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From: Steven G Huter
Date: Thu, 8 Dec 1994 09:46:59 -0800
WHITE PAPER ON ESTONIAN DATA NETWORKING
Tallinn, February 11, 1994
The aim of this paper is to give a short overview of present situation
in data networking, describe the EENet project, its operating
environment, and future projects together with possibilities to
integrate with European projects and initiatives.
Widespread networking started in Estonia in the beginning of 1990s.
First satellite connections from Tallinn and Tartu to Stockholm were
established in March 1992. Terrestrial leased line connections from
Tallinn to Helsinki followed in the end of May 1992. Tartu-Tallinn
link was established in 1993. This was followed by rapid development
of local infrastructure and today the network has over 400 permanently
connected machines. Several hundred sites use dial-up electronic mail
connections. Estonia also acts as an East-West gateway by linking
Nordic countries with Latvia and Russia.
Wide spectrum of network users has created a situation whereby
electronic transmission of documents and distribution of information
is becoming commonplace within the academic, government and business
communities. More and more users demanding complex solutions,
interconnection of LANs, MAN and WAN services, and public services
accessible via the network structure. INTERNET access is the most
widespread but not the only service available.
SERVICES AND STRUCTURES AVAILABLE IN ESTONIA INCLUDE
* EENet, the main academic network built around leased lines
physical network, campus networks and using TPC/IP protocol suite.
It provides access to INTERNET currently via two channels, 64 kbps
Tallinn-Helsinki connection and 64 kbps Tallinn-Stockholm
satellite link. Latvia is also linked to INTERNET via 64kbps
Tallinn-Riga link. User base consists mainly universities,
research facilities, government offices, banks and SME's.
* X.25, provided by ESTPAK, a subsidiary of Estonian Telephone
Company. International services are offered via Finnish Telebox.
The service is used by about 100 users including banks and big
enterprises for international traffic and access to commercial
databases like TELERATE, etc.
* SPRINT offers its services using INMARSAT terminals via an
Estonian company Mainor-ELT. They have two nodes in Estonia, in
Tallinn and Tartu.
* FIDONET, consisting of roughly 30 active BBSes in Estonia with
hundreds of users scattered around Estonia. International access
is provided by a node in Tallinn.
* EsPIE-Net is a fully commercial network provider offering X.400
services with international TELEX and FAX gateways. It has
connectivity to EUnet and Relcom in Russia.
* BANet is a cross border initiative offering network services
mostly within CIS countries.
EEnet was instituted in 1993 by the Estonian Ministry for Culture and
Education to manage and coordinate academic data networking. EENet
represents Estonian academic networking interests in international
community in addition of being responsible for developing the network
Up to now academic institutions have developed networking activities
on their own. This has served the purpose by developing local
infrastructure. The main boosting factor has been the availability of
international connections. Estonia has currently several international
links connecting the local academic network to Stockholm, Helsinki,
Riga and Moscow.
Now that these activities have acquired truly international character
a certain degree of coordination is needed. The Ministry of Culture
and Education has instituted a coordination committee involving
representatives from ministry, Tartu University, Tallinn Technical
University, Institute of Chemical Physics and Biophysic, Estionian
Biocentre, Institute of Cybernetics and Estonian Science Foundation.
Its main purpose is to create an independent organization to supervise
networking activities, to build and manage trunk connections between
institutions and to manage long distance and international computer
links, organize training, seminars and conferences, to disseminate
information about networking and available services, to extend these
to Estonian academic institutions, etc. This organization is called
EENet and it acts under the auspices of Ministry as a legal entity.
The Board of this organization includes representatives in addition to
the institutions listed above from the Informatics Council and the
PTT. The aim is to include everybody who has up to now participated in
building academic networks in Estonia and also to involve major users.
Financial support to EENet will be provided by the state budget and
Current projects of EENet are
* Providing INTERNET access to High Schools and creating student
support nodes at schools;
* Participation in joint projects under TEMPUS, PHARE, COPERNICUS,
and EUROMATH, TELESERV, ESATT, etc.;
* Participation in building the BALTBONE infrastructure linking
Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland together with the
NORDUNet Baltic Initiative;
* Establishment of BALTnet cross boarder network utilizing the
* Preparation of lecture courses for university students in Tartu.
