No subject

Sun Feb 8 02:50:13 CST 2004

understand what fundamentally drives the adoption of their technologies and
services: the end-user cost of the service.  Broadband ISP, cellular telephone(y)
and Digital Cable TV services are all stalling right now not because of lack
of demand or market saturation, but because the vast majority of people who
have yet to adopt them consider them optional luxuries which can be trimmed
during economically uncertain times.  If any one of the services I
mentioned cost $10/month or less, they would most likely be virutually ubiquitious
in the United States.  Likewise, if wireless radios, routers and high/medium
gain omnidirectional antennas all cost five cents apiece, Nigeria and the
rest of the populated parts of the world would be blanketed in a 2.4 GHz
global community wireless network.  

Getting somewhat back on track after that slight, but interesting
digression, I expect Cometa's service to be too expensive for most people to really
take it seriously.  Celluar Digital Packet Data (CDPD, John Markoff is in
error), Ricochet/Metricom, and now 3G all seem to have problems in the bang
for the buck dept.  Unless it offers truly impressive amounts of unmetered
bandwidth and throughput, the ability to run servers (statically routed IPs),
and is available for the home/business in addition to the 20,000 WAPs
nationwide, all for $39/month (or less), I expect Cometa to be a niche player at
best.  The thought of most laptop/PDA toting people paying an extra few tens
of dollars a month for the ability to drive five minutes to connect to the
internet seems rather ridiculous.  My experience has been that, with certain
exceptions, the more local an ISP is, the cheaper and better the service. 
Nationwide access is usually only a necessity to businesspeople; the rest of
us are perfectly happy to visit the nearest public library while we're

Basically, even though it's financed by some of the biggest technology
firms on the planet, I do not fear that Cometa will stomp CU-wireless out of
existence.  If Microsoft was one of the companies in that alliance, I'm might
start sweating a bit, but that doesn't appear to be the case.  I really
believe that anything Cometa can do, we can do better.  For example, let's
assume that both Cometa an CU-wireless have provided 802.11B networks for use by
the customers of Strawberry Fields.  When people scan for local wireless
networks, they'll find both networks.  Whatever Cometa costs, CU-wireless will
cost less, because we are non-profit and they are (or most likely will be) a
for-profit publicly traded company.  Additionally, we will be looking to
serve different population segments.  I expect Cometa to go after the middle
to upper-middle-class student and professional segments of the population,
because that's where the money is.  CU-wireless, in contrast, doesn't really
care which segments of the population we serve, with the exception that we'd
really like to bring broadband internet to lower income people who probably
couldn't afford it otherwise.  

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