IIA Speakers Focus on Network Opportunities and Obstacles

Article excerpt

As Hamlet might have said after hearing speakers at IIA's 1992 Spring Conference, May 17-19, in Washington, D.C., there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in this telecommunications and network business. To expand on Hamlet's observation, understanding the structures, technologies, and impacts of Internet and NREN were explored during the conference of the Information Industry Association (IIA) that had as its focus, "The Information Marketplace: New Rules of the Game."

Key issues for IIA--how the private sector will work with NREN tomorrow and with Internet today. Some industry-related issues: copyright, publishing, databases, privacy, regulations, and opportunities. For example, the regulatory climate is in flux and new rules governing an increasingly global information marketplace are being developed. Opportunities and threats face information providers who increasingly must turn to government to help capitalize on growth or avoid disaster. The new rules of the game, driven largely by government, will undoubtedly affect the industry's bottom line. One objective of the conference was to show participants how they can and should remain players--or be forced to sit on the sidelines.

USERS AND USAGE OF THE NETWORK

By 1995, more than one million computers will be hooked onto the network, predicted Vinton Cerf, VP, Corporation for National Research initiatives. This includes an estimated 70 countries in the system with 10 million people exchanging information daily on national and international commercial networking services. Said Cerf: expect a complex transition from major government support to partial support, because it is not possible for the U.S. government to subsidize the network.

As Internet is changing there will be a shift in users and usage of the network--a crossover in communications and computing. For the first time, explained Allen H. Weis, President and CEO, Advanced Network & Services, Inc., communication services are faster than the fastest computers. Thus, there is a shift in application bottlenecks. The next three years will see paradigm shifts and key impacts with different infrastructures evolving. Internet providers will be interconnected; connectivity will become a commodity; and services will be critical success factors. Partnerships will be critical in all dimensions: technology, marketing, products, and leverage. Users will be able to use different providers, among them video and multimedia. Partnerships will be absolutely critical to help build the right structures and use the right tools. And here, he said, ate great opportunities for IIA members.

The strategy is to advance the leading edge of network technology and services, explained Stephen Wolff, National Science Foundation (NSF). The picture he painted: increase the ubiquity of network access to research and education and accelerate private sector technology development and deployment. Today, more than 600 universities are connected to the network with 2,500 yet to go. NSF wants to make inroads to the K-12 market and is working with the Department of Education. More than 1,000 high schools are already connected in some way, most of them in Texas and New York.

Last year, Dialog signed up as the first commercial user on the network. So far, universities have been Dialog's predominant user on Internet, noted Robert A. Simons, General Counsel, Dialog Information Services, Inc. Dialog charges $3 an hour through Internet. This flat rate charge means that the academic community can budget for the service. Dialog gets no profit, so that in turn it can gain the widest access to the marketplace.

Simons asked several questions; How will copyright, royalty fees, subsidies and privacy be resolved? How will we find out what customers want so they do not receive chokemail--mail they do not want. Lots of homework needs to be done to determine what data is being accessed. …