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An overview Of East And Central European Networking Activities

Publication date:
27 Apr 1992
  • M.Sterba
PDF (89.1 KB)

1. Introduction

This paper is based on work of the RIPE Connectivity WorkingGroup. It summarises the main issues of international connectivity of East and Central European countries (ECE). It is based on reports and
information gathered by network representatives of these countries,
who have been present at the meetings or contacted on other occasions.

Thanks are due to all those who helped us to gather the
information. Some countries however, are not represented in this
report, due to lack of information. Please contact the author if you
have amendments or suggestions.

This report contains lists of people who are responsible for
international networking in each of their countries and a map of the
current situation in IP networking in the those countries. The map
doesn't show all existing international lines of those countries but
it seeks to be complete for IP lines and other leased lines without
usage restrictions for the academic and research communities.

This report has been written by Milan Sterba
<[email protected]> and it does not necessarily reflect the
opinions of the authors of the national reports nor those of the RIPE

2. Present situation - External networking

This chapter gives as detailed as possible description of the
various network activities in the East and Central European countries.
The sections for particular countries will be subject to regular
amendments or changes.

Considerable progress has been made during the last year in IP
connectivity of ECE countries. Poland has today, several hundreds of
connected hosts, the most advanced ECE country with respect to IP

Czechoslovakia and Hungary have several tens of connected hosts
each, and all other ECE countries have realistic plans to achieve IP
connectivity in 1992.

All three countries have rapidly judged the initial capacity of
their international lines as insufficient and sought to upgrade their
existing lines and set up reasonable backup solutions. Inter-
networking is rapidly spreading and good IP connectivity is
considered as the first priority by the national academic network
organisations (Appendix B).

In 1992 the Baltic republics have also achieved IP connectivity
through NORDUnet. We can expect during 1992 some of the former Soviet
Union republics, Bulgaria and possibly Romania, to achieve some kind
of IP connectivity, at least to Europe.

All the countries considered have at the present time some (often
more than one) connection to international networks. Certain countries
have only a dial-up e-mail connectivity, others have low speed
leased lines. The present state of international leased lines to ECE
countries is represented on the map in Appendix A.

RIPE broadly contributes to this rapid evolution by technical
advice and by coordination efforts.

2.1 Albania

Curently an electronic mail connection exists between the
University of Tirana and the Internet. The gateway and relay function
resides at CNUCE, Pisa, Italy.

Contact Persons:

Maksim Raco <[email protected]> - University of Tirana
Francesco Gennai <[email protected]>- CNUCE, Pisa, Italy

2.2 Estonia

Estonia works in close co-operation with NORDUnet in setting up
external IP links. Currently a 64 kbits/s IP satellite link is
operational between Tallin and Helsinki (Finland), and between Tartu
and Helsinki. These will eventually connect the planned Baltic
backbone network (BaltNet) to the rest of the Internet.

Contact persons:

Ants Work <[email protected]> - Institute of Cybernetics, Tallin

2.3 Latvia

A dial-up EUnet connection exists between Riga and Helsinki
(Finland). A 64 kbit/s IP satellite link between Riga and Helsinki
(Finland) is planned for later this year. This link will eventually
connect to the planned Baltic backbone network (BaltNet).

Contact persons:

Sergei Rotanov <[email protected]> - Institute of Electronics
Riga Sergeijs Dmitrijevs <dmit%[email protected]>
- candidate for Latvian EUnet backbone (now RELCOM Riga)

2.4 Lithuania

A dial-up EUnet connection exists between Vilnius and Helsinki
(Finland). A 9.6 kbit/s X.25 link, used for X.400 electronic mail and
sponsored by Norwegian Telecom, exists between Vilnius and Oslo

Contact persons:

Laimutis Telksnys <[email protected]>
- Institute for Mathematics, Vilnius

2.5 Bulgaria

A dial-up connection over X.25 connects the Bulgarian EARN node
in Sofia to Linz (Austria). A dial-up connection over public X.25
connects the Bulgarian EUnet via the backbone node in Varna to the
Internet via the EUnet node in Heraklion (Greece). Co-ordination
between both projects, resulting in a shared fixed IP connection, is
under study.

Contact persons:

Daniel Kalchev <[email protected]> - EUnet backbone manager BG,
contact for BG. top level domain

2.6 Commonwealth of Independent States.

Dial-up connections between Helsinki (Finland) and Amsterdam
(Netherlands) on the one hand, and Moscow on the other hand connect
the Relcom network in Russia and a few other former USSR republics to
the Internet. Currently the services consist of electronic mail and
Network News. A 9.6 kbit/s leased line from Moscow to Copenhagen
(Denmark) connects the EARN nodes in the CIS to the EARN/BITNET
network. A 4.8 kbit/s leased line between Moscow and DESY, Hamburg
(Germany), supporting IP, delivers HEPnet services to two research
institutes in Moscow. Low speed links between Moscow and ESOC
(Germany) and CNES (France) serve the space physics community.

