Table of Contents

  1. The advantages over conventional telephone systems
  2. Problems
Andy Rabagliati WZI Consulting

The advantages over conventional telephone systems

The major advantage is that it is no longer necessary to lay and maintain copper wires to every household or business that wants a phone. This option is expensive, and often impractical, for third world countries. In the last ten years, they have reduced the cost of long-distance communication by using micro-wave towers instead of copper cable. This solves the problem on trunk routes, but to connect to the individual subscriber there is still the need to install copper wires to each household. This is a major, limiting, expense.

There is a great attraction to the user of such a system. Communication, once one has the access, is free.

Radio Telexes would be either purchased outright, or leased. Leasing may be advantageous, firstly as the Radio Telexes may need upgrading as the service matures, and secondly as a revenue source to fund other services such as electronic mail and other information services. Comparison between conventional and new systems In this proposal, for local communication, and eventually for long-distance communication, the basic service cost is free. Revenue for the present phone system comes primarily from the Service providers.

For the new system, it would only be from the sale or lease of Radio Telexes. The owners/operators of the Radio Telexes could have their own revenue-generating businesses, charging for messages, etc. without getting involved in cross- charging.

Switching in the present phone system is accomplished centrally. For the new system, switching is distributed throughout the network. This means that there is redundancy and robustness built into the system.

For a conventional phone system, there must be much investment in plant, cabling, microwave towers, and switches before the system can be operational.

In the new system, two people wishing to communicate can buy a pair of Radio Telexes and use them right away.

Alternatives

The alternatives are few. Cellular telephones have become popular in the West, but even there are too expensive to buy for the ordinary subscriber.

However, present cellular phones emulate and compete with the excellent service provided by landline based companies.

Research is going on in satellite-based communication. In particular, Motorola has the Iridium project, to put a constellation of 77 satellites into low-earth orbit, to be used for cellular phones. Costs Costs break down into two portions. Firstly, the cost of the Radio Telex, and secondly the cost of the service. Today, the major cost is for the service. In fact, with cellular phones, often the service providers are willing to give the subscriber the phone, in return for locking them into a service contract for a year or so.

For a third world subscriber, this puts the service out of reach. For good progress, it is necessary (as in the USA) to be able to use the service without consideration of per-call costs - or very low per-call costs. This way, it becomes an investment in the infra-structure of the country, like roads. Moreover, a considerable part of the expense in our switched networks is the accounting - who is going to pay for the call, and how much ? If we rid ourselves of this, a great deal of simplification is possible.

Much of the expense of the present networks comes from the need to provide virtually instantaneous communication, for voice, and to provide switching capacity to handle the largest potential loads.

Thus, when a fax machine wishes to send a message across the country, a real time connection is set up. When the last page has passed through the sending Radio Telex, the recipient may pick up the complete fax. However, this is not always necessary. The recipient may have been content with getting that fax in ten minutes.

Without the requirement for instantaneous communication, system performance requirements are eased considerably. Now, packet switching becomes viable. Peak loads are smoothed - packets can be re-routed past system bottlenecks.

Problems

Securing the bandwidth is crucial for success.

Radio Telexes must be left on all the time. The system depends on being able to route through (maybe) idle Radio Telexes. There is the possibility that someone may think it unreasonable to be paying for electricity just to route somebody else's mail. This needs thought.

There is no control over communication, or monitoring. Some would construe this as being a Good Thing.