Deci-watt, Gravity, and Doing The Math

I was seeing these promo spots by Shell Oil about some whiz-bang light where they had donated a bunch to help poor folks in Africa. Showed up on several channels. Cynical Me thought “Yeah, they probably spend $5000 on the lights and $500,000 on the promo spots”. But it was an interesting gizmo.

You have a clockwork like in a Grandfather Clock, and a bag of rocks. The Gravity Light. Haul the rocks up, then over 20 minutes or so they slowly descend generating enough electricity to power an LED light that was, supposedly, the same illumination as you get from a kerosene lamp. The goal being to “eliminate all the bad” things from using kerosene lamps. They asserted that 1/10 Watt was FINE for that. I doubted. My smallest LED in use is a 7 Watt. This thing must be about the same as a night light, I thought.

Now the worst “bad” thing from kerosene is just the cost to the very poor folks of the world. When you make $3 a day, spending $1 of it for a quart of kerosene to have light is a Very Big Deal. Not so important in the 1st World.

My bias is that I love all things lit on fire for lighting. I’ve got at least 1/2 dozen different kerosene lamps and lanterns that I’ve collected (and used) over the years. Supposedly for “emergencies”, but these days the 1/2 dozen mag lights with D cells and LED bulbs are way more than enough, and the 3 inverters to plug into cars can power way more than that. So really, they have become decorative reminders of 40 years ago when they were important emergency light sources. Somewhere down in my soul I could not believe that a 1/10 Watt, a deciwatt, could possible be all that my beloved kerosene lamps gave me. So I went looking.

GravityLight is installed to provide a 6ft/ 1.8m drop of a 12kg weight. This weight is lifted by a person pulling the orange cord. A pulley system means the weight only feels like 3kg. Once lifted, the weight then falls very slowly (about 1mm / second).

This movement powers a drive sprocket, which rotates very slowly with high torque (turning force). A polymer gear train running through the product turns this input into a high-speed, low-torque output that drives a DC generator at 1600 rotations per minute.

This generates about a tenth of a watt to power the onboard LED and two SatLight LEDs. Together these produce a light more than 5 times brighter than a typical open-wick kerosene lamp.

Once the weighted bag reaches the floor (after 20 minutes), it is simply lifted to repeat the process.

You can have one light, or plug in a couple of “satellite” LEDs that are on outrigger wires.

Their “buy” link points USA folks to Amazon, Walmart, and BestBuy, so not just available in 3rd world countries.

GL02 weight (empty bag) 	1.2 kg / 2.6 lbs 	
GL02HS Boxed weight 	        1.75 kg / 3.85 lbs 	
GL02HS Box dimensions 	        280 x 223 x 153 mm 	
Master carton dimensions (4 boxes) 	455 x 310 x 280 mm 	
Max loaded bag weight 	        12.5 kg / 27.5 lbs 	
Nominal Voltage* 	        2.7 V DC 	
Max current* 	                0.031 A 	
Max electrical power* 	        0.085 W 	
Luminous flux 	                15 lm 	
Luminous efficiency 	        208 lm/W 	
Colour temperature 	        5000 K 	
Colour Rendering Index 	        > 70 	
Beam angle 	                147° 	
IP rating 	                IP2X

So 208 lm/w but only 15 lumens. Color is a bit hot at 5000 k so “daylight blue”. Going to keep people awake at night as that will stimulate the suprachiasmatic nucleus a bit too much, then again, maybe the light level is low enough to not have too much effect. I still like 2700 K to 3600 K better at night.

Color rendering index is only 70, so things will be a bit “off” in color. OK I guess. 80 to 85 is generally “good enough” for fluorescent bulbs. I like the 90+ from incandescents and photo lighting best.

Shipping weight of 1.75 kg isn’t bad at all. (Rocks you get separately ;-)

But back at my Kerosene Lamp… Just how many lumens does it produce?

Oil lamp output in candlepower (CP), 
lumens and incandescent electric watts equivalent 
Flat-wick width  Candlepower 	Lumens 	Watts
3/8" 	         4 	        50 	3.3
1/2" 	         7 	        88 	5.9
5/8" 	         9 	       113 	7.5
3/4" 	        10 	       125 	8.3
7/8"–1" 	12 	       151 	10.1
1-1/2" 	        20 	       251 	16.7
2× 1", 1-1/16", 1-1/8" 	
                30 	       377 	25
2× 1-1/2" 	50 	       628.5 	42
1-1/4" round "Dressel Belgian" 	
                67 	       842 	56
1-1/2" round "Rayo" 	
                80 	      1000 	66.6
2-1/2" round "Firelight" or "store" lamp 	
                300 	      3771 	251

So a small lamp makes 50 to 100 lumens.

Well 15 lm is well below 50 lm. I’m left to assume their 147 degree beam angle gives the same lm / sq-m at viewing distance as a kerosene lantern with 360 degree “beam” angle.

So a good task light, but not a good area light. Still, it could have uses in an emergency kit or a hut in Africa.

Personally, I’d still rather fire up my 3/4 inch wick lamp and put it on the coffee table during a storm driven power outage and get 125 lm over the whole area (plus some welcome heating). But having something for when the kerosene runs out could also be helpful. Having a more blue task light for working on things on a table could also be of benefit.

It also lists 0.085 Watts as the max, but that is without the satellite bulbs. So it looks like the “deciwatt” is about accurate. Using:

To calculate the actual luminous efficiency to get 1 deciwatt as the power drain gives 150 lm/Watt. Going the other way, using their 208 lm/Watt, gives a 21 lumens number. I’d not be surprised at either as the reality.

But it gets more interesting when you look at the Satellite Packs. The same generator, running the same time, powers multiple bulbs. Is it perhaps the case that the single bulb unit just dumps the excess power? How else to explain multiple bulbs working well?

SatLight Accessory Pack

SatLight is an additonal lamp that can be connected to the main GravityLight unit to
extend lighting. Multiple Satlights can be linked together (recommended max of 4).

So “max of 4”? At 15 lm each? That would make a total of 75 lm (or about a kerosene lamp worth) IFF they do not dim when ganged up to the maximum. If they dim to 10 lm each, that’s a total of 50 lm, and about like a small kerosene lamp. So maybe that’s the angle…

Contents         Quantity
SatLight         2
Power cable      2

SatLight weight               41 g / 1.45 oz
SAP Product Box total weight 282 g / 9.95 oz
SAP Product Box dimensions   170 x 116 x 78 mm 
Nominal Voltage*             2.7 V DC
Max current*                 0.031 A
Max electrical power*        0.085 W
Luminous flux               15 lm
Luminous efficiency        208 lm/W
Colour temperature        5000 K
Colour Rendering Index       > 70 
Beam  angle                 84o
IP rating                  IP2X
Guarantee                    12  months
 (subject to conditions)
SatLight power cable 
Cable length                  5  meters
Connector type                3.5mm stereo jack

These look like mini-chandlers (hang from the ceiling pointing light down) and have a narrower beam angle.

I can see this all working reasonably well for lighting one room. I also suspect some “sellers puff” hiding in the numbers. My first suspicion is that you can only realistically put 2 satellite lamps on the generator before you are sucking voltage down so much lumens drop significantly. “Max 4” is likely at the point where it’s just too dim to use. There must be a transition between those points… I’d like to see separate specs for generator capacity and lamp demand.

IFF that’s the case, then we’ve got about 45 lm (enough for most things kerosene) and about 1/3 Watt that seems more likely to me. LED “night lights” often run about 1/2 Watt (but likely with poorer lm/Watt and better color temp?) so things are in the range of “reasonable” at that point.

Were I hard core about it, I could figure out the Watts available from 12 kg of rocks dropping 2 meters and see what the max theoretical available might be; but I’m more interested in the “after the generator” number.

Still, having light that’s essentially free and works for as long as you can lift a bag of rocks has some benefits.

I’d buy one to add to my “preparedness packs” were it not that I already have above 2 dozen light sources already ;-) I’d also be more likely to buy one with a 2700 K yellow color than a 5000 K blue, but they are trying to exploit the low light sensitivity of the B&W rod receptors, insomnia be damned…

In any case, it is an interesting product and interesting idea. Then again, Amazon is selling them for $79 and that’s just way too much “soak the rich to support the poor in Africa” for my tastes (or my toy budget). Just sayin’… that buys a LOT of kerosene and lamps. Or a lifetime supply of candles at Ikea…

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
This entry was posted in Economics - Trading - and Money, Emergency Preparation and Risks, Human Interest and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

58 Responses to Deci-watt, Gravity, and Doing The Math

  1. Larry Ledwick says:

    At current local rates for water white lamp Kerosene (approx $35 for 5 gallons) that price for the magic gravity lamp system would buy 10 gallons of Kerosene (you can get a cheap kerosene lantern for about $20 ( one time purchase ). Not to mention you can hack together a simple hobo or clone of an Eskimo oil lamp out of random junk if in a pinch.

