[e2e] Bandwidth Estimation workshop

Cannara cannara at attglobal.net
Thu Oct 2 21:06:27 PDT 2003

Agree.  It's interesting how many supposedly scientific folks are ready to
expend a great deal of effort to allow, or even add, ambiguity in scientific
terminology.  Human nature drives us of course, and Pogo was right:  "We've
seen the enemy and he is us."

How on earth some folks can bypass the reality that several terms for data
rate exist and have existed in common discourse, yet say we must allow misuse
of a different, important, well-defined term just because?  Just because
what?  Because someone wants to?  Because someone is afraid not to now?

Having actually testified in a court case contesting bitrate consumption
myself, I can agree with David that the layperson (including lawyers) has a
problem that we have caused.  Bandwidth is very easily explained, along with
its relation to bit-rate, data-rate, byte-rate, whatever.  But, to come to an
explanation, one must be honest with the listener.  This discussion shows that
some of us, over the years, have been willing to promulgate dishonesty, in
this one area.  The result is, for instance, that some students get a degree
without ever knowing how modems could start at 110b/s and end up, today, over
60kb/s on the same telephone line in Grandma's house.

Bandwidth is the equivalent of a farmer's field.  He can plow and sow it in
various ways, and his crop yields (data rates) will vary as the intelligence
of his plowing & sowing increase, in relation to how agriculture works.  That
last phrase is key -- it requires understanding a process.  This is what
Nyquist and Shannon gave us.  This is what Hayes, and competitors, understood
and exploited over the years of the Modem Wars.  This is what too many of us
seem to undervalue, or even misunderstand, but worse, fail to ommunicate. 
It's, in fact, shameful.


"David P. Reed" wrote:
> Look, guys.  I'm a pragmatic fellow, not a pedant.   However, my pragmatism
> is focused these days on helping the public understand how to make policies
> related to communications networks.
> The confusion between bandwidth and bandwidth adds a HUGE problem to this
> space, not to mention the confusion between broadband and broadband,
> narrowband and narrowband that result.
> The number of lawyers and economists at the FCC who understand this
> distinction is tiny.   Congressional staff do not either.   Which leads to
> a situation in which lobbyists for incumbents are makiing up "technical
> facts" which have no bearing on reality.
> It may be impossible to stop the misuse of bandwidth as a term by the
> jargonic digerati - I agree.  But context is not sufficient when you are
> talking about systems-in-the-large.  Context is only sufficient for
> disambiguation when focusing on microworlds where one deals with narrowly
> abstracted problem spaces.

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