Changing times... but the same mind-set

DHAKA, Bangladesh

Technology is changing. But the mindset stays the same. And so are the laws. Now, you can start working your networking from a single room. You can start small, keep on deploying, moving out from there, and cover an entire country as you encourage the demand to expand. But is there any recognition to this?

Because the technology has changed, it has a huge impact on how investments will be made, and how the people will use

them.
Our friends from India make an interesting point: technology is changing. But the mindset stays the same. And so are the

laws.

Take the case of the telecom paradigm.

Vicram Crishna says: "As times change, so does the telecom paradigm. A (traditional and old-style plain old telephone system, or POTS) phone works because somebody installs an expensive switch, and the switch allows the circuits to be connected. The switches are so expensive that the entire infrastructure can't begin to work until you've spent all the money."

But this is no longer true. Now, you can start working your networking from a single room. You can start small, keep on

deploying, moving out from there, and cover an entire country as you encourage the demand to expand.

Because the technology has changed, it has a huge impact on how investments will be made, and how the people will use

them.

Crishna sees a sharp disconnect from client-server, switch based operations to peer-to-peer, mesh-based networks. In the traditional style, the switch owner also owns the old-style telephone network. This need not be true anymore. Only standards and protocols need acceptance, so that the networks can talk to each other.

"There's a need to develop and integrate models to deal with new technologies and services that have emerged from these.

VOIP (voice over Fuente: TechSoup Glossary y GenderIT.org ">internet

protocol) calls feel just like a telephone call. You can take notes, show a video while the call is going on... can do a lot of things with a VOIP call," says Crishna.

Crishna rues the fact that young students are not given a chance to play around with, and work on, technologies like RF (radio frequency). He points out how earlier research on radio frequency was lost, because the nation-state dominated this field after the First World War in a command-control environment, instead of a participatory and inclusive manner.

He believes that after struggling with software patents and restrictions, hardware too could go the same way. "Proprietorial hardware is a live time-bomb. Companies can just withdraw the products. There's nothing we can do about it," he warns.

"We use FM radio for simultaneous translation in conferences. (This involves getting translators to speak out, via different channels, and then the audience tunes in to a language-channel of their choice.) FM happens to be a very, very clear voice handling system. Technology is extremely old, but it's not widespread. Why? Because our governments control the use of FM. You can't buy a wireless translation based on FM in India, though it costs peanuts," says Crishna.

Research is highly restricted, he notes. It's government-owned institutions or very large institutions that can control governments. They focus on the low-hanging fruit, what they can sell for the highest price.

There's also a need for a supportive infrastructure. To develop radio and non-radio frequencies. For instance, a laser

pointer has a street price of Rs 30 (75 US cents). If you add a modulating circuit, you can add voice signals, he argues. But

there's hardly any research going on on topics like this. Instead, the focus is on say sending a laser communication to

Mars, an application that the corporate world sees the possibility of "making billions on".

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