It seems that just when things are getting exciting on the Internet, the major telecom companies (thanks to regulatory policy of the last decade, there are not that many of them any more) want to take us back to a world of artificial scarcity and bandwidth rationing. Well, let me tell you a little bit about bandwidth. It’s cheap and plentiful because all the dynamics changed more than 15 years ago. The following is a true story:
In 1994, I brokered the installation of a telecom network for a $16 billion manufacturing company. That network was 48 times the capacity of its existing DS-3 network. The cost was not 48 times what they had previously paidit was only 1.8 times the cost. Both the manufacturer and the two local carriers that built this network profited by taking a realistic and technically based perspective on how to price. Three recalcitrant Texas public utility commissioners (they actually regulated telecommunications at that time, rather than depending on the large providers to be on their “best behavior”) adopted a realistic perspective on how to monitor efforts like these. As long as grandma was not paying for the corporate network through higher local service rates, people like my client got the green light. The commissioners were so impressed, in fact, that they approved the pricing of this bold new network in 24 hours. Never had anything been approved by that commission so quickly, nor has anything else since. To my knowledge, the manufacturer still operates over this network to this day.
Based in large part on this experience, in 1996, I wrote a book with my good friend Eddie M. Pope (an Austin, Texas based attorney and former regulator) entitled Understanding Emerging Network Services, Pricing and Regulation” (© Artech House Bookssee Figure 1).
The book hypothesized a regulatory framework for amazing new network technologies making their debut in the mid 90s. That framework envisioned honest-to-god regulators who would still protect the public well-being. It also focused on new kinds of businesses and applications that could be facilitated by those regulators as well as applications that would create jobs and national growth.
In 1999, I took the concept a step further in The MIS and LAN Managers Guide to Advanced Telecommunications” (© IEEE Bookssee Figure 2).
In that book, I even included a crude representation of what cloud computing might look like on page 117, using the technology already under development at the time (see Figure 3). I did not call it “cloud computing” per se, and it was stone knives and bear claws compared with the technology available today, but the idea is there. “Let the cloud manage your Information Technology… YOU concentrate on building Chryslers.” In the words of my friends here in Texas: “THAT dog hunts,” and the concept will sell to businesses looking at how to control IT costs, develop the “cloud,” provide managed services, and produce strategic advantages.