Name, Ort/Land: Andreas Trawöger, Vienna, Austria
E-Mail: andreas.trawoeger wgkk.sozvers.at  ('@' entfernt -- Spam-Vermeidung!)
Zur Person: Vita 
Vortrag : Open Bandwidth 
Or: the Human Right to access information!
Veranstaltungsdaten: 20. Mai / 18:00 / 2 Std. / Track B / Raum 3D / deutsch
Abstract: FLOSS (Free Libre Open Source Software) has become a staggering success. Nowadays technology is a part of our life and we are quite used to new technologies becoming available on a daily basis.

FLOSS is different. FLOSS is more than just another technology. FLOSS is about to change the way we think about our society and our economy.

FLOSS is often portrayed as being anti capitalistic or against commercial use of FLOSS software. That isn't true. FLOSS is against "lock in" where a single company, person, political organisation or state government wants to determine what I can do with my money, personal time or information.

Large companies like IBM, HP and Oracle are welcomed to participate in the community and give valuable contribution to the FLOSS community. Companies like Microsoft, Disney or the music industry are strongly opposed. Not because they are big companies, but for the fact that they use EULAs, Patents and Copyright law against their customers and users.

The success of FLOSS is determined by the following factors:

  • The number of programmers who participate in FLOSS projects
  • The willingness to share information
  • The possibility to replicate FLOSS at almost no cost
  • The ability to access FLOSS software

Till now the limiting factor has been the number of programmers. With the rise of FLOSS the community is faced with another problem: "The ability to access FLOSS software".

Linux Distributions have risen dramatically in size. A couple of years ago a Linux distribution like Slackware fitted on a bunch of disks (20-30). A small distribution nowadays has 3 CD Roms totalling to about 2 GB of data per version. Another trend are special purpose CDs like Knoppix that boot from CD and don't need any kind of installation.

With this trend going to continue the limiting factor for the further development of FLOSS will be bandwidth. It will be more difficult to share information and accessing it. To solve these problems the FLOSS community has started projects like BitTorrent, and OpenSpectrums.

BitTorrent is a typical FLOSS program allowing information and bandwidth being shared between thousands of computers. In this respect BitTorrent is similar to other P2P programs like Napster or eMule, but with a totally different purpose. The goal of Napster and eMule is to share relatively small files by sending files from one user to another. The purpose of BitTorrent is to share huge files like CD images by splitting them in small pieces between and up and downloading this pieces from every user in parallel.

OpenSpectrum is a much more complicated and far reaching approach. The goal of OpenSpectrum is to virtually free the airwaves. OpenSpectrum is based on a technology called spread spectrum (A technology invented by the Austrian Actress / Inventor Hedy Lamarr) and ultra-wide band. With the current used technologies frequencies have become a valuable and limited resource. Nowadays frequencies aren't licensed (as it was the case for TV and radio) they are sold for high prices (as it was the case with GSM and UMTS). At the moment only a very narrow band of frequencies are availably for free use. Instead of using a single frequency like 900 or 1800 Mhz with high amplitude / power level like 2-3 Watt. Spread Spectrum uses a very broad frequency range with at a very low power level like 100mW. With technologies like the upcoming 802.16a standard it will be possible to transfer data with 74 Mbits over distances up to 50 kilometres.

Technologies like this would make it possible to repeat the success of FLOSS software with bandwidth. If everybody is willing to share his Access Points and Bandwidth with others it would ultimately lead to free bandwidth for everybody.

The goal of my presentation is to give a short introduction about these emerging technologies and the difficulty they are facing (both technically and politically) and discuss their social, economical and political impact.

Another issue will be openness versus prevention of misuse and user authentication versus anonymity. It can't be the goal of FLOSS to build a system that prevents any kind of misuse (that would severely limit the freedom of FLOSS users). But a system that is open to everybody under every circumstance faces the risk of being flooded by porn and spammers.

A solution could be chains of trusts similar to the approach used by PGP or low bandwidth anonymity services, providing enough bandwidth to send a text only Email or Newsgroup posting, but is too slow to send huge binaries or spam.