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Official Opening of the Internet Services in CSFR

N-1-2-040.52 Official Opening of the Internet Services in CSFR and First Eastern and Central European Countries Networks Coordinating Meeting, Czech Technical University Prague, February 13-14, 1992 by Steven N. Goldstein*,

A single router at the Czech Technical University was placed in service in January and connected to the Internet through Linz, Austria. This was the start of Internet service in the Czech and Slovak Federated Republic (CSFR), and the ceremony on the 13th of February marked the official recognition of the service and its demonstration to the assembled guests and the university community. A notable aspect of the opening ceremonies was the attendance of guests and supporters from neighboring Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria and Austria. During the morning ceremonies, chaired by Lubomir Ohera, Director of the Computer Science Faculty, Michal Chital of the Office of the Presidium of the CSFR welcomed the guests officially on behalf of the Government and noted with pride how far his country had progressed toward integration in the international science communication community.

Steve Goldstein, National Science Foundation, brought greetings from the United States and gave an overview of the growth of the Internet: the continued exponential growth of attached computers to today's 727,000 count; the 39 countries whose approximately 4,500 networks are now routed in the Internet; the appearance of CSFR, Hungary and Poland among them, and the emergence of graphical user interfaces and client-server interactive computing which offer simpler interfaces and productivity enhancements to the end-user.

Rob Blokzijl, Chair of the European IP Networking cooperation (RIPE), gave an overview of the growth of Internet services in Europe which mirror the exponential global growth and account for about 20 percent of the attached hosts and about a third of the Internet's networks. He mentioned the technical assistance that western European IP networking colleagues have offered to the East Central European networks, and pledged continued priorities in helping the emerging networking organizations.

Wilfred Maschitera and Guenther Schmittner of the University of Linz, Austria, described Austria's Central Europe Networking Cooperation (CENC) and their proposal to host a Central European network backbone with the homing of two major nodes from each of the countries, one each in Linz and Vienna. This would offer interconnectivity among their country networks and also would provide connectivity to western Europe and the rest of the Internet via Austria's existing connections as well as its proposed extension to Europe's emerging E1 Backbone, Ebone.

Yves DeVillers then described the assistance that the French National Institute for Automatics and Informatics (INRIA) Project Copernicus, has provided to the development of Internet service development in CSFR. This has included the configuring of low-cost PC-based routers for CSFR's Federal Science and Education Network, FESNet, an architectural design for FESNet, and the hosting of Milan Sterba of CSFR's Higher School of Economics for networking training (Milan, whom many of you know from his moderating of the Central European Networking e-mail list, will return to Prague from INRIA this coming May). INRIA plans to extend Project Copernicus assistance to another Central European country in the near future.

Jan Gruntorad, director of FESNet development and EARN Director for CSFR, spoke proudly of the growth of networking since the opening of EARN services in the CSFR, and reviewed plans for the implementation of the Prague-Brno-Bratislava FESnet backbone and the complementary Slovak Academic Network (SANet) services in the Slovak Republic. Jan recounted with pride of accomplishment and a bit of amazement how easily he had been able to connect with hosts as far away as Australia and Japan from his university. He invited the guests to a demonstration of the Internet connections in the afternoon. Jiri Orsag, the top level CS domain administrator gave technical details of the connection and Czech Republic architecture. About a half hour remained for questions from the audience, and a number of spirited discussions ensued.

During two "shifts" in the afternoon, about 50 people came to the computer terminal room to try connections to hosts around the world. All this activity on the mainframe host and the currently slim line to Linz and beyond, slowed the reading of e-mail from remote hosts to a pace reminiscent of the final days of the ARPANET. We wish our colleagues in the CSFR continued success and growth in hosts AND bandwidth to the outside world!

The Opening Ceremonies were followed by the "1st Eastern and Central European Countries Networks Coordinating Meeting". Networking representatives from the Czech and Slovak Republics, Hungary, Poland and Bulgaria met to set their agenda and agree on basics on the afternoon of the 13th, and they were joined by observers from Austria, Germany, RIPE and the U.S. on the 14th. Each of the Central European countries summarized its networking status, plans and needs. Then the CSFR, Hungary, Poland and Bulgaria proceeded to hammer out a draft "Memorandum on Cooperation in R&D Networking". Key points of the memorandum included an agreement to cooperate in developing networking strategies, international connections, training programs, network management, and user services. They affirmed the principle that the driving force would be user needs and that they would be guided in choosing technology primarily according to those needs. While expressing thanks for past assistance and present offers of additional assistance, they stated the principle that such [future] assistance must suit the interest of the R&D communities in their countries.

All in all, the mutual support evidenced by the large turnout of visitors and their success at forming a networking cooperation for Central European networking inspired confidence that they will rise above the challenges of shortages of trained staff, money and communications links to build a successful networking infrastructure. Their efforts will provide essential support to the nurturing of research and education in this emerging region of the Global Internet.

* Program Director, Interagency & International Networking Coordination - Div. of Networking and Communications Research & Infrastructure - National Science Foundation

© Jiří Peterka, 2011