Netlink looks to the sky for news

Another independent ISP is looking at satellite for part of its international Internet bandwidth - but not for Web traffic. Netlink, which provides the Usenet newsfeed for most of the country's Internet users, is looking to the skies in search of cheaper bandwidth for the task.

Another independent ISP is looking at satellite for part of its international Internet bandwidth - but not for Web traffic.

Netlink, which has offices in Wellington and Auckland, is a commercial service owned by Victoria University and it carries out the job the university took on in 1986, of receiving and supplying the country's main Usenet newsfeed.

It is the newsfeed, says the company's general manager Stuart Wilson, which is up for satellite transmission. Wilson says Netlink's news customers, who include Xtra and Clear Net, don't appreciate the demands and costs providing the feed.

"About 90% of the Internet users in the country get their news from us and if I had my way, I'd say, well, we won't do it any more. Everyone has the attitude that it's free - but I've got to carry 256k of international bandwidth that isn't free. If somebody else wants the job they can have it."

Given that nobody else is putting a hand up, Netlink is keen to use satellite. But unlike the Internet Group, it will not route any Web traffic through the satellite link.

"It's not appropriate for the Web - we don't tolerate a round-trip performance of any more than 300 milliseconds - but putting your news feed on satellite and and letting it trickle away is a different matter."

Satellite isn't the only option Netlink, which claims to carry 120Gb of network traffic a month, is investgating.

"On the international side, we're looking at doing some interesting things," says Wilson. "We're just going through the hoops at the moment. getting realistic bandwidth from international carriers is difficult."

Meanwhile, the Iconz-KC-Iprolink ISP triumvirate in Auckland, which has already established a co-operative Internet exchange in the city, is now seeking alternative arrangements for international bandwidth.

"We're currently looking at getting our own overseas link to get away from the telcos," says KC's owner, David Dix. "But that's proving to be a reasonably complex exercise, simply because the telcos seem to have tied up most of the international circuits."

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