Internet vs. Telephone company

Paul J. Zawada zawada at
Sun Feb 2 03:27:42 UTC 1997

The Internet Thruway, IMHO, is the first serious attempt at getting to the
root problem.  I don't know much about Nortel's product, but I do know that
using the PSTN seems to be the wrong way to get Internet service.   Why on
earth do you want to use a circuit-switched network to access a packet
switched network?  That's nuts, but unfortunately it's the only option Joe
Consumer has.

Cable modems?  They'll be great when your cable company's plant will work
birectionally and they get their data act together.  I was amused by a
letter to the editor in this week's _Fortune_ magazine.  The writer proudly
proclaimed that Internet access over cable worked wonderfully.  He went on
about how "..on the appointed day, at the appointed time, two cable
installers, three Comcast personnel, and two CompUSA personnel arrived and
successfully installed my cable modem in two hours..."  Good God, if it
takes 14 person-hours to install a cable modem, the cable companies are
going to lose their shirts!  (I'd like to know if this crew was even able
to all show up in the same vehicle! :-)

As for ADSL, I have serious doubts as to whether or not the phone campanies
understand what to do with the technology.  After they get xDSL local loops
to everyone's home, will they know what to hook them up to?   I've heard a
lot about ADSL trials, but what are these loops being connected to?  Does
the solution scale?

There are lots folks in the phone company who have no clue as to how the
Internet works.  This is why none of them saw this Internet access thing
coming.  (Not that I'm sure they could have done anything about it...)
They now have a network that is underengineered for the way it's being used
and they have to do something about it quick...  The only means they know
of is to raise the price.  

The Internet Thruway product has potential to help solve their problems,
but I'm afraid that it may flop because it'll require too much cooperation
between the telcos and the ISPs.  After all, the telco nework was just fine
until all of these ISPs showed up and screwed it up. You can be damn sure
that most of the telco folks don't see it as thier problem to pay to solve
this congestion in their network.  Many still feel it's the telcos'
God-given right to make a profit every quarter, regardless of how poorly
they project future customer demand.  I'm afraid that they're going to see
Internet Thruway as an opportunity to charge ISPs for the privledge of
helping to relieve the congestion in the PSTN...  It all comes down to
paying for more facilities, whether it's Internet Thruway, bigger switches
and more trunks, or a parallel (ADSL-based perhaps) packet-switched network.  

The telcos won't make ubiquitous Internet connectivity happen for free.
For that matter, nor would the ISPs if they were in the telcos' position...
 The fundamental problem is that until now, Internet users have been able
to take advantage of "slack" resources in the PSTN at little or no
additional cost.  Now that these resources are drying up, no one (users,
ISPs, telcos) wants to foot the bill for more.


At 05:28 PM 1/31/97 -0800, Bharat Ranjan wrote:
>> My question is:  Have other people heard of similar attempts by the
>> telephone companies to have "metered Internet access"?
>> It seems they would need a hardware level signal analyzer on their 
>> switching equipment to differentiate between voice/data.  
>>Does anyone know by what means such a technology could be implemented?  
>Check out a product called 'Internet Thruway" that routes a call based
>on the Called Number. The idea is for telcos to implement this product
>as a back-end to their access network so calls being made to a Thruway
>provider never reach the voice network. It is instead sent (via IP and
>L2F) directly to the ISP's network. SBC is already committed to
>deploying this in parts of Texas.

Paul J. Zawada, RCDD     | Senior Network Engineer
zawada at     | National Center for Supercomputing Applications
+1 217 244 4728          |

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