AT&T to provide directory, database services to NSF network

BASKING RIDGE, N.J. --  JANUARY 5, 1993 -- AT&T announced today that it has signed a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation to provide directory and database services for NSFNET, the National Science Foundation national data network that is part of the Internet.

The Internet is comprised of more than 5,000 computer networks that facilitate collaboration among members of the research and education community. The Internet, and in particular NSFNET, is projected to serve as a basis for evolution to the National Research and Education Network (NREN).

Under the terms of the agreement, AT&T will develop and maintain a Directory of Directories which will serve as a pointer to numerous resources on the Internet. It will include lists of FTP (File Transfer Protocol) sites, lists of various types of servers available on the Internet, lists of white and yellow pages directories, library catalogs and data archives.

The Directory of Directories will enable even novice users to obtain references to information they need through simple, easy-to-use interfaces. AT&T also will provide white and yellow pages type directory services, such as names of users, organizations and resources on the Internet, using X.500 technology, the current standard specification for distributed information storage and retrieval.

As part of its database services, AT&T will establish database servers to extend and supplement the resources of the NSFNET, including databases of contributed materials of common interest to the user community and communications documents. AT&T also will offer database design, management and maintenance services to organizations and groups for inclusion in the Inter- net.

Initially, access to all services will be provided through several currently popular in-use interface methods; with time, it is anticipated that X.500 will become the primary method of access.

In providing these services, AT&T will work cooperatively with two other organizations: CERFNet, a General Atomics project, which was awarded a similar agreement for information services, and with Network Solutions, Inc. (NSI), which was awarded a similar agreement for registration services. The three corporations will collaborate under a common concept called IN-


"We all feel intuitively that the domestic Internet and the distributed collaboration that it facilitates are rapidly creating a national 'workplace without walls,'" said Steve Wolff, Director, Division of Networking and Communications Research and Infrastructure, NSF.

"These three awards to geographically dispersed organizations for Network Information Services will both exploit and demonstrate the success of the network in enabling distributed collaboration."

"These directory and database services are essential components of the emerging national information infrastructure," said Erik Grimmelmann, Marketing Director, Internet/NREN, AT&T Data Communications Services.

"This agreement marks an important step for the Internet as well as for AT&T because services such as these and the related ones to be provided by our INTERNIC collaborators will make the Internet even more useful than it is today."

The cooperative agreement is for a five-year period, with annual reviews. It is expected that the NSF will contribute ap- proximately one third of the costs, with another third provided by AT&T and the remainder recovered in user fees.

The user fees, which have been proposed for maintenance of special databases and extensive directory listings, are consis- tent with Federal Networking Council (FNC) cost recovery guidelines.

The user fees were part of AT&T's proposal, which was evaluated by an NSF review panel and approved by the NSF. The full text of the NSF statement on INTERNIC user fees is included at the end of this release.

The agreement is a natural extension of AT&T's strong commitment to education, research and the advancement of high-speed data networking. For example, AT&T operates XUNET (Experimental University Network), a high speed experimental research network for the academic community, and is a key participant in the CNRI (Corporation for National Research Initiative) sponsored BLANCA gigabit testbed.

AT&T also supports collaborative applications research projects of direct relevance to the Internet, including an information retrieval service, an image retrieval service and a newly developed directory concept called "nomenclator" that has been shown to improve response time tremendously when searching large directories.


Consistent with FNC guidelines on obtaining reasonable cost recovery from users of NREN networks, the NSF has determined that the INTERNIC Information Services provider may charge users beyond the U.S. research and education community for any services provided.

Also, the INTERNIC Directory and Database Services provider may charge a fee for maintenance of special databases, for extensive directory listings and may charge users beyond the U.S. research and education community.

Finally, because the registration function provided by the INTERNIC Registration Services applies to domestic and inter- national, commercial and individual users in addition to research and educational users, it is expected that an appropriate registration fee structure will take time to develop.

NSF expects to engage in an extensive discussion with the domestic and international Internet community on the motivation, strategy and tactics of imposing fees for these services during the next fifteen months. Decisions will be implemented only after they have been announced in advance and an opportunity given for additional public comment.

Shelly London
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