SMART Letter #18
April 2, 1999



            SMART Letter #18 - April 2, 1999

            Copyright 1999 by David S. Isenberg -- -- 1-888-isen-com




>  Quote of Note: Frank Ianna

>  Lead Essay: Wireless Home Networks: Bluetooth & HomeRF

>  Quote of Note: Richard Smith, Telcordia Technologies

>  Update: Supreme Court UNE decision's effect on CLECs

>  SMART Comments from SMART People . . .

       Chuck Lanza, Brian Mulvaney, Tom Evslin

>  Conferences on my Calendar


QUOTE OF NOTE: Frank Ianna

"[AT&T will be] making more investment at the edge of the 

network . . . and less investment in the center of the 

network, in our big 4ESS long distance switches . . . with 

close to zero investment in growth in that network next 

year.  We have capped the growth of that network . . . 

finalizing the last two [4ESS long distance circuit 

switches in 1999]."  Frank Ianna, President, AT&T Network 

Services, at news conference on March 2, 1999.

[Note: AT&T now seems to be getting a PART of the Stupid

Network message.  So a part of me is cheering, "Yeahhh!"

for my old Alma Mater. There are two big chunks of the message

missing. First, in an all-IP world, the "edge" is wherever 

the IP protocol originates and terminates, and increasingly,

that's in a device at the customer's fingertips.  Second,

when that's the case, the main utility of networks is created

in the applications under the customer's fingers, and this 

means that value is created independently of network 

ownership.  AT&T has yet to demonstrate that it understands

how this will affect the old telco business model. -- David I.]


A HOME WHERE DEVICES CAN ROAM: Wireless home networking 

will be affordable, but will end users be buffaloed?

By David S. Isenberg

I like Bluetooth -- the wireless networking protocol 

designed to eradicate the hairball of cables behind your 

PC. It's an Ericsson-IBM-Intel-Nokia-Toshiba scheme for 

cheap, unplug-n-play networks to link nearby devices.  

It'll bring more intelligence to the edge.

Bluetooth will cost about $5 per end in a couple of years. 

It will be cost-competitive with physical cable, so you 

don't necessarily need portability to benefit.  It'll be 

worth it just to eliminate the dust trap under your desk. 

In the Bluetooth vision, your printer isn't tied to your 

PC anymore - you can put it across the room if you want.  

Your modem becomes a clean wireless package next to the 

RJ-11 jack. You connect your laptop to the net via cell 

phone - while the phone is in your briefcase. The Palm 

Pilot in your pocket syncs to your PC while it's while its 

there. You take your wireless web-pad to the kitchen for 

coffee.  You can do voice over Bluetooth, too, so your 

Bluetooth phone might deliver voice commands to your PC.

I can imagine other applications.  Your phone flips caller 

ID to your PC for a screen pop.  Your car reports mileage, 

gas level and other stats when you come home.  Your 

electric company reaches through your PC to your 

appliances for so-called demand-side energy management.  

Trivial apps, perhaps, but at five bucks an end you can't 

afford not to have them.

Despite these potential benefits, a lot of smart people 

badmouth Bluetooth. 

 + "It is oblivious to the IP revolution," says 'IP 

   Everywhere' evangelist Bob Frankston.  

 + At 1 megabit per second, Bluetooth is "much too slow to 

   be useful," says wireless broadband expert Dewayne 

   Hendricks of Com21.

 + And Microsoft strategist Charles Fitzgerald voices 

   concern with intellectual property and licensing. 

   (Microsoft doesn't even belong to Bluetooth's 480-member 

   special interest group.)

Bluetooth is, admittedly, a flawed idea.  But then, so are 

single-family homes - horrendously energy-inefficient! So 

are cars, which cause 50,000 U.S. deaths per year. Then 

there's television, Windows, the Republican Party, the 

Democratic Party, the telephone network, and the modern 

corporation.  Fortunately, flaws don't keep stuff from 



HomeRF is another of the several wireless protocols vying 

for a place in the living room. It is a lot like Bluetooth 

- same 1 megabit data rate, same 2.4 gHz band, same late-

1999 product expectations and similar apps, with an 

equally powerful set of members, including Bluetooth's IBM 

and Intel.  Microsoft is a member, too.

