SPTC

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General Internet Information

 
What is the Internet?
The Internet is a network of networks. The Internet protocols allow many different network technologies from local area networks (LANs) to wide area networks (WANs) to be interconnected seamlessly for communication among many different types of applications. The unique technical capabilities of the TCP/IP protocols allow the Internet to become very large, but still be manageable.

How did the Internet start?
The Internet began in 1969, created by Department of Defense researchers and contractors working for the Advanced Research Project Agency (ARPA). The original network was called the ARPAnet. ARPAnet use was restricted to researchers who had ARPA contracts. The ARPAnet technology was introduced to a larger audience by the efforts of computer scientists and engineers through Cypressnet and CSnet. CSnet was the National Science Foundation's first TCP/IP Internet service offering started in the early '80s and it proved to be very successful. As the demand for ARPAnet grew, ARPA handed the baton to the NSF, which combined the networking needs of its suite of national supercomputer centers with a backbone service for the emerging academic regional networks. Thus the NSFnet was born in 1985.

Who runs the Internet?
The Internet is a cooperative endeavor much like the worldwide telephone network. No single organization is responsible for all aspects of the Internet. The US Federal government, through ARPA and NSF, continues to support the InterNIC and IETF. Equipment vendors support the Internet through their product development and participation in the Frame Relay Forum, the ATM Forum and the IETF. Internet Service Providers cooperate with each other, the NSF and ARPA and equipment vendors to provide ubiquitous connectivity.

The sum of these cooperative efforts is the worldwide Internet, which appears to each user as a seamless universal access network to global Internet resources.

Who gives out Internet addresses and Domain Names?
Addresses and names are managed by a central authority, the InterNIC, in order to ensure global uniqueness in the assignment of names and addresses.

The InterNIC can delegate portions of the address and name space to other international NICs and Internet Service Providers (ISP). Therefore, you may be registered for an address or domain name with the assistance of your ISP.

What is the Internet Society?
The Internet Society is the first professional society dedicated to those who build and manage the Internet and the services it carries.

How fast is the Internet growing (users)?
Various estimates peg the annual growth rate at from 100% to 200%.

Is all the content on the Internet free?
Much of the content of the Internet is free, but that is changing very rapidly as encryption and accounting technology is applied to the problem of exchanging the credit and debit information of Internet commerce safely and securely.

The technology for electronic commerce is well developed, but it will take time for new fee-based services to develop.

Can I make telephone calls on the Internet?
Yes, but the sophistication of the service is more like the early telephone services of the 1880's than of the telephone service of the 1990's. It is technically possible to place and receive telephone calls on the Internet today, but there are not yet any Internet-based directories and the performance of an Internet-based telephone call is more like that of a cellular call in a congested metropolitan area than the quality of a standard telephone call.

Does the Internet support voice and video?
Yes, in a variety of ways. The Web supports audio and video clips as well as text and images.

The Internet technology supports interactive voice and video conferencing, but Internet Service Providers typically either do not support general access to voice and video conferencing or they support a limited public voice/video conferencing system called the "MBONE", or Multicast BackBONE.

Key Terms

What is the World Wide Web (WWW)? What is a Home Page?
The World Wide Web is an Internet-based distributed system of information servers (sources) and information clients (subscribers). The Web provides a point-and-click interface to text, images, sound and movies that has proven to be powerfully intuitive and easy-to-use.

A home page is a Web document at the beginning of a set of Web documents, or pages, that comprise a single, distinct Web service. People advertise their web home page as the natural starting point for clients to browse their server. Any web server may have many home pages and web pages may be cross-linked in arbitrary ways, but home pages are the signposts of the World Wide Web and the directions that Internet users pass to each other to navigate the Web.

What is Internet access?
Internet access is a service provided by an Internet Service Provider (ISP) which allows a client to attach their local networks or even a single machine to the ISP's network, which is then in turn connected to the global Internet.

What is a newsgroup?
Newsgroups provide a free exchange of ideas, opinions and comments usually confined to a specific interest. Newsgroups are an invaluable source of information. You visit a newsgroup, read messages that provoke a response, post new messages when you want to propose a topic, and revisit when you want to see who responded.

Unlike e-mail, there is no mail involved with newsgroups. Most of the activity occurs while you are online, including reading and responding to messages. For this reason, most people find that newsgroups are more interactive and conversational than e-mail. There are more than 40,000 public newsgroups presently on the Internet.

What is an online service provider? Do they offer Internet access?
Online services are converging with Internet services. Some online service providers offer gateway services to the Internet without direct Internet access. Other online service providers are moving toward an Internet-oriented technology.

What is an Internet address? What is a domain name?
An Internet address is a unique number assigned to an Internet-attached computer that allows Internet routers to route data from anywhere in the Internet to any Internet-attached machine.

