IP: Paradox of the Best network (fwd)
Sat, 26 Jan 2002 15:24:08 +0100 (MET)
-- Eugen* Leitl <a href="http://leitl.org">leitl</a>
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---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sat, 26 Jan 2002 09:21:39 -0500
From: David Farber <email@example.com>
Subject: IP: Paradox of the Best network
>Date: Sat, 26 Jan 2002 05:16:23 -0800
>From: Kevin Marks <firstname.lastname@example.org>
>This is a brilliantly written [ interesting djf] summary that you should
>all send to your congressmen:
Abstract by Copernic
A few short months seemed that humanity stood on the edge of a
New technology promised to topple barriers of space and time.
Now a grim face replaces yesterday's optimism.
Prospects of new connectedness recede as capital markets tighten, existing
telephone companies back off on capital expenditures, established
communications equipment suppliers falter, and ambitious new telecom
Despite the darkened outlook, new communications capabilities are within
reach that will make the current Internet look like tin cans and string.
Radically simplified technologies can blast bits a million times faster
than the current network at a millionth of the cost.
It's not even that the communications revolution has been derailed by inept
or self-aggrandizing behavior by incumbent telephone companies and their
It provokes incumbent companies to mass lawyers and lobbyists to thwart the
development of a competitive communications market.
It causes investment capitalists to drive their stakes into firmer economic
ground far away from telecommunications.
Communications networks have a more important job than generating return on
investment --- their value comes from their connectivity and from the
services they enable.
Therefore, the best network delivers bits in the largest volumes at the
In addition, the best network is the most open to new communications
services; it closes off the fewest futures and elicits the most innovation.
As software engineers say, "Today's optimization is tomorrow's bottleneck."
Thus, the best network is a "stupid" network that does nothing but move
bits.2 Only then is the network truly open to any and all services that
want to use it, no matter how innovative or how unexpected.
The Paradox of the Best Network comes about because as a network gets
stupider, connectivity becomes a commodity.
They know that implementing the new commodity network threatens the very
basis of their business.
As a result of this simplicity, the Internet has proven to be the most
scalable, most robust communications infrastructure humans have ever built.
The Internet's bits-are-bits simplicity even threatens to turn their cash
cow --- voice telephony --- into something anyone can do just by installing
simple software onto an everyday PC.
The paradox means that companies that run the old, closed, special-purpose
telephone network have an unfit business model for running the new network.
These promise every home more bandwidth than a medium sized town uses for
all of its conventional telephony --- for about the price of a monthly bus
These groups have already called in the lawyers and lobbyists to protect
their current business models.
It will boost the economy, open global markets, and make us better informed
citizens, customers and business people.
Left to itself, the market would favor larger network owners both because
they benefit from economies of scale (the more connections you provide, the
lower each connection costs) and because they have financial resources to
withstand the low operating margins of a commoditized market.
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