You are correct as far as Nairobi and a few other sites are
concerned. There is a convention whereby the UN is authorized to be
its own PTT. Part of that convention limits the UN's PTT functions to
"UN traffic". However, there are many parts of this which are subject
to different interpretation and not all countries recognize it in the
same way. This is one of the central roadblocks of the fabled UN
However, as far as I know, this does come into play in most
countries. For example, only one FAO office, Rome, is connected to
the UN Network. And this is not used much, if at all, because no
other part of the FAO is connected.
From my experience, the reasons UN agencies use private lines and
proprietary networks are mostly those which have been stated: security
and privacy. But there is one more that I have not seen mentioned:
In the case of FAO, when setting up our e-mail network, speed and
reliability (as well as security) were major considerations, if for no
other reason than that FAO users would not adopt the system (and give
up fax and telex) unless it could be proven that no messages were lost
or long delayed. To ensure the requisite level of accountability, we
had to have control over the network. While things have improved
dramatically since we originally planned our network, this remains an
issue. Service providers in many parts of the world simply cannot
guarantee the level of service required (or percieved to be required)
by many agencies (as well as banks, energy companies, etc). And these
agencies for the most part are not prepared to identify and nurture
those local providers who might be in a position to provide what is
needed. It is too much work.
I can say that, for general Internet access (WWW), the FAO approach
has been to connect to local service providers, and this has been
quite successful. I have also been investigating various secure
Internet technologies, with the view of possibly having all FAO
connections go through the public 'Net. However, this is rather
complicated and there is some resistance to the idea.
At the end of the day, I support the views expressed by Don
Richardson and others: with the amount of money spent by the UN
system (and bilaterals) as a whole, it could easily have been possible
to establish an appropriate level of service through local service
providers in most countries, meanwhile giving local users the benefit
of a vastly improved (and partially subsidized) Internet service.
This can still happen and I do see signs that things may be moving in
that direction. Discussions like these definitely help.
From: Ben Parker[SMTP:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: 07 April 1997 16:56
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Donor purchasing power assisting local ISPs & security
Correct me if I am wrong, but I think one of the problems with the UN
sharing its facilities is as follows:
Where the UN runs its own facilities (eg its dish(es) in Nairobi), it
exercising its rights under the ITU ?50? convention, under which it
entitled to establish and use its own communications network just like
national telco. The degree to which it is legally allowed to share
resources with others outside the UN is open to interpretation. The UN
helped out quietly in a number of places, but in a regulatory
and setup like Kenya's, it can be fraught with problems...
If the UN is paying market prices from a local service provider, then
would be another matter, I suppose.
On Fri, 4 Apr 1997, Dr Eberhard W Lisse wrote:
> Why can't they plug into the UN lines going into Nairobi and Addis?