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[ NNSquad ] Re: The Once and Future King: Multicast looks to (finally) be the future of television.

At 10:57 PM 12/21/2007, Bob Frankston wrote:
I've long argued against multicast -- it's based on the assumption that we are broadcasting in the same way the phone network reveled in circuits.

I agree with this point, Bob, though my arguments are a bit different.

From an economic standpoint, by far the most cost-effective and efficient way to broadcast data to a large number of receive-only nodes is terrestrial or satellite-based wireless. It covers the largest number of subscribers; there's plenty of bandwidth; and the technology is now extremely well developed (though it wasn't bad even in the days of black and white TV).

Multicast over IP networks is nowhere near as efficient. IP, by its very nature, was designed for two-way, interactive traffic consisting of relatively large data packets. It's very non-optimal for broadcasting. (It also wasn't designed to carry telephone conversations. VoIP is a very high overhead way of conducting a conversation compared to ATM, which was designed for voice and is suboptimal for data.)

The OSI stack is just a vocabulary ? it isn?t really but the ITU is so besotted with protocolism that they give fictions like spectrum allocation all the weight of a ton of lead.  Who else would think bandwidth was a useful measure ? what?s the bandwidth of my copper at home. That?s a stupid question ? the answer is whatever I can achieve and that?s now a gigabit at $10/port when they can?t get their costs below $1000!

Bandwidth becomes an important concern when someone needs to be paid to engineer the network, hook equipment up to the fiber or copper, climb up radio towers and mount the radios, and then maintain the network and take responsibility when it goes down.

You can?t make a profit for selling transport any more than you can make money operating a canal across the ocean

That's funny; shipping lines make pretty good money. Why? Not because they're "operating a canal across the ocean" but because they know how to build, maintain, sail, manage, organize, load, and unload big, efficient boats. And that does take fuel, experienced captains (the Exxon Valdez being a great example of what happens when the captain is NOT good), labor, organizational skills, and smarts. Just as individuals don't sail their own small boats to Taiwan every time they need an RJ-45 connector, they need folks who know how to build and maintain the telecommunications infrastructure. There's tremendous social value in that. We're just a small WISP, and the appreciation and loyalty we earn from our customers is amazing.

That's what motivates me to go out early on a frigid Saturday morning (as I am today), driving down Colorado's Front Range to buy used and surplus equipment from another WISP. I'll recondition it, sell it at a slight markup, and save my customers $30 per antenna and $100 to $150 per radio unit. None of my competitors can touch the prices I can offer my customers. Could they get the bargains I get for them by buying large lots of used gear (at auction or via private deals) and then using 15 years of experience and expensive instruments (such as microwave VSWR bridges) to test and recondition it? Nope.

The solution is not to fix the network nor V6 ( http://www.frankston.com/?name=IPGeni2 and http://www.frankston.com/?name=InternetDynamic). It is to give us the ability to do our own networking rather than having to pay for a ride from the today?s robber barons.

While there are some robber barons in the telecomm industry -- particularly the large monopolies-- there are also an awful lot of people (like our WISP) who are not. It's not responsible or reasonable to lump us all into the same basket. If you do, you'll make poor policy recommendations and decisions.

--Brett Glass