Geert Lovink on Mon, 21 Jul 1997 16:11:50 +0200 (MET DST)

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<nettime> Paul Garrin on bandwidth

Telephone interview with Paul Garrin
We Want Bandwidth!
By Geert Lovink

12. of July 1997 -
at Hybrid Workspace Documenta X, Orangerie, Kassel

audio version :,3.ram

see also:

Geert Lovink in Kassel: People that are visiting Documenta might find
the whole topic of bandwidth a little bit abstract. They are not
really familiar with it.

Paul Garrin in New York: Let me make it clear to the average layperson.
understandable bandwidth -what that means is that one of the acronyms of
WWW is World Wide Wait. So everybody is waiting around the world for the pages
downloading, because there is not enough bandwidth.

GL: Yes, everybody knows that. That's a way to enter the whole story,
and then up to the next chapter - content and the economic aspects
behind the telecommunications business.

PG: Definitely, and the question of who owns the bandwidth is a big
issue. Because it is all the big telecom companies. And although there
are many, they are becoming fewer as they merge. MCI was just eaten
up by British Telecom, and Sprint is about to be eaten up by Deutsche
Telekom, probably between the next 18 months or so, Deutsche Telekom has
already a 20% interest in Sprint, I  believe. Deutsche Telekom makes invoices
into the United States in terms of telecommunication infrastructure
through Sprint, then in terms of public relations through the Guggenheim
Museum. "Control the art and you control the people".

GL: They are then also directly involved into the Content Business which
is the next level.

PG: Exactly and this is the next trend of what the Bandwidth owners are
starting to do, which is now, for example, Time Warner and Disney and
Microsoft buying up Network Capacity all over the place and they are also
content providers, if you can call it content. What is happening here, and
what is going back to what I was talking about at Next Five Minutes back
in 96, was discussing the idea of the permanent autonomous network. Which
is the only way we can assure our presence: to buy the bandwidth
because there is no guaranty of survival, especially if the Big Content
Providers are buying up connectivity to control the content. There is
no guarantee. As I said in my article "The Disappearance of Public Space
on the Net" about the encroachment of any kind of public space or free
space on the Interment by Big Media. The Old Media companies are buying up
New Media and are imposing the Old Media models, such as, for example,
Push Media. This is the way how old media powers deal with new media, two
way interactive media equals transmissions in both directions, but it is
two way in the sense that they pump the content to the consumer and the
return pipe is a thin pipe just to suck the data of their credit cards.

GL: Critics might say "we want more bandwidth", the slogan of this
campaign (at Hybrid Workspace), that's why we criticize the so called Push
Media, maybe we are not quite well aware yet what we ourselves might do
with all the bandwidth. How do you see that?

PG: Well, I say it is not necessarily a question of how much bandwidth,
but that we have any at all and, of course, what we do with it is of vital
importance. That has always been the problem with the net and the web,
that there are plenty of places to go, but nothing to see. And this
problem might potentially be solved by artists and creative people who
have something to say. I don't think this should really be an issue
because we have all the tools before us, so lets not plunder them. We
have all the access in front of us, lets not waste them, lets not waste
time, because the more time we take to establish our presence, the more the
spectacle and the creator, the more the encroachment of the commercial
media will be, which will ultimately insecure any efforts by independents.

GL: The latest update of Name.Space, lets tell it to the listeners..
(see )

PG: The case against Network Solutions, Name.Space filed back in March,
alleging anti-trust against Network Solutions Inc., is now in front of
the judge of the Federal Court of New York at the United States Federal
District Court. And this week is a week of paper work, as it goes right
now, publicly the case is proceeding, and Network Solutions has basically
in papers they have published on their homepage many of the things that
Name.Space has proved. Such as there is no technical limit of the numbers
of top level domains, even quoting the inventor of DNS, that the Domain
Name Service and the software are a highly scalable system and that
there is no technical limit of the numbers of top level, or second level
or third level domains, that the limit of 36 characters of each level is
not necessary.
So as it looks, things are moving forward in our direction, and we are
very optimistic about them coming out in our favor.

GL: Yes this article that you were posting on nettime was
very interesting..

PG: It appears that the United States Department of Justice, I guess, got
wind of the Name.Space antitrust lawsuit against Network Solutions and
themselves approached Network Solutions and as we see into
possible anti-trust practices.

GL: An interesting move, isn't it?

PG: It has nothing directly to do with our case, or any direct influence
on our case, because this is done under a separate jurisdiction, not
of federal law, but however it is interesting that somebody else is
taking it very serious.

GL: Can you explain to us a bit how you are moving yourself from the topic of
Bandwidth that you are raising to the practical project of Name.Space
because seems to be a little bit on the symbolic level, having
to do with Names, and the freedom, and bandwidth seems to be a very
hardboiled economic topic. Is that true?

PG: Well, these two things are highly related and as in my statement
before:  if we want to insure the presence of free media on the net, then we
have to buy our bandwidth. How to do that? To create an economic
structure which is basically a self-sufficient, self-supporting network.
This type of thing I thought that the idea of creating as a
service to potentially fund the bandwidth that we need. Apparently the
market for Domain Name Registration is a high one. In 1997 Network
Solution add 90.000 domain names a month charging a 100 dollars up front
for two years. If you look at the map, that 9 Million dollars a month is
cash flow at that rate. That is only selling com, net and org domains.
Now on, thanks to the public who have suggested many new top
level categories, we have over 400 top level names available at the moment
for registration. So at that rate, at 25 dollars each, the potential is
there. At least a couple of million dollars a month, in cash flow. This
kind of money coming in independent hands such as ours, probably is a bundit
enough to fund our networks and to support our cooperative partners in
Europe and even hopefully sponsor some other activities for producing
media and holding conferences. So I think that it could be a very
important aspect of independence of not only buying and providing
bandwidth and server resources, but also supporting content production.

GL: The question was, I can imagine that we could do something like, could we even make a jump and start a kind of autonomous
and go to that very hard level of providing bandwidth ourselves
or even owning it.

PG: Well, this is always a question of scale, scale is a question of
money, if it turns up that we end up making money in the billions,
sure we can lay fibre, and buy up satellite links. I wouldn't say
that this is in our 2 year plan, but I wouldn't rule it out either.
In fact I am known for my capacity for reinvesting resources
and therefore if we do make that amount of money I am not that kind
of person that buys fancy clothes and a Porsche and moves to a house
in the country, I would put that into infrastructure.

(transcribed and edited by Diana McCarty and Pit Schultz)
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