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Do We Still Need Telcos (and ISPs)?

Cliff posted more than 11 years ago | from the beyond-their-effective-lifetime dept.

Wireless Networking 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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A Mouse Called Keith (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6185787)

There once was a mouse called Keith,
Who circumsized boys with his teeth.
It wasn't for leisure or sexual pleasure,
but to get to the cheese underneath!

And now for some #forum traffic:

*** GoatseGuy ( has joined #forum
*** Kod has left #forum
*** King-of-Darkness ( has joined #forum
*** Signoff: gogga (Quit: hejdå)
*** Signoff: bakani (Quit: -=SysReset 2.53=-)
*** munk ( has joined #forum
*** Signoff: RedShirt (Quit: )
*** LOG|C (~yroc@ has joined #forum
*** Signoff: bofh (Ping timeout: 300 seconds)

So glad I joined early.

FP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6185790)

Frok Pok

Uh... (5, Funny)

TheShadow (76709) | more than 11 years ago | (#6185793)

Yeah, I want everything for free too. Give me a break.

Re:Uh... (4, Insightful)

NerdSlayer (300907) | more than 11 years ago | (#6185826)

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... (4, Insightful)

s20451 (410424) | more than 11 years ago | (#6185945)

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).

The goverment can pay. (2, Interesting)

HanzoSan (251665) | more than 11 years ago | (#6185998)

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.

Re:Uh... (2, Insightful)

Fembot (442827) | more than 11 years ago | (#6185897)

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

Re:Uh... (1)

RTPMatt (468649) | more than 11 years ago | (#6185959)

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.

oh, is that all?

Fist Sport! (-1, Flamebait)

ringbarer (545020) | more than 11 years ago | (#6185796)

You want a lot of things, don't you, fuckwit? But who's gonna pay for them?


Re:Fist Sport! (1)

su-geek (126437) | more than 11 years ago | (#6185841)

Umm well who will pay for them? Well the people who want network access. Problems I see here are just physical, how to get around or over the mountain. Solar powered repeaters?

TANSTAAFL (2, Insightful)

swb (14022) | more than 11 years ago | (#6185800)

And there never will be.

Re:TANSTAAFL (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6185825)

mod parent up!


Surak (18578) | more than 11 years ago | (#6185842)

Apparently you haven't read this [] yet. ;)


Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6185892)

What do people get at the homeless shelter then?


Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6185992)

Free GOAT! []

NOT A TROLL (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6185813)

Dear CmdrTaco

Are you a flaming homosexual or just the regular kind?


Cliff, Cliff, Cliff.... (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6185816)

Remember there is no subscriptions

And apparently their ain't know grammar checker, either!

What you are really proposing... (4, Funny)

digerata (516939) | more than 11 years ago | (#6185819)

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!

never happen. (1)

ender_wiggins (81600) | more than 11 years ago | (#6185823)

I dont know that people in my hood would like me. they would not have any bandwidth available. There is not an unlimited about of spectrum available. And i doubt the FCC would give you the spectrum needed anyhow.

Roll your own DSL (3, Informative)

Foofoobar (318279) | more than 11 years ago | (#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

Homegrown to fight terroristicism! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6186023)

I heartily endorse rolling your own!

Re:Roll your own DSL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6186027)

how'd this get modded up to 3? "all you need" is a dry pair from your domicile to someplace else with 'net access.

well (0)

bobcrotch (650038) | more than 11 years ago | (#6185828)

It's a great idea but so is the some of the stuff marx wrote heh. there wouldn't be enough respect simply put, your dealing with the general public.

No charge????????? (4, Insightful)

ChaoticChaos (603248) | more than 11 years ago | (#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.

Re:No charge????????? (2, Insightful)

Zork the Almighty (599344) | more than 11 years ago | (#6185905)

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.

Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6185833)

WTF are you talking about?

Who provides the bandwidth?

Wi-fi is great, but it the bandwidth isn't going to grow on trees....

Yes... (1, Insightful)

DaHat (247651) | more than 11 years ago | (#6185834)

Some would call this anarchy, in most systems (both technical and personal) you need some form of leadership, telcoâ(TM)s and ISPâ(TM)s provide this necessary service, like it or not.

