Permanet, Nearlynet, And Wireless Data

from the couldn't-have-said-it-better dept

As per usual, an insightful article from Clay Shirky looking at "permanets" vs. "nearlynets". His argument is that "permanets", networks built by a few large entities tend to fail when competing against "nearlynets", networks that are cobbled together randomly by individuals. His argument is that "permanets" are usually high quality - but expensive, and nearlynets are usually lousy but cheap. However, over time, nearlynets improve much faster than permanets get cheap. This makes sense. Any nearlynet has incentive to get better. Permanets, though, have to recover their high initial capital costs, and thus, have less incentive to get cheap quickly. As an example of failed permanets, he talks about airplane phones and Iridium, both of which make his case perfectly. In both cases, lower quality, but cheaper mobile phones took away the ability for the permanet solution to make money. Now, he says, that 3G is the next permanet, and WiFi is its competing nearlynet. Of course, when you think about it, it's a little odd that mobile phones were the "nearlynets" in his initial examples, but suddenly become the "permanet" in his prediction. There are, though, differences between regular 2G mobile phones and the 3G data plans that carriers are betting on. We've said in the past that the 3G providers are likely to price their offerings terribly (toll booth style, rather than flat rate) and Shirky points out that this is likely to push people towards the "nearlynet" of WiFi. Definitely worth reading.

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  • identicon
    dorpus, 28 Mar 2003 @ 9:55pm

    What about DSL?

    Would DSL fall under a "permanet"? In Japan, everyone uses something called "ADSL" (Advanced DSL) -- what's the difference?? Yahoo Broadband was giving away ADSL modems in public places all over Tokyo, for the first two months free.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    bbay, 29 Mar 2003 @ 12:12am

    ease of use

    Until I can do something to my (hypothetical) WiFi phone once which enables it to work everywhere, without my having to devote any thought to it, the regular cell network will always win.

    If I have to think deep thoughts about access codes, or is this a hotspot, or do I have an account here, then it's just going to be more trouble than it's worth. The trick of disruptive technology is that it has to provide a service which is at least minimally competitive with the establishment that it's trying to disrupt. The best thing about today's wireless phones is that the phone goes with me eveywhere, without requiring any thought on my part.

    Mind you, this is probably possible with WiFi, but it's definately not there just yet.

    Also, it's my solomn duty to point out that dorpus is a moron. As just about everybody in the freaking world knows, the "A" in "ADSL" stands for asynchronous, which is the kind of DSL that you find pretty much everwhere.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      dorpus, 29 Mar 2003 @ 12:26am

      Re: ease of use

      "Also, it's my solomn duty to point out that dorpus is a moron. As just about everybody in the freaking world knows, the "A" in "ADSL" stands for asynchronous, which is the kind of DSL that you find pretty much everwhere."

      Not according to everyone I talked to in Tokyo. Has it occurred to you that languages can mean different things?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        dorpus, 29 Mar 2003 @ 12:33am

        Re: ease of use

        Looks like Lucent has indeed developed an advanced DSL technology:

        http://www.xl.com/press/0202/020219.nsa.html

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          bbay, 29 Mar 2003 @ 1:43am

          Re: ease of use

          There is currently no such technology as "Advanced DSL".

          The press release you linked doesn't even concern itself with DSL loops. It simply describes Lucient's DSL related COE equipment as "advanced". Quite hyperbolically, in my opinion.

          The "A" in ADSL continues to stand for asynchronous.

          Anyone who believes that they have purchased "Advanced DSL" has purchased normal everyday DSL technology with an extra adjective.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            dorpus, 29 Mar 2003 @ 6:15am

            Re: ease of use

            OK, what exactly did you mean by "COE equipment"? The link mentions customer premise equipment (CPE). I'd prefer to clarify such things since you blew your fuse over what one letter stands for earlier.

            I'll also check with my Japanese contacts; I'll mention that an American engineer got very angry over mention of "Advanced DSL". :)

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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