UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
This document answers some of the most frequently asked questions about the electronic mail services offered through CGNET. Topics discussed include the use and benefits of electronic mail, equipment and software needed to use the network, and details on how to connect to the CGNET from around the world.
1. WHAT IS THE CGNET? The "CGNET" is a communication "network" interconnecting a group of international research organizations via electronic mail and data communication. Access to the network is maintained and administered by a private company called CGNET Services International. The CGNET is a not a physical network, and uses no satellite links or land lines of its own. Rather, it relies on network facilities and services provided by various international telecommunication companies. For example, in the United States and the United Kingdom, CGNET utilizes the computer-based messaging system provided by Dialcom, Inc. In Hong Kong, Australia, and elsewhere, arrangements have been made with data communications companies to allow use of their services by members of the CGNET.
A group of internationally connected computers provides the backbone through which CGNET users communicate with each other. An individual with an account on one of these computers can send or receive information (electronic "mail") to or from any other individual using these computers. In addition to this basic data exchange, other information services are also available from the "mailbox computers."
CGNET Services itself conducts a range of activities relating to information technology. In addition to establishing and administering accounts for electronic mail users, CGNET Services also: (1) consults in the areas of international voice and data communication, local area networking, and hardware and software specification; (2) develops software applications, especially for data retrieval systems for large databases on CD-ROM; and (3) sells personal and multi-user computer systems, software, and peripherals, primarily to international clients.
The CGNET connects a group of international research centers, many of which are in isolated locations and without special expertise in computers and communications. To serve its clients, CGNET Services stays well-informed about new developments in software, hardware, and networking, and collects information about the lessons learned in the field by its clients. It disseminates this information to network members, to assist them when they plan or purchase new information technology.
2. HOW DOES ELECTRONIC MAIL WORK? Computer-based messaging systems like the CGNET are called "mailbox systems" because they provide a facility where computer users can deposit and pick up messages. Each CGNET member has an electronic mailbox (which is in fact a file on a large mainframe computer). Like a mailbox at an ordinary post office, any computer user can leave a message in the mailbox of another, and the message will remain there until the recipient picks it up. No one can remove mail from another user's mailbox. Unlike a physical mailbox, however, the recipient does not need to travel to the mailbox to pick it up. Instead, the recipient uses a computer to telephone the mailbox computer, and then transmit the mail over the telephone connection.
When a user connects to a mailbox system, he or she must supply a name and a password (rather like turning a mailbox key), for privacy. By issuing simple typed commands, a user can send a message, or copies of a message, to any number of other mailboxes at once. The mailbox computer electronically and automatically duplicates the message. Acknowledgements can be requested, so that the sender will know exactly when the recipient picked up the message. Messages can be also be sent to mailboxes on the university-based academic networks (such as EARN, BITNET, and the INTERNET), or to certain internal e-mail networks (such as those operated by IDRC and the World Bank). The user can also send messages by other means: as a telex, a fax, or a telegram, all at the same time as sending electronic mail. This last function is important, since it allows users to communicate with others who do not have access to an electronic mail service -- without having to own a telex and fax as well.
The mailbox computers which are used for the CGNET are located in the U.S. and the U.K. To connect with them, a user could phone the systems directly; but from most of the world, an international or long-distance telephone call would be quite expensive. In the last ten years, however, a specialized data communication network has been built. In more than 100 countries around the world, it is now possible to make a local phone call to connect to any of thousands of large computer systems-- including the CGNET mailbox computers. These data networks use sophisticated methods to provide very efficient and inexpensive international communications. These data networks are central to the workings of the CGNET.
3. WHO SHOULD USE THE SYSTEM? The CGNET community consists of organizations conducting research in developing countries, with a focus on international agricultural and natural resource research. CGNET service will benefit you if you or your organization communicate with any of the organizations listed in the CGNET Directory, or if you want to be more closely in touch with international development researchers. Also, if you need to communicate with researchers on the EARN, BITNET, or INTERNET networks, a CGNET account will give you access. You will also find the CGNET worthwhile if your organization has substantial internal telecommunications needs.
4. HOW DOES IT IMPROVE COMMUNICATIONS? Since electronic mail makes more efficient use of the communication medium than do conventional services (such as telex), use of electronic mail normally generates significant cost savings. Of course, the cost of the service, and the amount saved, depends upon the degree of usage.
CGNET Services can provide you with a more precise estimate of individual cost savings if you send us specific information regarding your communication patterns. The information needed for such an analysis includes the countries to which you regularly send telexes and cables, your current costs, and the type of communication and computer equipment you presently use. Some organizations which have undergone such a review and now use the CGNET report that they save several thousand dollars monthly.