Contact persons:

Dima Volodin <[email protected]> - EUnet backbone manager SU
Misha Popov <[email protected]> - EUnet - RELCOM
Nickolay M.Saukh <[email protected]> - EUnet - RELCOM
Valery Bardin <[email protected]> - EUnet - RELCOM
Andrej Mendkovich <[email protected]> - CIS EARN director
Igor Sviridov <sia%[email protected]>
- EUnet - Ukraine contact.

2.7 Czechoslovakia

A 19.2 kbit/s IP link between Prague and Linz (Austria) is
operational today. The line is multiplexed and carries EARN and
general IP services. An upgrade till 64 kbit/s is foreseen for June
1992. A second link, 9.6 kbit/s IP between Bratislava and Vienna
(Austria), is shared between EUnet traffic and general IP traffic.
Both links connect into the upcoming academic backbone network,

Contact persons:

Jan Gruntorad <[email protected]> - EARN director for Czechoslovakia
and FESNET coordinator
Ivo Smejkal <[email protected]> - FESNET and CS NIC
Pavel Rosendorf <[email protected]> - contact for .CS top level domain
Jiri Orsag <[email protected]> - contact for .CS top level domain
and EUnet Prague
Peter Pronay <[email protected]> - president of EUnet Czechoslovakia
Gejza Buechler <[email protected]> - EUnet backbone manager CS
Vladimir Kassa <[email protected]> - SANET (Slovak Academ. Netw. Org.)
Jaroslav Bobovsky <[email protected]> - SANET
Milan Sterba <[email protected]> - author of this report, FESNET

2.7 Hungary

Hungary is connected to EARN by a 9.6 kbit/s IP line between
Budapest and Linz (Austria). For the time being the same line is
used also for the Internet and EUnet connection. It is planned to
upgrade this line to 64 kbit/s in 1992. The High Energy Physics
community has access to HEPnet services via a 9.6 kbit/s leased line
between Budapest and CERN, Geneva (Switzerland) which is now running

Contact persons:

Nandor Horvath <[email protected]> - EUnet backbone manager,
domain contact for HU
Laszlo Zombory <[email protected]> - EARN president,
chairman of HUNINET
Laszlo Csaba <[email protected]> - EARN director for Hungary
Istvan Tetenyi <[email protected]> - EARN deputy director
Peter Bakonyi <[email protected]> - President of IIF Exec Com.
Geza Turchanyi <[email protected]> - HUNGARNET CRIP
Piroska Giese <[email protected]> - HEPnet
Ferenc Telbisz <[email protected]> - HEPnet

2.8 Poland

The main external connection consists of a 64 kbit/s satellite
link between Warsaw and Stockholm (Sweden). The link is an IP one and
carries all Internet, EARN and EUnet traffic. Another 9.6 kbit/s IP
connection is in place between Krakow and CERN, Geneva (Switzerland)
for HEPnet services.

Contact persons:

Tomasz Hofmokl <[email protected]> - EARN director for Poland
Rafal Pietrak <[email protected]> - Warsaw - Copenhagen
Krzystof Heller<[email protected]> - contact for PL domain
Daniel J.Bem <[email protected]> - Polish academic network (NASK)
Jerzy Gorazinski <[email protected]> - Polish State Committee for
Scientific Research

2.9 Romania

Romania doesn't have any international connectivity yet. A 9.6
kbit/s leased line will be put in before June 1992 between Bucarest
and Linz (Austria). This line will be able to carry both IP and
EARN/NJE/BSC traffic.

Contact persons:

Florin Paunescu <[email protected]> - National Council for Informatics

2.10 Slovenia

Slovenia is connected over a 64 kbit/s IXI access point in
Ljubljana to the IXI backbone. Over this connection an IP link via
NIKHEF, Amsterdam (Netherlands) provides Internet connectivity. A
PSDN X25 connection connects the main EUnet node in Ljubljana to
EUnet. Another IXI access point, also located in Ljubljana, connects
Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina to IXI over the YUPAK PPSDN.

