Bell o Boole?

Le società telefoniche stanno per fallire spettacolarmente a livello mondiale, ed alcune hanno già cominciato. Le altre, fiutato il pericolo, si attaccano al santo protettore richiedendo a) una grossa fetta dei nostri soldi e b) nuove leggi che stronchino la concorrenza.

Le menti pensanti della blogosfera da tempo cercano di attirare la nostra attenzione sul fatto che la posta in gioco è enorme, e le conseguenze sul nostro futuro pesantissime. David Isemberg ha recentementè scritto una lettera al direttore della FCC americana in cui invita a lasciar fallire quelle aziende che si basano su un mdello obsoleto, e favorire la crescita del nuovo.

Shirky nella sua newsletter commenta magistralmente l’attuale situazione come segue:

“The current crisis in the telecom industry is the clash of two 18th century ideas – Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone, and George Boole’s two-state system of logic, which became the foundation of digital networks. For most of the last century, if you’d asked anyone which of those two men’s inventions was most important, the answer would have been Bell by a mile. The phone was on the short list of absolutely critical inventions, while Boolean logic was on a much longer list of interesting mathematical curiosities.

George Boole

Over the last 3 decades, however, that situation has been reversed. Like the telegraph before it, the telephone turns out to have been only a short-term patch, and digital logic is the invention of long-term importance for telecommunications.

Almost every choice critical to the operation of the telephone network turns out to have been a bad choice, and a hundred and fifty years after Boole’s work, the digital alternatives turn out to be the better ones. Telephone networks assume that conversations must be given an entire circuit for the duration of the call. Digital networks can break up data into packets and share infrastructure much more efficiently. Telephone networks are optimized for voice at every part of the system. Digital networks treat voice as one of many possible data applications. Telephone networks are optimized for synchronous and one-to-one communications. Digital networks can support those patterns of communication, but also asynchronous, one-to-many and many-to-many patterns as well.

In addition to being philosophically superior, voice as a digital application is now good enough for the early adopters of Voice over IP to disconnect from telephone networks, relegating voice to just another item of a large and growing list of broadband applications.

This is the transition from sail to steam, in other words, and the owners of the sailboat cartel aren’t very happy. The incumbent telecoms are fighting against the change harder than the beneficiaries of digital networks are fighting for it, because for the telecoms, their existence is at stake. Their current strategy is simple: they want the FCC to outlaw competition, or, if that proves to be impossible, then they want to use the lever of Government regulation to slow and weaken their competitors in order to be able to milk their outdated network architectures and fee structures for as long as possible.

Noto ancora come i mezzi di informazione di massa ignorino totalmente questi argomenti non adatti al grosso pubblico.