Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Other Network.... Revisited

Paul Jardine once coined the phrase "the other network" when talking about the mobile operators in the UK spending vast amounts of money to build out their networks when there was already a network that could (with some thought) have been used. By this he meant the slowly decaying Public Phone network.

Now I am working with a fixed line operator here in Thailand that still maintain a pay phone infrastructure, this is barely used due to the proliferation of mobile phones; a trend that is bound to be repeated in countries all over the world. So what can the Telco's do about it?

In my converging ideas posting I highlighted the innovation that I had long been thinking of that New Zealand Telecom are driving forward with. This was the natural expansion of two previous ideas that I had expanded on and is a WiFi twist on the other network idea of Paul.

The basic concept is that the pay phone becomes a node in the MuniNet (Municipal Network). This could equally be using WiMax technology (still working on a Sprint and WiMax spin) and could even help provide back haul for cellular over WiMax as the nodes are pretty well mapped out.

In an interesting mirror to this use this aroused my suspicion via Andy Abramson over on VoIP Watch.

The idea to have the pay phone as a user of the Municipal network itself is unexpected but it looks like that it also acts as a repeater, i.e. expanding the network at the same time. This sounds on the point of realizing a mesh network for WiFi.

The other add ons and in fact the more likely use of the kiosk is the internet browser and the dual mode as a sales point for prepaid top ups and ringtone downloads.

I'll keep an eye on it as I'm really interested to see how well the idea flies in the real world.

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