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Project Bosnia: Independent Media Server

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Trip Report Fall 1997
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PROJECT BOSNIA
BANJA LUKA TRIP REPORT
Wednesday, October 29, 1997  

Project Bosnia=s objective in Republika Srpska is to create an independent press Intranet, with eventual connection to the Federation Intranet, and ultimate connection to the Internet. This objective furthers the Project Bosnia=s visionCto develop an Internet-based legal information infrastructure for Bosnia, to promote the free flow of information to enhance a rule of law. After our Banja Luka trip on 28-30 October, we are confident an Intranet for the independent media and press can be established within several weeks.

The Banja Luka phase of Project Bosnia requires several steps. First, is transportation of the server. Second, is finding a resident location for the server. Installing, configuring and administering the server is the third step. The fourth step entails training the local press and media. The final step of the Republika Srpska press Intranet is connecting the server and Intranet to the Internet.

 

TRANSPORTATION_

The Sun Microsystems server will be shipped to Sarajevo either by APO to SFOR Captain Van Breemen, who offered us this option and agreed to receive it, or to Janet Garvey, USIS Mission Director via diplomatic pouch from Tom Leary. Charles Rudnick in the Sarajevo Central and East European Law Initiative (CEELI) office will work with USIS and SFOR to transport the server to Banja Luka. An alternative option would be to ship the server APO to a designated SFOR officer in Banja Luka. This option is still under review.

 

SERVER LOCATION_

After meeting with several different people in Banja Luka, all of whom offered to house the server, we concluded that the ideal location for the server is the International Press Club (IPC). The IPC was established by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) before the elections. The IPC is centrally located in Banja Luka and is easily accessible. All branchesof the media are welcome at the IPC---the written press, television and radio journalists. The Director of the IPC, Milos Solaja (Milos), indicated that a zero tolerance for bias exists. In fact, the Federation media and Turkish media have safely worked at the IPC in the past. The IPC obviously supports a free and independent press.

In addition to the political environment, the physical layout of the IPC is also ideal. The IPC has a main conference room, in addition to several other Aspecial rooms.@ Milos offered to house the server in either room, leaving it to our discretion. Although we didn=t see the Aspecial rooms@, one of them would be the best option. The main room is utilized mainly for press conferences and therefore the set up of a server and extra computer terminals may detract from any ongoing conferences. However, the main room can certainly be used for training purposes.

Most importantly, the IPC has the technological capability to house the server. The IPC has 70 phone lines available for dial-up access, which is more than adequate. A local call within Banja Luka is extremely economical which would serve the local press connection to an Intranet, and a 30 minute phone call to Belgrade would cost approximately 3.5 deutsche marks a minute.

One hesitation about the IPC is its embryonic existence and projected longevity. Milos was confident, however, that the IPC is a long-term institution as long as it is financially feasible to maintain.

 

INSTALLATION and MAINTENANCE

Several options exist for installing, configuring and administrating the Sun server in Banja Luka. We would either contract with a local student, the freeland representative of IRIS computer, or the university computer center.

Igor Loncarevic, an IRIS representative, forwarded a proposal on 4 November 1997 in response to our request at the conclusion of a meeting with him. His proposal includes 1) setting up the main Internet/Intranet server at the IPC; 2) setting up a router at the IPC; and 3) setting up a LAN (including TCP/IP, NCP and SMB protocols) at the IPC; 4) training; and 5) maintenance, administration and support of the Intranet. The price is $40 per engineer per hour and $2 a meter of cables. He estimates one eight-hour day for the server, and another eight-hour day for setting up a router for Internet connectivity, plus two hours per workstation. Thus the local cost of server setup would be $320 -- $500 to be conservative.

IRIS can provide maintenance on a daily basis as part of regular Internet operations. This would include system administration and technical support for both software and hardware. Additionally, IRIS stocks Internet equipment, including hosts, routers, and modems, and can restore operations in any hardware failure. No work-hour estimates have been provided yet for this activity. If 0.5 hours per day is required for maintenance and support, monthly support costs would be $600.

Other possibilities for technical support at the IPC include the University Computer Center, which is willing to undertake the task, or individual University students. Several of the university students we interviewed appear to have the technical capability to undertake the task..

 

TRAINING

There are three different levels of computer knowledge among the independent press and media in Banja LukaCproficient, moderate, and limited. A training program should address the three groups distinctly.

Initial training should be focused on the proficient group. This group of approximately 10 individuals in Banja Luka is reported to be highly skilled with computer technology. We would train this group as Awebmasters@ making them responsible for the Intranet server content. Training of this small group should take less than 10 hours. This group can then also assist in training the less skilled groups and provide future support and continued training

The second group with moderate computer knowledge consists of 20 individuals. Their knowledge is limited to word-processing and does not involve intra/Internet use. Therefore, specific training for Intranet use is required. This training will take approximately 20 hours. Hopefully, some highly proficient users in this group can eventually become webmasters and also provide future training and support.

