Telcos don't understand wireless

Bob Frankston's posted an instant-classic rant about the horrors of telcos and the wireless businesses they inspire.

The problems with Wi-Fi Hotspots are symptomatic of the fundamental conflict between the cellular phone industry and the rest of our society and economy. The current telecommunications infrastructure has one overriding purpose — to generate billable events. It is a tragic mistake to assume that this is the only way we can pay for vital infrastructure since it is an extremely inefficient and dysfunctional system that extracts an unbearable cost on society.

The term wireless has been appropriated to mean "faux wire". The cellular phone system emulates land phones where you pay per wire not per phone. That "wire" is used for billing and the system provides you with cell phone circuits that have the same limitations as their wired counterparts. It's no surprise that the cellular industry created Bluetooth which tried to recreate the limitations of the wire only without the wire.

This is in sharp contrast to 802.11 which just transports packets and the connections you make have no inherent limits because the packets can be relayed to any other Internet connection in the world. But it isn't easy to control or bill for the packets — they aren't easily metered like phone calls. Even if you can count the packets it is difficult to charge for usage when a video stream can use a thousand times as many packets as an audio stream. You wouldn't be able to tell whether a web page costs a penny or a hundred dollars to visit.



(via SATN)