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Summit aimed at Net, bottleneck

To foster cooperation on bandwidth and other problems facing the Net, the Global Internet Project calls on firms to convene a summit this year.

In an attempt to encourage cooperation on bandwidth and other problems facing the Internet, the Global Internet Project today called on Internet companies and organizations to convene a summit this year.

Founded in 1995, the organization consists of 13 member organizations, mostly Internet software and telecommunications firms from the United States, Japan, Germany, and the United Kingdom. The consortium publishes papers outlining threats to the Internet and possible solutions.

"We're hoping to...make people more aware of what the specific issues are and who's working on them," said John Patrick, GIP chairman and vice president of Internet technology at IBM. "We want to encourage more collaboration and action, specifically to encourage self-regulation."

The summit will address six areas:

  • Infrastructure: Bandwidth issues arising from pressure the Internet faces with its number of users rising exponentially. Infrastructure problems pertain to end-user hardware and software, high-speed Net access, backbone networks, and servers.

    A GIP report released today recommended that software programs on every level have open interfaces between them; that backbone providers be able to interconnect with each other; and that server technology be beefed up to meet increasing demand, both in terms of numbers of users and bandwidth requirements for more advanced Internet applications.

  • Governance: control and ownership of the Internet and its parts. Of particular interest in this area of the GIP's work is its focus on Internet self-regulation in the face of potential governmental control. Patrick pointed to the groups' endorsement of the newly formed Online Privacy Alliance as an example of its efforts to beat government to the punch.

  • Privacy: protecting the confidentiality of Internet communications.

  • Security: standards and protocols for the safety of communications and transactions over the Internet.

  • Content: clear and accurate identification of information on the Net to make searching and surfing easier and more productive.

  • E-commerce: the growth of electronic transactions in the context of the global economy.

    In addition to the planned summit, the GIP will come up with specific reports on each area and then work with key industry players in implementing solutions, according to Patrick.

    He cited the group's work with the University Corporation for Advanced Internet Development (UCAID), which is building a second Internet for university use, as an example of such cooperation. The GIP has been assisting in the internationalization of Internet 2, according to Patrick.

    The GIP's 13 member organizations are AT&T, British Telecom, GTE Internetworking, Deutsche Telekom, Electronic Data Systems, Fujitsu, IBM, Netscape Communications, MCI, Oracle, Sun Microsystems, NEC, and Visa International.

    One company missing from the group is Internet heavyweight Microsoft. Microsoft, along with a number of other companies in a consortium that has had more than two dozen member organizations in the past, was cut from the ranks because of inactivity, Patrick said.

    "Some groups were there just to say they were there," he said. "Now our intention is to have a relatively small group of representatives who are willing to spend their time on this."

    The small group was representative of hardware, software, and services companies from Asia, Europe, and the United States. "We've tried to bring together a group that is representative of what the Web is all about," Patrick said.