Further more, the kind of hardware these groups you want to be no more use is far out of the price range of most private citizens, such hardware is required within any kind of system which is of any size.

Re:Yes... (1)

Telastyn (206146) | more than 11 years ago | (#6185881)

Not necissarily. Some systems are self-regulating. Nature, and ideal capitolism for example. Unfortunately, people suck. This will always complicate matters. How can you negotiate around someone that starts sniffing your data, or refusing to route traffic?

Re:Yes... (1)

Blue Stone (582566) | more than 11 years ago | (#6186032)

" Some would call this anarchy, in most systems (both technical and personal) you need some form of leadership, telcoâ(TM)s and ISPâ(TM)s provide this necessary service, like it or not."

What about CB radio, SW Radio...?
Anarchy doesn't equate with chaos.

Umm, No Thanks, i like my speed. (5, Insightful)

TheCrazyFinn (539383) | more than 11 years ago | (#6185838)

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.

Do We Still Need Telcos (and ISPs)? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6185846)

Nope, just route your own ethernet cable to every computer in the world. (and your phone cable, optionally)

Porn... FREE!!! []

Sure (3, Interesting)

Indomitus (578) | more than 11 years ago | (#6185847)

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.

The tragedy of the commons (4, Insightful)

ReconRich (64368) | more than 11 years ago | (#6185848)

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

Re:The tragedy of the commons (1)

JoeBuck (7947) | more than 11 years ago | (#6185914)

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".

Re:The tragedy of the commons (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#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?

RIAA (1, Offtopic)

tarawa (215365) | more than 11 years ago | (#6185853)

I think the RIAA would attack it because it could be used to transfer copyrighted material easily and freely.

What I want (3, Funny)

ihummel (154369) | more than 11 years ago | (#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.

good plan, but... (0, Redundant)

ThePeices (635180) | more than 11 years ago | (#6185855)

Its a nice sounding idea, and in a perfect world it would be possible. But who is going to pay for this? There are huge costs involved in building the infrastructure to connect everyones devices together. Sure you can have ad-hoc networks to connect physically close groups together, but intercity and international links dont work that way. Someone has to own and pay for the backbones, servers and all other required infrastructure. There is no buisness model for this to work, and the world revolves around buisness models.

Re:good plan, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6185952)

No, it's not possible in a perfect world. Routing would be virtually impossible, and I certainly wouldn't want Joe Homeowner in charge of routing my packets to the correct destination.

What? You want a central authority in charge of routing, so that it doesn't suck? Well then PAY MONEY.

The world revolves around business models because real people don't like to do real work for free. Once you get out of junior high this will make more sense.

Omae ha aho ka? (0)

AndyMcL (65518) | more than 11 years ago | (#6185856)

Is this guy looney? Who would pay for all of the energy, admin and other costs?

2 problems (5, Insightful)

jonhuang (598538) | more than 11 years ago | (#6185857)

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 (1)

jpr1nd (678149) | more than 11 years ago | (#6185993)

the grand canyon? how about our old friends atlantic and pacific?

Disconnected Islands (3, Insightful)

gantzm (212617) | more than 11 years ago | (#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.

Is this a joke? (1)

tacokill (531275) | more than 11 years ago | (#6185859)

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.

ISPs evaporate? Yeah right. (1)

Darth Fredd (663620) | more than 11 years ago | (#6185862)

Service providers of some sort are not going to just disappear. Even if a giant network of wi-fi goes up(like in some citys), the internet can't be completely free

And if wishes were horses, beggers would ride! (1, Interesting)

jordandeamattson (261036) | more than 11 years ago | (#6185868)

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 for services. You see it with packages of unlimited local and long distance for a flat monthly fee. The same with ISPs. Combine the two, and you have single, flat-rate, Connection subscription.

fucking shit! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6185871)

I went to to visit #forum, but the bots redirected me to #tubgirl instead! I seen the worse thing since sliced bread, an ANSI Goatse (yes, in colour!). It made me puke to see it!

Free speech. (0)

caluml (551744) | more than 11 years ago | (#6185873)

Free speech scares governments. That's why you need a licence to broadcast on the radio. (Sure, they say it's due to interference, etc.) If there were no ISPs, it would be a lot harder for the governments of this world to censor or block undesirable "mass communication".
With the current system, if Slashdot turned into a militant revolutionary site, inciting the citizens of the US to overthrow their government, the government could go to the ISP that Slashdot uses, and force it to pull the plug. That's why things like Freenet worry it too.

