satellite services market, raising questions about prospects for reductions in costs and increases in innovation, both benefits typically associated with deregulation. The FCC recently decided to provide a more open environment for the entry of new systems. Five companies have been granted authority to compete with Comsat, the U.S. authorized agent to Intelsat, in marketing and delivering international communications. This authority was granted subject to a number of limitations such as not having the right to interconnect to the public network. PanAmSat, Columbia, and Orion are some of the better known companies that are in oper
APPENDIX E 281 ation or in development and that are working vigorously to eliminate the limitations currently imposed on them. Recent developments indicate that the easing of these restrictions may soon be forthcoming. 3. For example, Arabsat is a multi-application satellite that provides communications services to a consortium of Arab countries. Eastern Europe and the Russian territories are served by satellites owned by a consortium of 14 countries similar to Intelsat called Interspumik. Recently Intelsat entered into an agreement with Russia's Informkosmos granting Intelsat the option to lease three satellites in 1994. In the Pacific Rim the Palapa satellites provide services for Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and the Philippines. Eutelsat, a cooperative of 39 European nation states having the legal status of an intergovernmental organization, has seven satellites in orbit providing leased transponders principally for television and news gathering. 4. Advisory Committee on International Communications and Information Policy. 1990. Eastern Europe: Please Stand By. U.S. Department of State, Washington, D.C., Spring. 5. The Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls disbanded on March 31, 1994. 6. Friedman, Thomas L. 1994. "U.S. Ending Curbs on High-Tech Gear to Cold War Foes," New York Times, March 31, pp. A1 and DS. 7. A new NRC study titled "Bits of Power" will examine these issues in more detail.