The third group consisting of 100 or more individuals in Banja Luka and another hundred or so in northern Republika Srpska requires instruction in basic computer use as well as Internet instruction. This group will most likely require 40 hours or more of training.

The training cost for all three groups is not finalized and will depend on whose services we employ. Three alternatives exist for the training: IRIS, the University Computer Center, and individual University students.

IRIS made us a training offer of $300 per attendant for 20 hours. The $300 fee is for IRIS= AInternet Consumer Course@ which fully covers basic Internet activities, briefly reviewing Windows 95. This sounds ideal for our second group of users. However, given the different proficiency levels of the three groups we would need two additional courses tailored to our needs. IRIS offered to arrange introductory courses for attendants with limited or no computer training, as well as more advanced training for web authors and publishers. The $300/attendant price should be negotiable for the different courses, but we have not finalized a price.

The University Computer Center has the space and some equipment to provide training classes. They were enthusiastic to do so, but no cost estimates have been exchanged. In addition, the Dean of the Banja Luka Law Faculty, Rajiko Kuzmanovic, has already given us four rooms to use either to house the server (not the preferred option), place computer terminals, or utilize for training purposes.

The University students would be the most economical of the three choices to provide training but they are without a facility. Combining the efforts of the University students and the space in the IPC is an obvious possibility.

Training costs appear modest, totalling a couple of thousand dollars, for in-country services.

INTERNET CONNECTION

After all of the above steps are completed, an independent press Intranet will exist in the Republika Srpska. The Intranet will make email and Web information available to anyone with a modem-equipped personal computer and dial-up access to the server. In order to establish a broader Internet capability we will work with the University Computer Center, ATV/OBN, and/or Republika Srpska PTT, all of which possess potentially viable Internet connections.

The University Computer Center is expecting a planned commercial satellite link to Norway, but financial restrictions limit the Computer Center to 64k instead of a possible 2mb. ATV/OBN has been working on a satellite uplink intended for television that we may be able to Apiggyback@ on. A third option is Republika Srpska terrestrial leased lines to Sarajevo arranged through the PTT or the EU.

An alternative, but unlikely long-term option is a satellite link through an international organization, which doesn't require permission from the "five essential authorities." The Office of the High Representative (OHR) currently has the technological capability to provide Internet connectivity over a UHF link from Banja Luka to Sarajevo, and over a satellite link from Sarajevo to Brussels. According to Dean Perritt, the technical personnel at OHR are agreeable to doing this in principle, but agreement from Sarajevo is needed, particularly from High Representative, Johan Van La Moen.

Before any of the planned satellite links can be established, with the exception of the OHR option, there are several legal/political hurdles. According to Igor Loncarevic of IRIS, domestic Internet providers must obtain permission from "five essential authorities". The five include: Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Interior Affairs, Ministry of Transportation, Ministry of Information, and Telekom of Srpska (the "natural owner of telecommunications monopoly").

Due to the volatile political nature in the Republika Srpska and the split between Banja Luka and Pale, it is unclear where permission must come from. It currently appears to come from Pale, however this may change. Our meeting with Milka Tosic, Plavsic's Media Advisor was very promising. Milka and her group seemed very enthusiastic about Project Bosnia and the establishment of a free and independent press Intranet in the Republika Srpska, particularly in Banja Luka.

In order to establish Internet connectivity through any of these intermediaries, two pieces of equipment would be required at the IPC: a router (~$2500) and a CSU/DSU (~$1500). Those devices would be connected to a leased line which would terminate at the Internet intermediary. Prices for leased lines in Banja Luka run about $500 per month, reportedly. An alternative to a leased line is an 802.11 wireless connection, which does not require a license, and which OHR routinely uses in country. Total cost would be about $15,000 for the equipment, assuming clear line of sight is available between IPC and the Internet intermediary. Setup costs for the router, CSU/DSU, leased line or 802.11 link would run $500-$1500, based on the IRIS estimates and the OHR reports.

The Internet intermediary is likely to charge a fee for Internet access, and, in the case of the University Computer Center, contemplates the project buying some additional satellite bandwidth.

PROJECT MANAGEMENT

The personnel in the ABA CEELI office in Sarajevo are agreeable to handling local contacts in support of the project. This will become easier when the CEELI office in Banja Luka opens in a month or so. Engineering undergraduate and graduate students and MBA candidates at Illinois Institute of Technology have been added to the Chicago-Kent law-student team to deepen the capability to manage technical aspects of the project. April Major, from Villanova, plans another trip to Bosnia in early 1998, and has the capability to supervise server and router setup. One more trip by a Chicago-Kent/IIT team is desirable to assure intranet functioning, and two-week externships in country in the Spring for four students should complete Internet connectivity, assuming satellite connections have been established by then, or that OHR access has been agreed to.

 

Henry H. Perritt, Jr.
Dean and Professor of Law
IIT Chicago Kent College of Law
(312) 906-5010, fax (312) 906-5335
hperritt@kentlaw.edu
Harry (AIV@) Ashton
Suzanne Price
Alexander Rozman

 

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