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Wireless Networking Hardware

Do We Still Need Telcos (and ISPs)? 650

eraserewind asks: "Are telecom providers and ISPs going to continue to be necessary in the future? Why are we all paying subscriptions for communicating? What I want is a global extremely-high-speed ad-hoc wireless data & voice network, where the only entry cost is a mobile phone (or newtork card or whatever). Devices communicate peer to peer, or routed via other people's idle devices. Remember there is no subscriptions, so don't expect to piggy-back on someone's paid for DSL bandwidth. What are the technological barriers? What kind of protocols would you need? What hardware advances? How would you solve problems of geographic isolation? Are there theoretical, political or economic reasons it couldn't work?"
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Do We Still Need Telcos (and ISPs)?

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  • Uh... (Score:5, Funny)

    by TheShadow ( 76709 ) on Thursday June 12, 2003 @05:34PM (#6185793)
    Yeah, I want everything for free too. Give me a break.
    • Re:Uh... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by NerdSlayer ( 300907 ) on Thursday June 12, 2003 @05:36PM (#6185826) Homepage
      Agreed. I'm glad it's free to run giant fiber optic cables across the ocean. Can't see any costs there. Or fiber into your house. Digging up roads to run lines into peoples houses costs pennies. Or randio transmitters, those big towers are cheap. You can build 'em outta lincoln logs, I heard.
      • Re:Uh... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by s20451 ( 410424 ) on Thursday June 12, 2003 @05:46PM (#6185945) Journal
        Let's not forget the satellites. They're not cheap either. And you would want a central regulatory agency to prevent jackasses (e.g., spammers) from hogging bandwidth for their own purposes. Basically what the guy wants is nationalization of all telcos, so that your taxes pay for everything. Except everywhere that's been tried, it's been a disaster (like waiting weeks to get a phone hookup).
        • Re:Uh... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by dasmegabyte ( 267018 ) <> on Thursday June 12, 2003 @06:10PM (#6186153) Homepage Journal
          And of course, the upkeep costs on lines that are already there (of which there are plenty...a lot of buried fiber is still cold because it isn't necessary to light it up to be cost effective). You know, costs like all of us geeks' salaries, or power, or maintaining and upgrading switches. These are REPEATING monthly costs. Therefore, the cost should be a repeating monthly cost. That's the only way it makes sense to keep doing it.

          Subsidizing this with taxes to reduce the cost (like we did with the Post Office) isn't a terrible idea. Wouldn't we like our data to have the uptime of the Post know, which is always available (except on sundays, holidays, or after 5:30)? I mean, there's no need for privatized alternatives (UPS, FedEx, Airborne, DHL), right?

          The best thing that can happen to communication is a global standard protocol for switching and delivery on all systems. And it's already there: IP. Now we're just waiting for the Baby Bells and Time Warners to a) combine everything and b) really get cheaper. And I think Time Warner is almost to A...they're testing IP phones that are damn good. As soon as we get a few players in combined communications, we'll get to B (check the rapid price drops going on in cellular right now).

          Capitalism may not always work right the first time...but with this much demand, yes, it will work eventually.
          • Re:Uh... (Score:4, Interesting)

            by leitec ( 640055 ) on Thursday June 12, 2003 @07:37PM (#6186836) Homepage
            And why are we waiting for everything to come down one pipe?

            I personally like everything coming in separately. Example: my power goes out. I still have my phone, because it comes on a different physical cable down the street. If my satellite TV goes out, I still have my Internet access, because it comes on a different cable.

            Personally, if everything came down one pipe and something goes down, I'd get not only bored, but also quite mad. Think about it. It's a little bit better to have variety.

            This, of course, extends to political reasons. Would you like one company to provide your food, gas for your car, heating oil and run your children's school as well? Not really.

            I'll stick to my variety, thank you very much.
          • by ShieldW0lf ( 601553 ) on Thursday June 12, 2003 @08:44PM (#6187187) Journal
            Individuals, with no wires or terribly sophisticated equipment, have been able to broadcast voice across the world for decades using ham radio, and digital has proven to be a hell of a lot more efficient than voice. Look at what has been achieved in the way of wireless just using scraps of some of the worst spectrum, the unregulated dregs. Given the right protocols to avoid saturation, along with deregulation of the airwaves, there should be no problem implementing such a system with minimal hops.

            The areas Iâ(TM)d say were most relevant to the problem would be first, achieving enough processing power in the devices to deal with the fact that they would be basically analysing the entire spectrum all the time looking for relevant broadcasts. Secondly, achieving enough power storage efficiency to run the thing portably, and third, more precise emitters and sensitive receivers to allow increased signal granularity and give the protocols something to work with.

            We could probably make a pretty good go at such a setup now, if the airwaves werenâ(TM)t so thoroughly regulated. But don't expect it to come from any of the existing commercial entities.... they'd probably have you shot if they thought you could make it work.

            <rant> Oh, and a big fuck you to the multitude of rabid capitalists who think thereâ(TM)s something inherently wrong with not wanting to pay for stuff. You can take your American Dream, consumer culture, built-in obsolescence, slave to the machine, bleached pop culture ideas and go fucking rot. Itâ(TM)s idiots with a attitudes like yours that make it possible for someone to sell boxes of fucking diapers to clean your floor with when a fucking mop will do. You are the modern day serf... go back to your damned cubicle and shut up.</rant>

          • Re:Uh... (Score:3, Interesting)

            by toker95 ( 645026 )
            I must add, we're waiting for those Baby Bells and Time Warners to broadly adopt IPv6 too...

            I would dare say that capitalism is working relatively well

            From a capitalist standpoint, we are spreading the broadband network far and wide wherever there is enough money to be made to cover the cost of the upgrade and the CEO's perks package...

            From an end user perspective, this capitalist view sucks... I live in an area where there is enough demand in my eyes to justify the cost of bringing high speed into the

            • Re:Uh... (Score:4, Insightful)

              by dasmegabyte ( 267018 ) <> on Friday June 13, 2003 @01:48AM (#6188490) Homepage Journal
              So your argument is that capitalism is bad because it doesn't do things until they're necessary?

              When we feel the IP crunch, then we'll see the expense paid for a massive IPv6 rollout. It is not automatic, it is not easy, it is not mandatory, no matter what your networking 304 professor told you. Check out Dan Bernstein's rant on the subject sometime.