All I Want Is... (0)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 11 years ago | (#6185876)

What I want is a global extremely-high-speed ad-hoc wireless data & voice network, where the only entry cost is a mobile phone

All I want is...
and would you mind making it essentially free.

While you're at it, would you mind getting me a Rolls Royce for the price of the ignition key?

Re:All I Want Is... (1)

shrikel (535309) | more than 11 years ago | (#6185954)

While you're at it, would you mind getting me a Rolls Royce for the price of the ignition key?

No problem. I've got one right here for you.

Just send me $145,000 for this here little key and I'll ship it (and the Rolls that it goes to) right away.

you're in luck (2, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 11 years ago | (#6185976)

I happen to sell Rolls Royce ignition keys for 300,000 dollars. That may sound like a lot, but I throw in a free Rolls Royce with every purchase.

I do the same for Bentlies as well, but the price for an ignition key is starts at $600,000

Re:All I Want Is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6185999)

You keep your Rolls Royce. I'd like Milla Jovovich for the price of the red dress she wore in Resident Evil.

WTF (3, Insightful)

papasui (567265) | more than 11 years ago | (#6185882)

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... (2, Funny)

airrage (514164) | more than 11 years ago | (#6185884)

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

Routing (1)

aridhol (112307) | more than 11 years ago | (#6185889)

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 that they aren't volunteering. So somebody has to pay the companies. Who pays the companies? The user.

But if no users are paying companies (after all, you're trying to get rid of telcos and ISPs), there will be nobody to administer the routers. Now, you can talk to machines that are nearby (same subnet/broadcast area/whatever), or you hope that your packets can be randomly routed to the correct destination, and that the responses make it back to you.

In other words, no I don't see an internet without ISPs or telcos.

Re:Routing (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6185977)

Try this:

manet []

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

What about things like satellites? (1)

MP*Birdman (315788) | more than 11 years ago | (#6185890)

Satellites and undersea cables don't occur naturally. Someone has to pay for them to be shot up in the air, or laid across undersea trenches.

Not to mention the stringing of all those copper and fiberoptic phonelines that connect every house together..

Another thing (2, Insightful)

tacokill (531275) | more than 11 years ago | (#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.

OMG - Sad news (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6185896)

I just saw it on Google(R) News, Gregory Peck has died. Peck, one of the truely Great actors, died today at 87.

Gregory Peck, unlike Steven King, will be missed.

No! This is for real. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6186013)

Gregory Peck. Dead at 87 []

what we need... (4, Insightful)

Ty (15982) | more than 11 years ago | (#6185902)

what we need is a new moderation option for the original submission: "-1 Fucking Idiot"

Re:what we need... (1)

ihummel (154369) | more than 11 years ago | (#6185930)

I second that.

Fat long distance pipes? (1)

loadquo (659316) | more than 11 years ago | (#6185906)

I'm thing transatlantic here or interstate.

How fast can we transmit information on the long distance radio bands?

Yeah in the future we may not have to pay for short range stuff, say communications within the city. But until we think of a high bandwidth long distance wireless technology we will still have to pay to access \.^H^HHcomputer science research material from the other side of the planet.

I don't see any barriers... (1)

KU_Fletch (678324) | more than 11 years ago | (#6185910)

... except getting every world government, telcom, and technological researcher on the same page. Easy as pie.

What's needed is a plan to get there (3, Interesting)

etcshadow (579275) | more than 11 years ago | (#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.

cell phone / router / 3g (4, Interesting)

azoidx (615249) | more than 11 years ago | (#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.

Fast Throughput, But lots of Lag (1)

codythefreak (681017) | more than 11 years ago | (#6185916)

Mesh networks are nice in some ways, and crappy in others. For example, for long distances, they're very slow, because the overhead gets added over and over and over again. Unless whatever device you're using can communicate for pretty long distances without being boosted (like, hundreds on miles), every cross-country ping would probably take seconds.

However, the throughput would be great. If you had some sort of scheme that randomly selected from closer nodes weighted by how much closer they were, you could potentially get thousands of nodes forwarding packets to you at the same time along many different paths from source to destination.

