Ponder the possibilities for funding network infrastructure. Think about how to contact persons dispersed after a cataclysm. Understand the deep significance of exchanging a chicken. This isn’t highly successful fiction, or merely a fantasy game that you can enjoy from the comfort of your telecom fortress. If you’re not reading Telepocalypse, you really are gonna be left behind!
As an FCC bureaucrat, I’m intrigued by a recent discovery about the spineless gene. I’m trying to understand better the demand for communications services, particularly across sensory modes. A leading researcher on the spineless gene in fruit flies explained:
“Spineless plays a key role in the antenna and maxillary palp, the two major olfactory organs of the fly,” said Ian Duncan. “It’s also important in mechanosensory bristles and in the taste receptors of the legs, wings, and mouth parts. There has been a sensory theme to the gene, and now we learn from Claude’s work that it plays a key role in color vision.”
The spineless gene also produces certain random structures apparent in the eye:
“Nobody knew what controlled this random pattern,” said Dianne Duncan. “Now we know it’s spineless.”
This discovery may provide an important insight into the evolution of the communications industry.
A forthcoming Michigan Law Review article on J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series indicates that these books present a “scathing portrait of government”:
a Ministry of Magic run by self-interested bureaucrats bent on increasing and protecting their power, often to the detriment of the public at large.
The author, a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School, explains that Rowling’s critique of government:
is also particularly effective because, despite how awful Rowling’s Ministry of Magic looks and acts, it bears such a tremendous resemblance to current Anglo-American government.
This is mere fantasy. It’s self-interested scholarly attention-seeking that makes little contribution to public knowledge at large.
All of the 21,000 villages in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh will soon have 100 Mbps Internet service. The state government sought private-sector bids for the project, contributed about 14% of project equity, provided free right-of-way permissions, and signed on as an anchor customer (40,000 government buildings connected for a fixed annual fee). The total cost of the network: about US$90 million.
Connections within villages to residences and business are left to competing local cable companies. Such cable companies have brought cable TV to about 40% of residences in Andhra Pradesh. The state-wide network is required to make available at the village points-of-presence (POPs) wholesale video distribution, telephony, and internet services at agreed prices. This makes the business plan for village networks simple: bring the services available at the village POPs to individual customers for a mark-up. This seems like a practical implementation of decentralizing local connectivity while standardizing wide-area service distribution (pdf).
Competition among network service provides can have large costs (pdf) relative to the cost of the network infrastructure itself. Government initiatives that promote a good structure for competition can help to make broadband services widely accessible at low cost. The Andhra Pradesh Broadband Project promises to do just that. Other innovative broadband projects, such the Singapore National Broadband Network and municipal broadband projects, have different institutional structures. More comparative institutional analysis would be helpful for informing communications policy.
Randeep Sudan, now at the World Bank, helped put together the Andhra Pradesh Broadband Project. He described the project in a recent presentation at the FCC. With his permission, I have posted his slides here.
Democracy depends on an active, informed citizenry that is not continuously angry, frustrated, or depressed. Citizen journalism, open source journalism, grass-roots journalism, the fifth estate, pajamas media — whatever you want to call it — has many potential public benefits. Not often recognized, but most importantly, it is a vital defender of public good humor. Serve the public interest as a citizen journalist!