Broadband

Bandwidth boost for southwestern Virginia

The Roanoke Times ran an article yesterday (Sunday) in the business section on two stimulus projects building fiber in the Blacksburg-Roanoke region. The two middle mile projects are not linked to any comprehensive last mile efforts, which is also the challenge for many stimulus-funded middle mile projects in other areas.

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An honest speed test

Virginia Tech has an excellent speed test. Try it and see how your connection rates.

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Isle of Jersey to get Gigabit to the home

The tiny Isle of Jersey will be getting Gigabit fiber to the home as part of an initiative by the incumbent Jersey Telecom to replace all copper-based services with fiber over the next five years. Maybe some U.S. incumbents should make a trip to Jersey (in the English Channel just off the coast of France) to learn how to construct a business case that allows dumping 100 year old copper technology for something a little newer.

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Demystifying what appears to be a conundrum

Bob Frankston, who is smart enough to know why X.400 never worked the way the policy wonks thought it would, has an excellent and very readable short paper called Demystifying Networking that is one of the best overviews I have read on broadband, where we came from, and where we want to go. Take a few minutes and read it in its entirety.

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More on Burlington Telecom (BT)

The always excellent Muni Networks has an article that sheds additional light on Burlington Telecom. The article includes a response from Tim Nulty, who helped start the BT venture.

Burlington Telecom the new "proof" that community broadband does not work

More information about the financial problems of the city-owned Burlington Telecom (Burlington, Vermont) venture are emerging. Opponents of community broadband will be eager to hold this up as the latest "proof" that community-owned telecom does not work.

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Google Fiber announcement on hold

A short note on the Google blog indicates that the community to be selected for the Google fiber opportunity won't be announced until "early 2011."

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Skype busy destroying the phone company, melting down cable networks

Skype has announced a new record of 25 million concurrent users, meaning 25 million voice and video calls simultaneously. It also means that all those Skype users are NOT using their cellphones or land lines to make voice calls. Skype video works extremely well if you have a good Web camera (good means you ought to spend at least $50-$75) and a decent Internet connection; if you have tried Skype video and found it fuzzy or blurry, it's probably your camera.

The beginning of the end for cable TV

Comcast and Level 3 are having a public fight. Level 3 is a long haul network provider; the company owns thousands of miles of inter-city fiber and hauls all kinds of data traffic, including Internet traffic, for a wide variety of customers. But Comcast is groaning under the weight of Netflix and other video traffic, and the cable company wants Level 3 to pay more to drop traffic onto the Comcast network for delivery.

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Investors are willing to bet on fiber

Allied Fiber indicates it has raised the funds needed to build the first leg of a nationwide dark fiber and colocation network that will eventually be almost 12,000 miles in length. Allied called the current financing market "challenging," but was able to raise the money it needed to get started.

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Netflix uses 20% of U.S. bandwidth

Netflix had an outage of several hours that prevented their customers from accessing any streaming content. This article discusses whether Netflix is spending enough on infrastructure, but what has also emerged is that Netflix customers using the company's streaming services are now consuming 20% of all the bandwidth in the U.S. during peak evening hours. As I and many others have been predicting for years, video in all its forms is now driving use of the Internet.

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Fiber 2.0: The coming Balkanization of American telecom

A few months ago, a competitive telecom provider ran fiber down the main road near my home. Yesterday I figured out why; a crew was running a fiber drop to the bank branch on the corner. All over America, it is the dawn of Fiber 2.0. Fiber 1.0 took place in the late nineties, when an enormous amount of capital was spent on fiber too far in advance of the marketplace for demand. Along with the rest of the dot-com ventures, Fiber 1.0 was a bust.

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Community fiber needs owners

Fred Pilot makes an excellent observation in his excellent blog: he says that getting fiber to homes and businesses requires a change in attitude on the part of those homeowners and businesses--a shift away from passively accepting whatever an incumbent monopoly provider offers and moving to an ownership attitude.

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Incumbents continue to try to stop competition

Stop the Cap! has an article about the incumbent fight to kill the nation's most successful open access network: Utopia. Utopia's open access network has thousands of subscribers and fifteen providers on the network, including three TV providers. I've actually had the opportunity to see the Utopia TV provider offerings, and the picture quality of an all digital TV channel delivered via fiber is incredible.

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Broadband: Rural communities have to have it

The EPA and ICMA (International City/County Management Association) have issued a very useful and readable report on "smart growth" in rural communities. However, the word "broadband" does not appear once in the entire report, and there no mention at all of the need for access to affordable high performance broadband services. I used to say that broadband infrastructure is the current day equivalent of water and sewer with respect to economic development, but I have switched to "paved roads." Why?

Pigeon beats "little" broadband

Many parts of rural England, like many rural areas of the U.S., have "little" broadband speeds of just a few hundred kilobits, as opposed to "big" broadband delivered via fiber with a capacity of a hundred megabits or more. A speed test was recently conducted in Yorkshire, England. The goal was to download a 300 megabtye file by a "little" broadband connection and see if that was faster than sending it 120 kilometers by pigeon.

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Wired West chooses governance structure

WiredWest is a municipal broadband project that includes 47 towns working together to build and operate a last-mile, fiber-to-the-premises network for Western Massachusetts communities unserved and underserved by high-speed broadband. The WiredWest project covers 1,445 square miles; more than 27,000 households; 3,000 businesses; and dozens of community institutions.

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Broadband: "...facilitating economic exchange and the general welfare"

Pete Ashdown, writing in The Salt Lake Tribune, discusses the reasoning behind community-owned broadband, in the context of the Utopia project, one of the country's biggest community broadband efforts. Here is a key portion of the article:

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It's always about the bandwidth (or lack of it)

In this article that speculates about an Apple TV upgrade, there is an interesting tidbit that validates what I and others have been saying for a long time: HD content chews up bandwidth:

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Staying connected: broadband and time off

I went on a three day hike on the Appalachian Trail with one of my kids who is off to college in a few weeks. We had a glorious time hiking one of the most remote and isolated portions of the entire AT, which also happens to be one of the most scenic (right here in southwest Virginia). I had no laptop with me, no broadband access, and cellphone coverage so sketchy that we only managed a couple of quick text messages to the wife assuring her we had not fallen off a mountain.

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