Friday, October 22, 2010

Why can't they just make their network faster?

T-Mobile, in an FCC filing, urges the FCC to allow them to continue to ban various applications from their network because even one rogue app can bring their network to a screeching halt. At which point the question becomes, why don't they simply add more hardware to their network so they can handle that kind of traffic?

Well, the thing you're looking for is the Shannon limit, which states that it is simply physical impossible for one channel connected to one cell site to carry more than a given amount of data. And there's only a limited number of channels that you can divide the airwaves into, and T-Mobile doesn't own a whole lot of them. Past that point, you have to start putting cell sites closer together so that each cell site serves a smaller number of phones (which can then use more channels to transfer data), but there is a limit there too -- each cell site sees the adjacent cell sites as noise, and if you look closer at the Shannon-Hartley theorem, you'll see that past a certain point, the noise will reduce the bandwidth to the point where you've hit diminishing returns (i.e., adding a cell site between two sites will result in *less* available bandwidth because they'll be drowning each other out).

So the answer to America's broadband problems isn't cell phone providers. The laws of physics simply preclude that. What is needed is fiber to the household, because if you don't have enough bandwidth with fiber, you just pull another fiber bundle alongside the one already there. In short, because you can run fiber optic bundles in parallel -- and cannot run cell sites in parallel -- you will always be able to push far, far more data through fiber than you could ever push over the airwaves. The thing is, it's not profitable to pull new fiber bundles and bring fiber to the home, so the cable and phone copanies aren't doing it. Instead, they're suing the municipalities which are doing it.

Which just goes to show that government can't do anything right and should stay out of the broadband business 'cause people don't want that kind of network speed anyhow. Or somethin' like that. Heh.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin


  1. "What is needed is fiber to the household, because if you don't have enough bandwidth with fiber, you just pull another fiber bundle alongside the one already there."


  2. The things is, they're nowhere NEAR the Shannon limits, but they are near the "we want to make more Money!" limits, where the additional revenue per customer can't rise, because of pricing restraints from the PUC. So, we have to push them to the "chapped ass" limits, which is where complaints become more irritating to the brass than the money the pull from us. Until then, rather than fix the issue, they whine. Sooner or later, they will ask the PUC to allow for serious rate increases to pull fiber to the neighborhoods (which you and I know won't fix the problem) but this gives them some cover until then.

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