What's the real scope of hardware openness?

Ian Stirling OpenMoko at mauve.plus.com
Mon Aug 6 14:20:48 CEST 2007

Luca Dionisi wrote:
> Hi all,
> I have a likely silly question.
> I'm wondering why is it that in the mobile phone world there has
> not been a revolution similar to the P2P that we have seen in
> the internet, e.g. with emule or bittorrent, that is where the
> users are benefitting from each other instead of relying in a
> centralized service provider.

Neglecting the illegality that others have addressed.
There seems to be a fundamentally flawed mental model that some people have.

Radio waves are not like the internet.

To make a computer analogy, they are like having everyone within several 
kilometers on one unswitched ethernet network.

Consider a thousand people in a smallish room.

If they are all silent, and speak only on an agreed schedule, everyone 
can easily hear everyone else, without raising their voice. 
(transmission power)

However, this only gives so much bandwidth (words/minute) before the 
channel becomes saturated.

If you don't have an agreed schedule, any two people in the room 
conversing will mean that you can't really hear someone if they are 
further away than the two people talking.

This is a reduction in range due to interference.

If everyone talks at once, you can only hear your neighbours.
This is when communication with people other than your neighbours 
becomes impossible.
Also, you can't meaningfully pass messages to other people - without a 
drastic crash in bandwidth, as every member of the network between you 
and the person you want to message is also passing messages for dozens 
of others.

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