Scheduling the Net: Highway to Web Heaven
Take the last mile, the link between your home and the nearest phone or cable box, or your smartphone and the nearest cell phone antenna.
The FCC seems willing to let carriers meter your access, pretending bits cost money to move, because of contention from three main sources:
1. At home in the evening, during commutes on the freeway, everyone seeks the same high-bandwidth services.
3. Ipv6, which can give every device in your home intelligence and its own IP address, will increase last-mile demand as you let the "Internet of Things" automate daily life. But it has proven a tough sell, because no one can see the value.
The problem isn't a shortage of capacity in the last mile. The problem is the same one we have on our roads, everyone using the same resource at the same time. Peak demand can quickly turn surplus into shortage.
I call the opportunity: Net scheduling. If demand can be moved in time, carriers can improve the last mile at their schedule, as the costs of doing so come down naturally, with Moore's Law.
With net scheduling, carriers can charge different prices at peak and non-peak times, spreading traffic across the day instead of having it concentrated, giving them time to plan for last-mile improvements. It's much like new toll lanes that charge different prices during rush and non-rush hours. (Georgia just introduced this kind of variable pricing on I-85 through what it calls PeachPass.)
The key is scheduling what traffic can be scheduled, and sending only during peak hours the data necessary to meet a user's request. In some ways, this is pretty old tech; your browser caches a lot of stuff all the time, which is why you get such quick replies, in many cases.
The opportunity is to cache content even closer to consumers, letting them schedule its delivery and avoid up-charges. This would happen inside a product called a home server, which looks suspiciously like the box sold as a "home computer" in an illustration for Gordon Moore's famous "Electronics" article in 1965.