A domain name is a structured alphanumeric label separated by periods that allows Internet services to be represented by English names instead of hard-to-remember numeric addresses. The Domain Name System (DNS) is a distributed database that allows the Internet system of names to grow very large while being managed by an expanding base of service providers.

Domain names can represent IP addresses, electronic mail servers (the part of your e-mail address after the "@"), and aliases.

What are FTP, Telnet, Gopher and Mosaic?
These are Internet applications. The File Transfer Protocol (FTP) was originally developed to allow Internet users to share files across the Internet. Telnet was developed for terminals to access hosts across the Internet. Gopher (as in "GO FOR" information) was developed to provide an easy to use hierarchical menu/directory paradigm that is well suited for users of personal computers and workstations. Mosaic is the name of the first widely popular World Wide Web (WWW) browser. The WWW is a hypertext information system that provides a point-and-click interface to the Internet has proved to be as easy to use as the point-and-click graphical user interfaces of the Macintosh operating system, Microsoft Windows, and UNIX X-Windows System.

Another very important Internet application is Network News, also known as USENET news (after the USENET Unix association that manages the USENET newsgroup hierarchy) and sometimes known by its protocol, the Network News Transfer Protocol (NNTP).

The most popular current Internet application is electronic mail or e-mail, often referred to by its protocol, the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol, SMTP. You may also hear of the Post Office Protocol (POP) which is a mail transfer protocol particularly well suited to PC users. Many Internet users send their e-mail to their server using SMTP and retrieve their e-mail on demand using POP.

Advanced WWW browsers are able to communicate via FTP, Telnet, Gopher and HTML, providing a single seamless point-and-click interface to the Internet.

What is TCP/IP?
TCP/IP is actually two protocols, the Internet Protocol (IP) and the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP). IP is a simple, yet powerful, protocol that provides packet services for higher level transport protocols, one of which is TCP.

IP is a simple messaging protocol. Each packet contains the destination address so it can be independently routed across the Internet. The job of the Internet router is quite simple: examine the destination of each incoming packet and determine which of several output ports to use to send the message onward. From time to time, routers communicate with adjacent routers to discover the current state of paths in the network, maintaining a table of destination addresses as they relate to output ports.

The network is not required to reliably deliver every packet. The network may drop or discard packets when overloaded. Routers may fail, communication circuits may fail or become overloaded, and the network of remaining routers will adapt their routing tables to the faults and send packets around the faults if paths are available.

TCP is a more complex, Transport Layer protocol which uses the simple, unreliable IP protocol, adding flow control, loss detection and re-transmission, congestion avoidance and congestion control features that provide a reliable path for the transmission of packets from source to destination. The upper layer applications are assured of delivery with each packet properly ordered and with no packets missing.

The innovative combination of a simple, unreliable IP on a network of switches or routers with a suite of higher level protocols including TCP, provides a very flexible set of data transport protocols that can serve a very wide range of applications over a single network infrastructure.

Security Issues

Is the Internet secure?
On a broad level, the Internet itself is not very secure today. However, Internet access on an individual basis is as secure as each customer makes it. Customers need to implement security options such as encryption and firewalls to protect their data and internal networks.

What kinds of security is available to Internet users?
There are two major types of security available: firewall and encryption.

"Firewall" is a term that describes the security between the Internet, and a businesses' own internal network. Through a technology partnership with Sun Microsystems, South Plains Telephone Cooperative Internet Services includes as an option the premier firewall security product: firewall-1 security software.

Encryption refers to special coding (encryption) of data that travels over a network, so that it cannot be de-coded (read) by an unauthorized user. Through an OEM reseller license agreement with Netscape Communications, South Plains Telephone Cooperative Internet Services offers as a dedicated access option Netscape Navigator with its state-of-the-art message encryption.

Are there software viruses on the Internet?
Yes.

What will South Plains Telephone Cooperative Internet Services do to ensure these viruses aren't passed on to computers?
Computer viruses are usually proliferated by one of two methods: 1) Planting by unauthorized persons gaining access to client computers because of poor host level security. 2) Hidden in a seemingly harmless file that is transferred or copied and then is unleashed by executing a commonly used command.

South Plains Telephone Cooperative Internet Services will install only legitimate software obtained from valid sources on its servers and suggests that customers do the same. Also, stringent host-based security will protect our servers from unauthorized access, thereby protecting them from virus planting by hackers.

What precautions should be taken to prevent transmission of viruses to customer computers?
First and foremost, computers need to be configured with the most stringent host security available. Second, software from unknown sources should never be accepted, including software from electronic bulletin boards. Third, disks should never be read without first scanning them for viruses. Finally, various virus scanner programs are commercially available, and should be used frequently to scan for, and remove any viruses.

