Re: [gaia] Ft article on guifi

Rex Buddenberg <> Tue, 26 September 2017 17:35 UTC

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From: Rex Buddenberg <>
To: Corinne Cath <>, Niels ten Oever <>
Cc: gaia <>
Date: Tue, 26 Sep 2017 10:35:31 -0700
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Subject: Re: [gaia] Ft article on guifi
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The article gets one thing right and one thing wrong.

Installation trumps material cost when installing fiber (or any wired
stuff).  According to the article, 3x to 6x.  Even if the cost of the
fiber cable were 0 most of the budget would remain.  (This is a
historical truth -- POTS telephone wire was cheap compared to the
installation cost). 

The part the article got wrong is that 5G may compete with the fiber.
You need the radio to reach to remote and reach to mobile, but don't
try and make it compete with wired infrastructure -- false economics.  
    Fiber is provisioned in Gbits, the most advanced radio in Mbits.
That means you can get thousands of radio-WAN bit loads into a single
fiber pair.  Further, radio is up onto spectrum limits -- the
technology is close to the bits/Hz limits.  Use the radio where you
must, but look for every opportunity to maximize fiber reach.

(Jon Crowcroft's ref) The privatization of space rocketry is
interesting and sexy.  But we should review the lesson of the Big LEOs.
In the early 1990s, the World Affiliate Radio Congress allocated a
chunk of spectrum for satellite-based telephony.  
     The first reaction was diplomatic.  The Congress nearly lost the
issue because a number of (mostly African) governments that owned their
PTTs saw their monopoly disappearing.  
     The second reaction was historico-technical.  I went to one of the
satellite trade shows and asked one of the Big LEO vendors where you
plugged his gizmos into a router.  These guys didn't understand circuit
switching, much less packet switching ... got one of the dumbest stares
back to my question I've ever seen.  Routable network?  Note that the
flashy BBC article makes no mention of extend-the-internet (if it did,
I missed it).  
     The third aspect is economic.  After WARC took made its
allocation, the scene shifted to US FCC where five companies applied
for licenses.  FCC, having been burned with storefront cellphone
applications, insisted on seeing the capitalization abilities.  That
drove off two of the five.  The other three (Iridium, Globalstar and a
TRW project) were all granted licenses.
     The fourth aspect is also economic.  TRW figured it out before
they got burned -- there's no return on investment -- and returned
their license.  The other two launched satellites.  And promptly went
bankrupt.  The reason, at least in US, was that terrestrial cellphone
had built out to the marginally populated areas and taken all the
market that the Big LEOs claimed to be targeting.  (Both Iridium and
Globalstar did get reorganized and functioned.  In the case of Iridium,
a good deal on federal subsidy -- the Antarctic research crew loves

Newer technology with the surface lure of reaching to rural and
underserved areas is always alluring.  But reach to rural and reach to
mobile is always hard (with any utility, not just internet).  The
infrastructure costs (wire-mile per customer, for example) are higher
than urban/suburban and the return on investment is always lower.  


On Tue, 2017-09-26 at 17:15 +0200, Corinne Cath wrote:
> See attached. Best, 
> On Tue, Sep 26, 2017 at 4:46 PM, Niels ten Oever <lists@digitaldissid
>> wrote:
> > Paywall :'(
> > 
> > On 09/26/2017 09:32 AM, Arjuna Sathiaseelan wrote:
> > > All about guifi
> > > f-99f383b09ff9?accessToken=zwAAAV69R9zIkdOxXpVScioR59OT_5nzg7Cf-
> > > Q.MEUCIQD7VduKZvBZtuuxP_49kACkkIZy2c80iiMeHGxo-
> > > 5h0CwIgaUlQKW71ZEu6Gj6gTFDJgSVEmFFQdmrE5upk8sRQX9Q&sharetype=gift
> > > 
> > > 
> > > _______________________________________________
> > > gaia mailing list
> > >
> > >
> >  
> > _______________________________________________
> > gaia mailing list
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> >
> > 
> -- 
> Corinne J.N. Cath 
> Ph.D. Candidate, Oxford Internet Institute & Alan Turing Institute 
> Web: 
> Email: &
> Twitter: @C_Cath
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