Submitted by acohill on Wed, 12/05/2012 - 11:02
We get asked constantly, "Isn't fiber risky? What if wireless is better?" Fiber is a highly stable, very reliable forty year hard asset that you can take to the bank, because unlike nearly every other kind of community infrastructure (roads, water, sewer), you can increase fiber capacity without digging new ditches or having to hang more fiber on poles. You just change out the equipment at each end, which is a fraction of the cost of building new fiber.
Fiber is future proofing your community and your economic development future.
Wireless, by comparison, once the capacity of the existing radios is reached (which happens every three to four years), you have to replace pretty much everything. Do a fair thirty year life cycle comparison of fiber and wireless, and fiber is cheaper.
Infinera just announced that they have been able to push eight terabits of data across 800 kilometers of fiber, and they expect to be able to do that across 2,500 kilometers of fiber in the near future.
Fiber is a good investment.
Submitted by acohill on Wed, 12/05/2012 - 10:55
LinkedIn has announced free voice calling for its members. The business directory service has been adding new features recently, layering Facebook and Twitter style features on top of its basic resume and business contact services. In partnership with Plingm, a Swedish mobile VoIP provider (think Skype), any LinkedIn member will be able to initiate a voice call with any other LinkedIn member anywhere in the world. To take advantage of the service, you have to download the Plingm app for your smartphone.
This may or may not turn out to be especially useful, as mobile operators continue to try to discourage using the cellular data network to originate voice calls. If this became popular, who needs a phone number and the $25 to $40 per month cellular voice service? Instead, everyone would just want to drop the hugely profitable voice service and just pay for the cellular data service, which is causing the cellular providers nothing but headaches as they try to keep their networks upgraded to meet the ever-expanding demand.
Traditional phone service is dead, and the telephone companies are firmly determined to keep applying CPR to the rapidly decaying corpse as long as possible.
Submitted by acohill on Tue, 11/20/2012 - 11:51
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. As flood waters rose, the high water drowned the generators, power failed, and the networks went down.
This is not rocket science. Fiber and wireless networks can be engineered to be as reliable in a natural disaster as the old telephone network, but it requires spending money in the right places at the right time (i.e. before the disaster).
Submitted by acohill on Wed, 10/17/2012 - 08:18
If you are interested in seeing firsthand what happens when a city invests in open fiber, there is still time to register for the Broadband Communities Community Fiber Networks conference in Danville, Virginia in early November. Danville's open access fiber network has been a key part of an enormously successful downtown revitalization effort that has brought hundreds of new jobs to the community and international firms have been re-locating to Danville in part because of the high performance, low cost open access fiber network.
Submitted by acohill on Thu, 09/27/2012 - 07:29
Susan Crawford, writing as a Fellow of the Roosevelt Institute, argues eloquently for paying more attention to broadband capacity and affordability, especially in rural areas of the U.S. She argues that well-provisioned, modern broadband connectivity is essential to 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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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