[Bloat] [Starlink] Anhyone have a spare couple a hundred million ... Elon may need to start a go-fund-me page!

Bob McMahon bob.mcmahon at broadcom.com
Tue Aug 10 18:54:12 EDT 2021

<diatribe on> sorry about that

The below was written two decades ago and we're still fiddling around with
fraudband. Hey, today in 2021, comcast will sell a select few 2 Gb/s
symmetric over a fiber strand using a juniper switch, leased of course,
designed in 2011. Talk about not keeping up with modern mfg of ASICs, and
associated energy efficiencies. In the meantime we continue on destroying
the planet and Musk wants our offspring to live on Mars, while Bezos thinks
he's creating a new industry in space tourism. To the writeup about why we
need to rethink broadband. Eli Noam is also quite prescient written in 1994
(http://www.columbia.edu/dlc/wp/citi/citinoam11.html )

Rather than realistic, I think you are instead being 'reasonable.' There is
a big difference. I am reminded of a quote:

"A reasonable man adapts himself to suit his environment. An unreasonable
man persists in attempting to adapt his environment to suit himself.
Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man."
--George Bernard Shaw

Most CEO's, excluding start-ups, fall into the reasonable man camp (though
they were unreasonable once). Make the most of your current surroundings
while expending the minimal effort. It's good business sense for short term
results, but ignores the long term. It dictates a forward strategy of
incrementalism. It ignores the cumulative costs of the incremental
improvements and the diminishing returns of each successive increment.
Therefore each new increment has to be spaced farther out in time, which is
not desirable from a long-term business point of view. That business case
deteriorates longer term, but is easier to see shorter term. Short-term
thinking, driven by Wall Street, seems to be the only mode corporate
America can operate in.

This incrementalism mentality with 18 month upgrade cycles is fine for
consumer gadgets where the consumer knows they will have an accounting loss
on the gadget from the day they buy it. The purchaser of the gadget never
expects to make money on it. That's why they are called "consumers." That's
one of the only environments where 18 month upgrade cycles can persist.

Network infrastructure deployment is an entirely different food chain.
Under the current models, the purchaser of equipment (e.g. a service
provider) is not a consumer. It is a business that has to make a net profit
off selling services enabled by the equipment. This defies 18 month upgrade
cycles of "consumer" goods. A couple thousand bucks per subscriber takes a
long time for a network operator to recover, when you rely on a couple
percent of that, in NET income not revenue, per month. It is not conducive
to Wall Street driven companies. Thus, the next step has to be a 10-year

Yet, consumers spend thousands every couple years on consumables they will
lose money on (essentially a 100% loss). Many even finance these purchases
at the ridiculous rates of credit cards, adding further to their accounting
loss. The value of these goods and services to the consumer is
justified/rationalized in non-accounting-based ways. In that light,
customer-owned networks are not such a stretch. In fact they would be an
asset that can be written off for tax purposes. The main difference is it
isn't in your physical possession, in your home, so you can't show people
your new gadget. Not directly anyway.

The "realistic" view of network infrastructure deployment (as opposed to
the reasonable view) is that today's access network infrastructure is the
wrong platform to grow from, and the wrong business model to operate under.
It can't grow like a consumer product (CD players, DVD players, PC's, etc)
because it is not a consumer product and the consumer does not have the
freedom of choice in content and applications providers (which was an
important part of the growth of those consumer markets).

Piling new money into the old infrastructure and its operating model
failure is not a realistic approach, because of diminishing returns. It was
never intended to provide real broadband connectivity, to each user, and
the operating costs are way too high. Besides, real broadband undermines
the legacy businesses of the monopoly owners.

A 100x increase in the base platform is needed in order to have a platform
that accommodates future growth in services and applications. That way it
doesn't require yet another infrastructure incremental upgrade each step of
the way. This connectivity platform also must be decoupled from the content
and services.

Access network growth cannot progress in small increments or on 18 month
upgrade cycles. It can't be small increments because these increments
enable nothing new and add little if any tangible value. They simply make
the present-day excuses for applications less annoying to use. This
approach will never make it through the next increment, and is arguably the
chasm where we sit today. It can't be 18 month cycles because the
equipment's accounting life is much longer than that. It will be neither
paid off nor written off after 18 months.

