National Academies Press: OpenBook
Suggested Citation:"FRONT MATTER." National Research Council. 1996. The Unpredictable Certainty: Information Infrastructure Through 2000. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5130.
×

The Unpredictable
CERTAINTY

Information Infrastructure Through 2000

NII 2000 Steering Committee

Computer Science and Telecommunications Board

Commission on Physical Sciences, Mathematics, and Applications

National Research Council

National Academy Press
Washington, D.C.
1996

Suggested Citation:"FRONT MATTER." National Research Council. 1996. The Unpredictable Certainty: Information Infrastructure Through 2000. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5130.
×

NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the steering committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.

This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to procedures approved by a Report Review Committee consisting of members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine.

Support for this project was provided by the National Science Foundation, the Advanced Projects Research Agency, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology under grant number IRI-9421465. That support does not constitute an endorsement of the views expressed in the report.

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 96-67383

International Standard Book Number 0-309-05432-X

Additional copies of this report are available from:
National Academy Press
2101 Constitution Avenue, NW Box 285 Washington, DC 20055 800-624-6242 202-334-3313 (in the Washington Metropolitan Area)

B-728

An electronic version and information about the publication can be found at the NRC World Wide Web site http://www.nas.edu.

Copyright 1996 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.

Printed in the United States of America

Suggested Citation:"FRONT MATTER." National Research Council. 1996. The Unpredictable Certainty: Information Infrastructure Through 2000. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5130.
×

NII 2000 Steering Committee

LEWIS M. BRANSCOMB,

Harvard University,

Chair

CYNTHIA H. BRADDON,

The McGraw Hill Companies

JAMES A. CHIDDIX,

Time Warner Cable

DAVID D. CLARK,

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

JOSEPH A. FLAHERTY,

CBS Incorporated

PAUL E. GREEN, JR.,

IBM T.J. Watson Research Center

IRENE GREIF,

Lotus Development Corporation

RICHARD T. LIEBHABER,

MCI Communications (retired)

ROBERT W. LUCKY,

Bell Communications Research

LLOYD N. MORRISETT,

John and Mary Markle Foundation

DONALD W. SIMBORG,

KnowMed Systems

LESLIE L. VADASZ,

Intel Corporation

Staff

MARJORY S. BLUMENTHAL, Director

LOUISE A. ARNHEIM, Senior Staff Officer (through August 1995)

JOHN M. GODFREY, Research Associate

LESLIE M. WADE, Research Assistant

GLORIA P. BEMAH, Administrative Assistant

Suggested Citation:"FRONT MATTER." National Research Council. 1996. The Unpredictable Certainty: Information Infrastructure Through 2000. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5130.
×

Computer Science And Telecommunications Board

WILLIAM A. WULF,

University of Virginia,

Chair

FRANCES E. ALLEN,

IBM T.J. Watson Research Center

DAVID CLARK,

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

JEFF DOZIER,

University of California at Santa Barbara

HENRY FUCHS,

University of North Carolina

CHARLES GESCHKE,

Adobe Systems Incorporated

JAMES GRAY,

Microsoft Corporation

BARBARA GROSZ,

Harvard University

JURIS HARTMANIS,

Cornell University

DEBORAH A. JOSEPH,

University of Wisconsin

RICHARD M. KARP,

University of California at Berkeley

BUTLER W. LAMPSON,

Microsoft Corporation

BARBARA LISKOV,

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

JOHN MAJOR,

Motorola

ROBERT L. MARTIN,

AT&T Network Systems

DAVID G. MESSERSCHMITT,

University of California at Berkeley

WILLIAM PRESS,

Harvard University

CHARLES L. SEITZ,

Myricom Incorporated

EDWARD SHORTLIFFE,

Stanford University School of Medicine

CASMIR S. SKRZYPCZAK,

NYNEX Corporation

LESLIE L. VADASZ,

Intel Corporation

MARJORY S. BLUMENTHAL, Director

HERBERT S. LIN, Senior Staff Officer

PAUL SEMENZA, Staff Officer

JERRY R. SHEEHAN, Staff Officer

JEAN E. SMITH, Program Associate

JOHN M. GODFREY, Research Associate

LESLIE M. WADE, Research Assistant

GLORIA P. BEMAH, Administrative Assistant

GAIL E. PRITCHARD, Project Assistant

Suggested Citation:"FRONT MATTER." National Research Council. 1996. The Unpredictable Certainty: Information Infrastructure Through 2000. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5130.
×

