Not the end of the Internet

Una Smith smith-una at
Tue Jun 8 08:58:15 EST 1993

Phil Miller at wubios (via SAS-L) posted the following in response to
the nonsense "urban legend" going around about "free" Internet access
being "restricted" to scientists.  The note that has everyone upset
today, and Steve posted here for our entertainment, appears to be a bit
of dis-information designed only to upset people and overwhelm the NSF
etc. with knee-jerk panicked Internet users ("gee, how many people can
I send into a frenzy at one blow?").  But no one in bionet.general was
fooled, right?

However, one interesting point in the rejoinder from the NSF is that
NSF intends to switch from support of suppliers to support of users.
In other words, now that there is stuff out there for people to use,
it is time to concentrate on getting people connected so they can use
it.  And it's about time.



Folks, there are some serious issues, but please do not send letters unless
you understand the issues and are informed.  What was posted was not based on
an understanding of what is going on.  Here is a statement from the
responsible NSF person.

                  o /             o /             o /             o /
                  o \             o \             o \             o \

Date:      Fri, 4 Jun 1993 15:37:17 -0600
From:      Stephen Wolff <steve at>
Subject:   INTERNET

This is the responsible office in the NSF, and I am the responsible person.

There is no "plan to limit free use of INTERNET..."

In the first place, there is no such thing as "free use of INTERNET".  Each
and every institution with Internet access pays a service provider real money
every year for the institution's connection.  Most institutions do not
however trickle those charges down to users, but pay for them out of general
operating funds.

Service providers, most of whom serve a limited geographical area, attain
national and international coverage via the NSFNET BackBone Service, which
has hitherto been centrally funded by an award to Merit, Inc. and provided
to the regional service providers at no charge.

Since the beginning of the current NSFNET Backbone Service in 1987, a lively
and competitive commercial market in Internet carriage has emerged, with
multiple vendors offering robust, nationwide, commodity-level services.
Continued centralized funding of a Backbone Service by the Foundation is no
longer justified, as it would place the Federal government in direct
competition with the private sector.

Awards made under the currently active solicitation will include awards to
regional networks to purchase backbone service on the open market.  That is,
the NSF will switch from supplier funding to user funding.

The NSF is committed to continuity of network service to the research and
education community; we will take whatever steps are necessary to assure it.

                  o /             o /             o /             o /
                  o \             o \             o \             o \

     J. Philip Miller, Professor, Division of Biostatistics, Box 8067
         Washington University Medical School, St. Louis MO 63110
          phil at - (314) 362-3617 [362-2693(FAX)]


      Una Smith      Department of Biology       smith-una at
                     Yale University
                     New Haven, CT  06511

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