    Better yet give them a couple solar yard lights, if left out in day time sun, they will give adequate area room lighting for 10-12 hours after sun set for about $2.50 each and they last for years and years.

    Yep mostly hype, and too much complication compared to other practical solutions.

  2. E.M.Smith says:


    Probably more suited to “tips”, but then again, I did use “gravity” in this posting and that is a product of particle physics ;-)

    From your link:

    We know with near certainty that the Higgs field exists because of a groundbreaking discovery in 2012, when CERN physicists detected a new elementary particle called the Higgs boson. According to theory, you can’t have a Higgs boson without a Higgs field.

    Knowing with certainty due to theory… and they don’t even see the fundamental problem with that…

    Physics went completely off the rails back when they first started playing with string theory and hypotheticals; but were lead in that direction when Einstein did just that, but got enough right to be used for practical weapons. Forgetting all the while that a hypothetical analog is not the real deal.

    That set the world on a “model first – reality second” path that’s with us to this day and now pervasive.

    We really do need to get folks back to reality centered thinking.

  3. Steven Fraser says:

    Your article reminded me of my visit to Konigsberg Castle, Denmark, in 1974. In the upper gallery was a pipe organ with a few ranks, and 1 keyboard. The power? 4 pulleyed ropes, that when pulled downward, lifted weigts which sat on the tops of bellow columns. 1 person could just about keep up with the work.

  4. Steven Fraser says:

    The ropes were on the backside of the organ case, out of view of the player and (I think) the listeners.

  5. Alexander K says:

    Hi, Chefio’
    When I was approaching my teens, I spent summers working in my Dad’s sheep-shearing gangs. We stayed in farmer-provided accommodation, the shearers’ cook produced huge mutton-based meals on cast-iron wood stoves and the lighting in the cookhouse at night was by pressure mantle kerosine (parafin) lamps. One lamp would light the entire cookhouse with a bright white light.
    Hot water was from wet-backs on the wood stoves.
    Dad provided all our food except for meat. Mutton carcases were provided by the farmer and left hanging in tall trees in muslin bags to keep the blowflies off. This methadology was later replaced with ‘killing sheds’ made from modified concrete water tanks. By the time I was ten years old I graduated from schoolboy to shearers’ cook for the long summer holidays – a tough apprenticeship!
    I soon becme reasonably skilled at breaking down muttons ready for the oven or the frypan. The shearing machinery was powered by a variant of agricultural single-cylinder stationary engine, usually water-cooled with very rudimentary surface coolers – we liked these as we could wash in the warm water of the bath-like radiator.
    A great way to grow up and it taught me how to use low-end technology.

  6. E.M.Smith says:

    I went to check the price at Best Buy… in addition to the link to the product (also $79.xx) there was this bot driven bit of click bait (bold mine):

    gravity – Best Buy
    Shop for gravity at Best Buy. Find low everyday prices and buy online for delivery or in-store pick-up.

    Workouts not enough? Feeling a bit lite? Buy some extra gravity at Best Buy… /sarc;

    I’ve seen these pop up before for other search terms. Just not quite so absurd…

    Personally, I’d like to buy about 3/4 G of Gravity to be held in a cage above me…

  7. E.M.Smith says:

    @Steven Fraser:

    Sounds like a really neat instrument. Make music AND do aerobics ;-)

    @Alexander K:

    I also grew up in farm country. We’d put 2 steers into the freezer each year, then work off them until it was empty. It was common for the locals to go hunting and fishing NOT just for fun, but for meals. The idea of “catch and release” has always been alien to me. Why bother to go fishing if not to eat?…

    Old Tech has a special place in my technical heart. I have a treasured book on how to make Hittite era machines; another on 1800s steam engineering (NOT a recent book, BTW), and a third on how to run a foundry from the same era. Just in case I ever need to rebuild industrial society from nothing, it would let me skip a few thousand years ;-)

    IMHO, railroad technology reached it’s peak with the giant steam engines. Everything since is just cheapening the product.

    The peach cannery I worked in was built God Only Knows When, likely late 1800s, (that was only 50 or 60 years before I came along…). It had all sorts of interesting old gear in it. Label machines with the belt drive fittings still on them, but retrofitted with eMotors. Pully wheels with those S shaped spokes. The “Mechanic” who kept it all going had to make parts for most things, as needed, since they were not made anymore.

    There were still crank style hung on the wall phones in use in the hills, and “party lines” were sometimes all that was available due to shortage of wires to remote homes.

    Yet somehow it just wasn’t hard to have a good time. BBQ was done with facilities at hand, be that expanded metal grates and rocks, or just welded iron rods over a bed of coals. Our restaurant had a big grill, about 3 feet by 6, with big cast iron gas burners under it. Iron made a lot of things… Some homes still had wood stoves and cast iron cook surfaces. There is nothing like the smell of bacon and eggs cooked on a wood stove on a cold morning, cornbread baking in the oven… and the way it warmed the whole house… (summer evenings not so welcome ;-)

    I think that’s where my “just make it” attitude was forged. Folks didn’t have enough money to buy much beyond basic food and clothes (even then, my Mum made my shirts for several years and my sisters made many of their dresses. “Store bought” being a term used in casual conversation without much concern… to designate you didn’t make whatever it was.) Need a fishing pole? Everyone knew who had bamboo growing and would let you cut one. The local gas station owner was building an airplane in the empty bay at the far end. One kid in my class made his own car. Rebuilt from parts from the junk yard. Don’t know if it was any particular make / model as I only saw it running without the body on it. He seemed to like it that way. My Dad built my first bedroom, and a few other rooms on the house. We, together, took apart the garage, poured a cement floor, then put it back together. (Square nails and all… I got to straighten all the bent square nails ;-)

    We’d take Coleman Lanterns out to the river for fishing. Always used for camping. Once, my Dad found one that used Kerosene “like they had when he was a kid”. Don’t know whatever became of it. Likely given away when he died and still in use by someone in town. (I’ve since bought a new one a few years back, same design ;-) I learned to make candles at about 8? years old. Been doing it on and off ever since. I can’t stand the blue LED lights when camping. Just the wrong ambiance. A flickering yellow flame, hissing of the gas generator, faint smell of petro-fire, warmth you can enjoy in the cold evenings…. But now really a gas heater with free light…

    Oh Well…

    Though I still have trouble with the “buy it and toss it” cycle. What happened to the middle part… Fix it, repurpose it, give it to the kid to take apart, put the parts in the parts bin… I think there is something about Farm Country… When it’s a 2 hour round trip to get a bolt at the hardware store, and parts for particular machines can be a 2 week wait for a shipment, well, you learn how to do “field expedient repairs”… and / or transplant engines and / or… weld up parts as needed… and how to cook on a chunk of old frame steel over the gas torch for a hot lunch ;-)

  8. Techeditor says:

    I was pleasantly surprised to see my Kerosene output table used as a reference. People actually do read Wikipedia and take it as gospel.

  9. Energy in the weights is 12kg times 9.83m/s² times 1.8m drop, so around 212 joules. 20 minutes is 1200 seconds so power available is about 0.177W. Maximum power out is stated as 0.085W, so the gearing and generator are about 50% efficient, which is pretty good considering the number of gears involved. Hopefully they’ve enclosed the gearbox to exclude dust, and they’re also probably using self-lubricating plastic gears rather than needing oiling every so often. The cost however looks to be somewhat excessive for the amount of engineering involved. Ex-factory cost of the gearbox and generator should be less than $10.

    As you put a higher load on the generator, the force needed to keep it turning would increase. Somewhat strange that this doesn’t slow the generator, though. There’s thus likely to be a little control circuit in there that allows the weight drop rate to increase as you add more LEDs, and it seems that the time between pulling the weight up again should fall the more LEDs you add.

    Given that a person can easily put out 100W when turning a handle, it seems to me that hand-winding a little generator to charge a capacitor would have fewer (and cheaper) parts and a couples of seconds winding the handle every 20 minutes would be reasonable (probably less time than lifting the weight), so could be sold much more cheaply. I have a LED torch (cost a few euros) that uses a hand-trigger to run a small generator and do much the same job – hand torch for when all other torches have failed. I thus think the gravity version is making things over-complex for the job at hand.

    They’re using the 5000K LEDS because there’s just a bit more lumens/watt with that colour. It’s normally in the region of 10%, but I’d rather have the yellower light to work with myself.

    I also have a stock of paraffin lanterns here for the times when the power fails and the LED lights have run out of battery. Candles, too. It’s nice to have backup.

    The problem with using paraffin lanterns as a main source of light is not only the cost but the fire-hazard. Mark Dansie has been working on a Magnesium-air battery-driven LED lamp (Hydralight) to replace those paraffin lamps in third-world countries. Surprisingly, the cost works out at around 10% of the cost of paraffin, and he’s hoping it will reduce the number of house fires and also make things easier for the kids doing their homework, as well as reducing the cost of that light. For the people he’s talking about (Philippines) the paraffin is around 1/3 of the weekly expenses, so this is actually a big deal. Not as “free” as the gravity lantern, but probably a lot more useful (and will also charge a phone).

