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<nettime> Internet funding "crisis" in the US Senate
David S. Bennahum on Fri, 18 Sep 1998 18:33:49 +0200 (MET DST)


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<nettime> Internet funding "crisis" in the US Senate


A redirect to the nettime brain-trust:

From: DavidLytel {AT} aol.com

Unknown to the rest of the world, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott is engaged
in an effort to remove millions of dollars  from the budget of the National
Science Foundation that the Congress has previously made available to invest
in new Internet technologies.  Lott is trying to repeal action earlier this
year that ratified the Internet Intellectual Infrastructure Fund as a
Congressionally-authorized tax on the registration of Internet domain names.
This was necessary because of a lawsuit brought against Network Solutions,
Inc., which has been acting as a domain registration authority for the
Internet under contract to the NSF.

In Thomas v. Network Solutions, Inc., 1998 WL 191205, US District Court Judge
Hogan ruled that the domain name registration fee was an unauthorized tax.
Based on Congress's belated ratification of the tax (in the VA/HUD
Supplemental Appropriation bill earlier this year), Hogan ruled that the fee
was authorized.  This issue is being appealed to the United States Court of
Appeals for the DC Circuit.  Regardless of the outcome of the Lott amendment,
this means that the DC Circuit will consider the lawfulness of the fund.

Lott's maneuver is to add the repeal of the ratification to the Internet Tax
Freedom Act, which has passed the House and may reach the floor as early as
next week.  In the Senate, the Internet Tax Freedom Act has passed both the
Commerce and the Finance Committees without the change, but Lott is
circulating a draft managers amendment that would repeal the ratification.

What is at stake:

At stake are tens of millions of dollars that the NSF would no longer have
available to invest in research and development of high speed networks and
bandwidth-intensive applications.  The NSF would also no longer have the funds
available to aid universities as they upgrade their connections from today's
commodity Internet connections to tomorrow's Internet 2 level connections.
For the commercial Internet, this means that experimentation with different
approaches relieve Internet congestion will be slowed or stopped.

The NSF funds experimental networks that address the fundamental problem of
traffic congestion on today's Internet.  The problem goes beyond the
limitations of access technologies such as today's modems or even access
technologies such as ISDN.  There are segments of what are supposed to be the
Internet's high speed corridors that are significantly blocked during periods
of peak use.  Part of the solution is building more and bigger pipes to carry
Internet traffic.  But it is also quite likely that demand is growing quickly
enough to fill much of this capacity.  The Internet traffic problem is not
unlike the automobile traffic problem in our major cities in the 1960s, when
no matter how many new bridges and highways we built we never managed to get
ourselves out of a traffic jam.

This is why a significant part of the Internet's original academic pioneers
are experimenting with new technologies to separate and prioritize Internet
traffic.  The Internet's underlying technologies are designed to implement
what is called a "best effort" level of service-meaning that if packets cannot
be delivered the Internet keeps trying to send them for three days before
giving up.  Just as HOV (high occupancy vehicle) lanes have been part of the
solution to the problem of highway traffic, tomorrow's Internet will support
quality-of-service or QoS distinctions so that the bits containing an MRI
moving between a primary care physician and a specialist are given the
priority they deserve over more playful uses of the Internet.

This ability to prioritize packets, in conjunction with the ability to reserve
bandwidth in advance rather than just hoping for the best, is the foundation
of tomorrow's multimedia Internet.  With the right underlying technologies,
tomorrow's Internet will handle voice and video services with greater ease
than it handles e-mail and Web pages today.  Many of the next generation of
Internet success stories will spring from the networking laboratories of
university-based researchers.

What you can do:

The most important members of the Senate to contact are Lott, Senator William
Roth (R-DE, chair of the Finance Committee) and Senator John McCain (R, AZ)
chair of the Senate Commerce Committee and the bill's Republican floor
manager).  It is also useful to contact the Democratic floor manager, Senator
Byron Dorgan (D-ND).  A staffer in the office of Senator Ron Wyden, who has
sponsored the Internet Tax Freedom Act, says Wyden will not make any effort to
get the objectionable amendment removed, saying "we do not have a dog in that
fight."  Others worth contacting are Finance Committee members Senator Al
D'Amato and Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan from New York, the state with the
highest number of 4 year PhD granting institutions and the highest number of
students at 4 year schools, who would benefit from the NSF funding.  Their e-
mail addresses:

Senator Trent Lott (R-MS)  senatorlott {AT} lott.senate.gov or fax 202-224-2262
Senator William Roth (R-DE) comments {AT} roth.senate.gov
Senator John McCain (R-AZ)  senator_mccain {AT} mccain.senate.gov
Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) senator {AT} dorgan.senate.gov
Senator Alphonse D'Amato (R-NY) senator_al {AT} damato.senate.gov
Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) senator {AT} dpm.senate.gov
Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) senator {AT} wyden.senate.gov

In addition, universities, Internet industry associations and companies should
consider supporting Network Solutions in its legal battle over the lawfulness
of the Internet Intellectual Infrastructure fund.  If any group is interested
in filing an amicus brief in support of the lawfulness of the registration
fee, they should contact Mark Davies at mdavies {AT} mayerbrown.com for more
details.
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