Commission On Physical Sciences, Mathematics, And Applications

ROBERT J. HERMANN,

United Technologies Corporation,

Chair

STEPHEN L. ADLER,

Institute for Advanced Study

PETER M. BANKS,

IBM Corporation

(retired)

SYLVIA T. CEYER,

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

L. LOUIS HEGEDUS,

W.R. Grace and Company

JOHN E. HOPCROFT,

Cornell University

RHONDA J. HUGHES,

Bryn Mawr College

SHIRLEY A. JACKSON,

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

KENNETH I. KELLERMANN,

National Radio Astronomy Observatory

KEN KENNEDY,

Rice University

THOMAS A. PRINCE,

California Institute of Technology

JEROME SACKS,

National Institute of Statistical Sciences

L.E. SCRIVEN,

University of Colorado

LEON T. SILVER,

California Institute of Technology

CHARLES P. SLICHTER,

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

ALVIN W. TRIVELPIECE,

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

SHMUEL WINOGRAD,

IBM T.J. Watson Research Center

CHARLES A. ZRAKET,

MITRE Corporation (retired)­

NORMAN METZGER, Executive Director

­­­
Suggested Citation:"FRONT MATTER." National Research Council. 1996. The Unpredictable Certainty: Information Infrastructure Through 2000. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5130.
×

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences.

The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Harold Liebowitz is president of the National Academy of Engineering.

The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Kenneth I. Shine is president of the Institute of Medicine.

The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy's purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce Alberts and Dr. Harold Liebowitz are chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council.

Suggested Citation:"FRONT MATTER." National Research Council. 1996. The Unpredictable Certainty: Information Infrastructure Through 2000. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5130.
×

Preface

In October 1994, the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board convened, at the request of the Technology Policy Working Group (TPWG) of the Information Infrastructure Task Force, a steering committee to assess medium-term deployment of facilities and services to advance the nation's information infrastructure. The project was designated NII 2000 by the steering committee, and its tasks were the following:

  • To reach out to a broad range of industries with a stake in the future of U.S. information infrastructure—those industries expected to be major market drivers as well as those expected to be major service providers—to explore their expectations and motivations for technology deployment in the next 5 to 7 years;
  • To infer from this exploration the extent to which there is a shared vision of the importance of common features of system architecture, such as interoperability or open system interfaces, and the alternative likelihood that major parts of the system will develop along proprietary, incompatible lines; and
  • To conclude with suggestions to the U.S. government on public policy choices that might serve both the rapid, orderly, and successful development of information infrastructure and its satisfaction of important public interests.

To achieve these goals, the steering committee was asked by the TPWG to undertake a specific series of activities: convene a workshop of

Page viii Cite
Suggested Citation:"FRONT MATTER." National Research Council. 1996. The Unpredictable Certainty: Information Infrastructure Through 2000. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5130.
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professionals and scholars to discuss and identify key issues related to technology deployment, call for white papers to gain further information on these issues, organize a forum to discuss the white papers and other key ideas, and write a synthesis report of its findings. As a preliminary step, the steering committee solicited inputs and suggestions via liaisons (listed in Appendix E) from trade, professional, and advocacy organizations, as well as government agencies, beginning in late 1994.

The workshop, which was held in Washington, D.C., on January 17-18, 1995, brought together invited members from business, industry, and interest groups as well as federal government representatives. Panels during the 2-day proceedings focused on technology deployment, enduser hardware and software issues, domain-specific applications, the Internet as a national information infrastructure (NII) model, and what different industries meant when they used certain terms and concepts. For example, "architecture," "programming," ''service," and "network" are among the many fundamental terms (see Box 1.2 in Chapter 1 for a longer list) that are defined differently by different industries. See Appendix A for the workshop agenda and a list of participants.

Following the workshop, the steering committee released a call for white papers (Appendix C) on issues related to architecture and facilities, enabling technologies, recovery of costs, middleware technologies and capabilities, applications, equitable access and public service obligations, and research and development. The call was distributed through various media (the Internet, press advisories, direct mail, and so on) to producers of communications, computer, and software systems goods and services; Internet access and other network-based service providers; scholars specializing in relevant technical, economic, and public policy research and analysis; and project liaisons and other representatives of industries and sectors believed likely to become major users of advanced information infrastructure (such as the arts, banking and finance, education, health care, government agencies, libraries, manufacturing, and transportation). The white papers (see Appendix D for a list of papers received and their authors) were distributed to participants at the spring forum and to interested federal agencies. Their content, representing a broad spectrum of views from knowledgeable participants in the evolution of information infrastructure, was a major component in the development of the steering committee's report, which quotes from and refers specifically to several of them. The white papers will be made available in a forthcoming companion volume.

