[iDC] The Lure of Internet2

Christian Sandvig csandvig at uiuc.edu
Fri Feb 17 18:56:39 EST 2006

Hi this is my first post.  Here is my suggestion:  Let's get excited about
something more current.  Internet2 is mature -- a useful question to ask
about it could be: "Did it achieve what it promised?" It's great that Slate
just heard about it, but it was formed in 1996.  Yes it is upgraded
regularly and it is getting faster, but so is your ISP.  And the sinister
undertone just doesn't make sense.  Internet2 is centrally controlled, but
so are all of the component networks of the Internet.  When you run tracert
and see what network providers your packets traverse on the way from here to
there, each of those network providers is "centrally controlled" and invests
in its backbone.  e.g., from my desk to www.distributedcreativity.org I
traverse the University of Illinois, then McLeod, then AT&T.  If we want to
talk about "lots of bandwidth" and what it might mean, we should just do
that and not let "Internet2" stand in for "lots of bandwidth".  If you want
to use a hip, up-to-date word to stand in for lots of bandwidth (and who
doesn't?) -- use "lambda" (
Let me try: What will happen when we are all on the lambda?  Why am I off
the lambda?  etc.  It is a fun word to use.  And such a queer choice.  Maybe
queer theorists have colonized the grid.

Anyhow, the original Slate article gets the whole idea completely backward.
Rather than Russo's "why can't I use Internet2?" a good question is: "why
isn't my private Internet connection faster?" or "why don't private
companies like McLeod, AT&T, etc. all invest more money in their
infrastructure?"  In part, Internet2 was supposed to provoke this, way back
when.  The most appalling failure has been the US, where private Internet
infrastructure investment lags seriously behind Europe and Asia.  But why
should McLeod/AT&T invest more when you pay a flat rate for unlimited
access?  Because the regulator that is supposed to be watching out for this
kind of problem (the FCC) does nothing.


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