              As for broadband in your area...if you think there's demand, fucking do it yourself. Go to your neighbors, get "preorders" and start community DSL. Or better still, get a loan and start your own hometown ISP. You should be able to get all sorts of tax write offs, and maybe get the state on your side to grease the way around the many, many regulators and contractors you'll have to shine. Out west (Colorado) lots of entrepeneurs have done this with mild success. Many of them have been since bought out at hefty payoffs by national telcos, who were thrilled to not have to build the infrastructure themselves.

              Anybody who sees an unmet demand in a Capitalist society should jump on it. That's all it took to get Gates, Jobs, Walden and Case where they are today. That, and dorky haircuts.
      • by HanzoSan ( 251665 ) *

        We can treat the internet like we treat roads. Let the gov and taxes pay to built the network and then use our wireless connections and software to use the free network. It can work, the only problem would be reliability. I think the quality and reliability is something only an ISP can provide.

        I would use an ISP for business, for commerce and so on, but I'd use the free internet to surf the web and do stuff like slashdot.

        I think theres room for both.
        • by M.C. Hampster ( 541262 ) <> on Thursday June 12, 2003 @06:09PM (#6186145) Journal

          Let the gov and taxes pay to built the network and then use our wireless connections and software to use the free network.

          Why does this statement remind me of that woman on the Donahue show who stood up and said something to the effect of "Why do they always want to make the taxpayer pay for things? The government should pay for them!"

        • by stand ( 126023 ) <> on Thursday June 12, 2003 @06:48PM (#6186485) Homepage Journal
          We can treat the internet like we treat roads.

          I agree. The information infrastructure (and the freedom thereof) is too important to leave to publically unaccountable entities. Before you respond, think about this: You already pay for your government to build the public freely accessible roads whether you drive on them or not. Isn't a free and open connection to the Internet at least as important as your roads?

          • by ionpro ( 34327 ) on Thursday June 12, 2003 @07:53PM (#6186915) Homepage
            Who defines free and open? All the companies that provide backbone data service are (to my knowledge) publically held companies; they are subject to regulation from the FCC and the federal government. They aren't "publically unaccountable". And, all-in-all, they do a fairly good job of moving bits from place to place. Why should we induce the inherent inefficiencies of a government buracracy in to this equation? There are already publically accessable computers available for those who can't afford internet access -- go to virtually any public library in the country; the government provides special funds for computers with Internet access (encumbered by restrictions, true, but funds are still provided). As far as I'm concerned, this is enough "information infrastructure" already.
          • Isn't a free and open connection to the Internet at least as important as your roads?

            Surely you jest. There's not even a comparison here. A "free and open" Internet connection is less important than a road system by several orders of magnitude. If you think it isn't, then let me ask you this- can you transport food, clothing, fuel, and building materials over the Internet? No. Is a transportation infrastructure necessary for moving those listed goods from their points of production to points of disbu

      • Re:Uh... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by JordanH ( 75307 ) on Thursday June 12, 2003 @05:58PM (#6186052) Homepage Journal
        The poster is talking about a world where there is no need for fiber or big radio transmitters as everybody's devices will all be talking and routing peer-to-peer.

        But, you've put your finger on a major problem. We'll still need long haul carriers, sattelite, cables under the ocean, big radio transmitters, etc., for the large distances between population concentrations.

        Someone would have to pay these costs. Right now, the line costs are pretty much shared by all to some extent as so much traffic goes over the public networks, but this peer-to-peer system might bring about a scenario where those who access long haul services pay more. There couldn't be automated routing to the big long haul pipes from the peer devices without a good way to charge it back to the user.

        Still, I could see where there could be less reliance on long haul lines than there is now. Local peer networks might bring about some economies. Right now, if you connect to a someone in your own town there's a good chance that your packets go through a dozen hops and travel thousands of miles, using lots of fiber. A system that really tried to route locally first might be more efficient and require less long haul infrastructure.

        I don't see how it could be practical if everyone didn't kick in some for long haul access, though.

        • Re:Uh... (Score:5, Funny)

          by darthtuttle ( 448989 ) <> on Thursday June 12, 2003 @06:11PM (#6186163) Homepage
          1) it's always cheaper to run landline for the highest speeds available.

          2) There are great distances between areas where people live. Despite apperances you can't go from DC to Boston through suburbs all the way.

          3) Data has to be served from somewhere, and you have to connect that to everyone somehow. Your not going to do multi Gigabit out of a medium sized Data center let alone the big ones.

          4) I can count.

          6) Even if we got rid of all the companies and did everything as a "community" project people would end up running things and those people would fight for power and the little guy would get charged to much in the end anyway.

          7) Whoops, I can't count.
          8) Have a nice day
      • Re:Uh... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Blue Stone ( 582566 )
        " Agreed. I'm glad it's free to run giant fiber optic cables across the ocean. Can't see any costs there. Or fiber into your house. Digging up roads to run lines into peoples houses costs pennies."

        If not RTFA, at least RTFQ(uestion):
        "What I want is a global extremely-high-speed ad-hoc wireless data & voice network..."

        Radio transmitters may not be cheap, but that's now, and doesn't mean that something can't be developed in the future to do away with ISPs and the like.

        As for those that seem to think t

    • Re:Uh... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Fembot ( 442827 )
      The problem is that as I see it we still need High bandwidth long distance connections for the backhaul (ie transatlantic/transcontiental links, and even between towns/cities). These links arent cheap to install or maintain, and someone's got to pay for it. Until cheap long distance, highbandwidth deregulatted connections are avalible this cant happen. End of story in my opinion
    • Is he saying he wants everything to be free, or that he wants to see a paradigm shift? I would love to see a non-governmental, non-profit communication authority that would charge the actual costs it incurs, rather than tack on an extra $10, $20, $30/month to make sure their revenue looks good to Wall Street.

      It can be done, and it can be done well. It'll just take someone with a strong business plan to do it...

