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Frankston: Who's pirating bandwidth these days? You or AT&T (and peers)

Bob Frankston (co-inventor of the electronic spreadsheet) has been tirelessly spending the last few years trying to shed light on the fact that there's plenty of network capacity out there and that anybody (particularly the carriers and ISPs) that tell you something different are full of it.
Written by David Berlind, Inactive

Bob Frankston (co-inventor of the electronic spreadsheet) has been tirelessly spending the last few years trying to shed light on the fact that there's plenty of network capacity out there and that anybody (particularly the carriers and ISPs) that tell you something different are full of it. They're just reserving 99 percent of what's basically government granted (via rights-of-way) bandwidth for other services that they want to shove down our throats in an effort to drive up the all-magical ARPU (average revenue per user/unit).

Every time Frankston writes about this issue, you can sense his frustration. Just the fact that he's constantly rephrasing the same message over and over and over again is an indicator that it's not registering with the ordinary people like you and me that should be outraged. Outraged because the companies that control our hardwired access to the Internet are pretending that bandwidth is scarce when, in many cases, it's not. In his latest treatise, Frankston articulates the issue from slightly different perspective. He asks who the real pirates are? Those of us who use legitimate innovations like BitTorrent to move data between nodes? Or the carriers who, in the course of preventing (under false pretenses) innovations like BitTorrent or Meraki from running on their networks are actually stifling innovation and ultimately, the elegance of the Internet's design in the first place. Wrote Frankston:

Piracy is indeed a big problem – or perhaps I should use the term privateers – those that the government has deputized as legitimate raiders who willfully hold capacity off the marketplace and then blame the users. Companies like ATT force you to use an entire multimegabit copper wire for a single bit and then blame those who use a thousandths of the real capacity (via modems) for tying up whole wire? Yes, these are pirates and we must put an end to such games.

Please, don't aid and abet their piracy by saying that those who make effective use of the existing abundant resources are abusers – no, they are the heroes who are using effective protocols in order to exchange information past the pirates' blockades....

....Join us in enabling the future rather than preserving an arbitrary past. Perhaps the problem is that there isn't a role for an ISP as a gatekeeper in such a world. ISPs need to be *SPs without relying on doling out scarce Internet as their primary source of added value.

Via phone today, I asked Frankston how to join and who "us" was. As it turns out, "us" is more of a collective consciousness than it is an organization that you can join. Frankston says taking back control of that which is rightfully ours (the wiring in our streets) starts with "recognizing that the network in your house is just as much 'the Internet' as anything else out there." Once you realize that, it becomes clear that the local cable and phone companies are no more entitled to dictate the allocation of bandwidth in the street than you are.

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