What happened to the ARPANET?


Tue, Mar 25th, 1997 03:00 by capnasty ARTICLE

A. The Year 2000: The End of Computing?

A Brief description of the problem

Programmers, over the last 30 years have been conserving space and processing time by ignoring the century in dates throughout our computer systems. Because the need was so far out in the future (ha!), they decided it was not worth the effort to change the existing systems to accommodate the problem. As a result, when new systems were developed and the year 2000 was getting closer, the problem seemed to get more dramatic, but not enough to take on the task of correcting it. Now the problem is not just dramatic, it is urgent.

The problem, in data processing terms, is the following:

1? Dates are carried as 6 numeric characters ignoring the century.
2? Assumptions are made about the century concerning when to assume the century is the 19th or the 20th.
3? Just changing the size and adding the century will not fix the problem.
4? When dates are used for more than just storing and re-displaying, routines are in place which attempt to solve them. They must also be changed.

B. Censorship

As reported by USA Today Web Site (CUDigest) , the government of Vietnam has announced that all information coming into the country through the Internet will be censored (with Hanoi controlling who has online access). Vietnamese authorities also plan to limit the gates through which Internet servers in Vietnam are linked to the outside world, with all information entering and leaving the communist country through a government-filtered gateway. The report says Vietnam is looking for ways to allow Internet service, while restricting content.

C. Gridlock

Several US phone companies are on the verge of succumbing to gridlock. Brown outs and even major system crashes are expected which would leave business and consumers without telephone service. Internet traffic is growing at 10% each month, and the length of the call is crowding telco phone networks. Internet phone calls last an average of 20 minutes, unlike the usual 4 for a voice conversation. Some connections last 6 hours or more. Many companies want to raise their rates in order to maintain and beef up their overloaded networks.

Because of low internet costs, and the fact that "Free" long distance calls can be made over the Internet, Telco phone companies are thinking of changing their flat fee rate, to a pay-per-use system. Not only you'd have to pay for the Internet, but also for the time you are connected. Web pages would suddenly lose their popularity because of long loading times.

If the Cable companies do take over the Internet, the pressure would be taken off phone companies. But at that point people would not have the need of a second line in their homes, which would mean Telco revenues would decline, and they will have to lobby for increase rates.

D. Internet 2

The Internet is falling victim of it's own popularity. Once an obscure system, to which only a few had access (government & universities), now the Internet is at the reach of everyone. The whole thing is now getting bogged down on the weight of it's own success.

Those who rely on the Internet for fast communication can no longer do so. Enter Internet 2, a superhigh bandwidth (155 megabits per second or some 10,000 faster then the 14.4 kilobits per second modem) which would allow the transmission of memory intensive multimedia applications, to service Universities and Companies that cannot afford the current instabilities of the net.

Internet 2, or CAnet 2 will be available in the Canada and the US sometime this year. The original Internet will be taken over by the Telcos. No prices have been set for CAnet 2.



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