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dublin != digital

A couple of times I've written about the sorry state of broadband service (and dial-up for that matter) here in Dublin (the most recent entry is here). Karlin today has an entry with link to an Irish Times article she wrote that references the 'e-cities report' which places Dublin second-to-last. I'm not surprised. I surmise few others would be, either. Hopefully things will start to change soon. I think that wireless access, by being relatively ignored by the monopolies, might have enough time to grow under the radar and so start providing an alternative. The geography of the city works in favor of this (not many tall buildings, with low hills in it and higher around it), so that relatively few transmitters would have line-of-sight to most areas.

Now, wireless infrastructure is more flexible than wired for many reasons, starting with the fact that it doesn't entail a natural monopoly (the "last mile" of the telecoms). This can be seen in action in the greater innovation and competition that happens in the cellular telephony space.

What is paradoxical is that Dublin, by having missed the high-speed "wired" boom (DSL is too expensive ot not available, cable access doesn't exist in most areas, no flat phone charges, etc), it might be unwittingly setting itself up to simply skip it and go to wireless directly. Imagine, a bunch of upstart companies fighting over the space on service and prices. With PDAs using the appropriate network hardware people could even bypass the cellular companies (whose prices for everything are more expensive here than in most other countries/cities I've lived in) and place calls at much lower prices from them. These wireless service companies could eventually start to take control of phone services in the home through their wireless connections, much in the way some cable companies are doing in the US. Eircom and the other idiotic monopolies would, simply, be turned irrelevant. By the time they realize this and get their act together, it will be too late.

Utopia? Yeah, maybe. But here's hoping.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on January 17 2003 at 10:35 PM

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