  • TANSTAAFL (Score:2, Insightful)

    by swb ( 14022 )
    And there never will be.
  • by digerata ( 516939 ) * on Thursday June 12, 2003 @05:36PM (#6185819) Homepage
    is global nirvana. It just might solve world hunger, end all wars, and bring us as a species to the 'next level'. I can't wait. spffff in my wet dreams!
  • Roll your own DSL (Score:3, Informative)

    by Foofoobar ( 318279 ) on Thursday June 12, 2003 @05:36PM (#6185824)
    I. Cringely had a great article a while back about rolling your own DSL []. All you need is a copper pair into your domicile. Good luck getting it though
  • No charge????????? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ChaoticChaos ( 603248 ) * <l3sr-v4cf@spamex ... minus herbivore> on Thursday June 12, 2003 @05:37PM (#6185830)
    " Are there theoretical, political or economic reasons it couldn't work?"

    Uhhhh, as long as the equipment to transmit wirelessly and the electricity to power out isn't free (not counting the multitude of people to roll it out and support it), you're always going to be paying something.

    Hard to believe that a question devoid of basic Economics 101 would appear on Slashdot.

    • It's not even Economics 101. Just because ideas are free doesn't mean everything ELSE is. I mean seriously, you can have peer to peer wireless networks, but they ultimately piggyback on peoples' flat rate DSL line. I think that we should continue to push for flat rate internet access. As soon as everything is metered the possibilities dry up.
    • Have no fear.... It'll be duped before the day is over ;-P
    • What the author is looking for is described in Neal Stephenson's "The Diamond Age". Basically, all your electronic devices are ready and willing to receive and send packets from/to anyone else's devices (in Stephenson's book the devices are nanotech MEMs of some sort). Your encrypted communications just hop along from one person to the next until they reach their destination. I think it's a wonderful idea. Equip everything from phones to handhelds to t-shirts,etc with the ability to route data. The on
    • I don't think he asked for a Free, as in costless, system, he only wants to take the Telco out of the picture.
    • by no_opinion ( 148098 ) on Thursday June 12, 2003 @06:51PM (#6186511)
      Actually, not that surprising. Everyone here thinks music should be free, so why shouldn't communication infrastructure be free too?

      Given the number of "when I download music I'm not stealing because I'm not taking anything physical" I understand why there are people who have trouble grasping the costs associated with non-physical goods (like bandwidth).

  • by TheCrazyFinn ( 539383 ) on Thursday June 12, 2003 @05:37PM (#6185838) Homepage
    So, you want everybody to be restricted by the low-bandwith links common for last-mile today, no fast websites, and non-robust routing?

    I don't think you understand the value of redundant OC48 backbones, BGP4 and IS-IS routing, and colocated servers on gigE links.

    Your ad-hoc networks would be OK for MAN's (Metropolitan Area Networks), but are simply unusable for anykind of backbone.

    • by Tenebrious1 ( 530949 ) on Thursday June 12, 2003 @06:06PM (#6186134) Homepage
      Your ad-hoc networks would be OK for MAN's (Metropolitan Area Networks), but are simply unusable for anykind of backbone.

      Heh heh... data would take about 300 hops to get from my apartment in Brooklyn to a server in NYC going wireless to wireless. Where's the routing info going to come from in such a flat space? A huge 200GB routing table on each WAP? Some new border protocol that takes up 99% of the available bandwidth keeping itself current? A new IP addressing scheme based on location (like zip+4+IPv6)?

      What if I want to reach a server in Cali? I can see a string of single houses running through South Dakota through which all the east/west data has to pass. All choked down to 802.11b speeds. And suppose one of those guys gets fed up with the traffic and shuts down his WAP? Pony Express was more reliable.

  • Sure (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Indomitus ( 578 ) on Thursday June 12, 2003 @05:38PM (#6185847) Homepage Journal
    All you have to do is convince all of the companies involved (bandwidth owners, hardware manufacturers, administrators, etc.) to work for free and you'll be all set.

    Seriously. Every part of the chain costs money. Eventually somebody is going to be putting money from their pocket into somebody elses so unless you want to pay $10,000 for a network card and have the network card companies pass everybody's share along, you're going to have to pay a subscription of some sort.
  • by ReconRich ( 64368 ) on Thursday June 12, 2003 @05:38PM (#6185848) Homepage
    The big problem with this is, that without some "authority" moderating use of the "common" bandwidth, manufacturers of comm hardware have every incentive to build devices that hog bandwith, and other common resources, until the whole system becomes unusable.

    -- Rich
    • Lessig proposes to solve this by technical standards, backed by law: the bandwidth has no central authority, but there are power limitations and protocols for the devices so that everyone can "talk".

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 12, 2003 @05:44PM (#6185933)
      No, the big problem is that the question is stupid and that it makes no sense.

      It's not "the Man" that screws you into paying internet access costs - it costs money to lay wires and run all of the routers on the internet. This is a fact. Wireless infrastructure is stupid on a large area network, as you waste virtually all of your power transmitting to areas where there are no listening machines (or no applicably listening machines).

      Why does slashdot continue to let 14-year-olds with dreams of free everything post to Ask Slashdot?
  • What I want (Score:3, Funny)

    by ihummel ( 154369 ) <ihummel@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Thursday June 12, 2003 @05:38PM (#6185854)
    "What I want is a global extremely-high-speed ad-hoc wireless data & voice network, where the only entry cost is a mobile phone (or newtork card or whatever)."

    What I want is all of Bill Gate's money, all of Jeff Bezos's patents, and a quick easy way of getting rid of SCO once and for all (e.g., a tactical nuke).

    I think that my desire is more realistic.
  • 2 problems (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jonhuang ( 598538 ) on Thursday June 12, 2003 @05:39PM (#6185857) Homepage
    1. freeloader problem--your privately designed cell phones will be replaced with bandwidth suckers that don't do replays. No controlling body, so can't stop it.

    2. no "backbone"--hopping accross phones works around the city (maybe), but how many hops will it take to get to.. japan? and don't forget that there's some countable amount of milliseconds per transfer--to get accross the nation is a lot of cell-phone coverage sized hops. Plus, we have to go around the grand canyon.
    • Re:2 problems (Score:3, Interesting)

      "freeloader problem--your privately designed cell phones will be replaced with bandwidth suckers that don't do replays. No controlling body, so can't stop it."

      Nobody said that there would be no controlling authority (or maybe he did, but it's a baseless assumption).

      The ultimate goal of governmental control, in theory (please, I know it does not always work quite this way) is to regulate various aspects of public life in order to best serve the public good. This is the point of intellectual property, t

  • by gantzm ( 212617 ) on Thursday June 12, 2003 @05:39PM (#6185858)
    You would have a long time with islands of well connected individuals. And these islands wouldn't be connected to each other. I.E. how would cities be connected? Through a series of wireless cards in some farmers computer? I don't think so.
  • Who the hell do you think maintains those "global extremely-high-speed ad-hoc wireless data & voice networks"?

