Beanstalk Connectivity

Logan Airport’s free wi-fi isn’t doing the job. (Latencies up to a second and a half, 7% packet loss.) In fact, the only reason I can continue with this post is that I’ve switched to my iPhone’s “personal hot spot,” which turns AT&T’s 3G data network to wi-fi I can use. On Logan’s connection I couldn’t do anything over the Net, other than that ping test.

Now on AT&T’s 3G, I’m getting a “D+” grade from, but I’m also able to function over a connection it rates at 2.67Mbps down and .67Mbps up. I’m only here for an hour, so I can live with that.

But I also have to live with knowing that the data is costing me $25/mo. for 2Gb, plus $10 for each additional 1Gb. Or is it $45 for using the tethering (as I am now)? And it’s a pain in the butt to keep worrying about whether I’m running up a big bill. (Never mind that I’m going to Canada, where I won’t use any telco data, thanks to onerous “roaming” charges if I try.)

Just here in the States, there’s a tug-of-billing-plans between Apple and AT&T. What started as $25 for unlimited data (very Steve Jobs, that simplicity) is now this:

Data Plans
Data will allow you to access the internet, surf the Web, and check email.
Data 200MB 2GB 4GB and Mobile Hotspot**
Additional Data $15 per 200MB $10 per 1GB $10 per 1GB
Per Month $15 $25 $45

** Tethering allows you to share the 3G connection on your iPhone with your Mac notebook or PC laptop and connect to the Internet. When your iPhone is tethered, you can still send and receive data and make phone calls.

Very telco, that; though not nearly as complex as it would have been if Apple weren’t a party to the deal.

My point, however, is about clouds. If we’re going to “live in the cloud,” as we are so often told, we’re going to need better routes than rented beanstalks that fray and fail.

By the way, I don’t begrudge AT&T making money. In fact, I’m happy for them (and Apple, and anybody in the Net infrastructure business) to make money, and want to encourage them to build out as much capacity as they can.

I just know how telcos work, which is primarily as billing systems and secondarily as plain infrastructure. We also pay for other utilities — water, electricity, gas —but in less sphinctered ways. And un-sphinctered service is what we’ll need if we really are going to live in the clouds.

[Later…] Dig David Scott WilliamsRain From the Cloud Doesn’t Fall in This Desert, and his comments below. I especially like “drinking the milkshake of the cloud internet through my coffee stirrer,” which links back to that same post.

Open connections are as important as having roads, water and electricity. In too much of the world — and remarkably, too much of the U.S. — the long- promised “information superhighway” still isn’t paved.

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17 Responses to Beanstalk Connectivity

  1. MacRat says:

    T-Mobile is great, just for this example.

    Standard 500min/2GB plan for $49.99 with an Android phone on HSPA+ data speeds.

    Tether all you need when you need.

    No worry about silly extra fees.

  2. Well, Doc, maybe you are beginning to recognize the monster you have helped create — right??

  3. PXLated says:

    Yes Doc – Things have to change…
    I almost burst out laughing when silicon valley (sequestered) geeks extol the cloud – They just don’t get out enough. The cloud is not even a vision out in the hinterland (outside bigger cities) and it probably won’t be making an appearance any time soon. There isn’t even good cell coverage in many areas and a data connection is just a wet dream.

  4. Chuck McGuire says:

    Doc, I’d think that I had died and gone to heaven with a connection like that. Try Hughesnet someday. Most of the day, dialup is better. Only around midnight MDT and towards 0400 does the system begin to approach its advertised capabilities. The one second latency is largely unavoidable, but overselling your capacity by a factor of 100 seems a little too 21st century.

  5. Doc Searls says:

    Doug, did I help create phone and cable companies?

    PXLated and Chuck, my sympathies. We have a long way to go. Longer in some places than others, alas.

  6. Darn..hit enter, and it submitted.

    I feel your pain, in that it is the precise speed that I get on my home internet connection, if I connect one computer directly to the DSL modem… spread that out across multiple computers on the network, and it is ugly.