Can the Internet ever really be secure?
Yes, as the Internet matures, so will the concept of securing it. Since the Internet was derived from a "research" type of environment, there was little need for security because such communities felt compelled to share much of their knowledge and experiences.

How will the government police the Internet?
So far the U.S. government does not police the Internet, although there is discussion about how this might be accomplished. Current technology provides for monitoring data connections in a similar fashion to "tapping" a voice telephone line, however, the legality of this has not been decided.

As the Internet becomes more commercialized, the "trust model," that was once a fundamental part of the Internet will be replaced by a security model, in which encrypted communication will be embraced.

Trends

Isn't there a risk that the Internet is growing so fast that the network is becoming congested?
Since the Internet is funded from revenue from users and clients, Internet Service Providers have an increasing base of funds to acquire more bandwidth to support growth.

However, it is true that high growth strains the human capacity to plan and implement, so that from time to time ISPs do experience problems resulting from congestion due to growth.

Isn't the Internet running out of addresses?
Internet growth has been exponential for many years, showing a predictable point in the future that would exhaust resources such as router memory, address space and name space. The Internet Engineering community, through the work of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), has addressed this foreseeable problem through the Classless Inter Domain Routing (CIDR) work which makes the allocation of the address space more efficient, thereby extending the date when we will run out of addresses.

For the longer term, the IETF is hard at work on a new version of IP with a larger address space and other advanced features. The larger address space is designed to be compatible with the existing, smaller address space, but will provide much more room for future growth.

Is the Internet really ready for commerce (transactions, EDI, etc.)?
The Internet technology is ready for commerce, but the Internet community still has some lessons to learn about security and financial transactions. However, with a well-grounded understanding of the security issues and a well-developed plan and approach to Internet security, many of the risks related to the Internet can be avoided.

Isn't the Internet inherently unreliable and unstable? How could I possibly trust the Internet for important business activity?
The Internet is designed to continue to operate in the presence of failures of various kinds. This capability dates back to the original design goals of the earliest military packet switched networks, which were designed for data to flow around failures using redundancy in the network. Therefore, in a significant and important way, the Internet is more reliable than most other networks. In fact, the performance of the Internet during earthquakes and other natural disasters has led some researchers and public officials to examine new ways to use the Internet during times of disaster and widespread overloading of telephone networks.

Many of the world's largest financial institutions use Internet technology for their most important business activities. While this does not mean that one should bet one's business on the performance of any single network service, the Internet is an important and essential part of many businesses' complete strategy for telecommunications, product development, customer support and sales and marketing.

Isn't the Internet a threat to telephone companies?
The Internet is a threat to any company that fails to take advantage of the opportunity the Internet affords.

General Product Information

What is 56K?
The term 56K refers to a new generation of modems that improve the speed of communication between personal computers and the Internet. The previous speed standard provided communication at speeds as high as 33,600 bits per second (BPS). The new 56K modems increase that speed to a theoretical maximum of 57,600 BPS or 56K.

In the past, two different technologies emerged enabling 56K communication. They are K56flex and x2. In addition, there is a new, international standard for 56K data communications known as v.90.

In actual practice, the theoretical maximum speed is rarely achieved. See below for an explanation of the factors that can influence the speed that your computer connects at.

Why are there three standards?
x2 and K56flex are similar technologies that enable data speeds up to 56 Kbps. x2 was pioneered by U.S. Robotics, and K56flex was invented by Rockwell and Lucent.

v.90 is a new international standard which will replace x2 and K56flex as the standard for 56K data communication.

Do the three standards work interchangeably?
Unfortunately, no. The three standards require both ends of the communication link to be compatible with the standard. This means that the ISP’s dial-in servers and the subscriber’s modem need to have the same standard, whether it be K56flex, x2, or v.90. Generally, none of the standards are interchangeable. If the ISP has K56flex and the subscriber has x2, communication at 56K speed is not possible.

Recently, some modem manufacturers have been selling x2 and K56flex modems with the promise of a free or for-a-fee upgrade to the universal v.90 standard when the software to upgrade the modem is available. Also, some v.90 modems may be backward-compatible with either one of the older standards – but not both!

If you have questions about whether your modem is compatible with or upgradable to any of the 56K standards, your modem manufacturer or computer dealer will know the answer – please contact them.

What is the v.90 standard I hear about in ads and in the media? How will South Plains Telephone Cooperative Internet Services implement it?
The modem industry has two competing, incompatible standards for 56K modem technology. They are K56flex and X2. An international standard has been developed for all 56K modems, called V.90. Because this is a new technology, it will require testing as it matures. South Plains Telephone Cooperative Internet Services is offering 56K internet access immediately with a combination of K56flex and V.90 technology.

