nDanville has a waiting list for fiber connections

Submitted by acohill on Tue, 11/26/2013 - 13:58

nDanville, the first muni multi-service open network in the U.S., has waiting list for fiber connections, and a growing list of new jobs and businesses that are being drawn to the community because of the low cost, high performance fiber infrastructure. Design Nine helped the City plan and design the network, and the investment is beginning to pay off as manufacturers keep moving to the fiber-connected business parks.

New Hampshire FastRoads adding customers

Submitted by acohill on Tue, 11/26/2013 - 13:51

FastRoads is a Gigabit network designed and built by Design Nine for New Hampshire FastRoads LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Monadnock Economic Development Corporation. One of the surprises, as we add more customers, is the unexpected demand for the 50 Meg Internet service, which is turning out to be higher than expected. On the FastRoads network, every connection is a Gigabit circuit capable of delivering multiple services from several different providers.

The empire strikes back

Submitted by acohill on Fri, 11/15/2013 - 10:55

The big players on the Internet--Google, Facebook, Yahoo!, Microsoft, and others--are making changes in the way they push their data and services around the Internet. Stung by revelations that the NSA has been vacuuming up their customer data, these firms are adding new encryption to their data streams between data centers and between their data centers and customers. As they should. Communications on the Internet has been too open to snooping for a long time, and this is overdue.

Death of TV: Part LXII: Video uses half of Internet bandwidth

Submitted by acohill on Wed, 11/13/2013 - 08:29

A new report illustrates just how dire the situation is for the cable companies; Netflix and YouTube use half of all the bandwidth on the Internet. Cable TV is brain dead, but the body is still on life support. There is no future in cable, and satellite will be the next to go as more fiber is deployed into areas unserved by cable. This is not a matter of "if" anymore, it's all about the "when." I think it is safe to say that most of the country will have fiber connections by 2025.

Fiber makes neighborhoods business districts

Submitted by acohill on Mon, 11/11/2013 - 11:01

I've been talking about this for fifteen years. New data, from an article at Forbes, suggests that demand for office space may have peaked in the U.S, and that what may be the trend in the future is work from home and business from home activities. According to the article, the number of people working from home as self-employed has risen 14% in the past decade.

Neighborhoods are business districts, and need to be treated as such by economic developers.

This means that you want to be able to deliver business class high performance affordable broadband into your neighborhoods, and that generally means you want fiber, with business class symmetric service available. Places like FastRoads in rural New Hampshire are already doing this (a Design Nine project), and not surprisingly, a lot of homes (er, business locations) are signing up for 50 meg service--well beyond what cable and DSL is able to offer in most places.

It's not that communities should stop paying attention to downtowns and business parks....just the opposite. But if your community's economic development strategy does not have goals and objectives focused on supporting neighborhoods as business districts, you are missing some business attraction and job creation opportunities.

The Internet regards censorship (or snooping) as damage and routes around it

Submitted by acohill on Fri, 11/08/2013 - 10:19

I'm not even going to try to link to them, but a flood of privacy-enabled apps and services are already beginning to appear.....heavily encrypted email apps, encrypted VPN apps, Web browsers that automatically route queries through proxy services that mask your IP address....the Internet was designed to survive a nuclear holocaust. Snooping by the NSA....anything the NSA can do, geeks can probably route around without a whole lot of effort.

...because who needs fiber when wireless will handle everything?

Submitted by acohill on Fri, 11/08/2013 - 09:07

The Wall Street Journal has a article on the shortage of wireless spectrum and the problems it is going to create. It's short--just click over and read it.

Who needs a Gig at home? Half of U.S. businesses

Submitted by acohill on Fri, 10/25/2013 - 07:47

This is 2007 data from the U.S. Census Bureau, which reported that half of U.S. businesses are located in the home. Half, as in 50%. Which validates what I began saying ten years ago: Neighborhoods are business districts.

Communities that ignore this data and continue to hope that marginal DSL, asymmetric cable, and too-expensive cellular data services are "good enough" are closing off their own economic future.

The incumbents have cleverly turned broadband into an entirely pointless and futile debate about speed, when speed really has very little to do with it. Here's why:

The incumbents have been hugely successful with these two strategies of diverting the discussion to stuff that does not really matter. Instead of talking about the real issue, everyone ends up confused and frustrated with the misinformation.

