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Cable Slouches Toward Open Access

Cable operators have decided they need to back open access, but technical and regulatory hurdles stand in the way of sharing their lines

11 min read
Cable Slouches Toward Open Access

Telephone Common-Carrier Model

Can the Telephone Common-Carrier Model Be Emulated in Cable? Cable systems at present [at bottom right] closely resemble the U.S. telephone system as it was organized before the Bell telephone system was split up, separating long-distance service from regional operating companies. At issue now is whether U.S. cable companies can be restructured along similar lines, so that competing Internet Service Providers (ISPs) can have access over their systems into individual homes. In general terms, diagrams immediately below indicate, the problem seems to be solvable--a multi-access cable system does not look radically different from a multi-access long-distance telephone network. But in the details of open-access cable systems lurk some tricky problems, mostly having to do with capacity allocation. Click on the image to enlarge.

The broadband cable business has become a study in role reversals. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission, which might be expected to push for open-access rules, has never seemed too interested in such heavy-handed regulation of the Internet. And many cable providers--precisely those, one might think, that would surely resist open access with every fiber of their beings--are on record as supporting it. Some are even trying to implement it themselves.

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A low-key solution to qubits’ cosmic ray problem

3 min read
Conceptual computer artwork of electronic circuitry contained within spheres against beams of light, representing how data may be controlled and stored in a quantum computer.
Mehau Kulyk/Science Source

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