The equipment for 100Mbps FTTH is very nearly the same cost as the
equipment used for 256kbps DSL service. It is cheaper than that DSL
equipment was 2 years ago, but they are both moving targets. What costs too
much money is the deployment labor in the US (but not in many Asian
countries), the permits, the right-of-way, and the hassles thereof. Those
aren't getting cheaper with time. Within the next year or two, it will cost
more to wait than to deploy now. The equipment cost decreases will be less
than the construction cost increases per year. The business case gets
harder by waiting. Yes, it requires taking risk that boils down to
believing the "build it and they will come" mantra.

Contrary to popular belief, it is not a chicken-or-egg problem. The
connectivity has to be there first, before the application development
resources will be allocated. Imagine a start-up trying to get funding for
an application that requires 100Mbps peak network connections. They'd be
laughed out of the VC's office. Same holds for trying to get resources to
develop the same application within a company's R&D budget. No support for
its development because there's no platform or marketplace to sell it into.
There are plenty of startups working on FTTH equipment and infrastructure
products though.

Would any of today's PC applications have had a snowball's chance in hell
of getting funding if they were pitched back in the days when the PC
platform was based on CPU speeds in the tens of MHz, 2Meg of RAM, a 50Meg
hard drive, and a 16 bit ISA bus? No. Few saw any reason we'd ever need
more than that. After the next 10x improvement, people said the same thing:
Why do we need more? Only after about 100x improvement did people finally
stop saying that, though I've noticed it has returned of-late. The cost
declines were a vital part of this too, along with the performance

The lack of profitability in today's consumer data services, and the low
subscription percentages even thought there is fairly wide availability
does not mean that the "build it and they will come" mantra has failed for
broadband. There is no broadband, so the mantra has not even been tested
yet. Build it, and operate it under an open access model, with content and
connectivity as separate entities, and they will come. Without that second
condition, I have serious doubts about the possibility for successful
PC-like growth in broadband, even if it is built.

On Tue, Aug 10, 2021 at 1:44 PM David Lang <david at lang.hm> wrote:

> the biggest problem starlink faces is shipping enough devices (and
> launching the
> satellites to support them), not demand. There are enough people
> interested in
> paying full price that if the broadband subsities did not exist, it
> wouldn't
> reduce the demand noticably.
> but if the feds are handing out money, SpaceX is foolish not to apply for
> it.
> David Lang
> On Tue, 10 Aug 2021, Jeremy Austin wrote:
> > Date: Tue, 10 Aug 2021 12:33:11 -0800
> > From: Jeremy Austin <jeremy at aterlo.com>
> > To: dickroy at alum.mit.edu
> > Cc: Cake List <cake at lists.bufferbloat.net>,
> >     Make-Wifi-fast <make-wifi-fast at lists.bufferbloat.net>,
> >     Bob McMahon <bob.mcmahon at broadcom.com>,
> starlink at lists.bufferbloat.net,
> >     codel <codel at lists.bufferbloat.net>,
> >     cerowrt-devel <cerowrt-devel at lists.bufferbloat.net>,
> >     bloat <bloat at lists.bufferbloat.net>
> > Subject: Re: [Starlink] Anhyone have a spare couple a hundred million
> ... Elon
> >      may need to start a go-fund-me page!
> >
> > A 5.7% reduction in funded locations for StarLink is… not dramatic. If
> the
> > project falls on that basis, they've got bigger problems. Much of that
> > discrepancy falls squarely on the shoulders of the FCC and incumbent ISPs
> > filing form 477, as well as the RDOF auction being held before improving
> > mapping — as Rosenworcel pointed out. The state of broadband mapping is
> > still dire.
> >
> > If I felt like the reallocation of funds would be 100% guaranteed to
> > benefit the end Internet user… I'd cheer too.
> >
> > If.
> >
> > JHA
> >
> > On Tue, Aug 10, 2021 at 12:16 PM Dick Roy <dickroy at alum.mit.edu> wrote:
> >
> >> You may find this of some relevance!
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2021/07/ajit-pai-apparently-mismanaged-9-billion-fund-new-fcc-boss-starts-cleanup/
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >> Cheers (or whatever!),
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >> RR
> >>
> >>
> >> _______________________________________________
> >> Starlink mailing list
> >> Starlink at lists.bufferbloat.net
> >> https://lists.bufferbloat.net/listinfo/starlink
> >>
> >
> >
> >_______________________________________________
> Starlink mailing list
> Starlink at lists.bufferbloat.net
> https://lists.bufferbloat.net/listinfo/starlink

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