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[ NNSquad ] Re: Canada goes crazy

The problem here is bad metaphors - we keep using metaphors which equate
using with consuming. We use words but we don't' use them up.


Let's be careful. Tolls on roads are generally for revenue where you have
constrictions (can take hostages if you will). Congestion pricing is a
separate issue and difficult. We don't put tolls on Main St even though it
is expensive. We may try to tax entry into downtown as we do in Singapore
and London but those are billed as controlling congestion and not as funding
the roads.


But what is being consumed? As I've written <http://rmf.vc/?n=IPPvD>  the
traditional measures of scarcity don't apply. In fact we have a dynamic in
which demand creates supply. 


As to ecologists - using bits is not consuming them. If anything the
ecologists should want to encourage the use of bits as an alternative to
consuming resources - paper, fuel etc.


To use a simple example - cell phones use a small amount of electricity when
they are adjacent but we force the signal through a tower just to create a
billable event. This also requires much more power. If we do want a longer
reach why not use the nearest access points rather than a distant tower and
manage the power to that needed for the short local hop?

    [ Well now ...  I dare say that radio towers serve a critical
      function beyond creating billable events!  Just one of the
      problems with hopping willy-nilly onto any nearby access point
      -- assuming that they're open to you in the first place -- is
      that there is rarely an inherent sense of reliability as to
      their availability at any given time.  But even assuming that
      they are present and open -- and you want to access them on a
      "best effort" basis, the current state of privacy laws (e.g.
      ECPA and others) can create significant vulnerabilities to the
      parties offering that access, who, unlike commercial carriers,
      don't have legal staffs and in some cases common carrier
      protections (speaking for now in the cell phone context).

      By the way, your assumption that lower power will be consumed by
      a mobile linked to a nearby "opportunistic" access point than to
      a standard tower or microcell-based carrier-provided facility is
      problematic.  If you're standing in the same room as the access
      point or *very* nearby, lower mobile power may indeed be the
      case (and of course we're now seeing the availability of
      picocells for this purpose, often tied to outrageous carrier
      billing plans).

      But -- you don't have to get very far at all away from a typical
      low power (e.g. home or office) access point (especially through
      a wall or two) before your mobile is likely to be cranking up
      the xmit power (and the battery drain) as much as if it was
      talking to a conventional cell site at a much greater distance.
      The reason?  Antennas.  

      The antennas on most commodity home/office Wi-Fi and related
      radio products (much like the even smaller antennas in the
      phones themselves) are relatively small and basically suck
      (that's a technical term, right?) in other ways as well.
      Compared with the bigger, relatively efficient antennas on most
      conventional sites, the little guys are extremely limited.
      Crummy antennas means even nearby mobiles need to ratchet the
      juice way up to be heard.  Of course this is partly by
      purposeful design -- the whole point of these devices is to
      operate over a very limited range to help avoid inteference
      There's no free lunch in RF-land.

      -- Lauren Weinstein
         NNSquad Moderator ]


From: nnsquad-bounces+nnsquad=bobf.frankston.com@nnsquad.org
[mailto:nnsquad-bounces+nnsquad=bobf.frankston.com@nnsquad.org] On Behalf Of
Nuno Garcia
Sent: Friday, May 07, 2010 10:40
To: Bob Frankston
Cc: nnsquad@nnsquad.org; Aleks Jakulin
Subject: [ NNSquad ] Re: Canada goes crazy


We have seen the opposite trend here in Portugal (and Europe in general),
users were invoiced for how much traffic they would consume, and now, most
ISPs charge a flat rate. Exceptions are the mobile operators that still
charge by the byte.


I'm not sure I fully agree with your argument on scarcity. Sure, paying for
usage inhibits usage (we usually call this - user-payer paradigm). But, on
the other hand, that's the basic underlying principle for tolls, waste taxes
and so on. Its there, you use it, it costs money to set up and maintain, so,
pa y it up!.


Please note that some ecologist groups are fierce defenders of this
principle as they think that you don't use much, you are (overall) helping
the environment. For me, the cost-benefit tradeoff on this issue is not so


BR from Portugal,


Nuno Garcia

2010/5/7 Bob Frankston <Bob19-0501@bobf.frankston.com>

(Thanks to Aleks for this pointer)


The idea of charging people for bits consumed is a crazy idea since you
aren't consuming bits. We've been through this before - do I need to explain
once again how bad the idea is?

.         It creates scarcity. A copper wire (or fiber or radio) is just
sitting there idle. We limit how much can be used.

.         Even if there is a temporary constriction somewhere else it means
we can't use the capacity locally. To take it to an extreme imagine if there
is such a limit in your house - you can't copy too many files between your

.         FiOS VoD, for example, goes over IP through my router. I can't
watch much "TV" [sic] if the limit is applied to those bits. If the limit is
not applied we have a vertical playing field where the provider has all the

.         Any sane price doesn't allow making video affordable if we're
going to make the cost of other uses visible.

.         As with SMS any market that permits prices to be millions of time
cost (determined by competition with Moore's law) isn't really a market in a
useful sense. It's rent taking gone to hostage taking.

But basically it shows a deep inability to comprehend the very concept of
connectivity using best efforts. It's railroaders banning the use of roads
unless you buy a ticket for a ride every time you leave your driveway even
if it is just to reorder the cars in the driveway.

Others care to add to the reasons why this is crazy?


  [ And coming soon to a U.S. ISP near you (and me) too, I'll wager.
    Since the FCC chairman has shown no interest in including any
    sort of pricing or realistically effective competition-enhancing
    elements in his proposed "third-way" regulatory plan, the
    dominant ISPs are ensured a captive audience of users who will
    "pay through their noses until their skulls are a vacuum" (as one
    high level ISP executive expressed it to me yesterday --
    picturesque, this guy, and a master of invective as well ...)

        -- Lauren Weinstein
           NNSquad Moderator ]