    They don't just happen by accident. There is TREMENDOUS expense and expertise necessary to keep them running and "servicing" the customers.
  • While this is a very interesting Neo-Utopian vision, it really falls the reality test. Simply put, there are - and always will be - set, fixed operating costs of keeping a system up and running. Those costs have to be carried by those that use the system.

    That said, is it possible that we could get to the point - given the advances in technology - where there is very little, if any, variable costs associated with our telecom infrastructure? Yes, I do! TelCos and ISP are quickly moving to flat-rate pricing f
  • WTF (Score:3, Insightful)

    by papasui ( 567265 ) on Thursday June 12, 2003 @05:41PM (#6185882) Homepage
    With all due respect, this has to be the dumbest 'Ask Slashdot' topic I've ever read. Of course you don't NEED telco's or ISPs. Unless of course you want internet and phone service. Since the majority of people who have internet are still on dialup I think your are atleast 10 years to early for a global wireless solution where everyone peers off each other, if this ever happens at all.
  • Hmmmmmm... (Score:3, Funny)

    by airrage ( 514164 ) on Thursday June 12, 2003 @05:41PM (#6185884) Homepage Journal
    Are telecom providers and ISPs going to continue to be necessary in the future?
    Answer: Yes, the phone company will still be in existence.

    Why are we all paying subscriptions for communicating?
    Answer: Because string and two tin cans just doesn't cut it.

    What I want is a global extremely high-speed ad-hoc wireless data & voice network, where the only entry cost is a mobile phone (or network card or whatever).
    Answer: Isn't Science Fiction neat?

    Devices communicate peer-to-peer, or routed via other people's idle devices. Remember there are no subscriptions, so don't expect to piggyback on someone's paid for DSL bandwidth.
    Answer: If you are talking future state, what's up with the DSL reference? I think we should all grow prosthetic-tails, which act like antennas.

    What are the technological barriers? What kind of protocols would you need? What hardware advances? How would you solve problems of geographic isolation? Are there theoretical, political or economic reasons it couldn't work?"
    Answer: 42
  • Somehow, your packets have to get from point A to point B. There have to be some machines that know the points C, D, E, and F that fit in between. You can't just expect idle nodes to know the best path from one to another, or even a possible path.

    Since there have to be machines that know the routes, there has to be somebody to administer them. In order for someone to administer enough machines, there have to either be enough volunteers or companies to pay them. If you have companies, you can be sure t

  • Another thing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tacokill ( 531275 ) on Thursday June 12, 2003 @05:42PM (#6185893)
    One more point before I am done with this thread...

    "why are we all paying subscriptions for communicating?"

    Communicating is not what you are paying for. It's still free to communicate with anyone in the world. Just go get your plane ticket (mail your money, please) and fly on over to strike up your conversation.

    This article is so assinine, I am already tired of writing.
  • what we need... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ty ( 15982 ) on Thursday June 12, 2003 @05:42PM (#6185902)
    what we need is a new moderation option for the original submission: "-1 Fucking Idiot"
    • Re:what we need... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by hargettp ( 74445 ) *
      Okay, this is making me cranky, so let me use my karma bonus to reply.

      We all know that nirvana is hard to achieve, so why are we wasting time insulting eraserewind when *instead* we could be hypothesizing about *how* to head towards nirvana a little more??

      And, no, I'm not fucking new here--you probably are, and pretty much ruining it for the rest of us who used to like coming here for insightful discussions about the possibilities of technology.

  • by etcshadow ( 579275 ) on Thursday June 12, 2003 @05:43PM (#6185912)
    So, yeah, it does meen making use of the existing (paid for) network first. How does that work? Well, first of all, everyone with a wireless link starts routing to all there peers (or at least, the early adopters build pringes can links to other early adopters), and shares their uplinks (free of charge).

    The thing standing in the way of that happening (I've put a lot of thought into this already, myself) is the lack of a suitable dynamic routing protocol for these routers... how do you get these wireless mesh nodes with uplinks to the *real* internet to properly route and make good use of those uplinks? Currently no dynamic routing protocol is designed for such a task.
  • by azoidx ( 615249 ) on Thursday June 12, 2003 @05:43PM (#6185913)
    this is a baited question. I have 1/2 dozen or so phone bills but what i really need is for my cell phone to double as my wireless router to my home network, and get 3G/4G high speed service.
    when the heck am i going to get that?
    Sprint, hello? can you do that for me?
    then i can cancel my landline and earthlink account and have only my cellphone bill.
  • Are there theoretical, political or economic reasons it couldn't work?,em>

    Yes. All of the above.
  • probably wouldnt work unless there was an extreme density of cheap wireless devices. Something like this is far off down the road, although it is feasible in high density communities. If we had lots of money to throw around, local goverments could provide the wireless access in medium to large cities. Central government could cover rural and smaller towns. This is far flung to say the least. Large corp. users would probably want their access to be more secure and reliable, regardless of how secure and relia
  • Problems? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bagheera ( 71311 ) on Thursday June 12, 2003 @05:46PM (#6185944) Homepage Journal
    Technical problems?

    Yes. Wireless doesn't have the bandwidth to provide service everywhere everytime for everyone. Assuming the hardware was in place, there would be limits to how much traffic each node could pass and the aggregate bandwidth betweem all the nodes wouldn't be as great as that provided by fibre links.

    Political problems?

    ILECs, CLECs, Cable Co's, Govenments, etc., take your pick. It's an idyllic concept but too many people will want their piece of their pie.

    Economic problems?

    The system (were it technically workable) would require a large installed base before it would work AT ALL. Who's going to go out and buy new gear in the hopes the system will reach critical mass and become viable? Let's not forget the incumbants lobying the above point to keep from losing out on this point.

    While the concept is certainly interesting, and could probably work on limited scales (p2p locally, then into a Supernode for long distance. I seem to remember Ricochet used something similar, with data hopping across subscriber nodes to reach the main towers) there's no way it'll work in the current social, economic, political, or technical climate.