  10. pouncer says:

    “IMHO, railroad technology reached it’s peak with the giant steam engines. Everything since is just cheapening the product.”

    I wish the “rail” network of that period were being better studied, taught, and discussed in light of the current shouting past one another we do with “net neutrality”. The idea that a local “MUST” be able to — forced to — handle the traffic, weight, and speed of the trans-continentals would be laughable. The Hooterville “Cannonball” is expected to haul 100 boxcars of Sante Fe (Netflix) cargo that last mile from Pixley to Drucker’s general store — or not be allowed to carry traffic at all? A Homer Bedlow attitude, at best.

    A few years ago here in Dallas a guy bought some more-or-less abandoned property that incorporated rail between those long, skinny, warehouses of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Something less than 3 miles of track all together, over a linear distance of less than one mile. But one end connected to one giant rail system (Say, Burlington, though I actually forget) and the other to a different one (Union Pacific?) By becoming a “connector” provider the owner was entitled to put rolling stock on ANY company’s lines ANYWHERE in the US, under old law. Analogously, this would be like me running an ethernet hub connecting Spectrum to AT&T and demanding both carry my packets at no charge in exchange for the theoretical power to route across my LAN when it suited them…

    Anyhow, my point is that the peak tech of the era incorporated a lot of lessons about networking that are orthogonal to lessons about steam engines. (ISTR it was the model / miniature railroad club at MIT that developed one of the first “programable” switch networks used to develop DEC- PDP machines.)

  11. philjourdan says:

    I can see the use of the light. Albeit limited. But as you noted – in an emergency, you do not have to worry about batteries or electricity. I will check it out. Better than fumbling around in the dark.

  12. pouncer says:

    Changing topics completely — I proudly own a lime-green OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) first generation computer running, at the moment, Puppy Linux. One feature of the advertised product was that the device would be powered by a hand crank.

    That NEVER worked. Neither did the foot-treadle crank. As far as I can tell the promise of mechanical action to electricity sufficient for a classroom was never accomplished. A lime green transformer plugs into the wall and charges a pretty good battery lighting a pretty good, low power, screen

  13. E.M.Smith says:


    But the old railroad system, in terms of economics, was notoriously horrid in monopoly practices and government subsidy (so much so that at one time Southern Pacific was the major private landholder in the USA due to the one sq mile per mile of track laid subsidy).

    Something similar is the problem with abolishing net neutrality.

    At present, the Imperial Death Star AT&T is buying up media properties, including DirecTV. Netfix is the major competitor. I am stuck with AT&T wires on my pole (no matter who rebrands and sells me the service). I am presently dumping DirecTV in favor of Netflix and Amazon and similar.

    Fast forward a year or two. It is 7 PM and prime TV time. Bandwidth starts to be a bit close.

    Now realize, I pay for a contracted speed well in excess of that needed by Netflix. Netflix pays for bandwidth well in excess of their needs. Yet in between us stands AT&T who, despite my paying for MY speed, will be quite happy to prioritze DirecTV traffic and slow Netfix to the problem point. When I call to complain, I will have DirecTV pushed at me “because it doesn’ t have that problem” which was caused by AT&T in order to quash Netflix and upsell DirecTV.

    Exactly the same problem exists for my only other wire provider, the cable company.

    So abolishing net neutrality guarantees the big monopolies win, and the customer loses, despite both me and Netflix fully funding OUR SPEED PURCHASES.

    Allowing ISPs to under provision (sell 1000 people 100 Mb on a 10 Gb line since on average only 10% ought to be in use) then prioritize their competing product over the competition, just rewards them for two bad monopoly behaviors.

    If you think Netflix is running through Hooterville, you are sadly mistaken. There are very very few big carriers… After a few years of no net neutrality, there will be far fewer carrier choices and vastly fewer entertainment providers on the internet. AT&T will throttle any competion into oblivion during all prime times. But you can always buy their overpriced service….

  14. pouncer says:

    “There are very very few big carriers… After a few years of no net neutrality, there will be far fewer carrier choices ”

    Under the Obama administration’s interpretation of the FCC’s 1934 regulations on “neutral” or equitable provision of telephone service, there are, and would have been in future, even fewer carriers. Just as AT&T (Lily Tomlin’s “THE Telephone Company — We don’t care, we don’t have to!”) was the only carrier until Carter and Reagan deregulated phone service. Then we got Sprint and 1-800 dial around calling cards and cell phones and fax machines and … it was wild.

    In Hooterville and comparable locations, the “Cannonball” is 3G cellular service. And despite the Gore Tax our federal system imposes on phone and ISP providers, there is nothing like an effort to roll out DSL, cable, fiber or 5G to areas where the population density is measured in square miles per person (as in most of Texas or Kansas) rather than thousands of persons per square mile. It’s absolutely true that the pre-Obama regulations (just restored today) privilege urban users over rural. The lines get built where the customers are. But under the 1934 rules, nobody in New York or Los Angeles could have better (non-neutral) telephone service than Drucker’s store. The Candlestick phone on Sherrif Andy’s desk in Mayberry would work perfectly well on Doris Day’s party-line in _Pillow Talk_. The Jetson’s level visual phone (two way TV) of the “future” was perfectly available technologically in the 1960’s, but the bandwidth was not, and better lines would have been illegal in urban areas because they were uneconomical in rural areas. So nobody got any of it. That’s neutrality. That’s what electronic communication was like in that era. I’ve lived with it. It sucks.

    The bigger problem going un-shouted about is the whole economic theory about “natural monopoly”. In theory, only one bridge should serve Hooterville. People can walk across it, bike, ride the Cannonball, and even (with modified under-carriage) drive a pick up truck across it. There is no economic reason to build two competing bridges, and should it be allowed, BOTH bridge building companies will go bust, leaving Hooterville with no bridge at all. In theory. This carries over into public utilities, with only one water provider, one electric provider, one sewer service, one postal delivery carrier, and one ISP. Until relatively recently, when FedEx won a suit agains the US Mail Service (natural) monopoly and began their own bridges between customers. It didn’t make any sense, mind you. How could FedEx economically run a truck for special delivery only down the same street the USPS truck was traveling every day, anyway? (By charging more, delivering faster service, offering tracking information…) It certainly didn’t make sense that half a dozen carriers, – UPS, Emory, Postal, Amazon itself, and various local bicycle couriers — could all serve the same addresses and all make money. It’s a natural monopoly situation where the government SHOULD pick the winner. Or else nobody will get messages or packages at all. In theory. Turns out, reality has other plans. And prior to the 1930’s and the AT&T lobbying effort, there was no monopoly in Telephone and Telegraph service. Lots of companies had their own separate poles and lines in a single neighborhood. How could they all make money? I dunno, actually. But I know AT&T didn’t win on the basis of service, but due to lobbying better. That’s what I anticipate from AT&T as an ISP, as well.

    I wish we had real de-regulation in the electric market, too. A/C is great over long distances, (rural areas, again) But there’s no reason a dense urban area can’t function on DC, except of course it would require “parallel” poles, wires, different outlets and plugs (USB, maybe) different generators, etc. We have standard 60 Hz current, but there is lot of product available for 50 Hz, Euro-style standard product. Why NOT have two competing electric utilities in one area? We are so certain that the government regulated “natural monopoly” is really serving us better than a market competition? But we can’t even try. We have “electric neutrality”, and aint it great?

  15. Techeditor says:

    Pouncer, Obviously you know next to nothing about the rail industry. I work in it. Any diesel loco can out pull any steam loco of the same size. More wheels on the ground = more traction and smoother power flow. Also, ALL modern locos have computer controlled electronic air brakes, dynamic brakes, and many “unit” trains use our Leader Technology where once the computer learns the “golden” run (Best speed, least brakes and throttle) it will duplicate those events every run, reducing fuel usage, train stresses, and brake wear.
    Or they are using our EP (Electro-Pheumatic) brake system where the entire train is connected electronically so all 100 cars brake at the same time and the same rate.
    I won’t even go into RDP (Radio Distributed Power) or WDP (Wire Distributed Power) Basically these link multiple locos together for mode, brake and power usage.
    If you have ever ridden a train, freight or passenger, in North America, South Africa, Australia, China or Brazil, you were under the control of Locomotive software I tested at the worlds largest CCB (Computer Controlled Brake) manufacturer.
    Systems Test & Verification
    Engineering Systems Development

  16. pouncer says:

    Techeditor says: “Pouncer, Obviously you know next to nothing about the rail industry.
    This is true.

    Techeditor says: ” I work in it. ”
    This deserves congratulations. I guess.

    Techeditor says: “Any diesel loco can out pull any steam loco of the same size.”
    This is, as near as I can tell, irrelevant to my claims.