Long story short: ssh would suck, but downloading that mp3 would be zip quick.

it is like.... (0, Offtopic)

u19925 (613350) | more than 11 years ago | (#6185920)

having a potluck everyday!!!

Yes (1)

FreeLinux (555387) | more than 11 years ago | (#6185921)

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

Yes. All of the above.

Oh My God! (0, Flamebait)

SwedishChef (69313) | more than 11 years ago | (#6185922)

What in the world is a question this stupid doing on Slashdot?

Re:Oh My God! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6185949)

I can't believe that anyone with an account # 600000 can ask that question.

Re:Oh My God! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6185974)

I meant "with an account # less than 600000". My bad.

teclos , isps still will be needed (1) (664381) | more than 11 years ago | (#6185924)

Wireless is cool yes , but imagine if everyone had to share 54mbps through out the world (or for that a few 100mbps) . It will still be better to have copper or fiber connections in addition to wireless . The problem is there is a very limited wireless specturm that we can use and we will only be able to crank a finite amount of bandwith out of it . Now I dont know about you but the other problem is that we will still need people to maintain routes , make sure that stuff works and fix it when it breaks. I dont think that everyone (except of course slashdot people) want to be responsible for maintining there own network routing even using advanced protocols (espicially for 911 type services which we currently really on telco's to provide) .

The other problem with wireless is from an infrastructure point of view if our phones or internet connections stop working that hurts our economy , its way to dam easy for anyone to disrupt wireless signals (even with DSS or FHSS its still easy) to really on them for everything which we currently really on telcos for .

step 1 (1)

knowledgepeacewi (523787) | more than 11 years ago | (#6185928)

step 1: calm down. step 2: google

one giant screaming bluetooth network (2, Interesting)

butane_bob2003 (632007) | more than 11 years ago | (#6185931)

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 reliable a global wireless p2p network would be.

Re:one giant screaming bluetooth network (1)

butane_bob2003 (632007) | more than 11 years ago | (#6186028)

and this is not the best way to put all those tax dollars to work.

People in poorer countries need our tax dollars to buy our weapons so they can kill each other, so we can go in and rescue the ones that couldn't afford our weapons.

Do We Still Need Telcos (and ISPs)? (0)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 11 years ago | (#6185942)


Re:Do We Still Need Telcos (and ISPs)? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6186004)

In a Socialist Utopia, we shall not need such unjust things as Telcos and ISPs. The people themselves will render those services unto one another and perfect peace and justice shall reign upon the earth.

Now brothers, shall we chant: "From each according to his ability to each according to his needs."?

I have one thing to say to eraserewind (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6185943)

You are a homogay.

Problems? (4, Insightful)

Bagheera (71311) | more than 11 years ago | (#6185944)

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.

Nonsense (0, Flamebait)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 11 years ago | (#6185948)

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)

Yes well, what I want is a brand new Ferrari for the price of a used Skoda.

What is that POS article anyway ? do you view your ISP as an unnecessary maffia-like toll to get online ? who do you think runs your outgoing and incoming mail server, your news server, the box that serves your homepage, the dhcp box that gives you an IP when your DSL modem connects, the DNS server, link you up to the backbone ... And no, even if you could do it yourself, you wouldn't want to.

You don't want IPSs ? that's easy : be your own ISP : get a T1, get all the hardware, configure it all and after you're done, well, you're your own boss on the inurnet. And most likely you'll be so broke you'll have to sublet your services, like an ISP.

replace free with very very cheap (2, Interesting)

geekoid (135745) | more than 11 years ago | (#6185953)

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?

Re:replace free with very very cheap (2, Insightful)

Surak (18578) | more than 11 years ago | (#6186019)

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.

nice thought (1)

GrendelT (252901) | more than 11 years ago | (#6185956)

nice thought, but when was the last time you listened to any of the questions in the "tech" department of any retail store? most people don't have a clue. think of how many people AOL have to support. there's no way that the avg. consumer will be able to properly setup, much less manage, his/her own data connection. maybe a www3 or something, but i seriously doubt anything like this ever comes up in the current generation(s).