    Beanstalk, huh? I like it…climb to the cloud on the beanstalk … The metaphor could extend out to both the dangers that await you once you get to the cloud “I’ll grind your data to make my business model” … and the inherent shakiness of the trip there…

    Even at home, I have a new limit to the amount of data I can access each month… I hit it shortly after they instituted it (AT&T/Bellsouth) with a warning and a grace month.

    And I still look forward to drinking the milkshake of the cloud internet through my coffee stirrer.


  7. glen martin says:

    Speaking of roaming, I’m not sure about the Alternate Telephone & Telegraph 🙂 folks, but Verizon let me buy 1 week of their Canada data plan (sorta) for a trip, so I kept my charges to something mortals could tolerate. I had to do it by calling a human, not through their web site, but it was possible.

    I think that demonstrates your thesis, though.

    Logan sounds bad. Worse, for me, is when I’m international, and to get the free hotspot access I need to be able to receive an SMS, which I can’t because I’m international. Gotta love Heller.


  8. No Doc, and you didn’t help create the computer either; however, they are all part of the rotten system that you help promote.

  9. Hey Doug… I am intrigued, can you elaborate? Or blog it somewhere and link to it here?


  10. Doc Searls says:

    If I didn’t know better, Doug, I’d say you’re trolling.

    So let’s try to get somewhere. What “rotten monster” or system are you talking about? Without context (other than my putative agency in the matter), we’re in the dark.

  11. Interesting how my reply got lost!!!!!

  12. Now that I have cooled off a bit, I’ll try again.

    You, Doc, know precisely what I am talking about — the rotten system is the Personal Computer and the Internet — they are broken and you don’t want to talk about it. And, as a matter of fact, nobody seems to want to talk about it.

    Since my lost message contained two links, I will not include any links here.

    Dave, you can Google my name to get a link.

  13. Doug … I followed the link attached to your name in the response(s) above.

    First things first:
    I think the email cc: style of layout is a neat idea. If I were to write blog posts (or messages) as an “open letter” to certain individuals, it is a cool touch.

    The rest:
    I have read several of the pages at … I have to confess, it seems when you post some of these messages, they are written with expectation that the reader already has the context that you are writing about firmly in hand (or in mind). I don’t typically have trouble determining context at the web sites I choose to visit frequently… a little “background” to help the reader understand exactly what you are (upset|annoyed|frustrated) about would go a long way to provide that context.

    I am uncertain why you choose to write posts to the internet at all, though, if the internet is so rotten and the PC so deplorable. If I felt that way about a technology, I am not sure that I would use it as a medium to express my thoughts. Some days I do feel loathing for the state of the internet, and the dependance on PCs, and now micro-PC cell-phone like handset thingies (aka “Smart Phones”) … those days I avoid the PC and the internet. If I felt that there was nothing (or little) redeeming about it, however, I would avoid it entirely.

    Having written that, I guess it could be said that if you want to get the attention of a group of people whose behavior you’d like to change, finding fora where they operate is one way to get their attention, so maybe I am mistaken.

    I guess, I can say in summary, I am still unclear as to what it is you want from Doc (for example… or Dave Winer, or Jeff Jarvis, or ABC news, or ______ ) … after reading and re-reading what you have written.

    One thing I can say, though, is that I have always known Doc to have an open mind, and to take valid criticism to heart … so maybe if you find a better way to communicate your concerns, you will find satisfaction.

    Best of luck,

  14. Thanks fellas — much appreciated.

    To Dave – Obviously you are coming in in the middle of the show when Doc, and the others, have been there from the beginning.

    It just so happens that I agree with Doc on some things, and disagree on a number of others; however, his handling of this interchange is a bit phony, indeed.

  15. Doc Searls says:

    Doug, what do you mean by “handling?”

  16. Dave Täht says:


    We are seeing bufferbloat everywhere wireless-n is rolled out. Doesn’t surprise me you’re seeing it in logan…

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