  • by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Thursday June 12, 2003 @05:47PM (#6185953) Homepage Journal
    What if wireless repeaters became so common place globally, you didn't need 'copper'?
    The the cost would be price of repeater, communication device, and electricity. Why would we needs Telcos?
    • Oh, just the cost of a repeater, communication device and electricity. That's all right? Nope. You need someone to maintain it and make sure it doesn't go down. Then there's the problem of radio interference, interference between competing repeaters, organizing where these repeaters go, etc.

      What do you think you *pay* your telco for? A line? No you pay for all of these services -- and more.

    • Who would pay for the hardware and electricity? And what would keep any repeater from suffering from a "Tragedy of the Commons"? There are some things that economics are good for, after all!

  • We could use P2P wireless and it could work. Its just a matter of us deciding its what we want to do and writing the code to do it.
  • Great! (Score:3, Funny)

    by El ( 94934 ) on Thursday June 12, 2003 @05:52PM (#6186008)
    So, under such a system it would be FREE to call across the Atlantic... provided there is a solid line of swimmers with cell phones all spaced a half mile apart all the way between the coasts... personally, I'd rather pay somebody to build an infrastructure.
  • You know this sounds like a spammers dream come true.

  • by Kjella ( 173770 )
    1. Prohibitive Cost
    2. Unstable network structure (routing)
    3. Bandwidth hogging equipment and users
    4. Anonymous spammers/hackers/scum
    5. Lack of long-run cables (who'll run an OC48 over the Atlantic to feed the "Peoplenet"?)

    Those would be just a few reasons it doesn't work. I think everyone will agree on the right Linux distro before that happens... (and for an encore the BSDs will unite, and both BSD and Linux unite in OSS heaven). If I wanted to dream that bad, it would involve several females and a bunch
  • A defense (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hargettp ( 74445 ) * on Thursday June 12, 2003 @05:56PM (#6186040)
    I'd like to speak in defense of eraserewind.

    Criticisms about e. asking for a free lunch, or forgetting economics 101 are missing the point: can wireless technology evolve to a point where our dependency on land-lines is greatly reduced? And can technology be created that accomodates such a world, where every computer is both a transceiver and a relay for traffic?

    I would strongly contend the answer is yes. Why? Several trends contribute to the answer.

    1. The rapidly increasing bandwidth and range of WiFi and its derivatives. In less than 5 years, we have seen WiFi move from a fringe technology to mainstream deployment, with the 2nd generation (802.11g, just ratified as a standard) increasing bandwidth by 5-fold.
    2. The increase in applications that exploit peer-to-peer or networked models. The problem with developing networked, distirbuted applications is that they take a different mindset than the ones used to create a single app with a single purpose for a single user on a single machine. As more and more applications adopt these more sophisticated network modesl (e.g. Napster, Gnutella, Jabber, Groove Networks, JINI, JXTA, etc.), the technology will get better.
    3. The number of people who depend exclusively on their cell phones (a related wireless technology), rather than home phones. Such a cultural change will cut into telco revenue--already has.
    4. The number of people who use cable for broadband, not DSL (especially in urban areas). Same as the above, for telcos.
    5. The recurrence of hotspots and "free community networking" as a meme in techno-cultural discourse. Good ideas that don't die prove they have a germ of truth, and only add momentum over time. The final outcome is rarely what everyone would expect (e.g., free wireless for everyone, everywhere), but any good idea that won't go away has proven itself. And who does that impact? The ISPs. When every node is able to negotiate its own entry into the network--who needs ISPs? That was their original function: negotiate the entry to the network.

    There's more that would suggest that ISPs and Telcos of the future will either not exist or be radically different, but I haven't eaten my supper yet, so I'm too tired to articulate more thoroughly. It's easy to see that telcos will consolidate around providing high-capacity long-distance links for businesses--wireless will lag beyond land-lines for a long time on both counts will win. And ISPs? In a pervasively networked world, where many nodes are mobile (and many users may switch among multiple, personal nodes), some things have to remain at fixed, well-known nodes--leaving ISPs to consolidate around various forms of hosting and co-location. It may be that in the future, that's what happens to telcos and ISPs: network providers that offer co-location and hosting services.

    • by poptones ( 653660 ) on Thursday June 12, 2003 @06:26PM (#6186296) Journal
      I'm amazed at the reception this discussion topic has been given. I wonder how many slashdotters would have said, fifty years ago, how ridiculous the idea was that oneday we could all be publishers in our own homes, able to, in an instant, sell anything we could invent anywhere around the world! given what I've read so far, it seems likely most would have scoffed at that notion as well.

      If metropolitan areas were linked by a peer system - where the "price" of having a telephone or a being able to view the popular media of that culture (in whatever form, whether written or not) were to buy a box for a couple hundred bucks and pay the energy bill on its use, then that would become the fair unit of exchange. We would no longer value "bandwidth" because it would no longer be a limited resource (just like the printing press - duh). And if these metro areas wanted to communicate with other areas at higher speed, they could pool resources (ie taxes) to a national agency that would maintain such a high speed infrastructure for their use.

      Of course, that would put the individual metro areas at the mercy of this national organization - not a good thing. So the sensible thing would be to contract with many providers and let them compete with one another for their share of that aggregated bandwidth.

      Which is really pretty much what we have - or could have - right now. Nothing at all preventing you from forming a community network and accepting a monthly fee to pool for the connection to the world. Individuals could even participate for free in the local community (ie local phone service and local TV) for nothing, but would contribute to the pool if they wanted to access the greater network.

      What's most limiting this right now is the lack of standardized hardware that people feel comfortable with - ie a telephone, a radio receiver, a TV set. If we could buy an telephone at wal-mart for twenty bucks, or a radio, or a completely plug and play box that could act as a bridge to our existing telephones and TVs, then such community networks would likely explode in number.

      Or perhaps I should say when and will...

  • 1) Start your own telco

    2) Charge others to use your new system

    3) ???

    4) Lose money!!!!

    Face it dude, you gotta pay the bill somehow. They have to pay you, so you can pay them (read: the people who operate and maintain this network), so they can pay them (their creditors, the groceries), so they can... you get the idea. High school economics, anyone?