A likely problem (1)

VernonNemitz (581327) | more than 11 years ago | (#6185960)

I think that most of those idle moble units will be switched off, or be resting in a receive-only mode, to save battery power. That means the linkages you envision aren't likely to be as available as you want.

Social boudaries of the plan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6185966)

Consensus in Aristocratic and Confucian Social Roles:
Ethical relations between the citizen and the society

Harmony throughout social and political strata is a main concern in many traditions and ethical systems throughout the world. Its capture on the intellectual and layperson can be understood in its immediate relevance. How ought one behave within society, and through what scope? What benefits would compliance entail, and what reciprocal action could one receive? Questions such as these illustrate underlying thoughts and ideas people have towards relationships between the individual and the society. In western ideas, it is between citizen and the populous, and to some extent, heaven itself. In eastern traditions, it is the interaction between the individual and the cosmos. Strikingly similar, this paper intends to discuss parallels between eastern and western thoughts on such topics, and ultimately strengthen a developing ethical system based on concessions between the two theories. In developing such a theory, one may hope that, in a practical sense, it may find expedient application in the modern world.

Aristotle believed in an ethical system of virtue, that proper action is initiated only due to the agent being ethical. In addition, Aristotle believed in actions being judged as fair or unfair based on his concept of Justice, in which one's action toward another is judged just/unjust by means of an Aristocratic proportion of merit. The connection, Aristotle posits, between the two concepts is that just actions are a result of the practice of perfect virtue. Aristotle states that a virtuous man and a keeper of the law is just. Thus Aristotle places an appropriate scope of Justice and Virtue in that there is a context of law in considering just and unjust actions. It is important to point out that by law, one can include legislature as well as natural/social laws. Therefore, the context of law may be synonymous with a context of society. Concluding from a previous essay, justice follows from an inclination to be virtuous and corresponding duties, within an appropriate social backdrop, the social Context. Note that there is no threat to dissolving into a relativistic system, as the system is objectively supported by a priori virtues as well as corresponding duties.

A student of Confucianism should immediately draw parallels between this Aristocratic Context and the teachings of Confucius and later disciples. Confucius advocates the idea of jen, virtue of humanness, to be the standard of all ethical behavior. In fact, Confucius believes jen to be the "perfect virtue," from which other virtues take shape. Through this and yi, which one may interpret as ethical principles of action, one may accomplish moral behavior, a ritualistic mode of interaction with others known as li. Accomplishing li, via jen and yi, an individual effects the social strata, ultimately dismissing the entropy of the cosmos. Structured around the people and within these strata, Confucius details the construction of a Jen-Government, lead by kingly figures, promoting and honoring jen, yi and li within individuals and their actions. The effective mark of the individual on his social environment is detailed within both the Aristocratic theory and Confucian tradition, and through an examination of the parallel between the Aristocratic Context and Confucian Jen-Government, a harmonious fusion can be determined, and applied nicely to the modern world.

In his teachings, Confucius detailed the concept of jen as perfect virtue, or the virtue of humanness. Far from detailing a idealist stance, Confucius believed that in the attempt to become like that which is superior, one initiates a cycle of jen based virtues, a similar note to Aristotle's habituation of virtue. Also similar to western virtue ethics is Confucius's identification of the inherent goodness of the mean path. The Confucian Doctrine of the Mean details the good of the middle way, stating,

"Perfect is the virtue which is according to the mean. They have long been rare among the people who could practice it"(Dawson 65).

Spawned from jen and following the path of the mean, are virtues such as purpose, poise, self-sufficiency, rectitude, benevolence and composure. It is a practical concept concerning humanity, with the goal of harmonious interactions molding its development. One who is with jen acts with compassion and with virtues of humanity. Such a compassion for society and constituents may be seen as a magnification of scope of Buddhist and other eastern traditions' idea of compassion for all. It is seen as a practical application to loving all, and a requited love from the social Context.

In addition to jen, Confucius's disciple Mencius describes yi, righteousness or principle of a moral action. Described in various studies as the categorical imperative, it reflects the western idea of deontological principles. However, in Confucian teaching, it shares a natural relationship with virtue, thus being an Aquinas-like combination of aretic and deontological theories, similar to their combination in the Aristocratic Context: one is judged by virtue, his actions by principle (Though obviously, Confucianism predates the writings of Aquinas). It is reminiscent to the quote, "Principles without traits are impotent. Traits without principles are blind." Though not originally expounded by Confucius, Mencius deemed it necessary to couple jen and yi together, for examining one's ideal heart and conduct.

