Re: TECH: Wireless gets real

From: Brian D Williams (
Date: Fri Jul 06 2001 - 12:09:38 MDT

>From: Eugene Leitl <>

>You might remember. We were talking about global connectivity for
>everybody on this dirtball, then, suddenly, about affordable
>broadband, again for everybody, then, suddenly, about fiber, for
>everybody, then about a lot of other things, mostly unrelated.

I remember.

>Global connectivity for everybody (most values of everybody, at
>least) is doable, fiber up every tree is of course another matter
>entirely. But, who needs fiber up the wazoo, right now? I would
>take it, if I can have it, of course, but I'd be pretty happy with
>anything above ~128/384 --availability and flat rate would be much
>preferable to speedy, but cranky connectivity.

Still right with you, and I compliment you on your frugal use of
bandwidth, but most people want more, and how best to get it to
them is what we're discussing.

>Sure, that's the system you installed, and which works right now.
>LoS photonics, swarms of mass-produced and mass-deployed low-LEO
>microsats, active beamforming, digital pulse radio, Ethernet to
>the home, they're all different technologies, with different
>capabilities and different pricetags.

Yep, still with you all the way, and most of these systems have
overall price tags that price themselves out of the market for
general use.

>Wireless is a huge area, most of it is yet uncharted. LoS
>photonics and digital pulse radio is wireless, and software radio
>routers are wireless, too. I'm not aware of any company having
>competencies in all of these areas, especially the lunatic fringe
>technologies like digital pulse radio.

I guess it's a matter of what you define as competency. We have
over 120,000 employees, many are hardcore techies with advanced
degrees and like me follow alot of this for fun as well as for
profit. Not counting consultants.

I was inspired by this thread to call my buddy Dr Mark Pecen, who
is co-developer of the EDGE wireless standard and has designed
digital radios. Among his current duties (he's with Motorola) he
advises washington policy makers on spectrum.

We try to keep busy.

>Iridium is too expensive, of course. It deserved to crash and
>burn, but if the feds were willing to bail it out for their needs,
>why not. Your taxes at work, and all.

Actually if the bandwidth were higher and it were cheaper it would
fit your needs. ;)

>So, what if the end user devices themselves route packets?
>Connectivity doesn't always require voice, SMS or a speech
>recognition system can send a small text message, which doesn't
>have to have high QoS. High-QoS 10 kBps might be the limit for
>streaming audio, but streaming audio is a niche, albeit a
>currently very widely used niche.

This is one of those things that works great on a very small scale.
(about 30 nodes or so) The problem with routing and routing
protocols is that they quickly eat up all available bandwidth and
processing power. Hierarchical organization is essential, wirespeed
routers help.

Latency is a big issue with wireless routers.

>Have you heard about 802.11b and successor technologies grassroute
>networks, based on Mobile Mesh, etc? About communities doing their
>private Ethernet to the home projects?

A number of the inhouse guys have wireless nodes in their homes,
and two that I know of have a link between them in the same
subdivision. We had a conference in house about 802.11b a few weeks
ago, and I wouldn't be surprised if there was a conversation going
on somewhere in this building right now about it.

I like the idea of groups and communities getting together and
trying things out, more power to them.

I'm one of the guys who gets the call to pick up the pieces... ;)

>At least 802.11b based networks are very affordable, even given
>early status of hardware development (I don't see why a mature
>802.11b derived router couldn't be sold for ~300-$400 in
>quantities, with zero operaton costs but for the juice).

It's an interesting development, and could be very usefull on a
small scale. Everything I've seen says the costs and problems grow
exponentially though.... :(


Extropy Institute,
National Rifle Association,, 1.800.672.3888
SBC/Ameritech Data Center Chicago, IL, Local 134 I.B.E.W

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