Randy Bush and the NSRC

The Network Startup Resource Center (NSRC), a pro bono effort, has been involved for some years with the deployment and integration of appropriate networking technology in the developing world.

The NSRC provides assistance to networking initiatives to provide public networking access, especially to academic/research organizations and NGOs. The NSRC is not a funding agency and has no direct access to funding sources. The NSRC can help, or sometimes enlist others to help, with network engineering advice, design, etc.

Technical Advice and Engineering Assistance

Starting in '88 in Southern Africa, we designed, taught about, and helped deploy a multi-country (South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and later many others) network using varying technologies, in order: FidoNet on dialup lines, UUCP on dialup lines, low-cost IP technology based on 9600 baud and below links using old PCs and publicly available PC-based SLIP routing software, and finally multiple, dedicated, medium speed (128-512kb) links to the public Internet.

The UNDP and Union Latina chose the NSRC to do the technical work and training for the first networking within Peru and to establish the links to the US. The NSRC was Peru's UUCP link to the outside world for over two years until Peru was able to upgrade to a 64kb, then 128kb, and now 512kb satellite IP link.

In response to a request from Egyptian network engineers, we provided technical help to the Egyptian Universities Network to set up Egypt's first link to the Internet in 1993. In 1994, the African Education division of the World Bank asked the NSRC to help them design a network in Guinea for electronic mail, as they were having grave problems communicating within the country. In September 1994, we went to Conakry and worked with local folks to set up a system for PPP within the country, and dial-up UUCP internationally for the country's first link to the Internet. As there was not a single phone at the university, we used spread spectrum radio modems within Conakry.

During 1994-95, the NSRC assisted Sri Lankan engineers to design and deploy Sri Lanka's first TCP/IP link. Responding to numerous requests from networkers in Nairobi, the National Science Foundation supported the NSRC's work to design, install, and train local engineers for the first IP links to Kenya. During this time period, we also assisted the World Bank's efforts to get Mozambique on the Internet.

We have worked for several years with Saudi Arabian academics to help them connect to the Internet.

More recently, we assisted Togo in arranging connectivity for its first IP link, and collaborated with Togolese engineers to assist Liberia in designing and building its first connection to the Internet. We are currently working with Uganda On Line, the East Africa Help Desk, Makerere University and the African Virtual University project at Makerere to help get more of Uganda's academics and NGOs on the net.

In June 1997, we were contacted by the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Secretariat for Science and Technology (SENACYT) of the República de Panamá to help set up a neutral exchange point for cooperative use by the academic network, Red Académica y De Investigación Nacional (PANNet), and all significant commercial providers. Dave Meyer of the University of Oregon and I trained the participating Panamanian engineers about BGP, peering points, the Internet Routing Registry, Autonomous Systems, built the tools to automatate configuration, and helped set up the InteRed eXchange in July 1997 - the first open IX in America Latina y el Caribe.

Though we now do our best to avoid use of FidoNet, for many years the Network Startup Resource Center (via PSGnet) operated FidoNet's international links from North America to the the rest of the world's regions. Consisting of a few dozen direct dial-up links to Argentina, Australia, Germany, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Singapore, South Africa, Taiwan, Thailand, and the UK, these links essentially bound FidoNet across the globe from the former USSR, through Europe, the Middle East, North and South America, Oceania, Africa, and Asia. For a number of years, the NSRC served as a major gate between FidoNet and the Internet, moving over 3000 messages per day.

For a bit more about the early efforts of the NSRC, and some of the technical and social issues involved with networking in developing areas, see Expanding International Email Connectivity--Another Look, published in ConneXions 93.6.30.

International TCP/IP Training Workshops

In 1993, the NSRC initiated a TCP/IP training workshop for engineers from developing countries, which was held at Stanford University, California in August 1993, and became what is now known globally as the INET workshops. I was the instigator, the coordinator, and the lead instructor for the INET'93 training program, an instructor in the INET'95 workshops, and track leader for the INET'96 workshops.

Jacot Guillarmod, Ken Lindahl, Alan Emtage, I, and some others did the technical coordination and taught the NATO/UN/Soros/etc internet workshops in the Ukraine in '95, and I was on the International Coordinating Committee for workshops given in Russia by the same organizations. I also gave routing workshops at CICESE in Ensenada Mexico, in Santiago, Chile with David Meyer at the VI Foro de Redes, and one for another NATO event in Yerevan, Armenia.

I also instructed with Alvise Nobile at the first network training workshop held in Trieste, Italy in 1992, and with Ermanno Pietrosemoli at the first Escuela Latinoamericana de Redes (EsLaRed) in Mérida, Venezuela in November 1992, which was an outgrowth of the Trieste training.

More recently, the NSRC helped organize a one-week network training workshop for Red Universitaria Dominicana Académica y Científica (RUDAC), in the Dominican Republic, on behalf of RedHUCyT and the Organization of American States (OAS). Jose Dominguez was the principal instructor for the workshop, along with a team of folks from the University of Oregon Computing Center.

Working with many African friend and colleagues, the NSRC helped organize and teach a one-week technical workshop in Cape Town, South Africa, from 30 April to 5 May 2000. The Scalable Internet Services track focused on large scale provision of UNIX-based TCP/IP services such as DNS, SMTP mail exchange, POP mail systems, managing mailing lists, RADIUS dialup authentication, building and managing web servers, and setting up Help Desk facilities. The Scalable Internet Infrastructure track dealt with configuring and operating large scale backbones. Topics included basic routing, OSPF routing, BGP routing, management of router configs, designing NOC (Network Operation Center) facilities, and establishing peering and exchange points.

The workshop was followed by the inaugural AFNOG meeting, and a one-day AfriNIC meeting to plan for the creation of an African Regional Internet Registry.

Financial and Operational Support

John Klensin and I formalized the Network Startup Resource Center in 1992 with support from the National Science Foundation (NCR-9216064). Here is the original NSRC announcement. Steve Huter of the University of Oregon Computing Center joined the NSRC in 1994, and numerous folks at the UO Computing Center now collaborate with the NSRC to provide technical assistance and TCP/IP training for engineers in developing countries.

Thanks to the National Science Foundation for tremendous support over the years, with additional grants awarded in 1996 (NCR-9616597), and (#9981821) in October 1999.

The NSRC has also received support from the following (in alphabetical order):

Thanks to Network Services at the University of Oregon and to Verio, for providing our IP connectivity and for hosting machines that we use to provide IP services to various developing area networking projects.