Flowing from the coupling of jen and yi are morally correct actions known as li. Though popularly described as ritualistic action, the use of the word ritual denotes a formal and elegant gathering, departing from what Confucian disciples intended it to be. Hsun Tzu claimed that li should be the standard in examining social conduct, the end action and its effect throughout the Context. Thus, it is apparent that formal ritual activity was not envisioned, but rather causal conduct in everyday situations. The emphasis, however, is that li is preceded and determined by jen and yi to produce morally correct and sincere action. This, therefore, is the moral currency, backed by yi and acknowledged by jen, that propagates throughout society, and up through the cosmos.

There is a consensus between the western virtue ethical system and Confucian tradition in the development and self-cultivation of the individual, and his role as a citizen of a greater populous. Because of the complex and hierarchical nature of the Context, attributable to both traditions, a citizen plays various roles within society. Confucian thought mandates that in order to have jen, one must fulfill the social and a priori expectations of an ideal, multifaceted citizen. This is the Eastern concept of rectification of names, and details again an aspiration to become the ideal. Note that this is similar to the western concept of Platonic forms, again in a magnified scope of individuals, families, societies and the cosmos. Thus, as Confucianism is concerned, one affects the rectification of several names with the action of the individual as an individual, propagating throughout the levels of the social Context.

In further examining the individual, Confucian ethics encounters a schism between the inherent, sans-Context, nature of the human being, a property important in understanding if one were to create a modern application of Confucian thought. As Mencius believes, the individual possesses jen inherently, and thus is inherently good. Only through the interactions between a bad Context does this jen lose importance, but never disappearing, in the individual, as he more and more turns to profit and extremes as a form of propriety of "bad" li. However, Hsun Tzu proposed the opposite, that human nature is inherently flawed, though has the potential to ascribe to jen, a thought shared by Hobbes, and his infamous Hobbesian state of human nature. Goodness, therefore, is acquired.

An implicit corollary to Hsun Tzu's belief is that the Confucian concepts of yi, and li are social products, which arise due to interactions between the individual and the Context. This is concluded mainly because of the idea that Goodness, a broad concept covering humanness of jen, and principles of yi resulting in moral actions, li, are acquired. Therefore, while their potential may be objective, action, their related principles, and humanness comes from an interaction of people. Without this interaction, it is reasonable to conclude that no action, if action is indeed possible, can be attributed, as just or unjust, concluding that there are no social principles that apply to an individual removed from his context. Hsun Tzu clarifies that li and yi are rules formulated by sage-kings, which should not detract from their importance, as it is the sage who truly follows jen.

It must also be pointed out that, to a degree, jen itself is a social product, a virtue only through interaction, for without objects to be humane to, jen, or humanness loses its value. This does not spoil the analogy between jen and western objective virtue, as jen was qualified as a perfect virtue. The virtues themselves, known as de, are truly objective, and protect the Context from becoming a relativistic system. Thus, Hsun Tzu's belief on inherent human nature is adopted for use in the modern ethical system currently being developed. It is believed that Confucius would also agree with the social production of yi, li, and to some extent jen. For in detailing some social structure, Confucius advocates the idea that humanity is not defined by any given trait or social treatment. He believed that in becoming a jen-oriented human is a cultural achievement. This concept is in parallel with the later work of John Rawls, in A Liberal Theory of Justice, where he states that justice, and judgment on good/just actions, are truly social products, and underlying theme used to promote a special ethical system, which requires the obligatory social setting in order to fully understand what is good or not, a theme echoed throughout the ideas of Confucian disciples.