Naturally, the benefits of faster, more reliable communication are not limited to monetary savings. For some users, electronic mail is the only feasible or reliable way to communicate with many of their developing country representatives. The effect of this link, on both the management of their work and on their morale, can be extremely important. Even in less remote locations, cheaper and more frequent communications can enhance coordination and lead to better and more timely decisions.
There are also substantial efficiencies to be gained from computer-based communications. Unlike telex and fax, e-mail messages arrive in "machine-readable" form, so they can be automatically filed, searched, and re-used on local computers or word processors. Likewise, documents that have already been entered on a computer or word processor can be immediately transmitted via the CGNET. Documents can be easily sent to multiple destinations, or passed on from one recipient to another. Not only can this save time, but it can also deepen the common understanding of members in a group-- especially when the group is spread over great distances.
5. HOW MUCH DOES IT COST? The primary charges for the electronic mail service are based on the length of time used and the amount of information sent and received on the network. CGNET usage is charged at rates between U.S. $6.00 and $9.00 per hour, depending on the time of day. In addition, U.S. $0.095 is charged for every thousand characters transferred to or from the system (approximately 20 cents per page).
CGNET users also pay for the data network which connects them to the CGNET computers. These charges vary depending on the country from which you call. Within the U.S., for example, U.S. $4.00-7.00 per hour is charged. From non-U.S. data networks, charges are generally in the range of U.S. $8.00-12.00 per hour plus U.S. $0.10-$0.30 per thousand characters. (Certain international services charge up to $50 per hour, with no additional charge per character. Connecting via Kenpac costs $44 per hour, or $0.74 per minute.) Depending on the network, these communication charges are either paid directly to the national telephone authority, or else they may be "reverse-charged," and put onto the CGNET bill.
Many additional services are available on the CGNET, and some of these carry additional charges. These services include telex, fax, and cablegram transmission, news clipping services, airline reservation information, and database services. These rates change frequently; they are listed on the full CGNET price list.
CGNET Services charges an administrative fee of U.S. $50.00 per month for each institution. In addition, there is a monthly fee of $5.00 for each mailbox a client uses. Clients may list as many directory entries as they wish, at no additional cost.
6. HOW WILL I LEARN TO USE THE CGNET? CGNET Services trains network participants in how to use the electronic mail system. First, user manuals are provided, and basic information about how to "log on" to the system is given by phone (or by fax or telex). Once "on" the computer, on-line "help" and tutorials are available, and questions can be sent as messages to CGNET services; replies are also sent over the network. Most users have been able to send and read messages the first time they logged on to the system.
Some locations in developing countries have particularly difficult communications problems. In these countries, where there is no national data network, and where the telephone service is poor, a visit by a CGNET Services consultant may be required. The consultant sets up technical and office procedures, and trains the users in how to use the system. Even in developed country locations, a visit from a consultant can accelerate the adoption and proper utilization of the network.
Many organizations choose at least one individual to become a "local expert" in CGNET use. As communications have become more common among personal computer users and in libraries, many organizations already have such a "local expert."
7. WHAT EQUIPMENT IS NEEDED? The simplest way to access the CGNET is to use a personal computer and a modem compatible with our country's domestic data communication services. The modem physically connects the computer to the telephone line.
In addition, the CGNET can be accessed by most mini- and mainframe computers. This can be set up quite similarly to personal computers. Alternatively, it can also use a special computer protocol (CCITT X.400) to provide a very efficient link between your organization's internal electronic mail and the CGNET.
Either type of computer needs a modem to connect the computer to a phone line. There are some differences between those used in North America and those used elsewhere. Also, if you are calling over a long distance to reach a computer network, you may need a better-than-average modem. Modems range in price from U.S. $100 to $700 or more. Your local computer dealer, or CGNET Services, can advise you on choice of a modem.
8. HOW DO I ACCESS THE CGNET? A number of different data networks can be used to provide the link between your computer and the CGNET mailbox computer. The choice depends on the country from which you call, and the amount of message traffic you expect to transmit. If you already use a computer and modem to access data bases, then the same account will probably also allow you to access the CGNET. CGNET Services will provide specific information upon request.
9. FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Ken Novak Network Manager CGNET Services International 1024 Hamilton Court Menlo Park, California 94025 USA Telephone: +1-415-325-3061 Telex: 4900005788 (CGN UI) Fax: +1-415-325-2313
PRIMARY CGNET CLIENTS:
ACIAR Australian Center for International Agricultural Research AIDAB Australian International Development Assistance Bureau Ag Canada Agriculture Canada Arkansas University of Arkansas AVRDC Asian Vegetable Research and Development Center CABI CAB International Carinet Carinet, Inc. CGIAR Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research CIAT Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical CICP Consortium for International Crop Protection CIH Center for International Health, McMaster University CIMMYT Centro International de Mejoramiento de Maiz y Trigo CIP Centro Internacional de la Papa Citibank Citibank International Services Cornell Cornell University CSIRO Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization Dalhousie Dalhousie University DGISN Netherlands, Ministry of Foreign Affairs FRI Food Research Institute at Stanford University Ford Ford Foundation Hawaii University of Hawaii IBPGR International Board for Plant Genetic Resources IBSNAT International Benchmark Sites Network for Agrotechnology Transfer IBSRAM International Board for Soil Research and Management ICIPE International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology ICLARM International Center for Living Aquatic Resources Management ICRAF International Council for Research in Agroforestry ICRISAT International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics IDRC International Development Research Centre IFDC International Fertilizer Development Center IFPRI International Food Policy Research Institute IIE Institute for International Education IIMI International Irrigation Management Institute IITA International Institute of Tropical Agriculture ILCA International Livestock Centre for Africa ILRAD International Laboratory for Research on Animal Diseases INTSORMIL International Sorghum and Millet Research Institute at the University of Nebraska IPPC Oregon State University IRRI International Rice Research Institute ISNAR International Service for National Agricultural Research NCRE National Cereals Research and Extension Project, Cameroon NIITA International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Ibadan NIFTAL Nitrogen Fixation by Tropical Agricultural Legumes Research Program at the University of Hawaii Nottingham University of Nottingham Purdue Purdue University Queensland Plant Pathology Bureau Rockefeller Rockefeller Foundation Rodale Rodale Institute SFIT Switzerland Federal Institute of Technology SIGMA-1 Sigma-1 Consulting SOILCON Soil Conservation Research Branch, Queensland TAC Technical Advisory Committee TROPSOILS TropSoils Research Program, North Carolina State University UPM Universiti Pertanian Malaysia USAID U.S. Agency for International Development, Science and Technology, Directorate for Food and Agriculture USDA U.S. Department of Agriculture, Data Base Unit WARDA West Africa Rice Development Association WAU.LIBRARY Wageningen Agricultural University Library (PUDOC) Winrock Winrock International World Bank International Bank for Reconstruction and Development
CGNET MISSION STATEMENT:
The mission of CGNET Services International (CSI) is to provide high quality products and technical support services to international research organizations in developing countries. As a Value-Added Reseller (VAR) and computer retailer, we focus on scientific organizations whose research aims at improving the quality of life in developing countries. By enabling rapid and reliable information exchange and by providing high quality equipment and software, we increase the effectiveness of the scientists, engineers, technicians, and administrators in the international community we serve.
In addition to exporting microcomputer hardware and software, we provide: (1) electronic mail, fax and telex data transfer services via our network, the CGNET; (2) consulting in the areas of international voice and data communication, local area networking, and hardware and software specification; and (3) software application development, especially data retrieval systems for large databases on CD-ROM.
CSI sells stand-alone and multiuser microcomputer systems; plotters, printers, modems and other peripherals; mass storage subsystems; power protection devices; general purpose software (word processors, spreadsheets, accounting packages, and database management systems); geographic information systems; and desktop publishing systems. We have provided consulting, software and/or hardware to clients in Australia, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Egypt, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mexico, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, the Philippines, Senegal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Togo, Turkey, United States, and Zimbabwe.
CGNET BASIC RATES- 1 DECEMBER 1990
All prices in U.S. dollars.
Monthly Account Fee 50.00 Monthly Mailbox Fee (per mailbox) 5.00 Monthly Storage (per 2048 char block) 0.40 Monthly Postal Supplemental Billing 5.00 Unread, Unfiled Messages Up to 15 Days 0.00 Read, Unfiled Messages Up to 5 Days 0.00
CONNECT CHARGES Prime Non-Prime
Dialcom (per hour) 9.00 6.00
International Dial-Up Network Communications (per minute)
Infonet 0.96 0.96 Mercury, Dialplus, IDAS 0.96 0.96 Tymusa, Tymnet GNS Varies by country
USA Dial-Up Network Communications (per hour)
Tymnet 7.00 6.00 Dialnet 7.00 6.00 Telenet 10.00 8.00
Data Traffic (per kilocharacter) 0.095 0.095
Dialcom Inter-system International Messages Per Kilocharacter 0.50 0.50 Per Acknowledgement
Internet Messages (BITNET, EARN, NETNORTH, etc.) Per Kilocharacter 0.50 0.50
XMAIL (telex, mailgram, fax, and cablegram messages) Registration, per user 5.00 Rates Varies by destination
Rates for other services, including X.400 Service, Data Bases, Bulletin Boards, Applications Programs, and Consulting available upon request.
A variety of international agricultural research centers located in
Africa are email accessible via CGNet. I don't know if there are any
CGNet subscribers in Natal, Durban. You can write to email@example.com
for more information.
Jay Rosenbloom Phone: 608-262-9421
Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison Fax: 608-262-4679
Madison Academic Computing Center,
1210 W. Dayton St., Madison, WI 53706
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