Shortly after the call for papers was issued, the steering committee received a letter (Appendix F) from Vice President Albert Gore underscoring the high-level interest in the project's potential to generate "an

Suggested Citation:"FRONT MATTER." National Research Council. 1996. The Unpredictable Certainty: Information Infrastructure Through 2000. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5130.
×

objective assessment of the capabilities of different residential broadband architectures (e.g., hybrid fiber coaxial cable, fiber to the curb, and wireless alternatives) being deployed by the private sector." Explained the Vice President, "We would like to see an NII that allows individuals to be producers as well as consumers of information, that enables 'many to many' communication, and that provides a 'general purpose' infrastructure capable of supporting a wide range of services."

The Vice President's letter contributed to the steering committee's preparations for the spring 1995 forum, which was structured to assess the difficulties inherent in developing a nationwide information infrastructure built largely with private resources, but having the capacity to further social and economic goals as well. (See Appendix B for the forum agenda and a list of participants). Like the evolving NII itself, the forum embraced a range of models that provided different perspectives on the possible roles of infrastructure: one-to-many distribution of large quantities of preselected video, combinations of television and telephony to support interactive programming, one-to-one voice telephony augmented by a variety of conveniences, many-to-many explorations over computer networks, most notably the Internet, and many-to-one interactions between consumers and information sources over the World Wide Web, in particular.

This synthesis report represents the collective view of 12 experts who monitored and participated in a unique public policy undertaking. The NII 2000 project was an experiment of sorts, an attempt to hold other issues constant by focusing attention on technological and business models. Although each of the following elements is part of the overall NII "story," this report is not a description of an optimistic vision of future possibilities and benefits for various business and nonprofit entities, for the purpose of motivating interest in the NII; an analysis of legal and regulatory barriers to competition; or an attempt to resolve broad policy concerns such as universal access or the democratization of cyberspace. Nevertheless, comments from many contributors to the project convey the message that a complete assessment of NII deployment, and the role of government as well as industry in its evolution, must take these issues into consideration to at least some degree.

Finally, it is also important to state that the NII 2000 Steering Committee's synthesis report is a technology deployment "road map" only in the most metaphorical sense. Participants described many roads, or in some cases territory through which roads might be constructed, but most of these roads have unknown, indeed unknowable, destinations. As the TPWG's Howard Frank observed at the January 1995 workshop:

Suggested Citation:"FRONT MATTER." National Research Council. 1996. The Unpredictable Certainty: Information Infrastructure Through 2000. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5130.
×

The government is not doing a road map that says how do we get from here to there.… If you look at the United States, and look at the interstate highway road map, or look at the road map of all of the roads in the United States, you can see that no path is dictated; there are a variety of ways of moving, as opposed to a specific formula. What we are trying to do is identify those capabilities and metrics of an NII, and the barriers associated with those various roads, [so that] we could speed the creation of the NII and eliminate some of the barriers.

The NII 2000 Steering Committee shares this view. Like Howard Frank, we do not know where "there" is, and we observe many forks in the roads we can see. We do believe, however, that the future offers many very attractive options for U.S. society and its many business communities, if government and private interests collaborate in understanding how to enable that future to emerge in a way that best satisfies each other's needs, concerns, and expectations.

This report is an effort to explore the limits of consensus on a broad array of fast-changing issues. As a result, it benefits from the work of many individuals, among them the participants in the January 1995 workshop and the May 1995 forum, and the authors of the white papers. We are grateful to them for the level and range of expertise they brought to the project. The steering committee gratefully acknowledges the assistance of several individuals and organizations, including Rupert Stow, who provided numerous suggestions for enhancing the discussion of broadcasting; Stewart Personick, who provided insights into technical and business perspectives from telephony; Duane Adams and Howard Frank, whose vision motivated and guided the establishment of the project; Y.T. Chien, John Hestenes, and Michael Papillo, whose ongoing questioning and suggestions on behalf of the TPWG provided regular encouragement and feedback; the liaisons, particularly Michael Roberts of EDUCOM, Suzanne Tichenor of the Council on Competitiveness, and Charles Brownstein of the Corporation for National Research Initiatives' Cross-Industry Working Team; and of course the anonymous reviewers, whose criticisms, reflections, and suggestions were essential to the strengthening of this final report.