Frankston likes HomeRF.  He understands the power of 

emergent, unpredicted value. When he and Dan Bricklin 

wrote VisiCalc in 1978, the PC changed- by surprise, not 

design - from toy to tool. Frankston likes HomeRF because 

it incorporates native, end-to-end IP, the biggest creator 

of unpredictable value in our time. He thinks that 

Bluetooth is too proprietary and too preconceived to 

ramify as riotously as HomeRF could. He points to the 

overly constrained, often bungled infrared communications 

standard, IRDA, as a cautionary tale.


I'm with Frankston on this.  Open is better, layered is 

better, proven technology is better, end-to-end Internet 

Protocol is better.


Putting my fridge on line will be an easier decision if I 

can recoup the energy savings in a month or two.  HomeRF 

will cost more than Bluetooth, but how much more is 

unclear. HomeRF is aimed at a PC-card implementation, 

while Bluetooth cleaves to an inherently cheaper embedded 

product model.  Also, HomeRF is designed for a 50-meter 

transmission range. It needs a 100-milliwatt transmitter 

to do it. Bluetooth, in contrast, has a 10-meter range, 

and only needs one milliwatt.  Dan Sweeney, the general 

manager of Intel's Home Networking Operations, says, 

"There will always be a premium to pay for a HomeRF radio 

versus Bluetooth." 

Maybe Bluetooth's nominal 10-meter range will prove overly 

limiting. Perhaps HomeRF's other capabilities will become 

critical, such as its support for five voice channels plus 

data, or its superior wall penetration, or end-to-end IP.  

I'm open.

Ultimately, easy-to-use protocols will win. I'm not going 

to become a networking guru so I can put my thermostat on 



"Because it is wireless, HomeRF sets high expectations for 

ease-of-use.  You take it out of the box and turn it on," 

says Ben Manny, Chair of the 65-member HomeRF Working 

Group. He could say the same for Bluetooth. Manny expects 

that both systems will benefit from the experience of 

wired home networking efforts now underway (e.g. HomePNA).  

If they're cheap and stone-simple, I'll like both.  And 

when Hendricks' Com21 gives us wireless home networks for 

digital video, I'll like that too.


David S. Isenberg (, who doesn't have his 

tongue in his cheek this April 1, suggests 

and for more reading.

This article appeared in America's Network, April 1, 1999. 

Copyright 1999, Advanstar Communications, Inc.


QUOTE OF NOTE: Richard Smith

"Power will shift from the network periphery to the core."

Richard Smith, CEO, Telcordia Technologies, formerly 


[Note: Yeah, right. - David I]



In the last SMART Letter (#17) I wrote about the U.S. 

Supreme Court decision of January 12, 1999 (AT&T v. Iowa 

Utilities Board).  Well, I can read technology pieces 

carefully, and eventually I get it. But not law, yet.

I was confused.  The Supreme Court didn't exactly neuter 

unbundling, a key CLEC entry strategy, but it certainly 

tied it in knots. 


Several SMART People picked up my confusion between 

47USC251 and 47CFR51.  The former refers to the United 

States Code, while the later refers to the Code of Federal 

Regulations.  More specifically, the former refers to the 

Telecom Act of 1996, while the latter refers to rules that 

the FCC made under that Telecom Act.  It is an accident 

that both names start with 47.  Duh.  That's what you go 

to law school for.

But I was right when I said that the crucial language from 

the Telecom Act is in USC 251(d)(2) "In determining what 

network elements should be made available . . . [the FCC] 

should consider whether . . . (B) the failure to provide 

such network elements would impair the ability of [a CLEC] 

to provide the services that it seeks to offer."

And I was right when I said that the Court found that the 

FCC was "unreasonable" when the FCC said that "delay and 

higher costs for new entrants" was impairment. 


