RMIUG Meeting Minutes - Cable Television
and the Internet
The fifteenth meeting of the Rocky Mountain Internet Users Group (RMIUG) was
April 11th, 1995. It featured Jim Ginsburg
(from Jones Interactive) who presented "Cable
Television and the Internet." Dan Murray
(email@example.com) MC'd the meeting
and there were ~75 people in attendance.
Minuteman was Alek Komarnitsky (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Pls note that our next meeting will be
held at the NIST auditorium (instead of
NCAR) - pls see details below.
Some misc. administrativia/announcements:
- Dan Murray talked about RMIUG's move
to NIST - Why the move? Several meetings
have overflowed the NCAR conference room,
and we have therefore shut off all meeting
publicity (outside of the Email list)
to limit attendance. We feel strongly
that RMIUG should be open to anyone, and
the May meeting will be of particular
interest to new users of the Internet.
We therefore needed a larger room ...
and so we thought we would give NIST a
Some misc. issues associated with
- Capacity is 510 people (plenty ...
but maybe too much - we'll see)
- NIST charges us $125 for the room.
Indra's Net (email@example.com)
has graciousely offered to sponsor
the May meeting ... but we may have
to pass the hat in the future - more
info next month.
- BUT ... we want to keep RMIUG free
and open to all!!!
- SO ... if you know anyone interested
in sponsoring a meeting, pls have
them contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Still plan to have refreshments
(thanx InternetOne) ... but NIST is
concerned about this ... so let's
be neat! ;-)
- We are not able to reserve the room
a year in advance like we are at NCAR
... so we may not get the 2nd Tuesday
of every month - we shall see.
RMIUG (especially Alek! ;-) really
likes the NCAR room ... and the support
we have gotten from the NCAR people
has been great. But we've just been
too big for that room at times. So we're
going to try NIST in May (with an eye
toward that as a permanent meeting place)
and see how it goes.
BTW, it should be noted that RMIUG
is a true non-profit; we have *NO* $$$
- Will Clurman (email@example.com, 303-440-0402)
modeled (!) the RMIUG T-shirts and passed
these out to people who had ordered one.
RMIUG would like to thank Kaleigh Santos
who really ran with the ball for us on
this issue - thanx "K".
- Bill Trowbridge (firstname.lastname@example.org,
303-750-8495) mentioned he has a Home
Page that lists all Colorado Computer
User Groups and other Professional Groups.
Check it out at http://www.rmii.com/~billt
- Neal McBurnett (Neal.McBurnett@att.com,
303-538-4852) mentioned that the KGNU-FM
Public Radio Station now has an Internet
precense where you can safely donate money
with your credit card. The KGNU Donation
Page is at: http://bcn.boulder.co.us/cgi-bin/member-kgnu
- One user reported that his Fortune 500
company had recently suspended an employee
for excessive use of the Internet during
Business Hours. This sparked a short discussion
- another person commented how Littleton
School are grappling with how to restrict
access to students after they give them
Our speaker was Jim Ginsburg (email@example.com)
from Jones Interactive and he gave an excellent,
informative, frank, and humourous talk about
how Cable Television and the Internet will
get along. RMIUG would also like to thank
John Rossie who was able to assist us in
lining up this speaker.
Jim Ginsburg joined the Company in April
1981 as MIS Director for Jones Intercable,
Inc. In 1983, he was named President of
Jones Information Management, Inc. (JIMI).
Mr. Ginsburg was named Chief Information
Officer in May 1989 for the holding company
Jones International, Ltd. and Jones Intercable,
Inc. In 1992, Mr. Ginsburg joined the newly
formed Jones Interactive, Inc. as Senior
Information Officer. Mr. Ginsburg is responsible
for advanced technologies' development within
the Jones' family of companies, including
educational systems, telecommunications
and extended cable television services.
Jim started his talk with the simple example
of the business card ... and how it wasn't
that many years ago when FAX Numbers were
a novelty. Now, everybody has them. He then
talked about how Email addresses were something
new ... but they're becoming pretty common.
The newest "high-tech" addition is a URL
listing your Corporate Home Page.
He went on to describe the MTV generation
that has high expectations; but this will
require in upgraded infrastructre. For example,
the "typical" text based Email is 22 Kbytes,
a Book is about ~240K, a pciture is ~300K,
an audio clip ~475K, and a *second* of video
Jim had an excellent slide show that generated
several lively discussions that ranged across
Physical Architecture. Cable is
migrating from existing Co-axial cable to
fiber. In addition, various "router-like"
capabilities are being put in place, so
signals can be "narrowcasted" (down to groups
as small as 200 households) rather than
broadcasted across the entire cable system.
A big issue for Cable is the "Back-channel"
- i.e. how do you get a signal from the
house back to the Cable Company. Currently,
other channels (i.e. modem over phone) are
used, since typically this doesn't require
a lot of bandwidth. But efforts are underway
to make sure the equipment (Cable, Repeaters,
etc.) are "reverse-ready"
Interestingly enough, the spectrum on
the cable from 60 MHz on down is allready
reserved for back-channel traffic; this
is adaquate for 10 seperate channels of
TV ... or (using today's technology) 9-10
data channels of 10 MBit/sec capacity.
