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Interesting AP Article

  • From: Steve Rubin
  • Date: Wed Mar 13 17:50:09 1996

Spelling errors are most likely mine, I take no responsibiltiy
for the rest of the errors :)

---

"Sprint says its being forced to block smaller Internet users"
By STEVE ORR
Gannett Rochester Newspapers

ROCHESTER, N.Y... In a medium where everhboy is supposed to be linked
to everyone else, some Internet users are finding that you can't always
get there from here.  

The reason is usurprising: A major Internet service provider, U.S. Sprint,
is intentionally blocking users communications.  Sprint says it is being 
forced to do so because of overcrowding on the fast-growing global computer 
network.

Critics say it's a sign of bad things to come.

"I see it as being a pissible start of the fragmentation of the Internet.  
The alarms are starting to be rung." said Kurt Schweitzer, a Rochester Internet
consultant who has researched the problem.

Sprint is applauded by some for being first to take action to address crowding.

But even supporters note that company's approach contradicts one of the 
Internet's most hallowed premises... that participants will allow the free 
passage of any and all information, regardless of its origin or destination.

"This is unusual.  It's contrary to the cooperative approach," said David
Staudt, an Internet Export at te National Science Foundation in suburban 
Washington.  

Sprint is now blocking electronic mail, file transfers, and visits to
World Wide Web sites.  The people who are affected are mostly new customers
who have accounts with smaller Internet serivce providers.

No one can say for certain how large the group of blacklisted [oh god] 
users is, though several knowledgeable people put the number at 10,000 or more
nationally and growing daily.  

Sprint's policy remains little known outside expert circles.  But some Internet
users can point to several cases where communications are blocked.

"Our company is really quite concerned about it," said David Luckett,
executive director and vice president of NYSERNet, which sells Internet
access to many New York companies and which use Sprint. "I don't think we
should be looking at Sprint and pointing fingers, though.  The problem Sprint 
is having today is the same problem that the other major providers will 
face some day."

That problem stems from wild popularity of the Internet.  There are so
many linked networks and users that the system used to route all the
Internet information to destinations has become too complex.

"There's been for quite a while within the Internet community some concern
about performance problems... caused by this explosive growth," said Sprint
spokesman Reg Rowe in Dallas. 

Internet information is sent in "packets," small bursts of data that are
addressed with the numerical ID number of the packets destination.
Millions of these packets move through the Internet daily, 
shepherded by computers called routers that check the addresses and send 
packets toward their destination the fastest possible way.

To do that, routers have complex software that lists all the known addresses
and routes to reach them.  But that lists of addresses, kwno as a router
table, has outgrown the computer memory of many routers, experts say.

One solution is to route in blocks, with routers sending all packets with
similar addresses to end-user computers for final distribution [huh?]

It's similar to a U.S. Postal Service worker looking at a letter whose ZIP
code starts with "146" and automaticly sending it to Rochesters central
office for distribution, without looking at the street name.

Sprint, apparently alone among the big Internet companies, adopted this routing
system several months ago.  

But one drawback is that the addresses must be part of a block controlled
by an enduser who handles final distribution.

Thats fine for Sprint, MCI and other national Internet service providers
that are issued Internet addresses in large blocks.

But it leaves out smaller Internet companies that tend to acquire addresses
a few at a time.  those are the addresses Sprint is blocking.  "It's a very 
emotional topic.  They're basically saying that they're not talking to the 
little guy's anymore," said Liudy Bukys, a computer system administrator at
UR.

Smaller companies might be able to "sublease" block addresses from larger
providers, but their customers would have to change the addresses on their
computers, and there would be no guarantee the larger provider wouldn't take
back the addresses later.  

Most of those knowledgeable of the problem agree that the block routing is not
a bad way to address overvrowding ... unless you're the one left out in the 
cold.  "What they're doing is a community-spritied thing in concept," Staudt
said.  "Where I somebody who is unreachable... it would sure look to me like Sprint is trying to force me out of business."


-- 
Steven Eric Rubin - the godfather	 	Aimnet Corporation
Senior Network Engineer                 	2350 Mission College Park
(408) 567-3820 x511				Santa Clara, CA 95054
Work: ser@aimnet.com  Play: ser@tch.org	 URL: http://anarky.tch.org/~ser




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