  • you need to have a way of knowing where the device at ip 53:68:102:59:04:90 (assuming ip6 or similar) is. making the network ad-hoc is much more complicated... how do you know what's where? you don't, unless you're clever about it. maybe you have to maintain some sort of central dbase with ip addresses and gps locations (introduces privacy concerns, and has latency problems). any thoughts on this?
  • Tried this earlier as anonymous, but it sank, so here it is with a name attached...

    manet []

    It's the mobile ad-hoc networking IETF group doing just what he's talking about. And as everybody would probably expect, QoS is the biggest obstacle.

  • by SuperBanana ( 662181 ) on Thursday June 12, 2003 @06:06PM (#6186127)
    Why are we all paying subscriptions for communicating?

    Because infrastructure and reliability costs money(no no, trust me, I get more insightful below. Well, maybe not insightful. It's hard to answer this story insightfully, I just point out the facts.) Communications mediums are WORTHLESS if they are unreliable, which is one of the reasons cell phones took decades to "take off"(realize that it's been at least 3 decades since the cell phone was invented, and only in the last 5-6 has there really been a cell phone boom, at least in the US. Realize that the # complaint with cell phones is still how unreliable they are.)

    Devices communicate peer to peer, or routed via other people's idle devices.(snip) What are the technological barriers?

    Well, you asked, so here goes:

    • Latency- you're multiplying the hop count astronomically.
    • Routing- the internet has something of a routing crisis already, with routes being incredibly complex. Now, you've passed the buck to each system or workstation- and it has to know, geographically, where it is and where all the other nodes within range are, so that it knows who to pass a packet to(no sense in passing it to the laptop sitting right next to you, is there?) This might be possible, if the routes were at least semi-permanent, but they're not- they're constantly moving, nodes are going up+down...which brings us to...
    • Reliability- systems will crash while handling a packet, or simply never see a packet due to interference- RF or physical(something blocks the signal). That's just on a pure network level. On a higher level, communications are worthless without reliability. You've GOT to be able to pick up the phone and get a dialtone for so many reasons- emergency services, business...
    • Speed. Due to extreme unreliability, retransmission will be a severe problem. That means TCP windows won't get very big- and remember how high latency is? That means data transfer rates will be incredibly, incredibly low. Overhead will skyrocket. Even a couple percent packet loss can seriously affect performance.
    • Leeching. People will hack their devices to simply refuse to answer routing requests. This is what's happening, basically, on p2p networks...and believe it or not, accounting/policing it is almost impossible without a centralized system.

    There are also some hidden consequences, like "everyone's mobile device is no longer idle, it's processing someone else's packets, so its battery life goes into the toilet".

    How would you solve problems of geographic isolation?

    That's just it- you'd need wires/fiber/something...and that would cost money. But, reliability would be far better- so people would opt for wired connections they had to pay for. Oops, right back where you started.

    Also related- the reason high-speed access costs so much money in the US is because of geographic isolation and population density. It's no surprise that several Asian countries have DSL service in the megabyte-per-second range to your door for $10-20/mo; after all, you're probably in a huge apartment complex, in a city.

    If the population density isn't high enough to support pricing high speed access low enough, I doubt you'll have enough nodes to even occasionally get any kind of connectivity to anything else- much less guarantee it.

    Back to the cell phone example- look at how many billions(if not trillions?) of dollars have been poured into the cellphone network(which in turn is reliant upon a larger wired network.) I don't care what network you're on, soon as you get a little bit beyond the suburbs, off a major highway- forget it, you're screwed.

    Are there theoretical, political or economic reasons it couldn't work?

    Well, for one, if you did telephone calls over this "system", I'd move to another country. When I pick up the phone, I damn well expect a dialtone, because, oh, say, my house could be on fire. There are no doubt thousands of o

    • by hargettp ( 74445 ) * on Thursday June 12, 2003 @06:11PM (#6186170)
      Definitely making some good points, but can I point out that underneath it all e-mail has always been considered an UNRELIABLE technology, yet it is the most succesful internet application ever to this point in history. People have an interest in interacting with one another, and they'll tolerate the lack of reliability at least for a while as a technology matures. Of course, if the reliability of a technology never improves, I wouldn't argue that people wouldn't drop it like the big fad that it was.
  • a) Your submission to slashdot finally gets accepted

    b) Your submission lacked intelligence, forethought, and anything else that made a good story

    c) Thousands of geeks read your article, and a great multitude reply back to clue you in on (b).

    Seriously, a "how can I get XX which happens to cost YY for free" article is just lame. You're one of those people who buys those "you are paying for a site where you can get a PS2 for $20" ebay auctions, aren't you?
  • Cmon...didn't someone HAVE A BRAIN?

    Troll POSTS are one thing.....

    troll STORIES? jheez

    Editors....YHL, YHBT, HAND.

  • Pessimism of /.ers (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ralphmyers ( 551567 )
    Browsing through all of the threads of this article I have found nothing but negative replies. Obviously the idea won't work tommorow, but does that mean that it will forever be unfeasible? C'mon I thought we were supposed to be the freethinkers, the idealists right? How 'bout instead of dismissing this because of its faults, someone post an alternative, or way that we could make it work?
    I'll start:
    Use cordless phones as a starting point. Have the base station of the phone repeat the signal accross many
  • This wireless network is totally free and is very scalable. It's also a good authentication-problem solver, since it uses some kind of https login. Cisco has tried making the same thing (and is so similar to NoCat that I wonder if they stole the idea).

    What's it all about?

    We are working to build a community supported 802.11b wireless network in Sonoma County, CA. We are also actively developing NoCatAuth, the centralized authentication code that make shared Internet services possible. This si
  • no wait. i'll host a bank on my P4 at home.
  • by default luser ( 529332 ) on Thursday June 12, 2003 @06:14PM (#6186185) Journal
    Sure, it's possible, but no, it would never work.

    First of all, you have the problem of latency. The only reason you can cross the USA in 40ms and the Atlantic in 100 is high-speed backbones. ad-hoc networks are going to have terrible latency, on the order of seconds.

    Combine thousands of crappy routers with thin pipes contantly re-negotiating in between yourself and your target node, and you get crap latency.