Contact persons:

Leon Mlakar <[email protected]> - EUnet backbone manager YU
Borka Jerman-Blazic <[email protected]> - YUNAC
Marko Bonac <[email protected]> - ARNES Executive Director
Denis Trcek <[email protected]> - ARNES

2.11 Serbia and Montenegro

Serbia has a 9.6 kbit/s leased line between Beograd and Linz to
carry EARN traffic. This line should also carry TCP/IP over SNA.

Contact persons:

Jagos Puric <[email protected]> - EARN director for YU

3. Present situation - Internal networking

While the situation may seem to be quite similar with regard to
international connectivity, there are major differences in the
national capacity of the networks and in the number of nodes.

Currently Serbia and Slovenia have achieved a good degree of
capillarity of their national networks due to the existence of a wide
spread public X25 network.

In Bulgaria several tens of EUnet sites are connected over
dial-up links to the national EUnet backbone. A public X25 service is
available to a limited extent. EARN services have been opened
recently at Sophia University but no gateway exists between the two
services yet.

In the CIS a considerable effort undertaken by the RELKOM
networking organization has brought e-mail connectivity to several
thousands of sites all over the former USSR. The growth of the
network is several 100% a year. RELKOM operates now an IP backbone
which goes from St. Petersburg to Novosibirsk. The whole network
has some 60 regional centres, some of which connect more than 500
sites. All RELKOM's international traffic transits to the world over
the Finish EUnet backbone, which operates as a gateway on application
level. The rapidly growing volume of international mail traffic makes
the need for a medium speed IP channel to Europe an urgency.

Recently the first EARN node started its operation in Moscow and
rapid spreading of EARN services can be expected. Negotiations are
underway to set up an e-mail gateway between both networks.

Hungary has a good operational public X25 network which is the
base of Wide Area Networking between small and medium sized sites.
Currently there are about 250 X.25 access points in the country. A
high speed leased line backbone is foreseen for connecting large sites
in the near future.

In Czechoslovakia and Poland public X25 services are only
starting and the main towns should be connected in 1992. Thus
connections at national level can only be implemented on switched or
leased lines. Both countries already have an infrastructure of leased
lines, shared between EARN and IP traffic. International as well as
national leased lines can normally be used at rates up to 19.2
kbit/s. Higher speed lines are occasionally available.

Both countries have good coordination in national academic
networking with clear plans to substantially extend IP connectivity
over their territories in 1992 using 64 kbit/s lines on their national
backbones wherever possible and economically viable.

Romania has no internal networking infrastructure at all. A
government project of building a public X25 network is under
commercial negotiations and should start to offer some services in
early 1993.

4. Evolution

All the ECE countries are very interested in European as well as
world wide IP connectivity. In Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Poland
there has been rapid growth of connected IP networks and hosts in the
academic community. Their existing international leased lines
infrastructure is now shared by EARN, EUnet and raw IP services. Linz
University (Austria) has becomme an important concentrating point
for Czechoslovakia, Hungary and in the future for Bulgaria and

The financial resources dedicated to networking in these
countries are quite limited. The sharing of the existing national and
international leased lines between EARN and IP traffic is thus a very
important issue. The technical aspects of this problem have been
extensively tackled at the 9th RIPE meeting and cheap short term
solutions avoiding the necessity of using relatively expensive
dedicated IP routers are now under operation, as are further study and

By the end of this year the Prague-Linz, Budapest-Linz IP links
at least will be operating at 64 kbit/s. It is probable that new IP
lines will be operational at this time (Bucarest-Linz, Sophia-Linz,

In the same time the national infrastructure of the countries
will also evolve. We can expect an increase in national coverage in
countries with working public X25 networks and in Czechoslovakia and

5. International Initiatives

Several international support initiatives have been launched in
the past by different bodies to improve international network
connectivity of the Central and Eastern European coun tries. The
following list presents some of them :

An EEC PHARE project is dedicated to extend the COSINE IXI
project to Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland and Romania.
This project suggests placing a 64 kbit/s link running X25 to each
country starting from the IXI backbone or to a network already con-
nected to IXI. This national access point should provide OSI as well
as IP services. Support should be given also to provide for internal OSI and IP services within each country over an X25
infrastructure. The primary goal of the project (improve regional A&R
computer communications) is very laudable, but the imposed technical
realisation should take into account the actual needs of the countries
as expressed in their national academic network plans and the
European A&R networking experience. Otherwise the important finan-
cial sums engaged (2.5 Mecu) risk dominating technically sound

Austria is a real candidate for a major relay point between ECE
countries and Western Europe (and further). The Austrian government
is aware of this and supports certain international connections to
these countries (e.g. the connection between Bratislava and Tech-
nical University of Viena). In February 1992 ACONET has made an even
larger proposal, offering these countries (Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia,
Hungary and Poland) double connectivity to both Vienna and Linz.
Each of these countries should have one link to both places, thus
permitting line backup. The Linz-CERN line should be replaced by a
Linz-Amsterdam line and both Austrian lines should be upgraded in
order to accomodate traffic increase from these countries and offer a
real backed-up connectivity to EBONE 92. With relation to the Ebone
92 initiative the idea of setting up an EBS for ECE countries in
Austria is well justified.