I am reminded of a household study done in a rural county in the northeast about seven years ago. This was a very large, relatively isolated area, and it was the first time economic developers had ever polled households to see if there was any business activity in the home. They were shocked to discover more than 400 businesses that had never appeared on their radar. And I continue to see that today, with a continued over-emphasis on industrial parks, retail, and other traditional lines of business. It's not that those should be neglected, but with small and start-up businesses adding most new jobs.....neighborhoods and rural roads are business districts that need time, attention, and support from economic developers and community leaders.

Who cares about bandwidth?

Submitted by acohill on Mon, 10/21/2013 - 07:47

On LinkedIn, the question was raised (yet again): "Does anyone really need a Gig of bandwidth?" Someone wrote, "Just remember, services have to be available to be adopted." Now we get to the meat of the issue. It's not about the number....i.e. 100 meg, 1 Gig, etc. The real question is, "Do you have enough bandwidth to do what you want to do?"

From an economic development perspective, the question is critical: "Does your community have the bandwidth needed to support your existing businesses and to attract new businesses?"

For a community, you want the answer to that question to be, "Yes!" Arguing that some number (some amount) of bandwidth is "good enough," as the incumbents do, is to put the community's future in the hands of a third party. It is extremely risky.

The availability of services also reaches deep into the argument about "broadband adoption." The push for "broadband adoption" by the incumbents is a thinly veiled statement that says, "We think our customers are too stupid to use the bandwidth we have, so we want taxpayers to fund training at the local library." It cleverly shifts responsibility for durable, high performance networks from the incumbents to the taxpayers..."....if only those pesky taxpayers would fund lots of training, everything would be fine."

I started doing "broadband adoption" in 1993, when the number of connected households in the country was zero, as in 0% had Internet access. I never observed a problem getting anyone to use as much bandwidth as they could afford if the content and services they were interested in was available.

So as we keep peeling away a few layers of this onion, we get to the problem of the current incumbent "walled garden" business model. While some of the incumbents are now realizing triple play is dead, they are grudgingly moving toward the multi-service model, but still want to retain the walled garden..."No one gets to our customers without our say-so." So the walled garden has a few more services, but they are all branded and re-sold by the incumbent...meaning no competition, and limited choice of pricing and services.

The most important thing, to me, about delivering a Gig of bandwidth to every customer is that you can then stop worrying about bandwidth, because you have plenty. You know that you can deliver any service, at any level of priority and support, to any customer. And that lets the marketplace determine what is popular and what pays the bills. If you have a network where bandwidth is a scarce commodity (i.e. DSL and cable networks), then you have to punish your customers if they use too much bandwidth.

I prefer the Doritos model: "Use all the bandwidth you want....we'll make more"

Real estate market impacted by poor Internet access

Submitted by acohill on Mon, 10/14/2013 - 10:18

Via Eldo Telecom, news that in England, people are moving from the country to larger towns because of bad Internet access. As Fred Pilot of Eldo points out (correctly, I believe), rural communities in the U.S. are also at risk. It's hard to imagine how anybody can manage with a dial up connection at home, which of course leads to people parking in the McDonald's parking lot so they can retrieve their email or so their kids can do their homework. Fred also points to a 2009 study showing that home buyers in the U.S. rank fiber broadband service as the number one amenity they look for in a property.

Death of TV: Part LXI: Some interesting data about IPTV

Submitted by acohill on Mon, 09/30/2013 - 13:32

This new study shows Internet use has entered most households in the U.S., with 78% online. And 92% of those households have some kind of broadband...typically "little broadband" from DSL or cable providers. The most interesting statistic is that growth in households dropping traditional TV has increased about 13% in the past two years, from 8% of household to 9% of households. If that percentage does not increase (which seems unlikely), in ten years, OTT and other IP-TV services will have about half the market. If the rate of change increases to around 20% or 25% per year, the draws near much more quickly for the cable TV companies.

Who will win the OTT battle?

Submitted by acohill on Mon, 09/30/2013 - 07:44

Apple and Roku are dominating the IP set top box market, with Apple owning 56% of this still small market segment. I'm not convinced that Apple or Roku will ultimately end up with a major portion of this market, as the total number of households that have converted to OTT is still very small. Rapid market growth in the next several years could let a yet unidentified firm capture a big portion of this. As Blackberry has demonstrated so aptly, having a big marketshare early does not automatically lead to market dominance.

