A 3G licence was a good way to burn £10bn. The telcos are starting to realise that 3G is not going to be commercially viable for a good while (if ever) delivered through the same technology as 2G technology. Or to put it another way, there's a limit to how many phone masts you can hide before residents start ripping them down, and even teenagers won't pay to watch Titanic on a diddly little screen on the tube. Delivery of 3G-alike services is now being concentrated on the provision of WiFi based hot zones in cafes or other venues. Walk in and share a part of a landline network using a WiFi connection, paying the cafe for the privilege, with the cafe paying a telco for the service. What will really make this work is the roll out of 54g (802.11g) technology (fast WiFi).
So the telcos now think that they can make their pile providing hotspots, but there's an even better way:
Lots of people have 'always-on' ADSL landlines. All you need is the right software and a small plug-in USB unit, and you can share this connection invisibly, selling your spare capacity to any passing stranger.
You, as a provider, subscribe to a WiFi-3G service that handles the payment to you for other people using your spare capacity. In return you get the software (and if you haven't got it, the hardware) that allows passing strangers to access the net via your landline. At no time can they access your system, and you cannot access their data traffic.
The person using your spare capacity also subscribes to the WiFi-3G service that handles the payment system. The software they download to their laptop or PDA encrypts all their data traffic and helps their system look for spare capacity accessed via 54g WiFi in their vicinity. Encrypted traffic tunnels through to the WiFi-3G service provider's servers in an encrypted form, via the 54g link and the 'sharer's' ADSL landline offering spare capacity. To the sharer's ISP it is just another piece of encrypted data traffic coming from the user with their standard connection and standard MAC address. All of this data goes to the main WiFi-3G service provider's servers, operating as a proxy server, where it is decrypted and continues on to its destination.
So for an example, a simple call for a web page by Joe on Bill's system.
Bill subscribes to the service, installs the software, and his Wi-Fi reception covers the tables of the cafe next to his flat. The software will allow anyone at these tables access to the web, securely, when he is not using his ADSL landline to its fullest capacity. When this happens, Bill earns real money, offering cafe clients fast access to the net on their laptops.
Joe is a road-warrior and subscribes to the service to get fast downloads without a fixed connection on his laptop. He spots the sign in Bill's window that shows he's at a hot spot. He parks his car, turns on 'data roaming', and the software looks for a signal. It finds Bill's WiFi ethernet extending beyond his four walls. Joe becomes a node on that network, but with full firewalling, neither Bill nor Joe can access the other's PC.
Joe makes a website call. This is encrypted on his laptop. It goes across the Wi-Fi connection, and tunnels through Bill's system-he's not surfing, he's in the shower. The encrypted call goes through Bill's ISP as if it was a normal request from Bill. It goes to the WiFi-3G service provider's server, where it is decrypted. The website call is made by secure proxy. The webpage is fetched to the WiFi-3G service provider's server. Here it is encrypted, and sent back via Bill's ADSL connection to Joe's PC. The transaction is logged. Joe pays for it, Bill gets some of that revenue, the WiFi-3G service provider gets the rest. The big telco gets zip.
The same system can work in the middle of nowhere if you happen to be parked outside the house of a 'sharer' with a satellite connection or even a dial-up connection. In urban areas, the software would auto-negotiate the best available route from lots of nearby sharers, making sure everyone gets as much bandwidth as is feasible.
Joe has paid a micropayment on top of his basic subscription for his use of the service. Bill has made money whilst he took a shower.
Back to Stig's Dump.