Features, Capabilities and Requirements

Which standard is SPTC using?
SPTC supports the K56flex and the V.90 standard for our dial in numbers.
Is there a charge for 56K internet access?
56K access is included with your basic service at no extra charge.
If I have another 56K modem technology, can I still use South Plains Telephone Cooperative Internet Services?
Yes, most definitely. While we support V.90, you may connect at v.34 speeds (typically 21,600 - 33,600 BPS, depending on telephone line conditions).

JUNK E-MAIL (Commonly referred to as SPAM)

(Want to know why it's called "Spam"?)

While industry analysts are still trying to figure out how to make money on the Internet, the Spam artists think they've found the answer, and are busy churning out junk e-mail. So the bad news is that junk e-mail or Spam is a growing problem, but the good news is that the Internet community is rising to the challenge.


What To Do If You Get Spam

Here's the current Internet community "recommended" procedure for dealing with junk e-mail:

1. Don't Get Mad -- Get Even
Here are a couple of lists on what NOT to do.

2. Find Out Who To Complain To
It's a little tricky tracking down the culprit since much of the mail header information can be faked, but again, there are several excellent sites that can walk you through the process (and even connect you to some helpful tools). Unfortunately, it's usually not worth trying to complain to the guilty party, but you have a better chance of getting a response if you complain to their service provider (or their service provider's service provider).

3. How To Complain
Here's some help for finding the right person to complain to and some examples of effective complaints that don't degenerate into name calling (because we're above that, right?)

4. Good Luck!

What Can I Do To Prevent Spam?

If your e-mail software has filtering capability, use it! For example, Eudora and Pegasus software allows you to filter out known spam domain names. Netscape Navigator Version 4, which is supported by South Plains Telephone Cooperative Internet, also has this feature.

Posting to news groups makes it more likely you will receive junk e-mail since there are programs that scan the postings to collect e-mail addresses. But don't give up on participating, we suggest that in the name line you put:

userid@REMOVE_TO_REPLYsptc.net

This way, a human can correctly modify your address, but an automated process will just send it to an invalid address.

 

What Does South Plains Telephone Cooperative Internet Services Do About Spam?
If You Receive Spam From a South Plains Telephone Cooperative Internet Services Customer
South Plains Telephone Cooperative Internet Services will not tolerate any type of SPAMING

You may not use your account to send unsolicited bulk or commercial messages (Spam). This includes, but it not limited to, bulk mailing of commercial advertising, informational announcements, charity requests, petitions for signatures, and political or religious tracts. Such messages may only be sent to those who have explicitly requested it.

We aggressively investigate all complaints about South Plains Telephone Cooperative Internet Services customers who are violating this policy and will disconnect customers who violate this policy. Any complaints about South Plains Telephone Cooperative Internet Services customers should be directed to support@sptc.net.

If You Are a South Plains Telephone Cooperative Internet Services Customer and Receive Spam
Again, the most effective method of dealing with spam is to complain directly to the spammer's service provider. If you are having trouble deciphering the mail header and identifying the culprit, one suggestion is to post it to the news group news.admin.net-abuse.email and someone will usually be able to quickly help you. Unfortunately, our first priority is investigating complaints about our customers, so our ability to help you with deciphering is limited.

South Plains Telephone Cooperative Internet Services is now rejecting e-mail from service providers known to tolerate or support the distribution of unsolicited commercial e-mail (AKA rogue domains). Our list of Banned Domains is updated frequently based on complaints we receive from our customers. If you receive an unsolicited message from a domain which you believe should be added to our Banned Domains list, please send a copy of that message to support@sptc.net. Please be sure to include the complete headers on any message you forward to the Policy Department.

What Is The Future of Spam?

Four bills have been introduced in Congress which seek to restrict or regulate spam. You may read these bills at the following URLs:

ftp://ftp.loc.gov/pub/thomas/c105/h1748.ih.txt

 

ftp://ftp.loc.gov/pub/thomas/c105/s771.is.txt
ftp://ftp.loc.gov/pub/thomas/c105/s875.is.txt
ftp://ftp.loc.gov/pub/thomas/c105/h2368.ih.txt

The Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial E-mail (CAUCE) favors the Smith Bill. They present their analyses of all four bills at the following URL:

http://www.cauce.org/why.html

In addition, a member of the California Assembly has recently introduced a bill similar to the Smith Bill. Unfortunately, this proposal is not yet available online, but you can read an article about the proposal at the following URL:

http://www.news.com/News/Item/0,4,17579,00.html

South Plains Telephone Cooperative Internet Services has not yet adopted an official position on any of these legislative initiatives. However, we urge you to form your own opinion and write your representatives.

Much of this information was provided to me from unknown sources.   If this material belongs to you or someone you know, please let us know so we may recognize such individuals.

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