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re The Killer App of 1900
From: Dave Farber <dave () farber net>
Date: Wed, 16 Dec 2009 09:56:36 -0500

Begin forwarded message:

From: Rahul Tongia <tongia.cmu () gmail com>
Date: December 16, 2009 8:51:48 AM EST
To: dave () farber net
Cc: ip <ip () v2 listbox com>
Subject: Re: [IP] The Killer App of 1900


For IP Consideration, though I've already shared this with another group :)

A few brief observations (I've written about broadband as a utility, or at least the fiber so competition can be at higher layers...background disclaimer)

1) Utility type services are mostly regulated. In return for guaranteed returns and relatively low risk, the provider *must* provide services within their territory - unlike cell phones where if you don't have coverage at your house, you can try to switch carriers, or switch homes.

2) Utility type services inevitably have an element of cross- subsidy. Electricity rates for all homes in a coverage area are the same, regardless of home, apartment, mountain shack, etc. (there are variances for industry, commercial, etc.). Trying to make a system where everybody pays their "fair" cost is tricky for several reasons, beyond transaction costs. (a) The answer changes changes all the time (need a very dynamic system); (b) The issues are often very local; (c) Most importantly, the issues of average versus marginal costs [latter lower, and MUCH lower in the broadband world] have multiple models of cost allocation, each with their tradeoffs.

That said, I am happy with a regulated fiber utility with cross- subsidies so everyone (or, say, 98 or 99% of homes) can get it. We could have competition at different layers. Using the road analogy, we don't build 3 roads in the name of competition. Ford/GM/Toyota compete (or we hope they do); DHL, FedEx, and UPS compete, etc. Contractors compete to fill potholes, etc.


On Wed, Dec 16, 2009 at 7:16 PM, David Farber <dave () farber net> wrote:

Begin forwarded message:

From: Brian Randell <Brian.Randell () ncl ac uk>
Date: December 16, 2009 5:53:55 AM EST
To: dave () farber net
Subject: The Killer App of 1900

Hi Dave:

For IP if you wish.




> Tech Nerd
> The Killer App of 1900
> by Glenn Fleishman, 12/11/2009, 11:18 AM
> It's instructional to look back 100 years, not long after the first electrical generation plants were built to bring power to towns and cities, to assess the situation we find ourselves in with broadband availability today.
> A hundred years ago, lighting was the killer app for electricity, the thing that made it worthwhile to have installed. No one particularly understood what else electricity might bring to the mass market, because other uses were generally specialized, the province of experts, the wealthy, or industry. Compressors to allow refrigeration and freezing, electric heat, and other innovations came later to homes.
> Arguments raged from the start of electrical power generation against municipal ownership of utilities, partly for practical reasons: Many early efforts around the world had led to huge debt and poor operations when cities got involved. But the experience wasn't uniform, and neither was the quality of privately owned enterprises.
> . . .

Full article at:


School of Computing Science, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne,
EMAIL = Brian.Randell () ncl ac uk   PHONE = +44 191 222 7923
FAX = +44 191 222 8232  URL = http://www.cs.ncl.ac.uk/people/brian.randell

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