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Subject: IP: Internet Connections over Cable

  • From: David Farber <>
  • Date: Sat, 09 Feb 2002 06:54:37 -0500

>From: "Bob Frankston" <>
>To: "David Farber" <dave@FARBER.NET>
>Cc: "Mark Laubach" <>
>I bought the book Delivering Internet Connections over Cable at Mark s 
>suggestion. I was surprised to found that our moderator is a coauthor. And 
>other familiar names on the editorial board. One more reminder that when I 
>say they , I also mean us .

[Breaking the Access Barrier: Delivering Internet Connections over Cable by 
Mark Laubach, Stephen Dukes, David Farber 

>I only had a chance to skim through it but it is at the right level for me 
>i.e. the technical overview without being condescending or unnecessarily 
>dense. It s also a useful starting point for talking about how to move 
>forward and create real opportunities for new products and services.
>I want to preface my comments by a general observation about how easy it 
>is to get caught up in the details of a particular marketplace. I was 
>lucky enough to commute to Microsoft (albeit from the Boston area) but 
>even then stepping back from arguing with the networking group over 
>details let me think much more broadly. If one is selling to the existing 
>cable industry it is easy to see it as the marketplace rather than a 
>temporary work-around. I want to make an attempt to explain my perspective 
>namely why I have been taking such stance on creating a marketplace. It s 
>not because I see the providers as evil, just that the incentives are 
>misaligned. We see a similar dynamic in the continued efforts to use power 
>lines (both within a home and to the home which are very different 
>concepts). It used to seem compelling with X-10 supporting the notion. But 
>now it seems hardly worth the effort vs 802.11 in the house and other 
>pipes or wireless outside.
>Despite my strong comments, I am still very much an advocate of cable 
>modems as something one must have now and am not gentle with those who see 
>the Internet only through a whistle (traditional modem) at the end of a 
>phone line. I m also biased in favor of cable vs DSL because I ve long 
>felt CableCos were less competent at impeding deployment and because of 
>PPOE (an example of what clever people can do).
>The point is that the process is stalled and we can do far better. I used 
>to be more accepting and was willing to go along with a simple definition 
>of open access that would allow me to buy a branded version of my cable 
>modem service such as calling AOL for support of my MediaOne though that 
>was before AOL became a CableCo. As I ve followed the progress (more of a 
>retreat) over time I ve come to see that nothing short of a real 
>separation will work.
>I won t belabor the issues in the Leading-Edge Topics except to note that 
>I take credit for killing the residential gateway fantasy with home 
>networking (including HomePNA). I was also the home control point person 
>at Microsoft (purely by default before the eHome stuff went off in its own 
>direction) and observed the interaction between the PC world, the carrier 
>world and the consumer electronics/building worlds. I will state strongly 
>that the residential gateway will not be part of the evolutionary process. 
>There may be systems in the home acting to provide third party services 
>but the residential gateway as the brilliant network in the home is 
>fatally flawed. Well, I guess I am belaboring it since I think the issue 
>is at the heart of our disagreement. As long as the carriers have any 
>notion of meddling here, the process will stay stalled and, worse, they 
>will act as trapped animals whose very existence is threatened. They 
>wouldn t be wrong in that regard as long as they insist on being in total 
>and utter control.
>I ve also watched how the caching fantasy came undone as people went to 
>the entire net rather than just watching movies. Very early I shut off my 
>proxy (yeah, I know, they are reading all my packets and second-guessing 
>them because they still try to cache stuff one reason why IPV6 must also 
>be encrypted end to end)
>I do believe in using clever technology to repurpose existing 
>infrastructure (as I did with HomePNA) but this will be even more 
>important if we get operators with a real stake in connectivity rather 
>than in television. Then we could have the second edition of Delivering 
>Internet Connectivity Despite Cable . It could balance this repurposing 
>with just laying new fiber much more suitable for supporting IP. For those 
>selling equipment, that could be a much larger market in just keeping up 
>with demand especially if communities can role their own.
>Bob Frankston

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