The members of the steering committee devoted much of their time for about a year to formulating the project and guiding its conduct. But more importantly, each member brought a level of professional knowledge and competence from many areas of technology, allowing the project to be authoritative in its coverage. I am particularly grateful to one member of the steering committee, David Clark of MIT, who gave much more than his share of devotion to this project, frequently filling in for the chairman. But the most especial thanks from all the steering committee members is due to Marjory Blumenthal, leader of a fine team from the

Suggested Citation:"FRONT MATTER." National Research Council. 1996. The Unpredictable Certainty: Information Infrastructure Through 2000. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5130.
×

CSTB and now a recognized authority on public policy issues related to information technology. Among all of us, she should be considered the principal author of this work. Other members of the CSTB team to whom our appreciation is owed are John Godfrey, who amassed and analyzed considerable amounts of technology and industry data; Gloria Bemah, who tracked the large number of participants and documents associated with the project; Pamela Rodgers, who orchestrated the logistics for the spring forum; Leslie Wade, who transformed the draft into a fully documented and appropriately formatted final report; and Susan Maurizi, whose editorial assistance helped make this report more readable.

Lewis Branscomb, Chair

NII 2000 Steering Committee

Suggested Citation:"FRONT MATTER." National Research Council. 1996. The Unpredictable Certainty: Information Infrastructure Through 2000. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5130.
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Suggested Citation:"FRONT MATTER." National Research Council. 1996. The Unpredictable Certainty: Information Infrastructure Through 2000. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5130.
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Access Devices

 

40

   

The Personal Computer

 

41

   

The Television

 

43

   

Advanced Television

 

44

   

The Telephone and Other Access Devices

 

45

   

Toward a Fully Integrated Home System

 

45

   

What Increasing Use of General-Access Devices Implies for Networking Technology Deployment

 

48

   

High Data Rates to the End Point

 

51

   

Adequate Bandwidth in Both Directions

 

52

   

Multiple-Session Capability

 

52

   

Continuous Availability of Service

 

52

   

Real-time, Multimedia Communication

 

53

   

Nomadicity

 

53

   

Security

 

53

   

Concluding Observations

 

54

   

Notes

 

57

3

 

WHERE IS THE BUSINESS CASE?

 

63

   

Factors Shaping Investment in Information Infrastructure

 

63

   

Investment in Facilities

 

66

   

The Problem of How Much Bandwidth to Invest In

 

66

   

Federal Licenses as an Influence on Deployment of New Wireless Systems

 

70

   

Investing to Achieve Infrastructure Generality

 

71

   

From Facilities to Services and Applications

 

77

   

Balancing Investment—Software "Capital"

 

78

   

The Separation of Services from Facilities—Broadening the Potential Content

 

78

   

The Internet and Its Use for Business

 

81

   

Effects on Provision of Goods and Services

 

81

   

The Internet—Layering, Incrementalism, and Diversification

 

83

   

Incremental Increases

 

89

   

Arrangements for Interconnection

 

94

   

Economic Models

 

96

   

Usage-based Fees for Communications and Information Services

 

99

   

Embedded or Domain-specific Services

 

100

   

The Broadcast Model

 

101

   

End-User Devices Paid for by Consumers

 

103

   

The Access Subscription Model

 

104

   

Payment Models and the Internet Phenomenon

 

105

   

Notes

 

106

Suggested Citation:"FRONT MATTER." National Research Council. 1996. The Unpredictable Certainty: Information Infrastructure Through 2000. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5130.
×

4

 

TECHNOLOGY OPTIONS AND CAPABILITIES: WHAT DOES WHAT, HOW

 

115

   

The Changing Nature of Technology and Communications

 

115

   

How Trends in Technology Are Changing Communications Infrastructure and Services

 

117

   

Separation of Infrastructure Facilities and Service Offerings

 

118

   

Building Services on Each Other

 

119

   

The Tension Between Supporting Mature and Emerging Services

 

120

   

Resolving the Tension: The Internet as an Example

 

121

   

The Importance of the Internet

 

122

   

The Coexistence of New and Mature Services

 

124

   

Current Technology—Evaluating the Options

 

127

   

Hybrid Fiber Coaxial Cable

 

127

   

Fiber to the Curb

 

130

   