But I've been saying for years that traditional cable TV, and to a lesser extent, satellite TV, is dead, dead, dead. It is an antiquated business model predicated on sixty year old coax technology. And satellite TV uses the same business model over a similarly bandwidth-constrained medium.

But Apple certainly has an early lead, and Google's Chromecast seems to be off to a slow start, but Google can play the long game. And startups like SimulTV may tear off an interesting piece of the market because they have changed the interaction model completely. If companies like SimulTV can master the content license problems, a lot of people will use their services.

The myth of the twenty-something entrepreneur

Submitted by acohill on Fri, 09/27/2013 - 13:10

This article in readwrite confirms something I have suspected for a long time: that most successful entrepreneurs are not twenty-three and worth a billion dollars. In fact, according to the article, "...twice as many successful entrepreneurs are over 50 as under 25. A whopping 75% have more than six years of industry experience and 50% have more than 10 years when they create their startup."

And get this datum: "...the highest rate of entrepreneurship in America has shifted to the 55–64 age group, with people over 55 almost twice as likely to found successful companies than those between 20 and 34. Indeed, Kauffman highlights that the 20-34 age bracket has the lowest rate of entrepreneurial activity."

What does this mean for broadband? I see a lot of communities trying to leverage broadband with an economic development strategy of trying to attract twenty-something entrepreneurs. And it turns out, according to the data above, that this is not likely to turn out well.

Design Nine helping with regional DWDM network

Submitted by acohill on Fri, 09/27/2013 - 09:06

For a client located in Canada, we're assisting with the design, specification, and procurement of a very large regional DWDM backbone network that will bring Gigabit services to more than twenty rural and remote communities.

Design Nine brings up 10Gig backbone network in six weeks

Submitted by acohill on Fri, 09/27/2013 - 09:04

For one of our clients located in the Caribbean, we designed, engineered, built, configured, and lit a 10Gig backbone network in just six weeks. Working under a very tight deadline to get the first customer on the network, Design Nine staff developed the network architecture, coordinated the fiber construction, ordered and shipped equipment, procured pre-fab shelters, had the shelters shipped by boat, got all the network equipment shipped, racked and configured the equipment, and brought the network up in time to meet the customer deadline.

When you need a network designed and built on time and within budget, give us a call.

FAA says smartphones and tablets won't crash the plane

Submitted by acohill on Fri, 09/27/2013 - 08:38

An FAA advisory committee has said it is safe to use smaller electronic devices during taxiing, takeoff, and landing. It is about time, since flight crews have been using iPads in the cockpit for years. Larger items like laptops will have to remain stowed because in the event of sudden stops or change in direction, a laptop could become a missile in cabin because of its heavier weight. The FAA still has to issue a formal ruling before I'll be able to use my Kindle during takeoff.

Amazon and Apple tablets slugging it out

Submitted by acohill on Wed, 09/25/2013 - 08:37

Amazon has announced new Kindle tablets ahead of Apple's expected announcement of new and upgraded iPad tablets in October. As I have noted previously, the Kindle tablets, especially the Kindle HD, are really good devices and are very affordable. It is great that Amazon is providing strong competition to Apple. The new Kindle features include higher resolution screens and lighter weight, similar to what is expected from Apple. The flagship model is the Kindle HDX, which is priced lower than a comparable iPad. What is really striking is that the Kindle HD has been repackaged and now sells for a paltry $139--an amazing value.

Tablet sales are very nearly outpacing traditional PC laptop and desktop sales, and with prices well below $200 for very capable tablets, these devices are beginning to drive broadband demand. In a household of four people, we might be looking at as many as eight or ten Internet-connected devices, including tablets, smartphones, and traditional computers. And so you could easily have four or five devices using bandwidth at the same time. Amazon's low price points is part of a deliberate strategy to make money by selling content--books, TV shows, movies, and everything that is available in Amazon's online store.

The bandwidth usage should be getting more attention than it is, and some analysts are buying into the incumbent belief that 10-20 meg of bandwidth is plenty. But we continue to meet business people trying to work from home who are extremely frustrated with their "infinite" bandwidth plans from the cable companies. The big problem is that lack of symmetric bandwidth on DSL and cable connections. An "up to 25 meg up, 5 meg down" plan simply won't support business applications like corporate VPNs and business videoconferencing in any meaningful way.