One huge advantage for Cable is that is
solves the "Last-Mile" problem. I.e. it
brings a fairly large/thick data "pipe"
into you house. Jim said that although various
"tricks" have been played with Copper Twisted-Pair
(i.e. phone company), this is ultimatelly
BTW, it is true that there are times when
the Cable company comes in and rips up the
lawn to replace their Coax with Fiber ...
and then a few months later, the phone company
rips open the lawn again to replace their
wiring! ;-) Too bad these guys don't talk
to each other more ...
One challenge for the Cable company is
getting the cost of the RF Modem down -
this converts the Cable signal to Ethernet
so you can plug your PC in. 500Kbit/sec
modems are about $350 now, but 10 Mbit/sec
modems are about $5,000 ... but they hope
to push this down to $800 by year end. One
RMIUG'er said his company hopes to have
a 10 Mbit/sec modem available in prototype
in the next month or so for $300!
Depending on how things are structured
(above equipment would probably be rented/leased),
Jim thinks they could offer 500 Kbit/sec
access to the Internet for $20/month. Jones
plans to offer this service commercially
in 1995 in selected areas, with other locations
as demand and technical capabilities allow.
Software architecure. There are
some really big routing/addressing issues
associated with give tens of thousands (eventually
millions) of people direct Internet access.
IP address space exhaustion comes right
to mind ... but hopefully other efforts
(IPng) will solve this soon. [Note: our
speaker in June will probably talk about
WRT routing: Jones is working with the
leading networking companies, and pushing
the leading/bleeding edges in this area.
Problem include the large number of networks,
and the raw speed required.
"Universal Access" Jim mentioned
several times that Jones' is in the business
of making money ... so there is an economic
incentive to roll out new services in markets/areas
where they will make money. This has the
potential to leave some areas "behind" ...
although he mentioned they have an agressive
program for educational instituations and
Security. Even thought the Set-Top
box allows addressing to an individual household,
they actual signals can be seen/tapped in
other households (Note: most Local Area
Networks operate in a similar fashion).
The ultimate solution is encryption at the
Set-Top box and at the server/Cable-head
... but this will take time.
Standards. One problem Jones has
had is the lack of standards in the computer
business (both hardware & software). In
the TV business, there is only one connection
on the back of the boob-tube. You just plug
that Coax cable in ... and it works! Not
quite the case in the Computer Business!
Along those lines is training/education.
Many people can't even program their VCR's
... so bringing them up to speed on the
Internet will be an even bigger challenge
(another reason to come to RMIUG meetings,
Jim closed by mentioned several content
(versus just delivery) businesses/offerings
that Jones does. You can check most of these
out by looking under the URL http://www.meu.edu:
- The Mind Extension University delivers
actual creditable course work that is offered
over the Cable Network.
- The Jones Computer Network which offers
programs that are helpful to the novices
and guru's (your chance for 10 nano-seconds
of fame! ;-)
- The Global Electronic Library is a joint
project with Jones and the the National
Library of Congress & the National Library
of Canada to help preserve data/history.
A related/similar project is the the American
Memory Project where paper/microfiche/etc
records are converted to an electronic format.
This not only preserves our history, but
allows wider access.
- Jones Interactive also produces CD-ROM
titles. Working with content from our affiliated
organizations, such as Jones Entertainment
Group and Mind Extension University, CD-ROMs
are made in educational and reference arenas.
Two current titles under production are:
Charlton Heston's voyage through the bible
(with content from the video series from
Entertainment Group) and the Encyclopedia
of Information Infrastructure.
The next RMIUG meeting is scheduled
for Tuesday, May 9th at 7pm. This meeting
will be held at the main conference room
at National Institute for Standards and
Technology (NIST, formally called NBS).
This is located at 325 South Broadway -
one block South of Baseline on the West
side of Broadway (big bldg - you can't miss
it! ;-) Entrance in on the East side of
the Bldg, and free parking is available
to the North and around back.
Our speaker will be Art Smoot, who will
discuss various ways of connecting to the
Internet and what they all mean. Those of
you that remember Art's earlier meeting
will recall he does an excellent job of
explaining the complexities of the Internet.
Internet Newbies and even long-time users
(who want to really understand what is going
on behind the scenes) will find this meeting
RMIUG wishes to thank Internet One of
Boulder for sponsoring the refreshments,
and XOR Network Engineering for electronic
Suggestions/comments/feedback are always
welcome - please email these to firstname.lastname@example.org
or call Dan Murray at 447-3475.
RMIUG "Executive" Committee: email@example.com
RMIUG Librarians (Joe Betts & Bo the Bohemian):
RMIUG has email lists for its members. Send
an email to
firstname.lastname@example.org for more info