Annual Report 1998

UNEPnet / Mercure

Looking Ahead

The contract between UNEP and GRID-Arendal was signed just before Christmas 1997. This contract is based on a ten-year strategic perspective and contains guidelines and financial mechanisms for the next four years. The new director of the UIC, Harald Holt, started his work at GRID- Arendal on the first of April 1998, and met early with industrial partners SINTEF/RUNIT, NEWTECH, NERA, ESA and SWISSCOM for negotia- tions related to the future of the net- work and reporting relationships. All parties agreed to contribute towards a common goal: To improve the quality of the network. Improved quality of service has remained the primary objective for UNEPnet 1 in 1998. The objective has been that all stations will be brought into reliable operation, the suppliers should provide the necessary spare parts, and local network administra- tors are trained to operate the sys- tems. All stations except Almaty have been put into reliable operation. Spare parts have been ordered, and training has taken place.

A contract with RUNIT was signed early June 1998. RUNIT will operate and maintain the IP level in UNEPnet. RUNIT has finalised the build-up phase. New operational procedures and structures have also been devel- oped through a co-operation between UIC and SWISSCOM. Three vital documents have been developed during the last part of 1998. The first document is a cost-benefit analysis, which aims at finding an answer to the value of UNEPnet. The study was conducted by the Eurodata Foundation on behalf of UIC in close co-operation with UNEP, UNON, ESA and UIC. The results were encouraging, showing a potential benefit from full utilisation of UNEPnet, which clearly exceeds the cost of operation. The second document is a Business Plan for UNEPnet. This plan is a summary of financial, technical and policy considerations for UNEPnet viewed in a business context. The report concludes that UNEPnet represents a valuable asset for UNEP. The last report is a Technical Develop- ment Plan. This plan describes in detail the recommended development of the network in a 5-year perspective.

The major challenge for UNEPnet in 1999 is to develop the application of the network further. This is comprised of two main aspects. For the environmental applications, the main challenge is to help the UNEPnet sites develop and implement environmental applications on the network. A programme supported by the Swiss government is now being developed. This programme is ex- pected to run over a two-year period. The second challenge is to utilise the network for telecommunications applications mainly for traffic out of Nairobi. Examples of services, which have been tested and which are now being used more and more, are inter- continental video conferences and fax traffic. A five-year technical develop- ment plan has been created which outlines the development of new services, backbone technologies, and network access technologies.

Availability 1998



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