    If you want to dispute the claim that ” railroad technology reached it’s peak with the giant steam engines” then I request you take it up with our genial host. I’ve found him patient, amusing, tolerant, polite and best of all, readily willing to engage with anyone regardless of how ignorant we are. I’ll watch you and him from the sidelines while you figure it out.

    Meanwhile, if I may, I request you engage MY claim that the network of railroads, (peaking, I believe — and as measured by miles of actively maintained track — sometime before 1910 ) has features of interest to any student of networks, more generally. In particular economic theory has a feature entitled “network effects” that seems to benefit from the historical lessons of railroading. Do you find it plausible, for instance, that the railroad who built a bridge should agree to allow pedestrians equal, neutral, access to that bridge on a “first-come, first-serve” basis regardless of the passenger trains (VERY schedule sensitive) or freight trains (somewhat less schedule sensitive) or a sequence of empties on “car order” (like oil cars or grain cars, after delivery) returning from destination back to
    point of consignment? Is a “neutrality” rule appropriate, in your experience, for all the kinds of traffic, or does the bridge-builder / rail-road operator deserve some control over who passes by, when?

  17. Techeditor says:

    The reason freight trains have priority over passenger trains is simple. The freight railroads OWN the tracks. Their trains have priority because, today, that is where the money is. Years ago, passenger trains were money making propositions. Not any more. Save for Acela, there are no passenger tracks in America any more, save for some light rail in some cities. NYCentral used to have 4 tracks between New York City and Chicago. Two east and 2 west, one for passenger and one for freight. Alas, no more.

  18. pouncer says:

    Hi Techeidtor,
    I draw several valuable lessons from your testimony.

    The company that owns the “line” gives priority to the profitable traffic, even if the paying
    passengers have been promised arrival at a time certain, hold printed tickets showing that time, and will necessarily be disappointed when they’re pushed or throttled to a siding and other traffic is expressed through.

    The former solution to competing traffic was not “neutrality” but running several more or less parallel lines — some for passenger traffic and some for freight.

    Light rail, in some cities, is purely passenger (highly scheduled) service and is not availalbe in all cities and certainly not in rural areas.

    Are any of my inferences from your expertise drawn incorrectly? If these are correct, however, do you see how the lessons apply to internet traffic?

  19. Techeditor says:

    I do.

  20. jim2 says:

    We need a federal law that explicitly allows cities and states to establish broadband networks.

  21. cdquarles says:

    Jim2, no such law is needed. Cities and States can do this now, within their own laws grounded in their own Constitutions. What these can’t do, though, is inhibit private activities without due process or compensation. How do I know this? That’s because this is being done locally, today. There is a municipal corporation not too far from me. They offer gigabit internet within their service area. They are the only ones offering it at the moment; but with “net neutrality” repealed, the others will be better able to offer it.

  22. jim2 says:

    @cdquarles says:15 December 2017 at 6:13 pm

    The right has been limited by the courts. But the right can still make a big difference in big cities.

    “States win the right to limit municipal broadband, beating FCC in court
    Major loss for Tom Wheeler in attempt to boost broadband competition.”

  23. catweazle666 says:

    “But there’s no reason a dense urban area can’t function on DC”

    Back in around 1951-52, I remember my grandmother’s house in Harrogate being rewired and converted from 120V DC to 250V AC.

    There was a big, gloomy building at the end of the back street containing a large horizontal single-cylinder engine with a big flywheel that ran on town gas and went teuf…teuf…teuf…”, I was taken to view it as a very child.

    Funny how what goes around, comes around, isn’t it?

  24. cdquarles says:

    Guess what, Jim, the (Obama) FCC did overstep its bounds. Thus, the states in question were vindicated. We already have *way* too much Federal interference in local matters. We have *way* too many laws now, with *way* too many of them made out of rubber. It is time, in my opinion, to go the other way. Let the locals handle this. They are in a much better position to balance the interests involved. Way too much commerce has been over-regulated when it has not been made illegal (the ultimate in over-regulation).

  25. Svend Ferdinandsen says:

    Talking about watt and lumen it is good to know that 1W radiated light (greenish) equals 683 lumen. An old 60W bulb gives out about 800 lumen.
    It has become common to state how many lumen these leds give out, so we just have to get used to that new measure.

  26. jim2 says:

    @cdquarles says:15 December 2017 at 9:07 pm

    You and I generally agree on that. When evaluating a Federal regulation, I ask how it affects competition and individual liberty. More broadband services means more competition and individual liberty, so I’m for it. But laws that carve out a niche for a certain company does the opposite, so I’m against those. I’m OK with patents, but not extending them past a reasonable time – lot’s of detailed problems there, but generally what I mean.

    I was OK with the trust busters. A thought experiment explains why. If there is only one supplier of anything, that supplier can charge whatever he wants. Taken further, assume only one company produced all goods and services. That company could not only charge what it wanted, but also determine who worked, who didn’t and for how many peanuts. In fact, stronger forms of socialism and communism are exactly that model. So, considering the extremes, I’m OK with regulation of monopolies.

    I’m concerned about Google, Amazon, Facebook, and some others.

    At any rate, I agree we should manage laws like Trump is managing regulations. For every new one, you have to get rid of two.

  27. philjourdan says:

    @Jim2 – I think you and CD are closer than you think. However, you are looking for the government to fix a problem created by the government! Just different governments.

    The problem is NOT Net Neutrality. That is the backdoor for government control. The problem is lack of choice. And that is government. Local government. Remove the cable monopolies, and you fix the problem! AT&T gives priority to DirectTV? Go with Comcast. Or Verizon.

    I have a choice here (Verizon FIOS or Comcrap Cable). But most do not. That is the problem. Not saddling the companies with institutional monopoly policies and restricting competition.

    The Government has deregulated Power and Phones (surprisingly not water and sewer – but they are government monopolies as well). There is no reason they cannot do the same for Cable. Cable has had their monopolies for almost 40 years now. Longer than most patents. Far longer.

  28. pouncer says:

    Phil says: “The Government has deregulated Power and Phones”

    Well, partly. And “Net Neutrality” is, IMHO, a step backwards into re-regulation (protection) of phones (AT&T, specifically). As for Power, I will only speak for Texas, where our state has deregulated retail marketing of electricity. But the distribution lines are basically considered “natural monopolies” and are heavily regulated (protected– guarenteed profit) and generation is VERY regulated (protected, and in the case of wind and solar, subsidized)

  29. Alexander k says:

    Em, I suspect we are reasonably close in age as your memories of growing up in rural USA are very similar to mine of growing g in rural NZ. We had shifted to town early in WW2 so my dad could serve in the army. I started school In 1945 and remember being laughed when we changed for swimming lessons as my under plant’s were sewn by my mum out best quality flour sacks.. My undies had ‘Roller Mills’ stencilled across my bottom!
    We had a ‘house cow’ in those years, as did most of our neighbours on the edge of town, and I was privileged to be allowed to turn the handle of the butter churn on the days that the maiden aunt we lived with made our butter. The vegetable garden was huge and the entire tribe in residence for the duration of the war worked in it. I was the only male in residence there and shared the space with Mum, two female cousins, my two older sisters wh attended high school with the cousins, our aunt and a very old female relative who had come in off her farm to die. Most of our meat came from various family farms and food was severely rationed until a few years after the war. There was enough sugar available each week to bake one small cake or a batch of scones, not both. We learnt to survive through the barter system, which the authorities really frowned as the could not control it.

  30. E.M.Smith says:


    You seem to be working from a definition of “Net Neutrality” that says “Every buyer of service must be provided the same level of speed as all others”. That’s simply not the case. I can choose to buy dial-up modem, or DSL, or 128 kb, or 1 MB, or 10 MB, or…

    The level of line speed bought is NOT what net neutrality is about.

    Net neutrality is about not charging different prices for different DATA types, or points of origin. So AT&T is forbidden to charge, for example, $100 for 1 GB of Netflix but only charge $1 for a GB of DirecTV (which they own). Nor can they slow one type of data over another, so they can’t throttle Netflix to 700 kb while letting DirecTV run at 10 MB to your area.

    Note, in particular, the specific cases of abuse cited. Anti-competitive practices against a competitor.

    Net neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers must treat all data on the Internet the same, and not discriminate or charge differently by user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or method of communication. For instance, under these principles, internet service providers are unable to intentionally block, slow down or charge money for specific websites and online content.

    The term was coined by Columbia University media law professor Tim Wu in 2003, as an extension of the longstanding concept of a common carrier, which was used to describe the role of telephone systems.

    A widely cited example of a violation of net neutrality principles was the Internet service provider Comcast’s secret slowing (“throttling”) of uploads from peer-to-peer file sharing (P2P) applications by using forged packets. Comcast did not stop blocking these protocols, like BitTorrent, until the Federal Communications Commission ordered them to stop. In another minor example, The Madison River Communications company was fined US$15,000 by the FCC, in 2004, for restricting their customers’ access to Vonage, which was rivaling their own services. AT&T was also caught limiting access to FaceTime, so only those users who paid for AT&T’s new shared data plans could access the application. In July 2017, Verizon Wireless was accused of throttling after users noticed that videos played on Netflix and YouTube were slower than usual, though Verizon commented that it was conducting “network testing” and that net neutrality rules permit “reasonable network management practices”.

