September 12th, 1995

Internet Provider Fest

09/12/95 RMIUG Meeting Minutes - Internet Provider Fest

The September 1995 RMIUG meeting, held at the NIST auditorium, started at 7:05 with Alek Komarnitsky welcoming the approximately 200 people in the audience with a nearly black and illegible transparency. :)

Alek noted that there are currently 935 members of the rmiug-discuss mailing list, of which 537 were from .com domains, 191 from .edu and 167 from .net.

Announcements from the floor included:

  • The 2nd annual Aspen International Festival with the theme "Economic Model of the Internet" will be held on the 13th, 14th and 15th of October at the Aspen Institute. Look for further announcements on local news groups and mailing lists.

  • A free Internet newspaper, "internet news" is starting up. It will appear every other Monday with 8,000 copies distributed to 200 high-traffic locations throughout Boulder County. Contact crew333@aol.com or Market2@ix.netcom.com for more information.

Alek then started the evenings program by explaining the rules: 5 minutes for each ISP to introduce their services, no questions from the floor at that point, ISPs presenting in alphabetical order. After all the ISPs have spoken, they will form a panel to take questions from the floor. Alek noted that some ISPs had conflicts due to the scheduling of the annual meeting of the Colorado Internet Coop which coincided with the RMIUG meeting.

Daryl Watson, ABWAM, explained they were a full service ISP, now offering ISDN and focusing on service (not games). He sat down to applause after 52 seconds!

Steve Durgin, Cento Systems, announced they were a new ISP focusing on business connections. They are different in that they have no dialup services. He explained Cento was an ATT reseller providing business turn-key solutions and training.

Guy Cook, SuperNet, explained that SuperNet is the for-profit organization owned by the Colorado SuperNet, a non-profit. He noted that "Buying SuperNet services returns money to Colorado". He mentioned some joint technology ventures with the Chinese, Saudi Arabia and Oman, along with a project with the Discovery Channel. He stated that the SuperNet has 16 POPs around Colorado and has been putting money into infrastructure. He announced the plan for a 45 Mbit backbone link due in October. SuperNet has 36 full time people and some part timers on staff supporting the largest customer base in Colorado. He noted that SuperNet is 6th in the nation in domain registration.

Dwight Prouty, DASH, explained they have been providing connectivity since 1986. They will have a 45 Mbit channel in October, linking the 36 servers that they currently have on-line. He noted they provide 24 hour 7 day a week support service. He said "Dash is in for the long run."

Shelli Meyers, Indra's Net, spoke about their principles of excellent technical support. She noted they focus on dialup only, with emphasis on small businesses and individuals. They provide no dedicated line access. They provide 7 day a week technical support and are doing world-wide-web services. They plan to have a Fort Collins POP within a few months.

Danny Winokur, Internet Express, explained they are somewhat different in that they have a national focus. He listed POPs in Denver, Pueblo, Colorado Springs and in several other states. They also have a national 800 service for only $6.25 hour. He stated they had strong technical support for their Sun Sparc stations which hosted individual services. They have 24 hour technical support and he noted that the longest wait for support in August was only 1 minute. He explained they have dedicated support including 56K, customer ISDN and frame relay services. They are turning up a network operations center in Colorado Springs. He noted they offer WWW services focusing on local content, e.g. local media.

Andy Nieto, On Ramp Communications, explained they were a member of the Internet Alliance with a focus on the health care industry, point-of-sale applications and small business access. They also provided excellent technical support.

Dwight Reifsnyder, Tesser, explained they were in Boulder and a provider of Pipeline support, a full functioning, easy-to-install graphical user interface to the internet. He noted they have bought into the notion that "the world changed on August 24th" and they will be focusing on Microsoft Windows 95 support for "out of the box" internet solutions.

While not on the original list, Thomas Westerman, thomasw@rmii.com, spoke briefly about Rocky Mountain Internet. He noted they are in their third year as a "small but visionary" ISP. He noted they have 12% of the Colorado domains. They provide dialup and dedicated service, with ISDN in Colorado Springs. They are coming up with a T3 connection soon.

Alek Komarnitsky then invited the 8 original speakers to take their place on stage to accept questions from the floor.

Starting off with the question "What is the ISP's responsibilities with regard to hackers?" The answers basically ranged from we will notify users of hacking attacks and have users change their passwords" to "we don't offer any shell service, so we are very secure". Two ISPs, SuperNet and Internet Express, recounted their involvement in the recent Kevin Mitnick incident with the FBI. All acknowledge a strong concern about maintaining secure services.

An audience question, "How many have PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) on their systems" was met with answers ranging from yes, to ditto, to no, since they consider it application code beyond their service, and generally available on the internet. A related follow-on question of whether shadow passwords were used caused all to raise their hands, except Tesser, whose Pipeline interface obviates that need since there is no shell access. (If you access a unix shell and look at /etc/passwd, the file should have a visible password of only an asterisk. If not, that file is open to attack by programs like Crack, which can be run remotely to break the password algorithm.)

The question of "How do you determine when to add modems?" generated a variety of replies --- with one shared observation, they all had problems with US West. Various methods were used, but all said that they monitor modem usage and add them rapidly as busy signals begin to increase.

When asked how what modems were supported, all said they supported 14.400, all support 28.8 on some modems, 3 supported 28.8 on all modems and one, Tesser, was experimenting with V33.6.

On the question of "pro-active Snooping", some said they ran Crack on their own passwords and notified users of poorly selected passwords. Some ran COPS, some ran SATAN against themselves and others used their own security testing tools.

Someone in the audience who used several on-line services asked "Why use an ISP?". Answers emphasized costs, services provided, local focus and user specific support. It was noted that "Grandma should go for AOL" for ease of use, but beware the slow web browsers and lack of full access. Another pointed out that you have to determine if you are a "producer" or a "consumer" of the content.

A variety of questions relating to USENET newsgroups received pretty standard answers from "we have all the groups" to "we will setup any groups any user request" to "newsgroup failings often occur because of connectivity issues with the feed from other sites."

All answered the question that they did nightly backups, but cautioned that individual file restoration can only be done if the service is not abused. Some indicated that users might have to pay for such retrievals.

When asked about the ISP's connections, the all had at least one T1, with DASH having Multiple T1s and SuperNet with 6 T1s. They all provided virtual domain service for their web sites, though currently none provided secure servers, though some are coming.

Alek thanked the ISP's for their support and participation and welcomed everyone to come back for the next RMIUG meeting. "On Tuesday, October 10, information consultants Susan Brandes, Debra Davis, and Barbara Wagner will present a program: "How to Use the Internet to Find Information." Effective research on the Internet involves basic knowledge of subject content and some likely sources --to start with--which the speakers have utilized in their services to companies and individuals. These three experts will focus on techniques for maximizing useful output (while minimizing costs and time spent) and finding gems of information on the Internet."

Email addresses for the panelists are as follows:

  • Daryl Watson, ABWAM, dwatson@abwam.com
  • Steve Durgin, Cento Systems, sdurgin@usa.net
  • Guy Cook, SuperNet, gcook@csn.net
  • Dwight Prouty, DASH, shaman@dash.com
  • Shelli Meyers, Indra's Net, sam@indra.net
  • Danny Winokur, Internet Express, danny@usa.net
  • Andy Nieto, On Ramp Communications, andy@orci.com
  • Dwight Reifsnyder, Tesser, dwight@tesser.com
  • Thomas Westerman, RMII (spoke, but not on the panel) thomasw@rmii.com

The meeting ended at 9.

Respectfully submitted by Art Smoot, RMIUG.

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