CERN plays also an important role in the IP connectivity of the
new countries. It houses actually a 9.6 kbit/s line from Krakow and
another HEPnet 9.6 kbit/s line from Budapest. Due to lack of
resources CERN prefers not to house a lot of low rate lines from every
country but rather to house a higher rate line concentrating traffic
from several countries. This is in fact in perfect conformance with
the ACONET proposal.

The German DFN network has launched several regional initiatives
to connect sites in geographical proximity of Germany (e.g.
Dreilaendereck project connecting Liberec in Czechoslovakia, Wroclaw
in Poland and Zittau in Germany using leased links based on X25 with
further connectivity to DFN). There is also strong cooperation of the
Slovanian academic network with DFN within the scope of the COSINE

The Italian government has financed in 1990 and 1992 successfull
network workshops (NetSchool) to which about 50 network specialists
from ECE countries have attended. A second extended edition of
NetSchool has taken place in April 1992 with participation of network
specialists from RIPE and attendees from ECE countries, some South
American, Asian and African countries.

A similar event has been organized by NORDUnet for network users
and operators from the Baltic states.

The French government has expressed its willingness to help the
integration of new countries to the world of academic networking by
launching in co-operation with INRIA a project called Copernique,
which aims to improve network connectivity of several Eastern Euro-
pean Countries. One of the first result sof this project has been the
co-operation on design and implementation of an academic IP backbone
FESnet (Prague - Brno - Bratislava ... Banska Bystrica - Kosice) in
Czechoslovakia. The project consists of network management and
administration know-how transfer, common development of tools and some
software and hardware donations. A similar activity is now starting
with Romania.

IBM is also present in these countries with its academic
initiative in which IBM mainframes have been offered to
Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Poland. IBM and EASInet act also as
sponsors for the T1 US link usage for academic networks in
Czechoslovakia and Hungary.

The assistance of countries with developed networking shouldn't
be uniquely oriented to basic network connectivity. A lot of work is
to be done in the ECE countries to offer and improve higher level
network services like e-mail, teleconferencing, archive services, on-
line databases and library catalogues etc., as well as in basic
network concepts, user information services and advanced networking
know-how transfer. Lack of funds is extremely disadvantegeous and the
exchange rates make it very difficult for ECE network experts to
attend international network events

6. Technical issues

As already mentioned, distributing international network access
over the local territory is a major problem for the countries
considered. While it is relatively easy and cheap to set up a local
TCP/IP network it is more difficult to connect it to the national
access point. Generic router solutions are rather expensive on one
side and not completely free of administrative exportation problems
for all countries involved.

The solution to these problems are software routers based on PC's
or workstations and public domain or easily available software.

A low cost capillarity of networks being of great importance to
ECE countries, good dial-up IP solutions both industrial and public
domain, which are under study and evaluation in EUnet, RIPE,
Copernique, NetSchool and others, are of great interest as well as low
cost IP solutions on synchronous lines (X25 or PPP)

The international connectivity possibilities seem to be
technically limited to 64 kbit/s for most of the countries in 1992,
but important investments are being made with important international
help to improve this situation.

7. Organizational issues

The starting period in international networking is often
characterized by a fuzziness in the organizational structure together
with a lack of information about the people actually responsible and
working in the area. The situation is nearly stabilized in
Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Poland, where national academic networking
groups have been founded and are coordinated with EARN/EUnet
activities, and a coordinated effort tends to build nation wide
multiprotocol academic network infrastructures. A similar effort is
underway in Bulgaria (UNIKOM, EARN and EUnet Bulgaria). Due to
current RARE membership and country representation regulations these
fully empowered organizations are unfortunately not well represented
in RARE if represented at all.

RIPE has acted as an initiator of a common coordination effort of
academic networking organizations in Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary
and Poland. A first co-ordination meeting has been held in Prague in
february 1992. A memorandum has been published as a first result of
this co-operation (Appendix B)

EARN as well as EUnet are active in all of the countries

The Baltic states are coordinated within the BaltNet body which
plans to build a backbone connecting Baltic states with NORDUnet. A
LISTSERV mailing list exists for this purpose ([email protected]).

