Broadband

Chattanooga continues to be serious about economic growth

Submitted by acohill on Wed, 09/26/2012 - 12:46

Chattanooga is providing financial assistance to people with technical backgrounds who agree to buy a house and move to the area. It's a brilliant idea, and coupled with their fiber network, Chattanooga continues to prove they are not just serving up the same old warmed over, forty year old economic development strategies.

Profits go up if service is slow

Submitted by acohill on Wed, 09/26/2012 - 09:04

Via Slashdot, here is a link to a new book that talks about why Internet and broadband in the U.S. is so poor. It's worth a read....basically, all the money has been spent on mobile cellular networks and not on local fiber infrastructure. And adding to the problem, in most markets, there is cartel pricing via the telco/cableco duopoly. Residents and businesses have only two choices: marginal DSL or cable modem service that won't support now-common business services and applications.

Rural America still on a broadband dirt road...

Submitted by acohill on Thu, 07/26/2012 - 08:13

Via Eldo Telecom, there is a Calix U.S. Rural Broadband Report with depressing news about broadband cost and availability in rural America (about 70% of the U.S.). Rural residents don't even have the laughingly pathetic 4 meg down/1 meg up of the national broadband target. Most rural broadband is running between 1 and 3 megabits.

But Design Nine is changing that, one community at a time, with projects like RANA and FastRoads. Call me (540-951-4400) if you want help.

Calix selected for FastRoads Gigabit to the Home network

Submitted by acohill on Mon, 07/23/2012 - 10:01

PETALUMA, CA – July 23, 2012 – Calix, Inc. (NYSE: CALX) today announced that New Hampshire FastRoads (NH FastRoads) has selected the Calix E7-2 Ethernet Service Access Platform (ESAP) and 700GE family of optical network terminals (ONTs) to provide point-to-point gigabit Ethernet services to underserved subscribers in 35 communities throughout the western part of the state. NH FastRoads has partnered with Network New Hampshire Now (NNHN), a 470-mile Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) awarded fiber network project funded by a $44.5 million BTOP Broadband Stimulus grant and $21.5 million in private and in-kind support, to leverage existing infrastructure to bring advanced broadband services throughout the Upper Valley and Monadnock regions, including fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) projects in Rindge and Enfield. The combined efforts of NH FastRoads and NNHN in this new project will bring one of the nation’s premiere networks to rural western New Hampshire and keep this part of the state a vibrant location for innovative businesses, citizens, and educational institutions.

“New Hampshire as a whole has been underserved by broadband for years, with large portions of our population having to rely on dial-up and wireless services,” said Carole Monroe, executive director of NH FastRoads. “This new fiber network will be a powerful tool to further the economic development of the state that began with the NNHN middle-mile project, while continuing to improve the lives of our existing residents and businesses and attract new business to the area. Calix, with its broad experience with fiber access networks and deep understanding of stimulus projects, will be a true asset in the delivery of advanced services to residents and the extension of fiber across the region.”

NH FastRoads is a Limited Liability Company (LLC) of the Monadnock Economic Development Corporation. The organization was established to bring accessible and affordable broadband to the towns of the Monadnock and Upper Valley regions of New Hampshire. NH FastRoads’ mission is to ensure that homes, businesses, and institutions of the region have the best broadband infrastructure to support jobs and sustainable economic development. The organization’s work will enable delivery of a variety of broadband services beyond high-speed data, including voice telephony, Internet Protocol television (IPTV), movies on demand, business-class videoconferencing, health care services such as in- home monitoring, home and business security, computer backup, public access television, Internet radio, and many other advanced services.

Design Nine has provided the network design and project management for the effort. Design Nine's President, Andrew Cohill said, "We evaluated equipment from many vendors, and in the end, Calix had the most capable equipment and the most attractive technical support package. We're glad to have Calix powering FastRoads’ Gigabit-to-the-Home network."

“With the construction of some middle-mile Broadband Stimulus projects already coming to a completion, we are beginning to see a natural extension of these anchor institution focused networks to target residences and businesses, just as NH FastRoads is undergoing in New Hampshire,” John Colvin, senior vice president of North American sales and marketing. “This kind of project is exactly what the Broadband Stimulus program was designed to be – a catalyst for long term broadband expansion and economic development in each region awarded. We look forward to working with NH FastRoads as they improve the lives and businesses of residents of western New Hampshire with this powerful fiber access network.”