Digital Services and the Telephone Infrastructure

 

131

   

Data Over the Telephone System

 

132

   

Asynchronous Transfer Mode

 

135

   

Local Area Networks

 

136

   

Wireless

 

137

   

Broadcasting

 

141

   

Satellite

 

144

   

Power Industry as Infrastructure Provider

 

145

   

The Internet

 

145

   

Change and Growth

 

146

   

Transport Infrastructure to Information Infrastructure

 

148

   

Open Interfaces and Open Standards

 

150

   

Standards and Innovation in the Marketplace

 

151

   

Management and Control of the Infrastructure

 

155

   

Notes

 

157

5

 

TECHNOLOGY CHOICES: WHAT ARE THE PROVIDERS DEPLOYING?

 

161

   

Introduction

 

161

   

Wireline Telephony

 

163

   

Summary and Forecasts

 

163

   

Local Access and the Larger System

 

166

   

Integrated Services Digital Network

 

167

   

Telephone Industry Fiber Deployment

 

170

   

Demand for Telephone Services

 

172

   

Data Communications

 

173

   

Summary and Forecasts

 

173

   

Data Services Provided by Telephone Carriers

 

175

   

Business Networking

 

177

Suggested Citation:"FRONT MATTER." National Research Council. 1996. The Unpredictable Certainty: Information Infrastructure Through 2000. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5130.
×
   

Cable Television and Telephony: Advanced Services to the Home

 

181

   

Summary and Forecasts

 

181

   

Advanced Cable and Telephone Services to the Home

 

182

   

On-line Services and Internet Access for Consumers

 

186

   

Summary and Forecasts

 

186

   

On-line Services and Internet Access

 

186

   

Wireless and Broadcast Infrastructure

 

188

   

Summary and Forecasts

 

188

   

Wireless Telephony

 

189

   

Wireless Data Networking

 

192

   

Terrestrial and Satellite Broadcast Television

 

194

   

Wireless Cable

 

194

   

Direct Broadcast Satellite

 

195

   

Notes

 

195

6

 

PUBLIC POLICY AND PRIVATE ACTION

 

197

   

Introduction

 

197

   

Public-Private Engagement

 

199

   

NII Systems Issues

 

201

   

Defining Roles for Government

 

206

   

Regulation, Rules, and Norms

 

206

   

Protecting the NII: Ethics and Mechanisms

 

209

   

Security, Reliability, and Architecture

 

210

   

Government as User and Service Provider

 

212

   

Technology Development Through R&D

 

214

   

Architecture and Networking

 

215

   

Information Management and Ease of Use

 

218

   

Standards

 

222

   

International Issues

 

224

   

Systems Data and Analysis for NII Assessment

 

225

   

Government as Convenor

 

226

   

Conclusions

 

227

   

Notes

 

230

 

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

235

 

 

APPENDIXES

 

 

   

A Workshop Participants and Agenda

 

251

   

B Forum Participants and Agenda

 

256

   

C Call for White Papers (Abridged)

 

265

   

D White Papers Received

 

269

   

E NII 2000 Liaisons

 

274

   

F Letter from Vice President Albert Gore, March 6, 1995

 

276

   

G Acronyms and Abbreviations Used

 

278

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We have available an impressive array of information technology. We can transmit literature, movies, music, and talk. Government, businesses, and individuals are eager to go on-line to buy, sell, teach, learn, and more. How, then, should we go about developing an infrastructure for on- line communication among everyone everywhere? The Unpredictable Certainty explores the national information infrastructure (NII) as the collection of all public and private information services. But how and when will the NII become a reality? How will more and better services reach the home, small businesses, and remote locations? The Unpredictable Certainty examines who will finance the NII, exploring how technology companies decide to invest in deployment and the the vain search for "killer apps" (applications that drive markets). It discusses who will pay for ongoing services and how they will pay, looking at past cost/price models relevant to the future. The Unpredictable Certainty discusses the underlying technologies, appliances, and services needed before the NII becomes a reality; reviews key features of important technologies; and analyzes current levels of deployment in telephone, cable and broadcast television, and wireless systems, and the difficulties in interconnection. The volume explores the challenge of open interfaces that stimulate new applications but also facilitate competition, the trend toward the separation of infrastructure from specific services, the tension between mature services and new contenders, the growth of the Internet, and more. The roles governments at different levels might play in fostering NII deployment are outlined, including R&D and the use of information infrastructure for better delivery of government services and information.

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