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September 29, 2007

Comments

It seems to me that the major problem with satellite broadband is latency. TCP would perform like crap, for example. Furthermore, unlike TV, the communication would have to be bidirectional. Probably, we would have to have regional broadcast stations, then wires (or wireless, I suppose) that travel to individual installations. So even if we could get satellite broadband to work, we end users wouldn't escape the existing network.

Maybe a ship could launch a drone with a WiFi repeater, and just circle around above Rangoon giving everybody free Internet.

Wikipedia to the rescue! VAST (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Very_small_aperture_terminal) seems interesting, but I don't know nearly enough to say whether it's feasible for the type of installation you're talking about.

Matthew,

yes, the latency via a satellite isn't helping the performance but the impact isn't that bad. Using a geo-synchronous sat means 4 times 36.000 km for a IP round-trip, thus about a 500 msec penality. Given that a modem line itself usually adds 300 msec, that is not that bad. (incidently: I was involved in some studies regarding the IP/TCP performance of sat links about 15 years ago ...)

So yes, VSAT terminals are a possibility. I doubt that they would be really useful as a) they can be spotted visually and b) detected by sniffing for the right frequencies. In other words: yes, they are fine for providing IP for some remote hotel or research camp, but I doubt that they would last in a hostile environment.

The idea of using wlan or wimax is pretty pointless if you are not prepared to violate the territorial waters. And once again: the transmissions coming from Burma can be detected and located.

The moment I had real hope for Burma/Myanmar was when I went into an internet café in Yangon and saw that almost two thirds of it was filled with kids playing Counterstrike...

...and the other third was adults playing SimCity 3000 :)

A single EA-6B can wipe out any frequency range you want by broadcasting noise. That's how radar jammers work.

You can set up a wireless comlink on any frequency you want, but realize that freq can be rendered useless by broadcasting noise in that spectrum band.

Theoretically you could set up a point to point laser relay, but tha would rely on an uninterrupted line of sight, which any informed person could block quite easily.

So there's the rub. As long as your freq is unknown or your broadcasting is done highly directionally and the physical route is unknown you can transmit data. Compromise either of those and you can lockdown.

I doubt Mayanmar has any EA-6Bs, bago. I mean, most of your point is correct, but the flipside of it is that it's nearly impossible to jam transmissions from overhead, unless you keep jamming overhead at all times.

A satellite phone with a highly directional antenna would be very hard indeed to jam, or to detect, if one were careful AND in the midst of, say, 1960s society, technology-wise. One method used to reduce the influence of GPS jamming is the controlled reception pattern antenna. If you know where the sats are supposed to be, roughly, you can close down your antenna reception pattern so that you're basically ignoring transmissions that don't originate from those directions. But let's step down in technology on the receiving end, and, well, you know how far SW radio can go.

I imagine that any 'hi-tech' solution would result in the criminalization of any possession of something that appears sufficiently hi tech and as far as I can see, the powers that be in Myanmar are more akin to North Korea in that they are not too fussed about preventing their populace (whoops, an ownership metaphor, better be careful) from moving into the future. That's why I don't accept the China comparison. What they have done is coupled occasional control with a narrative that casts doubt on news that casts China in a bad light. Unfortunately, this is aided and abetted by the knee-jerk nature of reporting on the internet (for example, when the Va Tech shooter was reported to be a Chinese immigrant, China shut down easy access to such news. Fallows suggests that the incident exposed the weak underbelly of a censorship regime and a weakness in China's modernization efforts, but because it was wrong, Chinese officials were able to divert attention from censorship to 'irresponsible reporting'.)

To make my position clear, I do think that the censorship is wrong, but people who feel that complete freedom is a necessary and sufficient condition for political awakening are failing to see what happens when it is plugged into a victimization narrative that permits the selective discarding of information (insert pointed reference to current domestic politics here)

Honestly this is a great idea and there are technologies that make it doable (WiMax, satelite, etc.) However, as pointed out jamming is a serious issue. Take Cuba or Iran as an example. We broadcast into those countries constantly over radio and TV frequencies and the governments jam them. All they get is static.

Additionally I can think of no way that we could distribute the technology to a large enough population to make a difference without compromising the people that we distribute to. It would be setting those people up for failure, much like our democracy promotion efforts in Iran.

Free Burma!
International Bloggers' Day for Burma on the 4th of October

International bloggers are preparing an action to support the peaceful revolution in Burma. We want to set a sign for freedom and show our sympathy for these people who are fighting their cruel regime without weapons. These Bloggers are planning to refrain from posting to their blogs on October 4 and just put up one Banner then, underlined with the words „Free Burma!“.

www.free-burma.org

Free Burma!
International Bloggers' Day for Burma on the 4th of October

International bloggers are preparing an action to support the peaceful revolution in Burma. We want to set a sign for freedom and show our sympathy for these people who are fighting their cruel regime without weapons. These Bloggers are planning to refrain from posting to their blogs on October 4 and just put up one Banner then, underlined with the words „Free Burma!“.

www.free-burma.org

A nit. One doesn't need broadband to make decent connections to the Internet. If one wants to connect to the Internet, dial-up speeds work quite well, particularly for text, and they can be accomplished over wireless as well.

One doesn't need broadband to make decent connections to the Internet. If one wants to connect to the Internet, dial-up speeds work quite well, particularly for text, and they can be accomplished over wireless as well.

Yes, but the Burmese will only be truly free when they can play Halo 3 on Xbox Live competitively!

"The problem of course is that residents don’t have satellites on their roofs."

This has nonetheless tended to work out for the best, given their comparative velocities.

Actually, I think a really key technology is wireless mesh networking. OLPC uses it for their systems to communicate between users.

Under such a system, routing is ad-hoc, which largely eliminates the problems with choke points being taken down. As long as somebody has external access to operate as a gateway, anybody within range of somebody else can get out as well.

This is key because a ship broadcasting from the coast has a very limited range. I mean, the ship's transmitter can be arbitrarily powerful, but it doesn't really matter if the end user's packets can't be received back at the gateway so data can be requested, e-mails sent, etc. Realistically, even with a mesh network, you'd still need a few internal routing points to extend the coverage sufficiently. And performance would suck.

Slartibartfast: Jamming the satellite signal isn't the issue. At least not with publius' proposal. The issue there is jamming of the ship-shore signals. As I alluded to above, the ship-to-shore transmitter can probably be powerful enough to burn through the jamming, but the return signals required to transmit request packets out to the internet as a whole will get stuck.

On the other hand, if, say, an Embassy were to be outfitted with a carelessly unsecured wireless network that couldn't be jammed because the employees need it...

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