Infrastructure

Who needs a Gig?

The incumbent telephone and cable companies must be really scared of competition from new fiber networks, because they are still peddling the old, tired "Who needs a Gig?" baloney to elected officials and regulators.

It is really a red herring argument, for two reasons:

G.fast: Not coming quickly to a neighborhood near you

Here is a short article on the technical characteristics of G.fast, the "solution" that is supposedly going to allow the telephone companies to compete with the cable companies.

Don't want to click through and read it? Here is the short summary:

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It is all about power

After Hurricane Sandy, cell phone networks in the affected areas were, by and large, not working. Like the situation after Hurricane Katrina, many cell tower sites had no long term back up power source (i.e. a generator), fuel to keep generators running was not available, or generators were flooded out because they were installed on the ground. In the New Orleans area, it was not the storm that took out networks, it was the flooding.

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iPhone 4S breaks sales records again

CNet reports that the new iPhone 4S has broken sales records again, with more than a million pre-orders on the first day. The previous best was 600,000 iPhone 4 orders on day one. This is a bit amusing, because when Apple unveiled the new phone last week, a lot of pundits panned the device, complaining that Apple had fumbled, that it should have been an iPhone 5, that the 4S model did not have enough new features, and basically, that Apple had screwed up.

Copper prices make fiber interesting

With the price for copper hitting $4/pound, the biggest copper mine in the world is hanging on poles in the U.S. Copper thieves are actually knocking over poles to steal the copper cable in Antioch, California, but copper theft is a problem all over the U.S. The high price of copper and the steadily decreasing price of fiber makes fiber less expensive in new construction, and of course, with fiber, you have the added benefit of being able to expand capacity as needed.

Competition works in the fiber market

Fiberevolution has a short article with a damning slide, showing what Verizon charges for a fiber connection in downtown Boston and what a start up firm is charging for a fiber connection. The start up is offering ten times the bandwidth (100 meg vs Verizon's 10 meg) for a measly 97% reduction in cost on a per megabit basis. Put another way, you can buy ten times the bandwidth for almost 75% less cost ($2700 vs $700). What's wrong with this picture? Well, two things.

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Don't put your back-up power in the basement

Dallas County, Texas lost its IT systems for three days when a broken water main flooded the basement of the building where all the county's servers are housed. The servers were fine--they are located on the fifth floor. But the UPS and other electrical equipment supplying power to those fifty floor servers were located in the basement, where water flooded in from the broken main.

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Blackberry outage highlights need for network diversity

The recent outage that took down the RIM Blackberry network highlights the need for network diversity. The Internet has, in part, been such a fantastic success because there is no central controlling authority. In fact, there really is no "Internet." It just does not exist. What exists are hundreds of thousands of individual, physically separate networks that use a common set of protocols (rules) to exchange information like email, Web pages, and YouTube videos, among other types of information.

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The IPSO Alliance is mapping the future of appliances

The IPSO Alliance (IP for Smart Objects) is mapping the future of appliances and gadgets. Many common household and industrial items will have an IP address in the near future, enabling them to connect to the Internet and perform functions like system diagnostics, power management, transmission of environmental information (temperature, light, motion, health status), and software upgrades.

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Ownership has advantages

Even as some municipal wireless projects are falling apart, many other communities are still pursuing the risky "direct to vendor" approach. Instead of identifying broader community goals and needs first and then selecting systems and technology that support those goals, community leaders are going straight to a vendor and letting the vendor specify what the community should buy.

World standard for blown fiber and microduct

An Emtelle press release notes that the IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) has released a worldwide standard for microduct and blown fiber, including a standard for testing.

This is important because it will improve the ability to deploy products from different manufacturers in the same network and improve overall reliability of blown fiber and microduct products.

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Fiber to the home through sewers

Getting fiber to the premise (FTTP) is always a challenge. In many communities, there is not space available on aging telephone poles, or the incumbents try to charge exorbitant make-ready fees to hang a thin fiber cable. Trenching is an alternative, but that can be more expensive and disruptive. CableRunner now offers an interesting alternative, which is to use existing sewer and stormwater drain infrastructure to run fiber through neighborhoods and into homes.

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Poles and right of way

I'm on location this week, planning a major fiber build for a region of eight communities that have decided they can't wait any longer for world class connectivity and services. It's a rural area with lots of two lane roads. One of the things Design Nine is doing is surveying right of way and existing pole infrastructure.

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Do it yourself fiber

Skip Skinner, the forward-thinking administrator of Wise County, Virginia, suggested do it yourself fiber to me three years ago. I've proposed it to many other groups since then, and everyone thought I was crazy.

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How does $15/month broadband sound?

While at the Digital Cities conference in Reston, Virginia earlier this week, I was able to get some detailed information about Vasteras, Sweden, where they have implemented the kind of open service provider communitywide broadband I advocate for communities in this country. Vasteras is a medium-sized city of about 80,000 people. In past eighteen months, they have run fiber to 7000 homes, 23,000 apartments, and 2000 businesses.

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Fiber or Wireless--It's both!

This article notes that the only working telecom infrastructure left in New Orleans after the storm was cheap wireless. And even today, WiFi is playing a big role in the city's recovery. In areas prone to flooding, WiFi has an advantage because it is usually installed on something that is above the flood levels. If you can get power to it, it works. And there are some WiFi hotspots powered by batteries and solar power, making them even more resistant to power outages.

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Cleveland gets connected

I had the good fortune to hear Mark Ansboury, the COO of One Cleveland, talk about what he and other leaders in Cleveland have been doing to build what is probably the best planned community broadband infrastructure in the country.

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St. Louis builds an MSAP

For years, I've recommended that communities and regions build MSAPs (Multimedia Service Access Points). From our experiences operating one in Blacksburg as far back as 1999, we found that these local data exchange points save everyone in the community money. St. Louis is building a regional MSAP, which I call an RNAP, or Regional Network Access Point.

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Iceland, Greenland, and redundancy

This short Register article highlights the urgency of dealing with the cable redundancy issue. Communities that do not have a plan to ensure at least two separate broaband cable paths (also referred to as backhaul or Internet feeds) in and out of a community are at risk of losing local businesses to places that do provide cable redundancy.

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Amsterdam gets it on community fiber

EuroTelcoBlog has a story on Amsterdam's community fiber initiative.

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