NSF Awards $12 Million for "InterNIC"

On January 5, 1993, the National Science Foundation announced that Network Solutions, AT&T, and General Atomics had been awarded cooperative agreements totalling over $12 million in the areas of Registration Services (Network Solutions), Directory and Database Services (AT&T), and Information Services (General Atomics). At the request of NSF, the awardees have developed a detailed concept and plan to provide a seamless interface called the "InterNIC" and have agreed to the structuring of their three separate awards as one collaborative project.

"We all feel intuitively that the domestic Internet and the distributed collaboration that it facilitates are rapidly creating a national "workplace without walls," said Steve Wolff, Director of NSF's Division of Networking and Communications Research and Infrastructure. "These three awards to geographically dispersed organizations for Network Information Services, which require a high degree of coordination and collaboration, will both exploit and demonstrate the success of the network in enabling such distributed collaboration."

Fee structure will be developed

Consistent with FNC guidelines on obtaining reasonable cost recovery from users of NREN networks, the NSF has determined that the InterNIC information services provider may charge users beyond the U.S. research and education community for any services provided. Also, the InterNIC directory and database services provider may charge a fee for maintenance of special databases, for extensive directory listings and may charge users beyond the U.S. research and education community. Finally, because the registration function provided by the InterNIC registration  services applies to domestic and international, commercial and individual users in addition to research and educational users, it is expected that an appropriate registration fee structure will take time to develop. NSF expects to engage in an extensive discussion with the domestic and international Internet community on the motivation, strategy and tactics of imposing fees for these services during the next fifteen months. Decisions will be implemented only after they have been announced in advance and an opportunity given for additional public comment.

Registration services--Network Solutions

Network Solutions will provide registration services as the IP registrar, issue IP numbers worldwide using delegated registries under the guidance of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, register domain names, and track points of contact. Applications for assignment will be accepted via e mail or facsimile. The information from these assignments will be provided to the directory and database services provider to be made available to the entire Internet community. As a part of the Domain registration efforts, Network Solutions will periodically release the top level zone files to be used by all root Domain Name servers.

Network Solutions is a 400-person telecommunications analysis and integration company headquartered in northern Virginia. Its mission is to support its customers in achieving their missions through the mastery and application of networking technology. Network Solutions currently operates the DDN NIC.

Directory services--‹AT&T

AT&T will develop and maintain a Directory of Directories, including lists of FTP (File Transfer Protocol) sites, lists of various types of servers available on the Internet, lists of white and yellow page directories, library catalogs and data archives. AT&T will also provide white and yellow pages type Directory Services. Access to these services will initially be provided through several currently popular in-use interface methods while migrating to the use of X.500 technology, the current standard specification for distributed information storage and retrieval. The database services which AT&T will provide include the establishment of Database Services to extend and supplement the resources of the NSFNET, such as databases of contributed materials of common interest to the user community. AT&T will also offer database design, management, and maintenance to institutions and groups for inclusion in the Internet.

AT&T is the leading provider of global information movement and management products and services. AT&T offers a wide array of data communications services that includes private line, X.25, frame relay, TCP/IP, protocol conversion, and electronic mail services.

Information services-General Atomics

General Atomics will provide Information Services acting as the NIC of first and last resort and the NIC of NICs. The InterNIC information services will include a full-service Reference Desk, a database of comprehensive networking materials called the Info Source, training classes and documentation, and coordination services among all appropriate groups in the community. In keeping with the innovative spirit of the Internet, several new approaches to distributing services will be implemented. Among these innovations is NICLink, a user-friendly hypermedia interface offering access to the Info Source and all the information it contains. NICLink will be distributed on both standard computer diskettes and CD ROM. Another is the concept of the Info Scout, an individual who will scout out new resources and innovative uses of the network for inclusion in the Info Source.

General Atomics is a San Diego-based high-technology research and development company and operates CERFnet and the San Diego Supercomputer Center. CERFnet is an Internet network service provider that operates throughout the state of California and nationally. CERFnet was launched in the spring of 1989 with a $2.8 million grant from the National Science Foundation. The San Diego Supercomputer Center is a five year cooperative agreement funded by the National Science Foundation to support high performance computing.

Taken from The Link Letter, Vol. 6 No. 1, April 1993.