Wide Area Networks in Turkey were first organized in 1986 under the name of TUVAKA (Turkish Universities and Research institutions Network) as an extension of EARN (European Academic and Research Network). First international network connection was to EARN via a 9600 bps leased line established between France and Turkey (Ege University). Most of the universities in the country were connected to each other by using 9600 bps leased lines. This situation prevailed until the beginning of 1990s when BITNET services (e-mail, file transfer and interactive messages) were found to be limited and insufficient for users' requirements.
As a natural consequence of experiencing these problems, TR-NET (Turkish Internet) project was initiated by METU (Middle East Technical University) and TUBITAK (Turkish Scientific and Technical Research Council) in 1991. The main goal of TR-NET project was to create an IP based, faster network infrastructure and establishing an international connectivity to provide access to all available academic and non-academic networks.
Turkey's Internet connection was established in April 1993 by a 64 Kbps leased line to NSFnet (Washington USA). Since 1992, TR-NET project group is working to make Internet wide-spread in the country. Activities of TR-NET project group in the last couple of years has placed Turkey to the list of fastest growing IP domains. Turkey's international traffic through NSFnet has increased by more than four-fold within last 18 months.
As TR-NET has become wide-spread with a tremendous rate of growth among various sectors (academic, government, private sector, etc.) in 1993 and 1994, a severe necessity of governmental support and constitutional framework is being observed.
Having anticipated the need for central planning and implementation, the TR-NET executive committee has submitted a proposal to the government for becoming an official coordination point for establishing and diffusing computer networking infrastructure in the country. This new organization is about to be established and will be known as 'National Computer Networks Center (NCNC)'. The NCNC will have the responsibility of laying down policies and strategic plans, and controlling the implementation for developing the national computer networking infrastructure.
NCNC will have some short- and medium-term plans. Short-term plans include upgrade of international line, and privatization of connection services. Medium- and Long-term plans include organizational issues, establishing a country-wide backbone, and improvement of user services.
Since the current budget of TR-NET is not sufficient to constitute a national backbone and to enhance the international connection, TR-NET administration is currently searching for some funding models to overcome these problems. Some alternative models for funding have been investigated and are still being evaluated.
One basic model approach is the privatization of access services through multiple service-providers. In this approach, the backbone will still be operated by the TR-NET organization, while user access to Internet will be provided by private service organizations. In this model of organization, the country-wide backbone and international connections will be funded from two different sources: (i) the budget allocated by the government, and (ii) the fees that would be collected from service providers. It is also anticipated that some other variations of the above model could be constructed.
In this paper, a model of funding and organization that have been proposed by TR-NET organization is discussed by considering the following issues: (i) potential growth in user domain, (ii) advanced user services, (iii) workload distribution, (iv) available and potential fund sources, etc. Potential benefits of establishing an organization and a new funding model are also highlighted.