POTStickers Anonymous (1996)

By | July 25, 1996

The internet has so many possibilities its astounding. Multi Player games, free long distance video conferencing, no tax shopping, video technical support for all your household appliances, online banking, and a host of others. Every kind of long distance or local communication can get a boost from the net. So why do have to wait 30 seconds for a graphic to download?

Imagine a river, mighty and majestic flowing and weaving through a lush valley. This river is the Internet. Bold and beautiful, strong and silent. Suddenly, the river starts to widen and back up. Pools of once fresh water now stagnate in swamps creating a stench beyond imagination. Whats holding up the works? Why has the river stopped flowing?

The telephone companies call them POTS lines. Plain Old Telephone Service (Ingenious acronym I think). They are what comes from the pole outside to the jack in your house. It’s what gets connected to your 28.8 modem. It is a pair of twisted copper wires approximately 3 mm in diameter. They carry my column to the internet and the internet spews them back out to your POTS line into your modem. The theoretical limit for these lines is 28,800 bits transferred per second. ‘ why a 53.6bps modem hasn’t come out yet. The dam (or DAMN) on the Internet is this theoretical limit.

If you want to do better you need to pay buko bucks. 45 megabits per second (T-3) costs around $15,000 a month. 1.5 megabits per second runs around 1,500 a month. This doesnt include hardware like routers and hubs and multiplexors which will give your wallet a heart attack. Even if you go the cheap route and get ISDN, you have to buy a $500 dollar modem and install a digital phone line. Nynex in NY charges a penny per minute per channel for this privilege. For me (Im on alot) this makes ISDN impossible. And ISDN on gives you 129 bits per second anyway. Whoopy.

The powers that be are trying to come up with an alternative. Cables modems, ADSL, VDSL, cellular modems. It’s all smoke and mirrors. None of these technologies will be available soon. For now its just suffer and wait. So while the Internet tries to flow like the mighty river it could be, its being Damned by the POTS and the 28.8 modem.

Maybe I should make a support group for people without T-1s. Call it the POTStickers. (Isnt that what they call dumplings in California?)

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