A great project that ended a few months ago did something essential, but it is also something that may hide a bigger problem.

The goals of the RIFE Project (architectuRe for an Internet For Everybody) included (emphasis mine):

“RIFE addresses the major societal challenge of providing affordable Internet access to those who cannot afford it by solving the technological challenge to increase the efficiency of the underlying transport networks and the involved architectures and protocols.”

“On the economic side, we will develop business opportunities for local authorities as well as backhaul network providers to create a sustainable value chain by introducing virtual network operators that utilize the under-used capacity in a new business relationship with local customers, enabling novel and often socially-driven business models.”

In plain English, what RIFE has done is study and test in the fields:

  • new kinds of physical networks to give Internet access to really everybody
  • together with new business models that make those networks economically viable.

OK. What now?

RIFE is a great project. This post is not a critique to RIFE, or to any other project in the same field. It only “uses” RIFE as an example to remind again what I said last year:

“go ahead all you want with [new kinds of Internet access] networks. Seriously. But forgive me for still feeling that they are just the smallest, and possibly the least urgent parts of what is needed, and needed soon, to give people a “Free as in Freedom” Internet.”

Continues at “Forget Net Neutrality. Think personal clouds instead”.