Thursday, February 10, 2011

Attack of the flaming NIMBYs

Ah, I see the NIMBYs are out in full force today.

These would be the first people baying for blood if lack of coverage meant they couldn't make a 000 call, if network congestion caused their vital call to their bestie to drop out, or, worst of all, meant they couldn't update their Facebook status on their iPhone.  The world would just come to an end.

I'm not sure if it's just a blind spot or if the people involved are truly so stupid they can't make the linkage, but it's very simple, people - you want mobile phones, you need coverage.  That's the way it works.

Interestingly, The Australian ran a couple of pieces in the last few days banging on about the US plan to build a wireless "NBN" based on 4G LTE technology, and unsurprisingly the hacks churning them out followed the standard editorial line of bash-the-NBN-at-all-costs - these costs including, apparently, their increasing loss of credibility.

As this piece in Crikey points out (ie drives bus sized holes through), you'd need a cell tower in every street to be able to provide comparable wireless coverage to fixed locations.  Fire up the NIMBYs again guys, and get a few shovels of fresh rhetoric in there - they're going to need something to be angry about.  After all, in today's society of outspoken empowerment, apparently everyone's an airchair expert and they have the right to have their opinion listened to, even if they have no idea on the subject and their only understanding has been fed by urban myth and one-eyed media reporting.  (Looking at you, Australian IT.)

Wireless is fundamentally a solution for mobilty and access edge use.  It's limited by the need for towers to ensure decent reception, the need to provide bandwidth to those towers, line of sight, intereference, the need for an antenna at the premises etc.  Why would you want to use it for a fixed premises access solution when there's a viable pit and pipe solution already available?

Wireless spectrum doesn't just appear from the sky, it costs money because there are multiple users contending for it.  Obama can requisition it from TV companies all he likes, but that doesn't create spectrum - it just steals it from another media delivery network that will then have shortages down the track.  It's also not just a matter of waving a magic wand and allowing additional spectrum to be used - if it was that simple, it would have already been done.  The reality there is that the most attractive spectrum has already been used, going further outside this means additional costs in terms of lower efficiency, wider channel bands, higher transmit power levels (watch out for that extra head growing, NIMBYs), larger antennas, higher power consumption for devices etc.  There's a decreasing rate of efficiency that has to be recognised before just assuming it will all be OK.

Fibre might be expensive now, but it's building a network that will be there for the future and can be scaled.  Bung a few new SFPs in the headends (about $200 between 32 users) and right now I could go gigabit to the premises.  The reason it's being limited to 100Mbps now is that frankly there's no need for it (and the odd leecher who wants to download the entire internet every month is not a valid need).

In other news, did you you know there's a red light camera that also does speed detection at the corner of King and La Trobe Sts in the Melbourne CBD?  I do now, dammit.  :(   2 weeks to get the infringement notice out... hopefully I don't have another one in the pipeline.  Luckily that intersection is normally sufficiently congested that it's rare to be able to just drive through it, let alone at better than 50km/h.

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