BT roles out open access

Submitted by acohill on Fri, 07/20/2012 - 07:27

British Telecom climbed aboard the clue train and has rolled out open access (they call it OpenReach) on their fiber network, inviting service providers to sell to BT-connected homes and businesses.

Fiber capacity keeps up with demand

Submitted by acohill on Thu, 07/19/2012 - 12:47

While the cellular wireless networks are groaning under the massive growth in bandwidth use by their mobile customers, fiber capacity just keeps growing and growing. The optical transmission manufacturer Huawei has announced that they have been able to transmit 2 Terabits (2 Tbps) on a single WDM (Wave Division Multiplexing) channel. A single fiber can have many individual channels. A terabit is one thousand gigabits, so Huawei is shoving two thousand gigabits down a single wavelength of light, and they are saying they can boost the capacity of a single fiber to 56 terabits.

It's like I've been saying for a long time...fiber future-proofs your community. If you still think wireless is a viable alternative to fiber, ask yourself why cellular rates keep increasing while the cost per megabit for fiber keeps decreasing. It's all about physics, supply and demand, and fiber has plenty of supply because the PHYSICS ARE DIFFERENT.

Speedtests and why they mostly document imaginary bandwidth speeds

Submitted by acohill on Mon, 07/09/2012 - 07:42

Here is an excellent article from MuniNetworks that provides an excellent overview of the problems with broadband speed tests. It is easy for service providers to spoof speed tests into reporting higher upload and download speeds than anyone actually gets on a daily basis.

Speed tests are a bit of a problem for community-owned networks, as they generally don't show the dramatic performance improvements of the local network, because the speed test servers are located somewhere else on the Internet. So it is hard to show just how much better the local network is compared to an incumbent network. The solution is for the community network to install a speed test server on the local network, where the full bandwidth can be shown without the latency of the public Internet.

Why wireless can't replace fiber

Submitted by acohill on Wed, 06/13/2012 - 10:34

As part of Verizon's restructuring of its cellular service to allow for shared data plans, the company is going to offer free texting, but overall, your monthly cellular bill could be higher. Verizon is getting rid of unlimited data plans and replacing them with "pay by the drink" plans that will meter bandwidth use. As little as a couple of hours of video streaming (think one Netflix movie) would push bandwidth right through the 6 gigabyte monthly package, leading to sharply higher charges for that month.

It's really a question of physics. It is much cheaper to deliver bandwidth over fiber, and always will be. As I have been saying for a long long time, wireless is important for mobile access, but we all need fiber at home and at work. Nothing is going to change that.

Verizon rolls out shared data plans

Submitted by acohill on Tue, 06/12/2012 - 12:32

In what will surely cause an uptick in the sale of smartphones, Verizon has rolled out a shared data plan. This will be popular with families with teenagers who have been clamoring for a smartphone, as the parents (known to the kids as "the wallet") may be willing to pay the $10/phone base fee rather than the old $25 or $30 per phone data charge. AT&T is expected to roll out a similar plan.

Bandwidth caps change behavior, discourage use

Submitted by acohill on Tue, 05/15/2012 - 09:44

Georgia Tech and Microsoft have released a study that confirms what most of us already knew: bandwidth caps discourage people from using broadband productively. Bandwidth caps are great for inflating the profit margins of the incumbents when someone runs over their limit and starts incurring more charges, but if you want your business community and your work from home business start ups to be as productive as possible, saddling them with outdated 20th century infrastructure that limits what they can do is not the way to go.

Design Nine helps our clients build modern broadband networks that can deliver as much bandwidth as any business or home-based worker might need--affordably. It's not that hard, but it does require the right business model, the right long term financial plan, and a network architecture that can deliver Gigabit bandwidth affordably without crippling economic development.

Broadband and the walkable city

Submitted by acohill on Mon, 04/30/2012 - 10:56

This short article on the weak housing market has big implications for "big broadband," which few of us have right now. A major economist is predicting that the housing market may not recover for years, but coupled with high gas prices, walkable communities will be in high demand.

