Re: super-fast freespace optics last-mile tech

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Thu Mar 02 2000 - 15:31:07 MST

Brian Atkins wrote:
> Here you can read a patent app from a very secretive Seattle company:
> this looks to me like a very amazing advance in the speeds that people
> will be able to access the net in the near future. Basically you slap
> some of these lasers onto cell towers around a city and you get a super-
> fast network (the cell towers can communicate with each other, so no
> land lines needed) providing anywhere from 1.5mbit up to 10gbit to
> individual users.

I'm skeptical. The whole reason for fiber optic cables is that air,
dust, water drops, et cetera scatter laser light beyond retrieval. I
don't see any obvious way to get around that limitation; you'd have to
use gamma-ray lasers, or neutrino lasers, or tachyon lasers, or such
high-powered ordinary lasers that they'd punch through intervening
airplanes as well as dust particles, and even then I'm not sure you
could get 1MHz useful data out of it. If this company has invented a
workaround, they *deserve* a 20-year patent. But I'll believe it when I
see it.

--      Eliezer S. Yudkowsky

                 Member, Extropy Institute
           Senior Associate, Foresight Institute

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