    Now I don’t know IF Obama shoved a bunch of OTHER kinds of PC things in under the name of net neutrality, but those would not BE net neutrality. (Keeping a tidy mind …)

    What abolishing Net Neutrality allows, is exactly the listed kinds of abuse. We’ve already seen what they go after first. Expect poor or no (or upsell charges for):

    Video from competing video sources
    P2P function
    email to / from competing email providers
    etc. et. etc.

    Essentially it lets the telco look in your truck and charge you more to cross the bridge if you have things they don’t like or where they indicate you have the bucks for an expensive shakedown. It also lets them flat out forbid your delivery truck if they have similar products to offer…

    Per Natural Monopolies:

    Well, we studied them extensively in Econ at U.C.

    There ARE natural monopolies and they DO indulge in abusive practices. The available solutions are generally poor, and the monopoly practices industries are constantly devoting $Millions to $Billions to find ways around any attempt to regulate abusive behaviours ( “regulatory agency capture” is common where they pack the regulatory body with Friends Of The Regulated…)

    I’d prefer to avoid a long discussion of the economics of Natural Monopolies since it is deadly dull, most folks fall asleep and those that don’t largely run off to shouting matches. It isn’t a hypothetical problem. We have had a long history of such things being abused. (In the European case, there were castles built overlooking key rivers, bridges, roads, etc. and they demanded a cut of the action for letting you pass… We’re seeing this revived in the USA now with the selling of public roads to Toll Companies and / or the local governments directly becoming the road monopoly pricing entity.) Standard Oil was one of the biggest at one point, largely leveraged rail positions to prevent competition via pipelines. Rail, of course, being another. Utilities on poles are in fact yet another one; though a bit more complicated. It IS possible to hang a “few” sets of wires from one pole: But who owns the pole and what can they charge? IFF AT&T owns the pole, think they will set a fair price for Comcast to use “their” pole? Who decides if Joe’s Pretty Good Telco can get a spot on the pole too, once the Big 3 have taken all the workable space?

    The most obvious natural monopoly is radio spectrum. Only one provider can sit on a given channel in a given area. Then there are a limited number of total channels, so in many cases mammoth companies can buy up the majority of all slots and freeze out their competition. Recently the TV companies lost to the ISP / Telco group and their VHF spectrum was “reallocated” as they were all forced into the less effective UHF bands.

    So yes, there ARE natural monopolies, and YES monopoly practices and pricing are known and large problems in the absence of legislation / regulation to prevent it. Unfortunately, the regulatory apparatus is prone to abuse by the industry (regulatory capture) and increasingly by SJW Jihads ( think EPA / Land Use Commissions / etc.) So finding a solution that is better than the disease is not always done.

    But giving AT&T the right to determine how much I must pay to use a competing TV source, or IF I can run P2P, VPN, or Tor services, or how much extra I must pay to use FaceTime instead of Skype (as we all know Apple users have deeper pockets) is just economic lunacy of the highest form. They have a proven track record of being an abusive monopoly practices firm that buys up and destroys competition and choice. (I’ve run away from them as a service provider at least 4 times as they bought up good providers of one kind or another – where I was happy – and made them not places to stay any more with higher prices and contract lock-ins for years.)

  31. E.M.Smith says:


    “Pouncer, Obviously you know next to nothing about the rail industry. I work in it. Any diesel loco can out pull any steam loco of the same size.”

    That was me, not Pouncer.

    I think you missed my POV… it wasn’t about “specs”, it was about “soul”.

    Just like the ’70s Muscle Cars epitomize the muscle car. Sure, there are lots of things now that can beat them off the line. Most anything, even econoboxes, now last longer. Everything is safer thanks to mandated safety equipment and smog produced is way worse in them. Yet if you say “Muscle Car”, the iconic image is those ’60s and ’70s things that can never be made again. Steve McQueen in a 6? Speed Mustang flying over hills in San Francisco. ( I’m sure a Tesla could go faster, but ‘whining’ over the hills would just not move me… ) Would Vanishing Point work with a Porsche Cayenne?

    Similarly, the modern train engines are marvels of efficient traction, and not one of them stirs the soul. Where the Steam era had engines with names, now we just have numbered ID plates (and other than railroad buffs, folks don’t even notice them). They have just become a computerized electric motor on wheels with as much charm and inspiration as my air conditioner. An electric whine (even if in the presence of a muted diesel thrumming) just doesn’t stand up to the chuffing Chemin de Fer (path of iron) with a plaintive scream from their horn.

    Similarly, the Victorian Mansion compared to the flat sided dull homes of today. Where’s the craft work and the interest in stucco?

    For every tech, there tends to be a time when they reach a zenith of character and pleasure in the use, then the cheapening of the product and removal of “frills” and building ONLY to “spec” sets in. You generally get better specs over time after that, but they just aren’t interesting any more…

  32. E.M.Smith says:

    @Alexander K:

    I’m a bit younger than that (post war baby boomer) but grew up in a rural town that was about a decade behind the rest of the State… Mom was in the UK during the war and lived with no heat and little food. Dad from a Farm in Iowa with the Great Depression… Both made sure I knew how to “grow my own and prepare it” if bad times came again. Both were interested in not wasting anything with value in it. Long pants became shorts when the knees would no longer hold patches… when your shoes wore out at the start of summer, you went bare foot or used “flip flops” until school started again … when you got your ONE pair of new sneakers for the year…

    There were folks who had “house cows”. We lived in town, but Dad rented a few acres a couple of miles away on the edge of country, where he ran some beef cattle. We raised food rabbits in the back yard, and had a LARGE garden. Summers had very little vegetable buying ;-) Lots of fishing in the local ditches and rivers. At about 15? I learned to gig frogs and a couple of us would go out gigging (done into the late night with lights and long bamboo poles with a trident tip). I really like fresh frog’s legs ;-) Store bought is tasteless rubber… the flavor just decays way too fast.

    Camping, fishing, hunting, gardening, raising livestock: those were all considered essential life skills to know even if you didn’t depend on them every day; since “you never know when” the depression will return… It was important to my parents to know we were able to live from just dirt and water. (Even hand dug a well in the back yard to learn how to get water… 14 foot down had 4 foot of water in it. Done with a hand turned post hold digger…)

    I grew my first vegetables for the table at about age 4. Dad was starting a garden and I got to “help” by planting a Banana Squash seed in a patch of dirt next to the back porch step. Eventually we harvested a squash about as big as I was (!) and had it for dinner… and breakfast… and lunch… and dinner… and… ;-)

    I can’t remember a time we did not have some of our own food growing. Even when Dad had died and Mum was uninterested in the garden, Dad had planted several fruit trees in the space a few years prior; so lots of Apricots and Pears and such…

  33. pouncer says:

    “@Pouncer: You seem to be working from a definition of “Net Neutrality” that says “Every buyer of service must be provided the same level of speed as all others”. That’s simply not the case. I can choose to buy dial-up modem, or DSL, or 128 kb, or 1 MB, or 10 MB, or… The level of line speed bought is NOT what net neutrality is about. ”

    That is close, although “speed” is only a part of “service”. I think we don’t disagree about the goal — at least insofar as we seen to be of one furious mind about AT&T and the misbehaviors (and crimes against the public) that entity has committed, over and over. The comparison to Rhine river robber barons is completely justified. But you write “Now I don’t know IF Obama shoved a bunch of OTHER kinds of PC things in under the name of net neutrality, but those would not BE net neutrality. ”

    Not to presume, you seem to disregard the possibility that is in fact precisely the definition and objection I *DO* bring to the discussion. I am against using the powers of the federal government as the first resort against bad behavior. I am against attempting to “stretch” a proven bad solution over a new problem, in the name of “fairness”. And I’m against the kind of offenses against “tidy minds” that slogans like “Affirmative Action” (race quotas), “Affordable Healthcare” (publically socialized insurance) and “Clean Energy” (crony electrical boondoggles) that “Net Neutrality” (perpetual ISP monopoly) perpetuates. I trust wikipedia (just a little bit) will provide you some info on how AT&T accomplished the telophone system monopoly they held and the obscene unearned profits they accrued, in our youth, under the same FDR’s FCC regulations and the Communications Act of 1934. The FCC is the agency and the 1934 act are what the former administration deployed in order to “tame” the internet in the same way telephony was tamed. Oh, and which brought us another affront against tidy minds, the so-called “Fairness Doctrine”. Do you remember “Equal Time”? If the local broadcasts included movies by Reagan or Schwartzneggar or reruns of Al Franken in SNL or Fred Thompson on CSI, during an election year, that broadcaster was required, under penalty of license revocation, to allow a spokesman of the opposing (major) party (Perot and Nader or Pat Paulsen disallowed) comparable numbers of minutes of broadcast exposure. Now “Fairness” and “Equal Time” are good goals. The FCC regulations to accomplish those goal, under the powers awarded them by the 1934 Communications Act are ludicrous (if not evil, monopolistic, biased toward the existing party power structure, and censorous. ) THIS is the tool with which our benevolent federal civil servants of 2015 proposed to “tweak” and “improve” our internet experience.

