User unity is good sign for ISDN rollout.
So it is with ISDN and the recent formation of the Washington (D.C.) ISDN Users Group. The non-profit group's stated goal is to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas, information and experiences about ISDN, and to contribute to the rapid deployment of ISDN technology, services and applications.
The North American ISDN Users Forum has been around for some time, but the formation of a more localized group is a good sign. There is a California group in existence already, along with a Mid-Atlantic ISDN Users Group.
Like the Forum, the Washington group is open to service providers, equipment vendors, applications developers and regulators as well as end users.
Washington's group had its first meeting last month, in connection with the Transcontinental ISDN Project showcase in Renton, Va. The group met at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, Md.
Richard Raybold of NIST is chairman of the Washington group. It has a 10-member steering committee whose members represents users organizations, vendors and carriers. Besides Raybold, members are Mike Fidler of Mitre Corp., Clyde Heintzelman of Connective Strategies Inc., David Rouse, Tom Reynolds and Newey Trelegan of the federal government, Petra Gonsalves of consulting firm CMS, Sam Russ of the National Information Technology Center, Art Scarano of AT&T and James Laws of Bell Atlantic.
Speaking at the initial meeting were users Col. John Charles of the U.S. Army Personnel Information Systems Command, Milton Grodsky of the University of Maryland and Lari Sue Naylor of Fannie Mae (FNMA, the Federal National Mortgage Association). Also discussed were Bell Atlantic's plans for ISDN in the Washington area.
James Laws, Bell Atlantic's representative on the steering committee, says basic rate ISDN is available in 55% to 60% of the capital area--the District of Columbia and the Virginia and Maryland suburbs. That will grow to 75% to 80% in the next year, he says. In comparison, throughout the entire Bell Atlantic region, ISDN availability runs about 50% now, growing to 90% in the next two years.
"The organization is open to anyone who is an ISDN user or has an interest in learning about ISDN," says Laws. "We consider an end user to be the person who has an ISDN line right on their desk. The users are where the real impetus for development of ISDN is going to come from."
For more information, contact Washington ISDN Users Group, P.O. Box 15463, Arlington, VA 22215-0463. Or fax the group at 202-223-1288 and ask for more information.
Basic rate ISDN allows the University of Illinois to take advantage of dial-up videoconferencing to connect campuses in Chicago and Champaign-Urbana. Administrators save on travel between the campuses (a 2 1/2-hour trip) and professors use the link for distance learning.
Classes are transmitted from Champaign-Urbana to the Chicago campus via two B channels at 56 kb/s. Signals travel through a Northern Telecom DMS-100 switch at the nearby central office and an AT&T 5ESS at the Chicago campus' central office.
The university's Department of Public Health Nursing was first to take advantage of ISDN for distance learning. The department's Naomi Ervin says professors interact effectively and share graphs, charts and other visual aids with all members of the class, nearby and remote.