RCP: THE PERUVIAN NETWORK
By Daniel Pimienta, Union Latina
December 1st of 1991, at 7:30 PM, the first message from JS@RCP.PE was broadcasted into several regional e.mail addresses. The RCP (Red Cientifica Peruana) was electronically born and this birth was regionally welcomed as a very significative event. Why so?
Peru is a complex country for the raise of a national network. Several attempts have been made since 1985, some hardly reached the take-off point, others did not arise consistent user's base. The research world is both traditionally important (an estimated 40,000 potential users) and strongly dispersed between various universities, NGO's linked to research activities, and Public Administration's Research Centers. The "telematic culture" is slow to emerge: only in 1990 appears a national X25 network (Perunet). In conclusion, building a research network in Peru was considered a real challenge.
Basically, the RCP project combined three main components: an open Peruvian Researcher's Group, which sustains and drives the project, and two International Agencies, which brought the appropriate support. A Project Manager articulated them together, within a methodological kit framework.
UNION LATINA offered the Project Manager and the methodology, and concentrates in solving the political and organizational steps in three successive missions since 4/91. Also it brought a part of the take-off budget for the Association. UNDP (Enzo Puliatti's project) offered the technical support for creating the node and transferring the technology. Furthermore, it offers the hardware and software for the node, and the first months of the international telecommunication budget.
The methodological kit stated a set of rules, from the
political, organizational, financial and technical stand-points
(the order of the points being the recommended progression path
for the process):
-continuous and strong end-user involvement from the beginning, -federation of the international support, -association of Institutional Users from all the research, sub-domains (universities, NGO's, Public Administration), -UUCP start-up migrating toward TCP-IP, -strong central node and PC/DOS stations (UUPC), -X25 national network use,
-negotiation with telecommunications operators companies, and so on.
45 research institutions got involved, representing a total of 25,000 potential users. The UUCP node was installed in one week. A detailed description of the system will be presented on subsequent ISOC issues.
A SUCCESS STORY
The successful launch of the RCP is the result of the convergence
of a set of key factors:
-the ability of the Project Manager (Peruvian himself) to catalyze Peruvian energies and maintain them oriented toward a common National objective,
-the ability of the International Agencies to act in a coordinated fashion together and with the strong body of Peruvian participants,
-the application of a methodology designed for such context where political and organization steps were conducted in such a way to pave the ground for the technical activities, -the coherence maintained between the different steps and actors.
New challenges expect the recently born RCP, for instance:
-manage the user growth while maintaining the project coherence,
-concretize negotiations with telecommunications operators
companies to gain national tariffs advantages,
-get use of existing national telecommunication agreements in
benefice of RCP international connectivity (PanamSat),
-orient international traffic toward a neighbor country,
-bring high level end-user support, interfaces and training,
-integrate National Scientific and Technic Data Bases and
Applications within the RCP,
-progressively migrate to higher level telecommunication standards,
-reach a level of auto-financing.
The way the operation has been successfully conducted allow to be optimistic for the following steps, specially if the common goal spirit is managed to be maintained.
For more information, directly contact COORDINADORES@RCP.PE.