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[ih] Who Paid for the Internet? (was Re: sad news: Peter Kirstein)

and then, there was this:

*Data Network Raises Monopoly Fear*
The New York Times
December 19, 1991

Soon after President Bush signed legislation calling for the creation of a
nationwide computer data "superhighway," a debate has erupted over whether
the Government gave an unfair advantage to a joint venture of I.B.M. MCI
that built and manages a key part of the network.

The venture, known as Advanced Network and Services, manages a network
called NSFnet, which connects hundreds of research centers and
universities. NSFnet also manages links to dozens of other countries. All
these networks are collectively known as Internet.

Some private competitors say Advanced Network and Services uses its favored
position to squeeze them out of the data-transmission market by
establishing rules that make it difficult to connect to NSFnet.

*Traffic Has Doubled*

NSFnet was founded by the National Science Foundation, a Federal agency,
and is composed of leased telephone lines that link special computers
called routers, which transmit packages of data to three million users in
33 countries. Data traffic over the NSFnet backbone has doubled in the last

The Government wants to develop a national data highway for electronic
commerce, digital video transmissions to homes and vast electronic
libraries that could be drawn on by the nation's schools.

Advanced Network and Services, based in Elmsford, N.Y., was set up last
year as a nonprofit corporation with $10 million from the International
Business Machines Corporation and the MCI Communications Corporation.
Earlier this year it set up a for-profit subsidiary, called ANS CO+RE
(pronounced core), to sell computer network services. That led some
competitors to complain that Advanced Network and Services would be able to
compete unfairly because of its arrangement with the Government.

*Fear Loss of Innovation*

People involved in planning for a national data network say it is essential
to provide for fair competition, which will lead rival companies to offer
creative and entrepreneurial services in the hope of building market share.
Without competiton, they say, the Government will have created a monopoly
that has little incentive to innovate.

"This is the first major communication business to be born under the
deregulation era," said David Farber, a computer scientist at the
University of Pennsylvania and a pioneer in data networking. "This hasn't
happened since the growth of the telephone industry. You want it to be a
business that doesn't repeat the errors of the past."

In recent years, the National Science Foundation has tried to shift its
operations and ownership of NSFnet to Advanced Network and Services. And it
will try to establish competition through contracts for networks to compete
with NSFnet next year.

But there is no level playing field, complained William L. Schrader,
president of Performance Systems International Inc., a Reston, Va., company
that provides commercial data connections to Internet. He made public two
letters between officials of Advanced Network and Services and the National
Science Foundation that he said gave the company unfair control over access
to the network. The result, he added, was that the Government turned over
valuable public property to a private company.

"It's like taking a Federal park and giving it to K Mart," Mr. Schrader
said. "It's not right, and it isn't going to stand."

Performance Systems and several other companies have set up an alternative
to NSFnet, known as a CIX. Mr. Schrader said his company and the venture of
I.B.M. and MCI were competing for the same customers but unlike his rival
he lacked a Federal subsidy. He said he might ask the Internal Revenue
Service to look at the business relationship between Advanced Network's
nonprofit and for-profit operations.

*'Very Competitive Environment'*

Allan Weis, the president of Advanced Network, disputed that his company
had an unfair advantage. "It's a very competitive environment right now,"
he said.

At the National Science Foundation, Stephen Wolff, director of its
networking division, said I.B.M. and MCI had overbuilt the network and were
selling commercial service based on the excess capacity that was available.

A number of organizations are working informally to settle the dispute.

"I think it's a mess," said Mitchell D. Kapor, the founder of the Lotus
Development Corporation and now head of the Electronic Frontier Foundation,
a public-interest group focusing on public policy issues surrounding data
networks. "Nobody should have an unfair advantage."

On Tue, Jan 14, 2020 at 7:51 AM Miles Fidelman via Internet-history <
internet-history at elists.isoc.org> wrote:

> > On 11/01/2020 19:04, Jack Haverty via Internet-history wrote:
> >> There's probably a PhD thesis or two to be done in that early-Internet
> >> arena - Who Paid For The Internet?
> Hi Jack!
> I expect that lots of theses have already been written on the topic.
> Of course, as we both know, the answer is "after all, it was you and me."
> I mean:
> - tax dollars paid for some of the earliest backbones (like our
> favorites, the ARPANET and MILNET), and then for connection fees for
> university researchers to attach to some of the early academic networks.
> - universities, corporations, etc. built huge amounts of infrastructure
> - paid for out of overhead & capital budgets
> - corporations built a huge amount of backbone & last mile
> infrastructure, paid for from investment funds & profits
> - we all pay for our home networks & end-devices out of our own pockets
> - etc.
> I tend to describe the Internet as the existence proof that (the
> collective) we know how to build globe-spanning, essential
> infrastructure, that is owned & controlled by billions of people &
> organizations, with nobody in control, held together by voluntary
> agreements & coordination by those who show up to things like the IETF.
> (Kind of the model for my early work on "civic networking" and
> "electronic town halls," and more recently the model I talk about for
> how humanity might crowdsource a Green New Deal, before the planet fries.)
> Cheers,
> Miles
> --
> In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice.
> In practice, there is.  .... Yogi Berra
> Theory is when you know everything but nothing works.
> Practice is when everything works but no one knows why.
> In our lab, theory and practice are combined:
> nothing works and no one knows why.  ... unknown
> --
> Internet-history mailing list
> Internet-history at elists.isoc.org
> https://elists.isoc.org/mailman/listinfo/internet-history

Geoff.Goodfellow at iconia.com
living as The Truth is True