    I say it’s spinach. Your mileage may vary.

    I appreciate discussing this, and hearing objections, without name calling. You run a fine site in that regard. I abide by the preference not to continue exploring “natural monopoly” theory until such time as you have your own pronouncements on the notion out there. And I’m done with the debate. Please take the last (or several last) words as you like.

    Or, changing the subject just slightly, what can we do (together) to break up AT&T back into seven or more “Baby Bells” in the way Carter and Reagan accomplished?

  34. jim2 says:

    RE: AT&T. Well, that’s one thing we all seem to agree on. I think AT&T sucks totally. I had to pay 200 bucks just to drop them after finding their service didn’t live up to the hype.

  35. Greg Hall says:

    Their Customer Service does suck. But their “Wireless Home Phone” has finally provided me with high speed Internet, that where I live, I thought I would never have. $60 per month, broken down to $20 for unlimited nationwide phone, and $40 for 250 GB of data. Add $7 tax and it’s $67 for less than my Verizon land line and dialup Internet.

  36. E.M.Smith says:


    When I say “I don’t know IF it will be hot or cold tomorrow” that does not imply I’m rooting for hot nor that I think cold is clearly impossible. Maybe too much time programming computers, but to me IF just means (could be either A or B don’t know).

    So “IF Obama packed shit into law and called it golden love” takes no position on the presence or absence of either shit nor golden love. It only says it could be, or might not be, and don’t know which path is taken in reality.

    So I’m talking about what really IS “net neutrality” and you are talking about {whatever it is Obama did that might or might not actually BE “net neutrality” but was called it by his agents}. I don’t know what is in that set (as I’ve never gone and read whatever the rule making was) but I do know what is in real “net neutrality” and that set is a very good set of things to have.

    Real Net Neutrality is NOT ISP monopoly. In fact, it directly forbids a large set of monopoly practices (such as slowing competitor sites packets, blocking traffic to sites you do not approve of, inspecting and filtering packets based on source, destination, or content).

    In reality (and I’ve worked in the colocation faclities at telcos where this happens) one large ISP (say, Comcast) has a lot of routers and wires to a lot of homes and business sites. It sells them various sized pipes (speeds / or for wireless, total bytes). Another large ISP (say, AT&T) does the same. So that all their customers can see places on the other network, they set up really big fat pipes between Comcast and AT&T at some colocation facility or in one of their data centers.

    Net Neutrality (the real one) just says that if, say, Netflix used ComCast for their ISP (and paid for 1000 Gb of speed and used only 750 Gb of it) but AT &T wanted to push folks to their DirecTV service (all those people having bought fat 100 Mb pipes at home) it would not be allowed for AT&T to inspect the packets entering their network at the colo facility and either discard or slow the Netflix packets artificially.

    Note that if the pipe gets full, then all packet types degrade equally – and it is up to Comcast and AT&T to agree what size interconnect to build between them (in aggregate) and how much each will pay for that facility. In those negotiations, AT&T could still say to Comcast: “Your Neftlix to our network is 75% of traffic and our return traffic is only 25%, so you need to pay 75% of the colocation link costs.” But Comcast is also free to decline (and accept a lot of grief from customers complaining about their network interconnection being lousy). These kinds of negotiations are common.

    What scrubbing net neutrality (the real one) does, is it allows Comcast to block P2P networks, bittorrent etc. (as they HAVE DONE IN THE PAST) in favor of things that make them more money. It also lets them slow down, drop packets, and generally screw up packets from Netflix (their direct competitor in video to the home). Ditto AT&T.

    Now, per “whatever it is” that Obama CALLED Net Neutrality: I can’t speak to it as I have no idea what makes it the same as, or different from, real Net Neutrality (and frankly I’m not all that interested in polluting my mind with broken definitions and crap corruption; so didn’t go digging into it.) But even there, it is most certainly NOT the case that all customers must be sold the same speed line. ALL carriers have multiple tiers of speed you can buy (or not).

    AT&T has 20 speed tiers from 0.2 Mb/s to 500 Mb/s.

    AT&T Broadband 	Technology 	Expected Range 	Expected Range
    FastAccess DSL Lite*, FastAccess DSL Direct Lite*
    Speed Internet Basic,
    FastAccess Business DSL Lite* 	DSL 	.200-.768 	.128-.384
    FastAccess DSL Ultra*,FastAccess DSL Direct Ultra*
    Speed Internet Express,
    FastAccess Business DSL* 	DSL 	.769-1.5 	.128-.384
    FastAccess DSL Xtreme*, FastAccess DSL Direct
    Xtreme* High
    Speed Internet Pro,
    FastAccess Business DSL Plus* 	DSL 	1.56-3.0 	.384-.512
    FastAccess DSL XtremePro*, FastAccess DSL Direct
    XtremePro* High
    Speed Internet Elite,
    FastAccess Business DSL 6.0* 	DSL 	3.1-6.0 	.512-.768
    Internet Basic 768 	IPBB** 	.200-.768 	.128-.384
    Internet Basic 1.5 	IPBB** 	1-1.5 	.384-1.0
    Internet Basic 3 	IPBB** 	1.56-3.0 	.384-1.0
    Internet Basic 5 	IPBB** 	3-5 	.6-1
    Internet Basic 6 	IPBB** 	3.1-6.0 	.512-1.0
    Internet 10 	IPBB** 	6-10 	.6-1
    Internet 12 	IPBB** 	6.1-12 	.512-1.5
    Internet 18 	IPBB** 	12.1-18 	.768-1.5
    Internet 24 	IPBB** 	18.1-24 	.768-3.0
    Internet 25 	IPBB** 	15-25 	1-5
    Internet 45 	IPBB** 	24.1-45 	3-6
    Internet 50 	IPBB** 	30-50 	6-10
    Internet 75 	IPBB** 	55-75 	6-8
    Internet 100 	IPBB** 	80-100 	12-20
    Internet 200 	IPBB** 	101-200 	21-40
    Internet 500 	IPBB** 	301-500 	80-100

    What changes with no (real) net neutrality is that if you buy 100 Mb, you might well GET 100 Mb for DirecTV, but only 4 Mb for Netflix, and not be able to get Russia Today at all as it could be blocked as a “foreign agent”; despite having paid for 100 Mb at all times.

    If there are some particular examples of Obama Rules that were harmful and are not gone, well, great. Go ahead and list them. BUT, if they are not actually in the definition of REAL net neutrality, please do not call them net neutrality just because someone lied and claimed they were… It’s just not tidy.

    Oh, and having set up QOS (Quality Of Service) on routers with packet inspection: I can guarantee to you that AT&T will be setting up their routers to give DirecTV origin packets 100% performance and 1st tier processing. As to what they do with Netfix packets, that will likely creep in slowly as they find what they can get away with without too much repercussions. So I could easily see them NOT deliberately slowing Netflix… no “rule” saying “limit Netflix to 10% of router speed”, but instead just having rules that “promote” other traffic to priority handling and leaving Netflix to slug it out with bittorrent and email and vpns for the “leftovers”: Then they could honestly state in congressional reviews that “we did nothing to slow or impede Netflix traffic”… just didn’t bother to add enough capacity to make it work well after our priority traffic sucked up all the bandwidth…

    In implementation, Net Neutrality essentially just means you can’t set up your router with QOS to favor one kind of traffic over another nor one origin of traffic over another.

    BTW, traffic from AT&T to Comcast has a direct connection. It does not go through some small ISP off in nowhere. Pretty much all ISPs of any size have such connections. It’s just cheaper that way. In the below traceroute, note that SBC is an AT&T property. I’ve bolded the point where AT&T interfaces with Comcast:

    traceroute to (, 30 hops max, 60 byte packets
     1 (  2.231 ms  2.210 ms  8.479 ms
     2  telco.chiefio.home (  23.491 ms  23.508 ms  23.520 ms
     3 (  36.071 ms  36.189 ms  49.322 ms
     4  * * *
     5 (  48.935 ms  49.084 ms  48.853 ms
     6 (  48.380 ms (  35.826 ms (  28.599 ms
     7 (  30.923 ms  34.313 ms  34.830 ms
     8 (  35.220 ms  29.538 ms  30.137 ms
     9 (  40.149 ms (  39.412 ms (  38.311 ms
    10 (  41.947 ms  45.111 ms  31.925 ms
    11 (  68.424 ms  69.277 ms  68.852 ms
    12 (  69.533 ms  70.658 ms  66.373 ms
    13 (  70.066 ms  71.880 ms  72.491 ms
    14 (  71.856 ms  69.562 ms  74.108 ms
    15 (  74.241 ms  77.125 ms  73.817 ms

    You can do similar tests for various traffic sources and see just where your traffic comes from, goes through, and gets to you.