This has significant implications for city and community planners, but it is extremely difficult to ensure that everyone, or even a majority of workers, can walk to work. A better option would be to get "big broadband" to most homes so that more workers can work from home. Even the ability to work productively from home one or two days a week could cut the cost of commuting by 20% to 40%...nothing to sneeze at when gas is $4 a gallon.

Walmart joins the cloud

Submitted by acohill on Tue, 04/17/2012 - 13:30

Walmart has announced a partnership with Vudu. You can take your DVDs and Blu-ray movie discs to Walmart, and pay $2 to have them "converted" and stored in the cloud. If you want an HD (Blu-ray) version, you pay $5. Walmart does not actually read your discs; instead, they verify that you actually have a physical copy, then just enable that movie for your account from a previously stored digital master. Walmart also apparently stamps your physical disk with some mark so that you can just give it to a friend who takes it in a week later. The Walmart/Vudu site has remarkably little information; you have to create a Vudu account to figure out how it works and what the restrictions are.

Of course, if you want to stream your HD movies from the cloud, you better have good broadband at your house.

North Carolina called a "tech turkey"

Submitted by acohill on Mon, 04/09/2012 - 09:47

The Institute for Self Reliance has put out an interesting infographic highlighting the mis-match in North Carolina between the City of Salisbury's tiny fiber network and TimeWarner. State legislators passed a bill last year that essentially outlaws any community investments in fiber on the theory that TimeWarner needs to be protected against the supposed unfair advantage of local governments. My guess is that all the North Carolina legislators accomplished is to send entrepreneurs contemplating relocation to another state.

Rotary trencher ideal for residential fiber drop installation

Submitted by acohill on Mon, 04/09/2012 - 09:41

We have not seen this rotary trenching machine in action, but this short video illustrates that you don't have to spend a lot of time and money installing fiber drops--this machine looks like it is ideally suited for "last mile" (first mile) residential fiber installation. This pull-along machine is lightweight, can be carried in a van or pickup, is narrow enough to go through typical fence gates, and cuts a 7" deep slot for a fiber drop cable.

"iPads could clog 4G networks" Wait...what?

Submitted by acohill on Thu, 03/15/2012 - 09:30

So on the one hand, the new 4G networks are going to solve all our bandwidth problems without any of those pesky fiber cables running everywhere. On the other hand, Apple roles out a new tablet device, and the very same super fast networks are likely to collapse under the strain.

Somebody needs to get their story straight. But read the whole article, as it provides a good explanation of why wireless is not going to solve our bandwidth problems. We need wireless for mobility access, but it cannot and will not replace the need for fiber at home and at work.

"My DSL is worthless on the weekends...."

Submitted by acohill on Tue, 02/21/2012 - 09:10

"My DSL is worthless on the weekends." Exact quote from someone I talked to yesterday. She lives in a rural part of Virginia, and DSL is her only broadband option. So many people are now routinely streaming bandwidth intensive video content that the local DSL Access Module (DSLAM) is overloaded and can't handle the demand. The local incumbent has a monopoly on broadband service, so there is no incentive to spend more to improve the backhaul from the DSL switch down the road from her house. Her service is better on weekdays because most of her neighbors travel to school or work during the day, and she does much of her work FROM HOME. But as the price of gas climbs past $5/gallon, living in a rural area and commuting long distances to work is going to become a luxury of the wealthy unless the bandwidth is there in rural communities and back roads to allow some folks to work from home. The rapidly rising cost of gasoline and the just as rapidly increasing demand for bandwidth on antiquated copper-based networks is about to create a perfect storm in rural communities that don't have a strategy for increasing the affordability and performance of broadband.

NC city saves $800,000 per year on power with broadband

Submitted by acohill on Tue, 02/14/2012 - 08:04

The city of Wilmington, North Carolina uses its fiber network to turn the lights off at sports parks at night. Cameras have been placed at every sports and recreation field, along with remote control light switches. A single city employee can quickly check the cameras to see if anyone is still at a field, and if not, a couple of mouse clicks turn off the lights. The city expects to save $800,000 per year on electricity costs. That will build a lot of fiber.

But wait...there's more! Here is the most interesting part: "...an employee can do this from home..." From home. Read that again: from home. And here is why we need fiber everywhere, not just at the city or county admin building. The technology enables more people to work more efficiently wherever they are, not just while they are in the office. If you want your employees to be able to access dozens of video streams from home, guess what? You need business class broadband throughout your community.

