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[ NNSquad ] Re: Canada goes crazy

I wasn't trying to make a strong case for this being about power except to
emphasize that there is a risk in having those who want to do good falling
prey to bad metaphors. Though note that I did mention power management - I'm
not assuming today's protocols. 

The towers do have some advantages as a connection point of last resort and
they do demonstrate what the market can do - why are cell phones often
better and smaller than cordless phones inside your house? Shouldn't they
share the same technologies? But not only do you need to go through towers -
you also need phones designed for ARPU.

     [ Open 'em up.  You'll find the typical technology in most
       cheapo cordless phones is not only relatively primitive,
       but part of the way they're kept cheap is by typically not having
       to meet the same miniaturization requirements as cell phones.
       Cell phones *seem* inexpensive under subsidization regimes.
              -- Lauren Weinstein, NNSquad Moderator]

The issue isn't really the towers - I have no problem with having them as an
option. The problem is in being forced to use the towers and a provider's
infrastructure. And that's where the billable events come in. If we didn't
have the constraint of billable events then we could have more opportunistic
protocols and, as Skype demonstrates, we can have connectivity that doesn't
depend on towers (even if it can use them) and thus wouldn't have a brittle
dependency. You lose the tower signal for a moment and the call is dropped.

While keeping you connected to a tower is a marvelous feat of engineering,
just like TV was in 1940, it doesn't mean we can't do much better in many

Which brings us back to the topic of the foolish Canadians (not that
Canadians are intrinsically foolish but this policy is). It makes counting
the bits a requirement and that's extremely difficult because you now have
to keep the bits in billable paths controlled by the provider and can't take
advantage of opportunistic connectivity. You can't exchange gigabits with
your next door neighbor because you have to run the bits past a distant bit
counter so you can be billed. And you have to accept provision of a copper
wire (perhaps) for kilometers rather than taking advantage of what you can
do if you only have to go a few meters.

-----Original Message-----
From: nnsquad-bounces+nnsquad=bobf.frankston.com@nnsquad.org
[mailto:nnsquad-bounces+nnsquad=bobf.frankston.com@nnsquad.org] On Behalf Of
Bob Frankston
Sent: Friday, May 07, 2010 11:01
To: 'Nuno Garcia'
Cc: nnsquad@nnsquad.org; 'Aleks Jakulin'
Subject: [ 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 ]