(c/o Scott B)

Snipped from:

In Threat to Internet's Clout Some Are Starting Alternatives

January 19, 2006; Page A1

More than a decade after the Internet became available for commercial use,
other countries and organizations are erecting rivals to it -- raising fears
that global interconnectivity will be diminished.

German computer engineers are building an alternative to the Internet to
make a political statement. A Dutch company has built one to make money.
China has created three suffixes in Chinese characters substituting for .com
and the like, resulting in Web sites and email addresses inaccessible to
users outside of China. The 22-nation Arab League has begun a similar system
using Arabic suffixes.

"The Internet is no longer the kind of thing where only six guys in the
world can build it," says Paul Vixie, 42 years old, a key architect of the
U.S.-supported Internet. "Now, you can write a couple of checks and get one
of your own." To bring attention to the deepening fault lines, Mr. Vixie
recently joined the German group's effort.

Alternatives to the Internet have been around since its beginning but none
gained much traction. Developing nations such as China didn't have the
infrastructure or know-how to build their own networks and users generally
didn't see any benefit from leaving the network that everyone else was on.

Now that is changing. As people come online in developing nations that don't
use Roman letters -- especially China with its 1.3 billion people --
alternatives can build critical mass. Unease with the U.S. government's
influence over a global resource, and in some cases antipathy toward the
Bush administration, also lie behind the trend.

"You've had some breakaway factions over the years, but they've had no
relevance," says Rodney Joffe, the chairman of UltraDNS, a Brisbane, Calif.,
company that provides Internet equipment and services for companies. "But
what's happened over the past year or so is the beginning of the
balkanization of the Internet."

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