Unlicenced Wireless White Papers

Here. Perspectives from:

  • Clay Shirky, The Possibility of Spectrum as a Public Good
  • David Isenberg, Four Scenarios for the Future of the Network
  • Andrew Odlyzko, Telecom Dogmas and Spectrum Allocations
  • Kevin Werbach, Beyond Broadcast

    Clay Shikry discusses four possible futures:

    Scenario #1, Telcotopia. Telcotopia is the incumbent telcos’ official future.” That is, in this version of the future, the telcos will give us that fat middle pipe that they have promised. Notwithstanding, the telcos’ current primary product is still voice telephony. It is delivered via a vertically integrated stack of services by which wires, poles and switches are tied to — and subsidized by — the voice telephony application. As the telcos open the local distribution bottleneck, they risk losing their primary product, landline voice telephony, to end-to-end VOIP. (End-to-end VOIP is typified by Skype; it is simply a program, yet another application on a network-connected PC.)

    Scenario #2 — Utilityability. Utilities, such as the electric company or the gas company or the water company, would use their rights of way and ubiquitous access to premises to build more capable local access to the premises. Utilities are good at delivering bulk low-margin goods over rights of way, and they’re competent at rendering monthly bills. Further, unlike the telcos and cablecos, utilities do not face the daunting prospect of cannibalizing their main, incumbent cash-positive business or changing their existing business models.

    Scenario #3 — Customer-Owned Networks. Access networks are become simple, reliable and easy to operate, so that it becomes possible for customers to own and run their own advanced, high-speed access and local distribution networks. This trend is already beginning with large businesses (e.g. Boeing) and institutions such as universities (e.g. Dartmouth). If this scenario gains momentum, it would extend towards multi-dwelling units and individual residential end users. Topologically, the fat home network would grow out to meet the fat Internet backbone, ultimately eliminating any distinct “access” business sector.

    Scenario #4 — HeLLL with Three Ls. In HeLLL, the telcos have successfully Lobbied, Legislated and Litigated before every state PUC, legislature and court, before every federal agency in the executive and legislative branches, before every federal court that will hear them, and before the U.S. Congress, all with the goal of preserving their previous power and preventing customers, competitors, municipalities, utilities and everybody else from building the capable access networks that technology makes possible. The telcos have used the three Ls, their last strength and remaining core competence, to make high-speed end-to-end networks functionally illegal.

  • Published by

    Rajesh Jain

    An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.