Thus an appropriate description of a moral individual has been presented. Truly, the moral individual is the key in establishing a harmonious context, for it is through its constituents that the Context comes into being, and it is through their morality and aspiration for the ideal that ultimately the cosmos become united. Therefore, it is important to understand the relationship the individual has with the political stratification, and his channels to effective actions through the Context. The responsibility of the Context, according to Confucian thought, therefore consists of reciprocal action towards the individual, and other substrata. In this reciprocal action, the Context must make clear what exactly the social ideals are, and educate the public in how to attain those. Thus as a moral instructor and example, the Context serves as the collection of individuals, as well as kings and princes, as defined by Confucius himself. In addition, as named, the Context must be also be held applicable to Confucian rectification of names. That is, a Context must aspire to be the ideal context. This concept is modified, however, to allow the Context, serving as a frame of reference for the people, to have a frame of reference itself. This frame is the people. Seeing their collection as an entity, the people as a collection, through actions motivated by jen and yi, must strive to become the ideal context. However several concessions must be made if the role of the Context and reciprocal relation of the individual are to be adapted in determining Hsun Tzu's interpretation of human nature and if one wanted to apply the theory in modern times.

In accepting Hsun Tzu's determination of human nature, one must accordingly accept the corollary that deems a deliberate stratification of society necessary. Hsun Tzu believed in a clear demarcation of classes to allow and encourage the inferior class to emulate the superior, a view many take at first to promote a social discrimination. However, the stratification Hsun Tzu promotes is truly one closely tied to Confucius's rectification of names. As Hsun Tzu elaborates on this idea, he introduces the idea of social classes, and the obligatory aspiration to become ideal. Note that this demarcation is not along economic, racial, or religious lines, but rather a division based upon jen virtue. In fact, only by this distinction of people, according to Hsun Tzu, can society breed unity. For it is through these distinctions that one may realize his faults, improving upon himself and thus improving society. In an ideal context then, its constituents need not be perfect, but a clear demarcation of the varying level of jen must be expounded, thus allowing its constituents a perpetual mode of aspiring to be perfect. Through this perfection, the constituents reach unity, providing a coherent social context. Thus, by Hsun Tzu, a more immediate channel to promoting harmony throughout the cosmos by the individual is one's interaction between and within social groups. Therefore Hsun Tzu's society is one of intimate and local relationships between families and friends, which initiate the society/cosmos relationship. In locally aspiring to become an ideal social group, constituents promote jen throughout the universe.

Thus, in adapting this more local view on society, one may further apply Confucian ideals to modern times, eliminating the need for absolute extrema such as kings and emperors, but instead having local extrema, a western idea of social moral heroes. With these social heroes, locally placed within smaller, and intimate social groups, one may aspire to become like these heroes. With a practical flare, one no longer need to look towards faceless kings and emperors, (in modern times this is not only impractical, but impossible, save for an obligatory consideration of the president, who may or may not exhibit "kingly sway") but to truly jen-rich and personal heroes. Thus in the terrain of the cosmos, heroes represent small hills of the entire mountain range of society. Surprisingly, with Hsun Tzu's adaptation of inherent evil in human nature, one may find a closer, more involved social Context filled with attainable heroes and close-knit social groups.

Thus a more personal view of the Context is now presented. It is a collection of small social groups, with heroes as jen-exemplars and workhorses. The constituents purify the context by purifying themselves from an inherent evil. Therefore the Context maintains its dynamic and controlled aspect as discussed in a previous essay. And also the context, through social interactions, implicit and explicit rules, affects its constituents. All of this is controlled by an acquired, through the teachings of the Context and social heroes need to promote jen throughout the cosmos.

Therefore the reciprocal nature between the Social stratification as dictated in Confucianism is maintained in this newer formulation of a Social Context, its individuals and their relationships. It not only serves and a system of checks and balances, but also of a symbiotic rewards system. In order to affect the cosmos, the individual promotes jen within himself. The collection of all individuals, swayed by a disposition likened to that of the social heroes therefore detail what the ideals are, and what actions are in compliance with jen and de. If either are off the path to jen, a quick rectification comes in the form of a recognition by social heroes, which in turn affects the individual and his rectification to be like those heroes, which then propagates again throughout the universe, promoting a new equilibrium of harmony until stress is again applied to it.

Works Cited

Chai, Ch'u, and W. Chai. The Scared Books of Confucius. New York: Bantam Books, 1965

Dawson, Miles Menander. The Ethics of Confucius. New York: The Knickerbocker Press, 1915

de Bary, W Theodore. The Unfolding of New-Confucianism. New York: Columbia University Press, 1975

de Bary, W Theodore and Tu Weiming. Confucianism and Human Rights. New York: Columbia University Press, c1998.