    So the “problem” won’t be in Hooterville ISP, it will be when AT&T decides to slow Netflix packets and Comcast sourced media in favor of DirecTV (and Comcast slows DirecTV and Netflix in favor of their video products).

    One hopes the FTC steps up to enforce anti-monopoly practices rules to prevent this, now that the FCC has been set aside.

    BTW, the reason I keep using Netflix as an example is that at some times of day (evening) Netflix accounts for something like 75% of all internet traffic in the USA. ALL the major ISPs and Telcos and Cable Companies are really looking forward to charging premiums (above and beyond your existing payment for bulk Mb/s) for Netflix traffic so that they can suck up some of those profits… This will either show up in YOUR ISP bill (as a premium service charge) or in YOUR Netflix bill (as Netflix gets soaked with hidden charges to have their traffic put on an even footing with others). Remember, this will be above and beyond both you and Netflix having already bought the bulk speed and raw Mb/sec you really need for that traffic.

    Oh, and yes, we studied AT&T (the original) as an example Monopoly in both my monopoly practices studies and in Economic History class (in addition to the basic classes in Econ). I’ve got a couple of books on Monopoly Economics and history on my shelf somewhere.

  37. Lionell Griffith says:

    Re: net neutrality and monopoly.

    I would point out that you expect to have a monopoly on your services and to set the terms and conditions under which you would provide them. Yet, you would prohibit the individuals who own AT&T, Verizon, to have the same right. It is there property, is it not right that they should be able to set the terms and conditions of its use just as yourself do? The buyer has the right to accept or reject those terms and even to ask to have them modified but he has no right to force the seller to sell on terms more favorable for him.

    The problem comes down to the existence of Governmental enforced monopolies. In which, the government chooses the winners and losers with the losers being enforceable excluded. If monopolies are inherently bad, what about the largest monopoly: Government? The monopoly power of government is the power of its gun and army of thugs paid for by extortion, at the point of its gun, from We the People.

    Yet the monopoly power of AT&T is simply that it offers its services with attendant terms and conditions for voluntary acceptance. There is no force involved from AT&T. Yes the customer might need those services and might not want to bend to AT&T’s terms but that is not force from AT&T. The truth is, AT&T needs customers to exist and must provide terms that potential customers would be willing to meet. There is a mutual interest in making a deal that both sides can live with. It is nothing but a trade of value for value without force or implied force involved.

    If you don’t like those conditions, you can start your own business and compete on terms more to your liking. That is you could if the Government wouldn’t stop you and you could get the financing, the people, and the right to use the technology to do it. No force, simply the reality and nature of a free value for value economy. When the Government steps it to set the terms and conditions, freedom ceases to exist and all bets are off.

  38. pouncer says:

    Hi E.M. Your stance on Net Neutrality is plain and well argued. And, as I say, I’m done with my case. (Not that I’ve changed my mind based on your case. Or hope to change yours. )

    I wonder though about the OTHER big issue the current administration is pursuing with regard to keeping internet service running well: the anti-trust suit against the proposed AT&T / Spectrum (Time Warner Cable) merger.

    It’s pretty simple for many on social media to pick a side. Everything Trump does is wrong, so since his people are opposed to the merger, the merger must be the best thing for the internet. “Trump is interfering with our media streams!”

    I think it might possibly be a bit more nuanced. I’d be interested in your views, both as to the regulatory goals AND the effect on the stock markets of merger or forbidden mergers of the giant market ISPs.

    At present I’m lucky enough to have two choices for land-line broadband ISPs in my Dallas suburb. AT&T and Spectrum. Spectrum sucks, but it sucks much less than AT&T. I would very much dislike losing choice in the market. It’s a bit moot, in that soon I’ll be relocating to “Hooterville” where broadband is not available at all. Oh well, I got used to dial-up when I first set up the POUNCER@AOL account and I expect to adapt. Even so, I have ideas about monopoly and government regulation and mergers. I remember when AOL (as an ISP pipe ) was so big it bought Time Warner ( for the content).

    As an aside, (or returning to the actual title of the thread) I’m trying to figure out how much energy the Rolex Oyster Perpetual rotor-and-spring system puts out — in watts or horsepower or nano-ergs…. It seems to me lighting up LEDs and running electronics might be less burden on a small motion-capture process than spinning mechanical hands around a dial. But cursory investigation about the Rolex, and related, spring systems just indicates “power” reserves in “days” — if you take the watch off your arm and leave it still, it will run for a little while. I wonder about what else I could power by simply strapping a thing to my wrist.

  39. E.M.Smith says:


    EVERY company strives to get monopoly pricing power. (My MBA Marketing class was largely about how to create a perception of unique product so as to improve pricing, or in other words, to create some small monopoly pricing power via perception).

    Until recently, the world of content delivery divided into content providers and delivery (carriers). Then a few years back we started to get fusion of the two. This is in an attempt at “vertical integration” so that monopoly pricing can be applied. Until that point, “Content is King” was the mantra. IF you wanted Disney, you paid what they demanded or they didn’t put it on your cable (or broadcast network or…)

    So now everyone is scrambling to get rid of that competitive pressure so they can jack up the prices as much as possible. (i.e. normal business operations. I’m not saying this sarcastically or pejoratively. It is absolutely normal and it is expected behaviour if any management is going to keep their job.) The goal for “carriers” being to buy out “content providers”. Some do it well, so do it poorly.

    AOL did it very very badly when the bought Time Warner. Bought a lot of content, but could not deliver nor monetize it worth a damn. AT&T is doing it better, but still has a history of leaving broken product behind them when they buy other companies. My personal experience with them is that product quality drops, service evaporates, and prices rise; until I move to a new provider.

    I’m against the mergers (just due to the goal of making my prices higher and service worse) as there is no need for greater monopoly power in my grill.

    It will not improve anything for the customer.


    I’m being expedited by the spouse at the moment, so only a one liner. More a bit later:

    It is not BEING a monopoly that is bad, it is MONOPOLY PRACTICES. As a single person in a competitive market, I can not exercise monopoly power nor do monopoly practices. For The Telephone Company, they could do nothing BUT exercise monopoly power. BIG difference.

    Restraint of trade. Differential pricing by ability to pay. Undercut competition with predatory pricing. And several more specifics; constitute monopoly practices. I can do none of those. AT&T can do all of them. Thus the anti-trust laws.

    It’s about a 10 week course to cover it all. I had it in college. If you want to “go there”, I can start a thread on monopolies, but really, it’s been very well worked out by lots of other folks.

  40. Larry Ledwick says:

    On the net neutrality thing, I like the idea of the proposed “do not censor” regulation. If it is legal speech you cannot sensor it as a major connectivity provider. I tend to look at it from the perspective of the backbone providers like Level 3. If Netflix is consuming 95% of their bandwidth, then Netflix customers should be paying 95% of their costs one way or another.

    Looking at freight companies (similar to the earlier RR discussion) they charge for packages based on weight, bulk and priority of delivery (ie next day service)

    Streaming video and voip are the next day delivery of data transfer. They both depend on high priority delivery with low latency, therefore they should be a priority pricing structure for their delivery. If I am sending an email I could care less if it sits in a router queue for 3000 ms, but that is a big deal if it is a packet of data for an action movie scene.

    I think the problem is that the pricing model for data is broken. You pay the same for 1 gb of data whether it is 1 gb of a thousand small low priority emails or a 1 gb data stream of some video content which has to be delivered without error in a few milliseconds.

    Priority data which requires low latency like streaming video should be priced at a premiun value, perhaps bill it at 1.5x the low priority data rate. This of course kills all unlimited data plans because there is no way to meter that data flow in an unlimited plan.

  41. pouncer says:

    Our host offers: “If you want to ‘go there’, I can start a thread on monopolies, but really, it’s been very well worked out by lots of other folks.”

    When you feel inclined, I would enjoy that discussion. Please do at your leisure.

    Larry: “Looking at freight companies (similar to the earlier RR discussion) they charge for packages based on weight, bulk and priority of delivery (ie next day service) Streaming video and voip are the next day delivery of data transfer.”

    Uhm, well, I’ve promised not to pursue this discussion farther, but I cheer you on. And maybe under monopoly discussions, generally, we can pick it up.

    Semi-related This service from the United States Postal Service:
    [ ] Is an amazingly useful service that I think would never have been dreamed, let alone made possible, when the USPS (and the pre-deregulation AT&T) were operating in my youth.

  42. jim2 says:

    @Larry Ledwick says: 17 December 2017 at 6:19 pm

    Most problems with latency can be overcome by caching at the client. No? Download a forth of the movie before viewing begins.

  43. Lionell Griffith says:

    EM: As a single person in a competitive market, I can not exercise monopoly power nor do monopoly practices.

