Understand the current and coming policy issues with 5G

Susan Crawford does an excellent job of demystifying a flurry of bills that on the surface are about facilitating the any-day-now, better-than-ever, but not-really-here-any-time-soon technology of 5G. I feel like we should have learned our lesson about carriers and public rights of way by now, that they rarely if ever repay the public trust. Her article contains a lot of good technical detail, as well, about what 5G will and won’t deliver and when, all important to bear in mind when carriers come knocking to your state or locality with a bushel of too good to be true promises, if only we erode or eliminate critical public oversight.

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2015-10-31 The Command Line Podcast

This is an episode of The Command Line Podcast.

This time, I chat about some recent news stories that caught my attention, including:

Also, I am considering attending Scale in the latter half of January. Whether I go or not, you should check the event out.

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Reducing Technical Reasons for Mobile Data Throttling

While the technology in this Technology Review piece is interesting and something I hope will make it onto cell towers, I am less convinced it will do anything to diminish the urge of mobile carriers to employ throttling.

Major carriers, arguing that their networks are clogged with smart-phone and tablet traffic, are increasingly implementing data throttling, the practice of targeting heavy users by slowing down data-transfer speeds. Now a gadget invented at Bell Labs—a programmable, pint-sized transmitter that requires no new traditional cell towers—could rapidly add capacity and thus help avoid data bottlenecks.

The article is full of a ton of technical reasons why these new components, called light radio cubes, are attractive–lower power consumption, increased capacity without expensive new rights-of-way. There is even good evidence for their adoption in some markets already.

The fact that the technology is related to another bit of kit that hasn’t seen as widespread adoption as initially promised, femtocells, has me skeptical they will change the current throttling practices of mobile carriers, at least here in the states. What it may do is more clearly reveal the lie that such throttling is about congestion and capacity rather than plain old rent seeking.

If light radio cubes enable abundant, cheap wireless in the bands and with the technologies (GSM, HSPDA, LTE, etc.) already in use, there is one less excuse for carrier who are simply not investing in keeping their capacity up with clear customer demand.

Tiny Transmitters Could Help Avert Data Throttling, Technology Review