Actually we dont. (1)

HanzoSan (251665) | more than 11 years ago | (#6185982)

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.

Reliability (1)

InnovativeCX (538638) | more than 11 years ago | (#6185983)

Well, I have to admit it's quite a pie-in-the-sky idea, and it would be wonderful if it could actually happen, but I wouldn't be on it anytime soon, and even so, I'd probably opt to pay. The two biggest problems with this potential idea stem from reliability and security.

Would you entrust your internet connection to the guy with a laptop and a wi-fi card in the apartment below you that comes and goes, connected to the guy with the gateway in the next building? Would you entrust the vital link that connects your business to the internet to a myriad of unknown, untrusted, insecure wireless devices to save $40/month on a DSL line? The security is terrible--virtually no way to keep your data private.

Shirky [] had an excellent write-up on something a little similar to this that Slashdot [] did a story on awhile back detailing the limitations of 802.11, contrasting "Nearlynets" vs. "Permanets."

Another problem: Global links? I doubt that there are too many people out there with their own satellites or trans-oceanic fiber lines that they'd be willing to leave open to the continent. Oh well. That, and it'd be supporting terrorism... :-)

But wouldn't it be cool if...

Have fun... (1)

PolR (645007) | more than 11 years ago | (#6185985)

...with the management of routing tables. Ever heard of convergence time and route flapping?

Could you be a bit more specicfic (1)

The Terminator (300566) | more than 11 years ago | (#6185986)

could you explain a bit more how you think to manage such a scenario?
I'd also like to get my net access for free - but I cannot imagine who should pay the infrastructure.

Ridiculous (1)

Saganaga (167162) | more than 11 years ago | (#6186000)

Sorry, but this is one of the more ridiculous Ask Slashdot questions I've ever seen.

Certainly there is room for improvement in the way we pay for communications access today, but to expect that you won't have to pay anything is just plain silly.

P2P bandwidth. (1)

JustAnOtherCodeSerf (181281) | more than 11 years ago | (#6186003)

We used to dial into a local "server" back in the days to check our newsgroups. Just a couple computers talking to each other. It was "neat" back then, and just like this, it was "something that could never grow". Then someone starts relaying email from server to server... all over a few phone connections. Yeah, I guess they were right... it'll never work. I'll go home now.

So, what happens when wireless connections get bigger and fatter (as they are heading already) and people realize that their home wireless network can talk to their neighbors wireless network? Hrm, now files can travel around without the local telco. Now we're back to skipping around the world but without Big Brother this time.

Sure, there's tons of hurdles, but if everyone sat around nay-saying everything we wouldn't even have an internet. Sheesh.

$.02 USD

Great! (2, Funny)

El (94934) | more than 11 years ago | (#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.

Let's try it. (1)

Clyde (150895) | more than 11 years ago | (#6186010)

P2P works. Linux works. Let's try it and see what happens.

Spammers delight (1)

Camel Pilot (78781) | more than 11 years ago | (#6186014)

You know this sounds like a spammers dream come true.

Huh? (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 11 years ago | (#6186016)

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 of other stuff you don't want to know about...


In a word: (1)

Hank Reardon (534417) | more than 11 years ago | (#6186020)


Sigh... (1)

Jack Comics (631233) | more than 11 years ago | (#6186026)

Only on Slashdot can you find someone this cheap. Free operating systems, and now they want free Internet access. Nothing in the world is free, kid. Absolutely *nothing*.

barriers (1)

h4x0r-3l337 (219532) | more than 11 years ago | (#6186029)

What are the technological barriers?

The Atlantic and Pacific oceans come to mind... Ad-hoc wireless networking may work great in an urban area, but as soon as you hit rural areas or need to communicate across oceans, you start needing some really powerful transmitters, and you'll have to put up with lots of hops for your traffic.
(tip for Karma Whores: reply to this post with some jokes about lousy Quake ping-times)

free mesh networks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6186030)

I can see how local connections might work, but
how are cross crountry connections going to be possible? If the individual cards only support a
11 Mbit/sec link how is one going to move all the
left-coast traffic to the right-coast? There just isn't enough per-hop bandwidth to move it all.
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