    Second of all, you've got to supply the other aspect backbones supply: links between population centers. You don't think every hick in Nebraska and every desert dweller in New Mexico is gonna contribute to this, do you?
  • by NoData ( 9132 ) < minus author> on Thursday June 12, 2003 @06:17PM (#6186217)
    What I want is a global extremely-high-speed ad-hoc wireless data & voice network, where the only entry cost is a mobile phone (or newtork card or whatever)

    And what I want is a pony.
  • by ( 156602 ) * on Thursday June 12, 2003 @06:22PM (#6186257) Homepage Journal
    We don't need no stinking Telcos (and ISPs)? We're doing just fine witho^ÏÆ'©âcgs7ww8

  • Reasons.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by xchino ( 591175 ) on Thursday June 12, 2003 @06:26PM (#6186297)
    Infrastructure costs money. It's easy to say "Let's just stick a bunch of wireless radios all over the world", but it's much more difficult to implement. Who is going to foot the costs of the radios, leasing land or roof space, maintaining connections, etc. etc.

    This question has most definately come from someone with end-user only experience. Anyone who actually "makes the wires work" knows it isn't easy, and it's certainly not cheap. This is just the unchecked imagination of an idealistic DSL user fed up with paying for services. You don't get your electricity, water, gas, cable, or any of the other utilities free, why should communication services be any different?

    A more reasonable question would be, why are we still paying such high prices for these services. The answer to that, however, is simple. The public infrastructure is owned by government sponsored monopolies.

    • Re:Reasons.. (Score:3, Insightful)

      You don't get your electricity, water, gas, cable, or any of the other utilities free, why should communication services be any different?

      electricity, water, and gas are resources obtained from nature. someone has to obtain and distribute them

      cable consists of information and entertainment. information can be distributed in other (possibly more efficient ways), and its entertainment value is a matter of taste. i find its entertainment value to be very low, even negative, due to the unaviodable presence

  • For sure!:) (Score:3, Interesting)

    by zmooc ( 33175 ) <zmooc&zmooc,net> on Thursday June 12, 2003 @07:36PM (#6186825) Homepage
    It's only a matter of time before:
    • Wifi becomes really really fast
    • Long-range Wifi becomes really cheap
    • All Wifi stations are connected on a huge Mesh network
    • Everything is encrypted and signed
    • Bandwidth and memory are so abundant that keeping a list of all nodes and routes on this huge network becomes easy
    • Batteries get replaced by hydrogen power cells which promise a theoretical 100-fold improvement over batteries
    • Camera's get really small
    • retina-laser-projection HUD displays are default in glasses
    • You control what you do or who you communicate to by looking at your HUD (that's also possible already)
    It's inevitable - probably during our lifetime we'll be wiressly connected just about everywhere while being able to talk to everybody for free and sending high resolution life-video from just about everywhere to just about everywhere. Control TV's, stereo's, lights and microwaves wirelessly with your eye-movements. Work on the beach lying in the sun on your back. But your head's in the office/school. Or in the cinema:) And ordering a drink is a matter of seconds.

    But there's more:

    • Cam, HUD and videofilters will make the sun shine everywhere and you can be in any possible virtual room you want together with all your friends
    • Face-recognition will bring up names next to people while they automatically send you their business card, blink once to talk - even if the other person is pretty far away
    • Zooming is default on all glasses
    IMHO all this is just a matter of time - all basic technologies exist and everything's getting faster, cheaper, smaller, wider...
  • knee jerk (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gotih ( 167327 ) on Thursday June 12, 2003 @08:14PM (#6187032) Homepage
    reading the responses here is so depressing! you pepole have no vision! this idea is largely possible, we just have to do it. don't wait for the telcos to make a high speed network in your neighborhood or apartment building. DO IT YOURSELF. NOW.

    1. create a high speed ad-hoc network covering say 100 households
    2. create a high speed connection to a neighboring community who has done similar.
    3. repeat
    stir in Internet connections via radio or fiber as needed.

    and while you are at it, get some good bandwidth back from the military (through government lobbying).

    no really, we can have free high speed internet access. i give my neighbors free access through a wireless router.

    it happens gradually.
  • An actual ANSWER... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by zachrahan ( 600868 ) on Thursday June 12, 2003 @08:18PM (#6187057)
    The question asked was about (1) possible problems with a totally ad-hoc communication model, and (2) what solutions to those problems may be. Typically, everyone immediately leapt all over the problems, but nobody seems to have any interest in the solutions.

    Well, here are some ideas about what you would need to make this work and to deal with the problems.

    Problem 1: Freeloaders. Well, you could design a tit-for-tat protocol where you never rebroadcast packets from a freeloader. Think Bittorrent, where if you don't share, you don't get good download badnwidth. The game-theoretic knowledge is there to design an ad hoc protocol where the Nash equilibrium behavior is to not freeload.

    Problem 2: Long Hops. OK, so long distance pipes cost money. And they won't go away soon, because some, posibly large, fraction of traffic needs them. So let the operators of the pipes charge tolls. You could have a whole ad hoc marketplace where some people let you use their hardware for free, and others charge. You tell your computer how much money and what QoS you want, and it tries to route effectively.

    There are problems here, of course. One is how to establish trust -- how to do billing in an anonymous ad hoc system? Some sort of self-signed certs might be made to work... or maybe we'd need a palladium-ish technology? Either of these solutions can also help with the problem of needing end-to-end encryption on everything.

    So there. I've thrown out some solutions. They may have problems, but at least its a start, instead of grousing about the original question.

  • World minus telco's (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JWSmythe ( 446288 ) * <> on Thursday June 12, 2003 @09:12PM (#6187304) Homepage Journal
    Hmmmm.. This sounds interesting. So you want a communications network that doesn't actually require an infrastructure? If there's any additional equipment required, you'll always have to have someone to pay for it. Your phone bill goes to your telco's costs, like paying for the wires, hardware, physical locations, staff, etc, etc, etc...

    I like the idea of the wireless peer networking idea.. If you're in range of other devices, you can relay through them. There was a PDA out a year or two ago targeted towards school kids that could do that. But it was limited to about 100' range. I suppose it could be done with an ad-hoc network, but there are definate problems with it.. Like, what happens if you have too many people in the same place? What if you're the only link to the next network?

    I'd definately not want to be the only point between two large groups.

    But, it's not on "the" internet, unless there's a peering.. Peerings don't come free. Without a peering, you don't see the Internet.

