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'All experience of CMU will be shared'

Published : May 27, 2000 00:00 IST

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T+T-

Excerpts from an e-mail interview given to R. Ramachandran by Dr. V.S. Arunachalam, former Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister and currently Professor at the Department of Engineering and Public Policy, Carnegie Mellon University.

Is the phrase "transfer of technologies" meant to imply that IUNet will be in a position to transfer not only the know-how but the "know-why" as well; in case of software solutions, will the Indian promoters/educational institutions have access to the source code?

Of course. We hope to involve Indian designers in every part of the design of the network. All experience of Carnegie Mellon will be shared. Initially to start the Universal Digital Library for India, Carnegie Mellon offered to provide all facilities inc luding computers, software, and scanners, to the Department of Electronics (now Ministry of Information Technology), when a delegation visited CMU last year. In fact, this has been included in the MoU signed between CMU and DoE. Some scanners were also g iven to the visiting delegation for its members to initiate preliminary work. Other software programmes for educational applications and language translation will be shared with genuine academic users. Some of these have already taken place. The networki ng tools will be shared with the Indian partners. Having said this, there will be areas of technology whose source codes (from technology providers) might not be available to Carnegie Mellon, and these, of course, cannot be shared. The network will use o pen standards and non-proprietary protocols to the extent possible.

Besides valuation of hardware that will be sourced and supplied by IUNet, is there a valuation on intangibles as well, like cost of services rendered, which would be adjusted against IUNet's equity? What is the estimated valuation on the DTS' 10,000 k m "dark" fibre backbone which will be adjusted as DTS' equity in Sankhya Vahini?

There is no equity valuation of any intangibles or services. The valuation of the dark fibre will be carried out by an Indian professional appointed by DTS.

What is the expertise of GUNet/IUNet, as a commercial company distinct from CMU, in setting up and operating HSDNs (high-speed data networks) in the United States or elsewhere? By tying up with IUNet, are the Indian partners gaining access to technolo gies that a commercial company like AT&T is not able to offer? Why is GUNet not there in the proposed British network, which according to you is being set up by MIT, or the Chinese 2.5 Gbps and the DWDM 40 Gbps networks, which apparently is being set up by AT&T? Are the terms on which these have been agreed to different from the IUNet-DoT agreement?

IUNet brings with it CMU's vast experience in networking, especially for high-speed gigabit networking (see box). The collaboration of MIT with the United Kingdom was not for a data network, but to "develop technologies, products and companies to improve productivity and competitiveness of British manufacturing industries." For this, the U.K. Government is paying $108 million, plus $27 million it will raise from U.K. industries. In fact, the Britain is interested in paying for MIT and its faculty's expe rience and I understand that MIT did not have to specify in detail every bit of technology or experience it would be transferring to the British! The British went by MIT's acceptance of their invitation.

Unfortunately, for a variety of proprietary reasons, we are unable to offer comments on China's voice-centric communications infrastructure or their performance to date.

(This story was published in the print edition of Frontline magazine dated May 27, 2000.)

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