Uh oh...attracting entrepreneurs just got real

Submitted by acohill on Thu, 09/05/2013 - 16:13

If you think you are going to attract those young, business-hungry entrepreneurs types with some mediocre broadband, a couple of bike paths, and a Starbucks, think again. A start up company called Happy Hubs has just ratcheted the whole entrepreneurial attraction game up several notches. Happy Hubs is renting out luxury workspaces in Costa Rica, and is offering five star amenities like massage therapy, gourmet food service, maid service, and access to a beach. Oh, and of course, lots of broadband. And the whole package compares favorably to what someone might spend in the U.S. on a lackluster place to live, food, and Internet--without all the amenities.

Economic development is global. And broadband is enabling the portable business. If your community can't deliver affordable, high performance broadband services, nothing else really matters.

Broadband adoption only works if you have affordable, high performance infrastructure

Submitted by acohill on Thu, 09/05/2013 - 08:16

The first step in overcoming a problem is to admit you have a problem. The national focus on "broadband adoption" is not likely to have much impact without a parallel track that increases the availability of high performance AFFORDABLE broadband infrastructure. I started doing broadband adoption in 1993, when the take rate for broadband was 0%. What I learned the hard way is that people and businesses "adopt" broadband services when the infrastructure to support them is available AND affordable. Both conditions have to exist.

Right now, in the business community, business VPNs and videoconferencing are rapidly becoming common, even for small businesses, but the most common complaint I hear--everywhere we are working in the U.S.--is that the incumbent DSL and cable offerings don't support those two services in any meaningful way.

So businesses can't "adopt" VPN and videoconference technology if they don't have access to affordable infrastructure.

The national emphasis on adoption also ignores the fact that broadband has been adopted faster than any other consumer/business technology in the past hundred years. The incumbents like to promote the idea that adoption is the problem because it essentially blames their customers for the problem, rather than their stubborn attachment to antiquated business models. In a sense, they are saying, "Our customers are stupid, and someone needs to teach them to buy our over-priced inadequate services."

Who needs a Gig of bandwidth?

Submitted by acohill on Thu, 08/29/2013 - 15:03

Over on LinkedIn, someone wrote, "....Netflix and video-conferencing do not require more than 6 to 10 Mbps. Outside of IPTV, I have no idea how the target of 25 to 50 Mbps can be justified for the average household or business."

Let's not confuse the bandwidth needed for Internet access with the bandwidth needed for other services and applications. The incumbents do this intentionally all the time with sarcastic "Nobody needs a Gig of Internet" remarks that are designed to belittle anyone that criticizes them.

Here is a real life example to demonstrate my point. On one of our multi-service network construction projects, we met with a major local employer (5000+ employees) who was aggressively trying to offer as much as 20% of their workforce the chance to work from home, as a quality of life issue.

They wanted 50 megabit symmetric connections between each home-based worker and the local corporate network. The math for them was simple. They wanted every home-based worker to have HD video meetings with as many as three or four co-workers at a time, with each HD 1080p video stream using 8 to 10 megabits. So you very quickly get to 40 or 50 meg just to take part in the morning staff meeting. To make the video work, you also have to have symmetric circuits. And if those folks start doing some screen sharing with more video, you are quickly maxing out a 50 meg connection.

This was all going to be done on the local multi-service network that we have now built, so no IP (Internet) was needed.

But we also just had a conversation with a start up IP-TV provider, who told us that two major cable channels (I can't name them, but you would recognize them instantly) are already talking about wanting 15-18 meg PER CHANNEL for very high def live video and 3D movies. So you have four people in the house, and they are all watching a different channel using an average of 15 meg per channel...you are already at 60 meg. This is where we will be in just two or three years.

So I still hear, "But you haven't made the case for a Gig." The technology cost of provisioning Gig fiber connections is now just about the same as 100 meg connections. So it is simple economics to deploy Gig...it's just as cheap as 100 meg, and you don't have to worry about running out of bandwidth. Gig is not some exotic connection anymore...it's the industry standard for new active Ethernet connections for FTTH.

Again....let's not mix up the bandwidth requirements for Internet access with the bandwidth for local services...two different things entirely.

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