Short term projects of EENet include
* Optimization and increasing of trunk/backbone topology and
capacity within Estonia;
* Desing and establishment of LANs in university campuses besides
Tartu University and Tallinn Technical University, where the
critical mass of local network has been exceeded;
* Establishment of public access nodes;
* Installation of information servers for Client/Server applications
(WWW, WAIS, Whois, Gopher, Veronica, X.500, etc.);
* Linking existing academic non-profit networks and commercial
networks with gateway services to provide wider access and
interoperability between research, business and industrial
Long term projects of EENet include
* Coordination and support in using standards accepted in EU
countries to facilitate easy integration with Europe (OSI,
* Research into new transmission technologies and integrated
solutions using multistandard/multitechnology access to broadband
networks (SDH, ATM, ISDN, B-ISDN, GSM, DECT, VSAT, etc.) to
provide flexible solutions in urban areas;
* Development of user friendly graphic interfaces and native
language access to databases and information servers;
* Integration of conventional data networking applications into
multimedia solutions utilizing broadband metropolitan telephone
and cable-TV networks.
NETWORKING ENVIRONMENT IN ESTONIA
Rapid advent of academic networking has created a situation whereby
the benefits of high speed electronic data transfer are becoming both
appealing and affordable to the business community, especially the
quickly developing world of SMEs. Automated management systems,
companywide interconnected LANs, terms like Telemarketing and
Telebanking are becoming commonplace also within the Estonian business
community. This has created a demand for public data networks and
access to international information structures. Most notable
developments in the area of meeting these demands are the major
restructuring of the Estonian PTT into a joint venture with Finland
(Telecom Finland) and Sweden (Telia Group) - Estonian Telephone
Company, and the launching of several private companies offering
networking services and access to international databases.
The other important area of network development involves government
structures and local governments. Estonian government has shown strong
support towards networking activities. The establishment of EENet
under auspices of Ministry of Culture and Education and providing it
with direct funding from the state budget is just one of the examples.
Major policy issues in networking are prepared by the National
Informatics Council, the Estonian Science Council and the National
Science and Education Council. These structures decide also many of
the funding issues for individual projects. Estonia has also created a
certification mechanism for computer equipment vendors supplying
equipment for bigger projects. The state is also supporting major
networking infrastructure development projects linking local
governments with digital trunk lines, and establishment of relevant
information management systems. Another important project involves a
distributed database management system for Estonian Customs and
Borderguard. These projects form an integral part of reform and
lawmaking process enabling Estonia to move towards a stable and
This process has increased considerably the interest towards joint
projects with European Union. Currently, the Commission is mainly
involved in PHARE/TEMPUS projects in Estonia. New projects are being
extended to Estonia under COPERNICUS (ESATT and TELESERVE). The
increase of projects supporting businesses and the reform process can
clearly be seen.
Such an increase in interaction between the EU and Estonia together
with other Baltic States is most welcome and will undoubtedly provide
a direct channel between respective business communities. This
exchange has to be accompanied by establishment of Business Advisory
Centres which can also serve as Business Communications Nodes. Once
set up and connected with local network, these can act as gateways
between the EU and the target country. Such centrescan also serve as
testbed for new Value Added Services, facilitating better connections
between states. Direct connections to the EMPB would be advisable in
countries with rapidly developing local networking infrastructure like
the Baltic States. Estonia is currently establishing 2Mbps and wider
metropolitan backbone structures for commercial networks. First pilot
project to link commercial banks with 2Mbps backbone was launched in
June 1993. This project is now in its second phase, introducing the
EDI/EDIFACT and preparing necessary software for banking applications.
This project is supported by Bank of Estonia.
The next important issue is using Business Communications Nodes to
establish R&D programmes to support common interface development for
accessing and sharing information with Pan-European networks. Projects
like this should make good use of the existing initiatives as set out
in the 4th Framework Programme for period 1994-98 and integrate local
Major restructuring and overhaul of the PTT will also affect the data
networks and solutions for specific applications. Most notable changes
will be the introduction of fibre-optic cabling, digital switching and
public ISDN basic rate access to large number of customers. Adherence
to common European standards will be of extreme importance in
introducing these news services. First ISDN subscribers will be
connected in March 1994.
EENet contact addresses:
Director: Enok Sein
Republic of Estonia
Phone: +372 34 33635
Fax: +372 34 35430
Board: Tiit Laasberg
Ministry of Culture and Education
Republic of Estonia
Phone: +372 2 682898
Fax: +372 6 311213