    Wireless, as it is, won't cut it. There are a few places in the world that would be obsticles to this, such as oceans (a subtle percentage of the earth's surface), and deserts.. I drove across I-10 not too long ago, and saw a whole lot of dirt and rocks, but had no signal on my phone, and no AM or FM reception. I know what I drove across (4 lanes of pavement 2000+ miles long) is a very small sample of what's out there. A boost in power could work, but it would also cause *LOTS* of interference. Imagine 10 people broadcasting at high power in the middle of the desert. They'd have no problems reaching each other.. Now imagine the same broadcast power in a "hyperdense" area []. 83,000 people per square mile in New York.. That would be messy. Good thing cell phones are low power, and they have a lot of towers.

    To get access *anywhere*, you'd need a more distributed method.. Iridium [] has a beautiful network of satellites, with both data and voice service, but you're going to have to pay for using it.. Someone paid a few dollars to get those satellites up there.

    Until people are willing to do things for free, and receive things for free, you won't see free connectivity.. Now you're looking at a Star Trek Utopia that will never happen.

    I for one, am willing to give my time, but it's going to take a lot more than the two of us, and someone's going to have to figure out where the equipment comes from to do something like this. You can just go war-driving, and find poorly configured access points, and do VoIP on those. :) You're limited to being within range of their AP's though.

  • by eraserewind ( 446891 ) on Friday June 13, 2003 @12:33AM (#6188244)
    Well that puts me in my place!

    I ask a simple question in the hopes of stimulating some debate. You people are so closed minded. Well, you live an learn. You won't be hearing more from me on slashdot after this post. (are those cheers I hear?!)

    Thank you to everyone who answered with reasonable answers either for or against. Before I go I'll answer some of the points people raised.

    Land Lines & Infrastructure

    I am talking about a wireless network with no central infrastructure, no land lines, just peer devices.

    The initial costs of a centralised netowrk are huge. Do you think that operators are going to continue to roll out huge networks after the fiasco that was 3G? (and regular broadband/cable TV in many areas). I think we'll wait a long time before we see those kind of investment by any central organisation again.

    The total costs of a distributed network are even more huge. However the cost is spread among whoever wants to pay for their devices. See that FAX story on slashdot from a while ago for an analogy.

    Free as in ... peer?

    I don't want the infrastructure or services I need for free.

    I am not a freeloader or pirate. I am quite willing to pay for my equipment. I just want it to be subscriptionless. The cost of the network is built into the the device and whatever it costs in electricity (at least until I fine tune the cold fusion process & matter replicator that I've been working on that is). If this means $50bn devices as someone mentioned, then so be it ;) Technology prices come down all the time though. How much is an ethernet card today compared to when it first arrived?

    Let me ask a question, do you pay a subscription for a bluetooth PAN? For WiFi in your home? Why not? Are you ripping someone off by not doing so? Why not extend the metaphor to communities, or towns, or cities, or the world? I am quite aware that there are problems of scale and many others which was why I asked the question. I wanted to see what you all thought could be potential solutions. Seems you'd mostly prefer to take cheap shots or try to look cool or whatever.

    I don't expect to connect to existing networks like the internet, GSM, POTS etc. for free. They are largely owned by private operators and if you want to connect to them they are going to charge you for that privelege. However if you have a no-subscription network out there then maybe web sites, and all those other services that appear on communication networks would start to appear on it, or even migrate exclusively to it.

    Spectrum saturation & interference

    I don't know enough about about spectrum to answer this myself, so I'll point you at this GnuRadio: MeshNetworks [] and also this slashdot story The Myth of Radio Spectrum Interference [] which was featured on slashdot a while ago, and ask it it just BS? They seem to me to be saying that the more nodes in a wireless network, the greater the bandwidth.

    Battery life:

    This is a problem that is going to take a long time to solve unless there are some major breakthroughs in battery technology. I have no suggestions.


    Difficult? For sure, but impossible?

    You don't have to use IP you know. It's not the internet. I think that it is going to be possible for devices to route to others. I'm not saying it's easy but surely not impossible to at least get a "good enough" algorighm?

    I recall reading somewhere about a routing algorithm that was modeled on ant's behaviour to achieve good enough shortest path finding. Is there no scope within this or other areas of research to make advances? Here's a link to one similar paper I found now just to proove I'm not hallucinating: 00079abs.htm . Use g

  • by bwt ( 68845 ) on Friday June 13, 2003 @02:06AM (#6188538) Homepage
    Great Question. As I said above Boo-Hiss to the early responses and moderation. I'll try a serious answer.

    The technological barriers are:
    1) Wireless equipment cost -- it has to come down by a factor of 10 or 20 so that ordinary people can afford to solve their own personal connectivity problems by direct personal action. The range and bandwidth per dollar have to imporve. Mass production of cheep roof-based antenae and other WiFi gear needs to happen. When you can get a 1 mile range for $30, this will take off.

    2) Routing protocols -- TCP/IP probably wont work because there will be too many hops and it is too hard to administrate. The network topology will be an order of magnitude more complicated. TCP/IP doesn't deal well with ad-hoc roaming connectivity. Rest assured some really smart people are working on these problems.

    3) Making the technology user-friendly and turnkey. Joe sixpack isn't going to want to look at a linux prompt to administrate his peer-to-peer router.

    4) New application protocols -- if you throw out TCP/IP to deal with adhoc roaming P2P, you have to rethink everything that rides on top of it: DNS, EMAIL, HTTP, etc... Consider something as simple as establishing your default gateway. What if it wanders out of range?

    The geographic isolation problem is directly a function of cost, range, and popularity. Keep in mind that in rural settings, people generally don't have cable or DSL anyway, so the pressure is even greater to find a high bandwidth solution. People were willing to put antenaes on their roofs to get TV -- I'd exect they'd do it for free broadband too. It's a simple matter of making it affordable to use repeaters when necessary.

    The political barriers are IMHO the most likely to kill this. AT&T, Sprint, WorldCom etc simply don't want people to obsolete them. You think the RIAA and MPAA are a formidable lobby? Try the telcos. They would attack the uncontrollability of such networks. How do you stop child porn on a P2P wireless network? How do you stop copyright infringement? How do you wiretap terrorists and organized crime when there are no wires?

    The economic barriers for deployment are pretty straight forward: equipment cost, range, and bandwidth. But the real question is how do you deal with malicious behavior by network participants? I imagine that trust networks problems have to be solved. How do you avoid the tradgedy of the commons (ie bandwidth hogs). Spam will still be a problem.

"Well, social relevance is a schtick, like mysteries, social relevance, science fiction..." -- Art Spiegelman