Category Archives: Telecom

The Relay Computers

Most people are at least vaguely familiar with the early history of modern digital computers, particularly their importance in breaking the Nazi Enigma codes during WWII. Less familiar is the computing machines that preceded them.

In response to the need for more and faster computation, researchers developed a series of analog computers that did the job but were complicated and difficult to maintain. Inspired by (and in some cases actually using) the switches used to connect telephone calls, digital computers using relays were developed that used base 2 arithmetic. As useful as they were these relay computers would end up mostly being forgotten, replaced by machines based on vacuum tubes.

FCC has already gotten 2,000 “net neutrality” complaints

FCC has opened the floodgates to complaints over net neutrality, unfortunately most of them are over data caps and slow service. Maybe the FCC should focus on encouraging competition, which as the Google Fiber rollout shows us, actually works at addressing these issues. Oh, and maybe stopping the industry efforts at squashing municipal broadband.

22 years after Verizon fiber promise, millions have only DSL or wireless

It’s not surprising that 22 years after Verizon promised to deliver fiber to all of its service area in PA, millions still have only DSL or wireless. Neither DSL (0.5-15Mbps) or LTE (5-12Mbps) currently meet the definition of broadband (25 Mbps) and wireless comes with higher initial costs and monthly bandwidth limitations.

It all comes down to the lack of competition. Areas where Google installs its Google Fiber experience an overall improvement in speed and cost. But Google has been selective in rolling it out so there remains a lot of areas with only one viable choice.

The Hidden FM Radio Inside Your Pocket, And Why You Can’t Use It

If you have almost any brand smartphone you actually have an FM radio as well. But for almost all of them you can’t use it because manufacturers and wireless providers haven’t bothered to turn them on. Sure, you can listen to your local FM station, but over the network and therefore not for free.

It’s not just a money issue (although that’s certainly a big part of it) it’s very much about public safety. In the event of a disaster or major network failure people rely on radio broadcasts for information. Why can’t they use a radio they already have in their pockets?

AT&T’s congestion magically disappears when it’s signing up new customers

You know what happens when you have a select few providers control a market? You get something like AT&T offering new customers “double the data for the same price” while simultaneously throttling everyone else.

Technically it’s not a monopoly, but it sure feels like one, doesn’t it?