Broadband

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.

Technology News:

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.

Technology News:

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.

Community news and projects:

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.

Technology News:

Community news and projects:

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.

Community news and projects:

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:

Community news and projects:

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:

Knowledge Democracy:

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.

Technology News:

WiMax: Death by LTE?

WiMax, which was going to solve everyone's broadband problems three years ago, may already be dead, without ever really being deployed in any meaningful way. This short article suggests that Clearwire is thinking seriously about switching from WiMax to LTE for its primary wireless deployment technology.

How smart is Boulder SmartGridCity?

Here is an article that alleges that Boulder, Colorado's SmartGridCity project is in deep trouble. The article has a long laundry list of problems, but what jumped out at me is the list of so-called "partners." If you look at the SmartGridCity Partners page, you can see the root problem of this project is too many cooks.

Community news and projects:

Financing broadband and the open access red herring

A common theme, when discussing the financing of broadband, is to claim that the open access business model "has not been proven." True open access has only been around in the U.S. for about three years, and the opponents of open access are creating a double standard. Apparently, to "prove" open access works, communities that take that route have to be in the black within a year or two, and really, it would be better, apparently, if they were in the black on day one.

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Broadband Information:

U.S. Broadband: Still almost as good as Latvia

Via an Akamai report (registration is required to get the report), Latvia has moved up to fifth place in the average bandwidth rankings worldwide. The U.S. is down at number 22, with a net negative drop of about 1% in bandwidth over the last quarter and 2.5% drop in bandwidth over the past year. According to Akamai, the average broadband connection in the U.S. is about 3.8 megabits/second, which would reflect the fact that the cable companies dominate the broadband marketplace in the U.S.

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Community news and projects:

U.S. Broadband: Almost as good as, um, a lot of other places

Via the Twitter feed BroadbandReport, a new study suggests that the U.S. ranks 23rd in the world in broadband deployment. Strategy Analytics, the company that developed the report, is using a new set of metrics that look at five different indices to come up with the ranking.

Technology News:

Fiber brings the data centers

I had a conversation earlier this week with a well-connected business person who is in the business of building data centers. The two top criteria his firm uses to identify communities in which to locate data centers is power and fiber. What he told me is that for the size of data center he typically builds (50,000 to 100,000 square feet) they are looking for power from two separate sub-stations, and that power from two separate grids is even better.

Broadband Information:

Google Fiber for Communities now has a Web site

Via Jon Hunt's excellent Broadband Policy Watch Web site, Google has rolled out a Google Fiber for Communities Web site. There is not much new information; Google is still promising that they will select a community before the end of the year. Of interest is the focus on microtrenching. This is a technology that Design Nine has been using for several years. We particularly like the Teraspan products.

Technology News:

Open Access: The Third Way for Broadband

Broadband Properties has published my article The Third Way for Broadband. This provides a concise description of how and why open access business models work for broadband networks. Note that the open access business model is NOT inherently one that requires a community-owned network. A private sector broadband provider, including an incumbent (e.g. Verizon, Comcast, etc.) could also adopt this model and do very well financially.

Technology News:

Broadband Information:

nDanville generating jobs

The nDanville fiber network is almost three years old, and is beginning to get national recognition here. Design Nine has been working with the City of Danville on this effort since 2006. We did the early business and financial planning, vendor selection, and open access network design. More about nDanville is available on their Web site.

Community news and projects:

The Internet and broadband are not the same thing

Jeff Daily of App-Rising makes an important point in this article that I have been writing about for some time: "broadband" and "the Internet" are not the same thing. Broadband is the network, the transport system, the road. The Internet is just one of many services that can be transported over that road. Unfortunately, legislators don't always understand the distinction, and many incumbents are happy to feed the confusion to get state and Federal rules designed to prop up their monopolies.

New Zealand goes all out for open access

Fiber everywhere is the simple goal the national government of New Zealand has set. In ten years, the government intends to have a minimum of 100 megabit fiber connections to 75% of homes and businesses in the entire country. They are doing this by going open access. It's a very simple model.

Community news and projects:

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