MCI wins contract for network servicesWashington-based MCI...

TECHNOLOGY & COMMUNICATIONA

June 07, 1993|By Steve Auerweck | Steve Auerweck,Staff Writer

MCI wins contract for network services

Washington-based MCI Corp. has won a five-year contract worth more than $200 million to provide network services to CoREN, a new, coast-to-coast consortium of eight regional data networks that make up the heart of the Internet.

The agreement, announced last week, means that the regional networks will be able to migrate easily to advanced offerings such as switched digital services or asynchronous transfer mode (ATM), according to Jerry Edgerton, MCI's vice president of government systems.

"It's a very long-term, very strategic agreement" for CoREN, Mr. Edgerton said.

Mr. Edgerton says the eight networks represent the bulk of the country's population centers.

CoREN, which stands for the Corporation for Research and Enterprise Networking, was established to take advantage of the collective buying strengths of the regional networks, Mr. Edgerton says. To some extent, he says, it was modeled after one of its members, SURAnet, which is based at the University of Maryland and spans 13 states and the District of Columbia.

"SURAnet has been a pioneer in terms of innovation in technology," Mr. Edgerton said.

The new combination has special significance to commercial customers. Officially, the high-speed "backbone" of the Internet, which is funded by the National Science Foundation, is limited to traffic linked to research and education. While that limit has not been strictly enforced of late, it has still barred the most obvious commercial applications.

But the regional networks are not bound by those strictures, so CoREN is free to pass any kind of data among its members, bypassing the NSF backbone entirely.

Write the president via electronic mail

After last year's election, it leaked out that President Clinton could be reached through electronic mail addresses set up on CompuServe and America Online during the campaign. Now the White House has made its transition to the electronic age official, by setting itself up on the Internet.

Mr. Clinton and Vice President Al Gore can be reached through the addresses "presidenhitehouse.gov" and "vice.presidenhitehouse.gov."

Last week's announcement notes that mail will be read and quickly acknowledged via e-mail, but that detailed replies still will be sent via the U.S. Postal Service ("snail mail," to computer buffs). The White House staff hopes to be able to reply electronically by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, across town, the House of Representatives has also established an Internet connection, although it is moving into the venture with trepidation.

Seven House members -- none from Maryland -- are participating in a pilot program of the Constituent Electronic Mail System. Those wishing to write are asked to first send a letter, "to allow members to identify an electronic mail user as his or her constituent," and replies are likely to be on paper, "to ensure confidentiality."

House administrators obviously have heard those who warn of problems with security and identification on the net. One eventual solution may be encrypting all e-mail messages.

Panel to get briefing on computer security

If you're superstitious, Wednesday might be the day to work with a quill pen. That's because it's National Computer Virus Awareness Day, co-sponsored by the National Computer Security Association and floppy-disk maker 3M Corp.

Industry representatives will brief a congressional panel about the threat of computer viruses, and will testify at hearings being held by Rep. Edward J. Markey, D.-Mass., on data security in national networks.

Executive Director Robert C. Bales notes that the security association also is holding a conference on Thursday and Friday at the Washington Sheraton; the exhibit hall is open to the public.

Software to analyze use of health services

The Johns Hopkins School of Public Health has developed a software package, designed to analyze patients' use of health services, that will be marketed by a unit of Computer Sciences Corp.

The software, called the ACG (for Ambulatory Care Group) Case-Mix Adjustment System, goes beyond traditional classifications by age and sex, factoring in diagnostic data from a patient's insurance records. The result: 51 "clusters" of those expected to consume about the same level of health care resources.

CSC Healthcare Systems will market the package to managed-care organizations.

Hughes wins contract for CIS satellite link

Hughes Network Systems of Germantown has been picked to provide satellite networking equipment for customers throughout the Commonwealth of Independent States.

Under an initial $6 million contract, Hughes will provide more than a dozen earth stations and a network management center to M-TEL, a Moscow-based communications service operated by the Mannai Corp.

M-TEL will begin offering satellite voice and data networking over Russia's Raduga C-band satellite next month. Customers who install the Hughes dishes will be able to link up with other sites through the Raduga satellite, and with the international phone network through Denmark.

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