In Czechoslovakia a federal body responsible for academic
networking has been founded (FESnet). It has a Czech and a Slovak part
(SANET) and EARN as well as EUnet, universities as well as the Academy
of Sciences are represented.

In Hungary a national program under the title "R&D Information
Infrastructure Program (IIF)" is responsible for the research net-
working. The "HUNGARNET" co-ordinates the networking activities of
different user groups, such as "HUNINET" (Universities and high
schools), "AKANET" (academic research institutes), and the user
group of public collections (libraries, museums), meanwhile part of
the funding goes through IIF.

The Polish network is coordinated by an organization called NASK
(National Academic and Research Network) which also includes the
Polish part of EARN.

In Romania the emerging networking activities seem to be
coordinated by the National Council for Informatics and the Institute
of Informatics.

Yugoslavian academic networking activities have been coordinated
by the National Academic Networking Organization YUNAC. Beside this
both EARN and EUnet are present in Slovenia and Serbia. YUNAC is now
applying for international membership in RARE and works to reorganize
itself in a NORDUnet-like way. In Slovenia the Academic and Research
Network of Slovenia (ARNES) is coordinating network activities.


On February 14, 1992 representatives of national R&D networking
initiatives from Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Poland met in
Prague to discuss the possibilities of cooperation and coordination in
the area of R&D networking at a Eastern and Central European scale.
Major academic network initiatives from each country have been repre-

The meeting has also been attended by network specialists from
other countries and numerous national and international network
initiatives (NSF, RIPE, ACOnet, DFN). The full list of participants
is given in the attachment.

The representatives from Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and
Poland have agreed on the following memorandum.

Memorandum on cooperation in R&D networking

version 1

On February 14, 1992 representatives of national R&D networking
initiatives from Bulgaria (UNIKOM), Czechoslovakia (FESNET), Hungary
(HUNGARNET) and Poland (NASK) met in Prague and agreed on the following:

- they need and appreciate assistance which is and will be brought to
R&D networking in their countries and to their international
connectivity by numerous individuals, companies, national and
international networking organizations and other bodies;

- this assistance must suit the interest of R&D communities in their
countries as expressed by their national R&D network organizations
and expressed in their existing national R&D networking and
international connectivity projects;

- they express their willingness to cooperate on their network
strategies and international connectionsm, network education and
training programs, network management and administration and user
services among themselves and within the global network;

- they are willing to share the networking expertise accumulated in
existing international and national R&D networks in order to achieve
a high level of networking services as quickly as possible;

- the driving force in their efforts is user needs and they will be
guided in choosing the technology primarily according to those needs;

- they need as their first priority a high speed backed up and reliable
connectivity to Internet as soon as possible and they will use their
best efforts to achieve their goals;

- there is also a need on a country by country basis for OSI network
services and other network services.

List of participants of the Prague meeting

Austria - ACOnet
Wilfried Woeber <[email protected]> ACOnet
Guenther Schmittner <[email protected]> ACOnet - JKU Linz
Peter Rastl <[email protected]> ACOnet - Uni. Wien

Bulgaria - UNIKOM
Anton Velichkov <[email protected]> CICT Bul. Academy of Sciences
Rossiza Rangelova <[email protected]> CICT Bul. Academy of Sciences

Czechoslovakia - FESnet
Jan Gruntorad <[email protected]> Comp.Center Czech Technical University
Petr Kral <[email protected]> Comp.Center Czech Technical University
Pavel Vachek <[email protected]> Comp.Center Czech Technical University
Pavol Horvath <[email protected]> Comp.Center Slovak Technical
Jaroslav Bobovsky <[email protected]> Comp.Center Slovak Academy
of Sciences

Yves Devillers <[email protected]> INRIA
Milan Sterba <[email protected]> INRIA - RIPE

Germany - DFN
Peter Kaufmann <[email protected]> DFN Berlin
Hans Martin Adler <[email protected]> DFN Berlin
Dietmar Reichel <[email protected]> TU Zittau

Laszlo Csaba <[email protected]> HUEARN
Geza Turchanyi <[email protected]> CRIP
Balazs Markos <[email protected]> Acad.Comp.Infrastructure

Netherlands - RIPE
Rob Blokzijl <[email protected]> RIPE

Poland - NASK
Tomasz Hofmokl <[email protected]> Warsaw University
Andrzej Zienkiewicz <[email protected]> Warsaw University
Krzystof Heller <[email protected]> Jagellonian Univ. Krakow

Steven Goldstein <[email protected]> NSF

Petr Paleta PC World, Czechoslovakia
Petr Benes Communication Technics, CSFR