Latest Philnet developments from Cebu conference

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Jim Ayson

Apr 1, 1994, 4:46:27 AM4/1/94
Summary of major points of talk of Dr. Rodolfo Villarica on
the status of PhilNet in the Philippines

Conducted at the International Conference on E-Mail,
University of San Carlos, Talamban, Cebu City
March 27-29, 1994

Dr. Rodolfo Villarica's sessions during the E-Mail conference were
composed of two parts: an introductory talk on the current status of the
Philnet project, and a workshop and open forum that also included the
participation of other representatives from PhilNet such as Arnie del
Rosario and Ritchie Lozada of Ateneo de Manila, Kelsey Hartigan Go of De
La Salle, and Rodel Atanacio of U.P. Diliman.

Highlights of Dr. Villarica's update include the following:

Organizational Concerns

On the matter of IRF (Industrial Research Foundation): This is a
non-profit NGO (non-governmental organizational) that was initially
started to promote closer links between business and the academe. IRF
was approached to act as the "godfather" and implementor the Philnet
project. Dr. Villarica, a trustee of IRF, came aboard December 1993, to
be on top of developments.

Philnet Foundation, Inc, the organization intended to administer
Philnet, is currently in the process of formation. Three organization
meetings have been convened. The Articles of Incorporation and the By
Laws are being polished. The foundation should be incorporated by April.
Once Philnet is up and running, IRF's role will begin to diminish,
perhaps from September 1994 onwards.

The board of trustees consist of the following: Arnie del Rosario
(Ateneo de Manila), Jose Antonio Calvo (De La Salle), Dr. Roger Posadas
(U.P. Diliman), Dr. Ruben Villareal (UPLB), Dr. Lillian Sison (UST), Ms.
Rosanna Gonzalez (Xavier University), Fr. Joseph van den Daelen (SLU),
Dr. Glory Chanco (IRF) and Dr. Rodolfo Villarica (IRF); ex-officio, Dr.
Linda Posadas (DOST).

Technical Committee consists of: Glenn Sipin (DOST) as chairman,
Ritchie Lozada (Ateneo), Kelsey Hartigan Go (De La Salle), Ms. Merl Opena
(DOST), with others still to be confirmed.

For the position of General Manager, Philnet has recently hired Ms.
Rosario "Rizza" Carlos, M.S. in Information Networking from
Carnegie-Mellon University. Philnet is also scouting for office space,
and most likely this will in the Ortigas Center, Mandaluyong area, near
the PLDT Garnet exchange.

Leased Line Concerns

In selecting the carrier for the 64 kbps leased line, IRF met with five
major carriers: Globe, ETPI, Philcom, PT&T and PLDT. Of these five,
PLDT was deemed as the fastest and most competent. Sprintlink was chosen
as the service provider in the USA for the direct connection to the

Status of the leased lines for the initial primary nodes are as follows:

De La Salle University - activated
Ateneo de Manila University - activated
University of San Carlos - activated
University of the Philippines, Diliman (about to be activated)
University of Santo Tomas (scheduled for activation on March 28)
Department of Science and Technology (D.O.S.T.) - Scheduled April 15
U.P. Los Banos - Scheduled April 15
St.Louis University (Baguio) - Scheduled April 15
Xavier University Cagayan - Scheduled May 9

All connections are via leased land line except for UPLB, SLU, and
Xavier, which are microwave links.

Cost and Funding concerns

Cost of all nine leased line has been pegged at P123,000 per month.
(Approximately P15,000 per month for each site). The IRF/Philnet/PLDT
final contract still has to be signed.

The D.O.S.T. had initally committed to fund Philnet for the first year
of operation (a sum of P12.5 Million), after which Philnet would have to
be a self-sustainable organization. During the conference, a D.O.S.T.
representative said that a second year's funding would be possible.

As a fund raising measure, Dr. Villarica mentioned that Philnet is
in the process of courting donor subscribers from the corporate sector.
The target is initially five donor subscribers at $3,000 per month that
will be acting as primary nodes, with a limit of 1.8 GB/month of data
traffic. Any volume in excess of the upper limits will cost the
subscriber $1.50 per megabyte.

Non-donor subscribers will be charged P15,000/month, with an upper limit
of 0.9 gigabytes per month.

Philnet's basic business philosophy: highly profitable not for profit.
That is, all profits are to be plowed back into improving facilities.

Pricing policies for secondary nodes
(linked to primary nodes)

The following are approximate figures quoted by Dr. Villarica for
secondary nodes:

P7,000/month - commercial customers
P5,000/month - NGOs and government offices (and presumably for other
non-profit organizations as well)
P3,000/month - schools connected as secondary nodes
P300/month - for individual users

These serve as a "guiding rate" and are subject to change or
negotiation with the primary nodes involved. Another cost factor to
consider is the cost of the leased line to the primary node.

Equipment concerns

Routers to be used are supplied by Cisco, the brand most commonly found
on the Internet, required by most service providers.

The main router is a Cisco 7000 (located in a Sprint site at Stockton,
CA), while the nodes will be using Cisco 2501 routers. The main router
will temporaririly be located at the PLDT carrier site. The DNS server
still has to acquired: to be borrowed from Ateneo de Manila.


The original objective was to get Philnet up and running by March 25.
Though this deadline was not met, Philnet finally achieved direct
Internet access connection by March 29, 10:18 am and users attending the
conference at the the University of San Carlos were able to telnet to
Internet sites.

Issues raised and discussed during the workshop

A participant expressed concern about the possibility of obscene
material coming into the Philippines from the Internet and being
accessed by minors. Others expressed concern that heavy users of the Net
would be benefitting tremendously from the fixed charges and wasting
bandwidth at the expense of light users.

The Philnet panel took a common stand that it has no business policing
the content of the data. As some participants said, once you start
censoring content, the next step could be censoring political messages
as well. Philnet does intend to monitor however the volume of data
traffic passing through the nodes, and primary nodes that exceed the
upper limits will be charged accordingly.

On the matter of using fixed charges rather than volume charges, it was
explained that if charges were based on volume then the commercial carriers
would complain, ergo the solution found was to base it as a fixed charge
so it would come out as a subscription or a membership. All in all costs
are still quite reasonable, considering the alternatives.

Dr. Villarica summed up these issues by saying that the overall
objective of Philnet is to encourage interest in the Internet, not to
restrict it. The more subscribers, the better. It is important to get as
many users as possible connected in order to achieve the critical mass
needed to make it useful.

Another interesting issue raised was the matter of setting up sites on
the Net containing data about the Philippines. Everyone agreed that
this would be good not only for use on a national level, but also for
interested researchers from abroad. The project of linking up the
libraries of Ateneo, U.P., and De La Salle by 1995 was brought up.
Although initially a wholly separate project, it had been suggested that
they ride on the Philnet data highway to eliminate redundant efforts.
The DOST described their ongoing project to put their extensive data
bases on line. These databases consist of the status of ongoing and
completed research projects. NAMRIA was also discussed as an agency who
would be interseted in putting their geographical data on the Net for
access by GIS (Geographical Information Systems) applications.

Recorded by Jim Ayson, USC Talamban, Cebu City

jim ayson |
metro manila, philippines |
fax: +632-632-6816 |

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