[FoRK] GSM Disruption

Aaron Burt aaron at bavariati.org
Fri Mar 27 00:09:10 PDT 2009

Disruptive technologies are often more interesting for the nature of
their disruption than their technology per se.

Case in point:

A GSM cell site is rather expensive, but the actual GSM gubbins are a
relatively small piece of that.  A lot of the expense is in the climate-
controlled shack for the GSM gubbins, the backup power, and the concrete
pad to support all that.

So if you only find a way to make the GSM gubbins cheaper by building
them with GNU Radio and COTS stuff, you don't make much difference.

On the other hand, as David Burgess argues, if your COTS GSM gubbins
work at ambient temperatures, on less power, and are small enough to go
in a NEMA enclosure bolted to the tower, suddenly you're not paying for
the shack, or the concrete pad, or quite so much backup power.

And then, you have a GSM cell site that's cheap enough to deploy
profitably in rural parts of Africa or South Asia.  Which, given the
proliferation of cheap GSM cellphones, might lead to Interesting Things.

(Mind, some disruptive technologies don't disrupt very much.  VoIP
didn't do to Sprint what PCs did to Burroughs, despite some good
efforts.  Got me through Engineering school, though.)

Hoping that networked video games don't get disrupted soon,

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