Broadband Communities Summit is offering discounted early bird registration

Submitted by acohill on Thu, 02/09/2012 - 14:53

The popular Broadband Communities Summit (April 24-26, Dallas, Texas) has an extensive track of speakers and sessions devoted entirely to open access and community broadband networks. Right now the conference is running an early bird registration special. A list of the Open Access sessions are below.

Business Planning and Open Access Networks

Open-access networks are built to support multiple providers that offer dozens or even hundreds of services. Instead of collecting revenue for two or three mostly low-margin services, network operators can accrue revenue directly or indirectly from every service offered to customers on the network. Though most of these will be niche services, many have high profit margins. This session will discuss key differences in open-access network architecture, introduce alternative business models and show how those business models can create attractive opportunities for service providers.

Modern Right of Way Management

A community’s rights of way constitute a valuable asset that it can use for economic development and revenue enhancement. Too often, city officials manage this asset in a reactive way, simply responding to requests from telecom providers and other utilities for right-of-way use. Find out how leading-edge communities proactively plan and manage right-of-way usage in order to attract ultra-broadband providers, encourage economic development and fully exploit their assets.

Case Studies: Success Stories for Open Access

The first open-access networks in the U.S. were launched into uncharted waters – no one knew whether or how they would work from a business or technical standpoint. Those starting out today can benefit from the experiences of the pioneers and choose strategies that have been proven successful.

Technology for Open Access

Though most fiber-to-the-premises networks can be configured to support multiple service providers, there are preferred ways to design networks specifically for open access. Learn about new technologies for all aspects of deployment and operation – ranging from conduits to optoelectronic equipment to solutions for network management and provisioning – that have been specifically designed to make open-access fiber networks cost-effective, manageable and easy to implement.

Open Access Fiber and Economic Development

Many of the middle-mile fiber networks being constructed today are open to multiple providers - some of them, though by no means all, because of requirements imposed by government funding. In this session, deployers and operators of middle-mile networks will share what they have learned, from both a technical and business standpoint, about making open access work in the middle mile.

Do it Yourself Fiber – Creative Approaches to Organizing, Financing and Building FTTH Networks in Rural Areas

Rural communities that have been bypassed by both private and public broadband programs are left to their own devices when it comes to obtaining broadband. Some are now proving adept at what might be termed do-it-yourself or “crowd-sourced” broadband strategies. This session will present case studies of rural coalitions – ECFiber in Vermont and B4RN in northern England – that rely heavily on local resources to raise capital, organize projects and even deploy fiber. Can these new models make FTTH practical and affordable in rural settings?

Apple now worth more than Google and Microsoft combined

Submitted by acohill on Thu, 02/09/2012 - 14:32

Apple's stock price is $494 at 2 PM today. Apple is now worth more than Microsoft and Google combined.

Design Nine-built network brings a new era to a rural community

Submitted by acohill on Wed, 02/08/2012 - 15:09

Those of us that have reasonably decent broadband connections at home and at work often forget there are still large parts of America that are still on dial-up. Design Nine just completed the first part of a USDA-funded Community Connect project in Grayson County, Virginia. Grayson County some of the most rugged terrain on the East Coast, and is home to Mount Rogers (elevation 5,729 ft), one of the highest peaks east of the Mississippi River. The Wired Road received the USDA grant to help the rural community of Grant, Virginia get better access to broadband. No reasonably priced fiber was available near the community, so Design Nine engineered a complex, multi-point 300 megabit microwave link from Galax, Virginia, where The Wired Road has its main network site.

The project renovated the historic, 100 year old Grange Hall in Grant, which included major improvements to the building, as well as a radio tower, a fiber link from the tower to the Grange Hall, and the design and implementation of a ten seat computer lab designed specifically to support distance learning and business people who needed broadband access. The computer lab has been extremely popular, and is saving local residents time and money, as they no longer have to drive long distances to get broadband access.

The second phase of the project is nearing completion, and will bring fiber to the home connections to 100 homes in Grant. Network connectivity on the fiber network is being provided by the 300 megabit radio link, which is capable of supporting TV service in the future.

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