But I was wrong to conclude that the Supreme Court had 

invalidated the whole notion of Unbundled Network Elements 

(UNE). What *really* happened is that it sent FCC Rule 319 

(aka 47CFR51.319) back to the FCC for more work.  And it 

cleared the way for more anti-competitive ILEC court 


And while Kathy Chen (WSJ, 2/12/99) uncovered some 

evidence of CLEC trouble with ILECs resulting from the 

decision, I haven't found any so far.  FCC Commissioners 

Kennard and Ness referred to "rumors" of CLEC problems in 

speeches after the Supreme Court decision, but I called 

the FCC and couldn't track down what they were talking 

about.  Furthermore, CLECs had problems with ILECs before the 

decision, too; it is the way of the world, so today's such 

problems might not necessarily be due to the Court's decision.

Amusingly, the FCC faxed me its letters from all five 

RBOCs, plus GTE, pledging to continue to make UNE available 

to CLECs under the same cooperative, friendly, 

streamlined, automated, inexpensive terms ;-) as before the 

Supreme Court's decision.  SMART Person Michael Weingarten, in 

a more educated piece than mine in BCR (March 1999, p. 35-

38) says that things could remain unresolved until late 

2001, or longer.

I'm very glad that I am not a small CLEC trying to keep my 

head above water until this is resolved.  I am embarrassed to 

be a citizen of a country that's stuck muddling in legal 

drivel while technology's progress sweeps irresistibly 

towards the future.


SMART Comments from SMART People . . .

From Brian Mulvaney:

  "I guess I'm still confused by the QoS debate.  

  There's a profound disconnect here.  The rate of 

  improvement in hardware performance is geometric 

  and accelerating.  Rate of improvement in software 

  development is what? marginal? a fond hope? 

  negative even?  I think I read another 

  announcement last week of terabit speeds achieved 

  by Siemens over a single fiber using WDM.  When 

  the bits move that fast, why would you ever want 

  to make them wait a relative eternity for bloated, 

  buggy software to enforce policy decisions?  QoS 

  still feels like the networking equivalent of 

  Soviet command and control economics." 

From Chuck Lanza:

  "I've been using your Letter #7: Scenarios Facing 

  Year 2000 in every Y2K meeting I'm involved in.  

  Being the Emergency Manager for Miami-Dade County, 

  Florida, believe me I have a lot of meetings.  

  There isn't a  better way to frame the need for 

  increased response planning and preparedness than 

  Letter #7.  I always give you credit but I wanted 

  to send you a note to thank you for providing such 

  a clear and concise planning document.  It has 

  established two goals for us: 1) to increase and 

  complete all of our computer and systems 

  remediation and testing to lessen disruptions, and 

  2) to maximize our community preparedness and 

  increase the community's confidence in us that 

  will facilitate a coherence manifested by a 

  stronger more intuned community."

From Tom Evslin:

  "[SMART Letter #17] strikes home!  I thought we 

  would need differentially priced QoS for business 

  quality VOIP.  I was dead wrong.  The "Stupid" 

  Internet is improving so rapidly that we are able to 

  beat many third tier PSTN providers in call completion 

  rate and match them in call durations (proxy for sound 

  quality) to developing countries.

     "The reason this work is that the Internet is 

  not only highly redundant itself but it enables a 

  highly redundant network architecture.  We try to 

  have at least three separate terminating affiliates 

  in each city connected to different ISPs and 

  different central offices.

     "During [recent major holiday for Asian country] 

  we had a 2x better call completion rate to [that 

  country] (compared to our PSTN overflow providers) 

  where the local infrastructure was struggling under 

  the call load.  This is because we had many more COs 

  to route through. Simply wouldn't be an affordable 

  architecture with dedicated circuits of any kind."



May 23-26, 1999, Washington DC. 7x24 EXCHANGE 1999 

Spring Conference. 7x24 is a non-profit consortium that 

is devoted to always-on facilities of all kinds.  Today

they're weighted towards electric power and financial

services industries, but they want and need more telecom

involvement.  It could be a great forum for us to

learn about reliability from individuals with similar

practices in different industries.  I'll be giving 

the keynote, on Tuesday, May 25, on "Reliability and

the Stupid Network."  For more information, contact

Joe Paladino, 212-575-2275,, website




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Copyright 1999 by David S. Isenberg -- -- 1-888-isen-com


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Date last modified: 18 April 99