    Yes you can. You can set your price, then if your customer wants you badly enough, he must meet your price. If the customer offers to pay less, you can accept or refuse. You cannot force your customer to buy and your customer cannot force you to sell. Exactly why does not a group of people have exactly the same right? All it is, is trading value for value between willing traders. With emphasis on the mutual willingness to trade.

    You have the right to your life, that gives you the right to control how your life will be used by others. Why doesn’t a group have exactly the same right?

    I think there is confusion between the power of persuasion by offering a value for trade and using a gun to force the trade involuntarily. Between individuals you would call that theft or extortion. Why is it that when the Government steps in and does exactly the same thing is it OK by you?

  44. Larry Ledwick says:

    Most problems with latency can be overcome by caching at the client. No? Download a forth of the movie before viewing begins.

    Depends on how consistent the data rate is and how many times the feed stream hangs for extended period oft. If it has a lot of long delays in the feed, you end up eating up all your cash about 1/2 way into the movie and it suddenly stops just as the hero is fighting the bad guy.

    Also not an option with phone calls or streaming music. Want to listen to your favorite song but have to wait 45 seconds before it starts then the song audio hangs periodically during the play back.

    That is my real world experience with local cashing, I have repeatedly tried to watch amazon prime video, the only time it is acceptable is really late at night, during prime time I sometimes have to cache 20 minutes of the video before I start playback and still run into periodic lock ups of the video stream, sometimes long enough for the feed to time out and die.

    According to speedtest (dot) net my data rate right now is:

    ping time – – 11 ms
    Download – – 52.62 Mbps
    Upload – – – – 6.02 Mbps

  45. jim2 says:

    So you can download a 5 gig movie in 100 seconds?

  46. llanfar says:

    @jim2 – Mbps is mega-bit-per-second…

  47. Lionell Griffith says:

    EM: Undercut competition with predatory pricing.

    You can do that too. Do good work, charge below the going rate, get lots of business, your customers get a really good deal, and you rapidly go out of business. You could charge above the going rate and get no business and soon go out of business. Think you can get away with it if you have no competition? Think again. You always have competition and a lot of it. Every product on the market is your competition. Set the rate too high and your customers will do without or do something else not involving what you have to offer.

    When the initiation of force (violation of individual rights) is excluded from interaction among people a deal usually can be made. The seller wants to sell, the buyer wants to buy, either can accept or refuse the deal. If one party refuses, each can go in peace to find better deals. This works because no one has the right to force another to do what he is unwilling to do. They each OWN their own lives and act like it.

  48. Lionell Griffith says:

    Jim2: So you can download a 5 gig movie in 100 seconds?

    Not quite. There is substantial overhead in the TCP/IP packet that carries the data. It consists of routing, timing, priority, and other information use to assure the packet gets from the server to the right destination and can be used to build a coherent data stream for viewing.

    This link: gives some good information on how many extra bits are required. The actual amount depends upon many details Also, don’t forget application overhead at each end and at every sever in between. All of which can be substantial.

    It is part of the price one pays for reliable transmission of data over an inherently unreliable network. When you get into the weeds of it all, it is amazing that anything works.

  49. jim2 says:

    My faux pas. 800 seconds then.

  50. jim2 says:

    I’m familiar with the TCP/IP stack. Not sure if bandwidth is payload or gross.

  51. Lionell Griffith says:

    jim2: Not sure if bandwidth is payload or gross.

    From my experience with Ethernet data transfer, it is gross bps. The payload byte rate is always considerably slower than the rated link bandwidth divided by 8. The various displays associated with file transfer will usually give payload bytes per second as the data rate.

  52. llanfar says:

    Adding to the overhead-per-packet is the TCP three-step send for each packet.

  53. philjourdan says:

    @Pouncer – Here in Virginia as well (as far as the partial deregulation). The last mile of the Internet is currently a monopoly. But a government created one. Break that, and there is no monopoly and no issues.

  54. philjourdan says:


    On the net neutrality thing, I like the idea of the proposed “do not censor” regulation. If it is legal speech you cannot sensor it as a major connectivity provider. I tend to look at it from the perspective of the backbone providers like Level 3. If Netflix is consuming 95% of their bandwidth, then Netflix customers should be paying 95% of their costs one way or another.

    I do admire how you always seem to cut to the root of the issue, even if we do not agree on the solution. And so you have again with this comment.

    The issue is what is “legal speech”? In olden times that was easy. Today? You cannot use words that are not PC. Even though they are legal, already we are seeing them banned around the INternet. I personally do not like the derogatory term for blacks, and do not use it. But I would not prevent anyone else from using it as it IS legal Speech. Not so the censors. They can ban legal speech on regulated monopolies (try the 7 words on broadcast TV or Radio).

    What others see in Net Neutrality is a means to “fix” the problems that the government created. Comcast is throttling Bit Torrent traffic? Why not switch ISPs? You cannot (well you can do Satellite but that is not real competition). Why? Because government has decided that one, and only one provider is allowed to run to your house. Forget the lines (Power companies were partially deregulate as Pouncer explained – by separating the line charge from the power usage – it was done in this state as well), just allow any provider to bid for your services.

    But that is not allowed. So you have a defacto government created local monopoly that Net Neutrality was going to “fix”. But then I has to ask when has any government program “fixed” a problem? Some actually mitigate the problem, but not a single program created to “fix” a problem has accomplished its mission. So government does not fix. It merely gets the addict hooked on the narcotics.

    And the Comcast charge of Bit Torrent is a bad example to use to promote Net Neutrality. Comcast did that because of government regulation! The damn DCMA!!! It costs money to police their network and Comcast was tired of spending the money every time some jackass got his panties in a wad about some idiot sharing a movie or song. It was cheaper for Comcast to simply poison the well, than to keep throwing people resources at responding to all the DCMA threats. But the government then slapped them for it!

    That is how government works. They create the problem, and then penalize the companies that figured out a cheap way to fix the problem. And that is what Net Neutrality does as well. They created the problem. And their fix will be MORE censorship, not less. Once they are declared a Title II industry, they can then regulate the content you see. And they will. Make no mistake about it. They already have started.

  55. E.M.Smith says:

    I’ve put up a first level intro to Monopoly issues and such here:

    Per the specific point of Netflix being a major traffic originator:

    Remember that that traffic has already been paid for twice.

    1) Netflix must pay their telco bill for their connectivity.
    2) Each customer buys a pipe for their use.

    In between them, the various telcos cut deals and pay for connectivity between each other to support that traffic, using the fees from Netflix and the end customer. So even If I’m on Comcast and Netflix is on AT&T and it goes through Level 3 in the middle somewhere, both Comcast and AT&T pay something to Level 3 for that connectivity (either money or ‘in kind’ via carriage of other packets).

    It isn’t like Netflix is getting a free ride out of this.

    The real game is that AT&T wants to have Price Discrimination so as to collect some of Netflix profits via monopoly pricing strategies. (See the monopoly link…)

  56. E.M.Smith says:


    See the monopoly link:

    I specifically address the issues of “me” vs “monopoly power”. Basically, I do NOT have it. I can not hold low prices long enough to drive out all the competition, nor are there barriers to entry nor am I able to restrict supply.

    Freedom to accept or refuse business is NOT monopoly power. Freedom to set my price where I go out of business is NOT monopoly pricing power.

    You are confounding freedom with power.

  57. As an alternative (and quite a bit cheaper) solution, see which will generate around 20W. A minute of turning the crank on this would run an 0.1W LED for 200 minutes (not the 20 minutes of the weight-driven one running an 0.085W LED) or of course you could just turn the crank for 6 seconds every 20 minutes. Or you could add a few more LEDs and get more light. You obviously need some form of storage (battery or capacitor with charge/discharge controller) to add to this, and choose your LEDS, to get a full system, but it takes up less space and will deliver more power if wanted. It would even allow you to recharge your car battery in an emergency. A search on “crank generator” there produces some cheaper versions but with plastic crank and gearing that may not be quite as long-lasting, as well as a somewhat-expensive 30W system that can run a laptop since it has higher output voltages.

    On the monopoly question, I have a choice of using Orange as my ISP (at 5Mb/s or so) or not having an ISP. There’s also a possibility of satellite comms, of course, but that service would fail during heavy rain and has a steep installation charge, and when my daughter visits I’d likely run out of bandwidth on the data plan that’s actually cheaper than landline. There’s also a choice on the phone line (Orange or nothing), and the same choice about the electricity supply (EDF or generate it myself). There is one water-pipe running to the house, and I can choose to pay the charges or not have water (but of course there’s always collection of rainwater, since digging a well is not allowed). Things that are permanently connected to my house (including the public road) are natural monopolies – there’s one connection and somebody will own and (hopefully) maintain it. Though it seems to make sense to have such utilities owned by the government (and thus the people in general) there’s not a lot of compulsion to be efficient or to reduce the costs. Government waste of other peoples’ money is well-known. If people don’t like the charges, they can simply stop using them…. Trouble is that most people are not in a position to be able to install any alternatives, so you pay the charges and the taxes on the charges and hope your income is enough.

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