Who needs a Gig at home? Half of U.S. businesses | Technology Futures
Andrew Cohill makes the excellent point that with the emergence of Fiber to the Home (FTTH) telecommunications infrastructure, the past focus on Internet throughput speeds that was relevant to legacy telephone and cable companies is becoming increasingly less so. Since incumbent telephone and cable companies have to compress data to transport it over metal wire cable plant not originally designed to carry Internet protocol-based signals, from their perspective bandwidth is a limited commodity. This also limits their ability to serve all premises in their service areas. Even more so in the case of mobile wireless technology which provides far less capacity and range. Hence, their business and pricing models treat bandwidth like a metered utility such as water or electricity.
With FTTH, that entire paradigm of bandwidth as a finite commodity goes out the window and with it the incumbents' outmoded business models. This also has implications for now outdated government subsidy programs based on rules written nearly a decade ago when DSL deployed by telephone companies was state of the art Internet technology. Those programs now need to be updated to scrap obsolete references to the speed of available Internet technology and treat any area lacking FTTH infrastructure as eligible for subsidies if incumbent or other providers aren't constructing it or opt not to.
Monday, October 28, 2013
Who needs a Gig at home? Half of U.S. businesses | Technology Futures
Friday, October 25, 2013
Cheaper equipment to give fast copper broadband a boost | PCWorld: G.fast promises up to 1G bps over existing copper telephone wires, but only over distances up to about 100 meters. The technology is now being designed to work at distances up to 250 meters, and it looks like ITU will have a full set of standards by early next year, according to Johnson.Here we go again with the nutty idea that copper isn't obsolete for IP-based telecommunications. No matter how much throughput one can achieve with this decades-old POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) infrastructure, as this story shows it will always be limited by distance. The faster the speed, the shorter the distance -- not a good trend as customers expect faster connections. With such short distances of 1 gigabit connections over copper, it has to be fed by fiber connections so close to customer premises that it makes more sense simply to run fiber all the way to the premise.
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Getting to a gig: How CenturyLink is building out its network and why. — Tech News and Analysis: “But because of densities and scale economics, we as a country are potentially creating regional digital divides that our economy will struggle to tolerate. What’s always been a key enabler for us is that we have always had a fairly broad equal opportunity infrastructure as we did with the highway system, and we as a country must place a high value on the ability to communicate seamlessly. I don’t think we want to place ourselves in the position that we might miss out on the next Google simply because we as a country didn’t want to have a conversation about access and cost. We are going to have to figure that out and no private company can do that.”So said Matt Beal, the CTO of CenturyLink, an an interview with GigaOM. And he's right. Either private providers have to find business models that significantly reduce the cost of labor to deploy fiber to the premise and/or do so with some form of government subsidy or tax incentive. As I've blogged in recent months, even companies with pockets and fiber to the premise ambitions as deep as Google's aren't up to the challenge facing the United States.
Saturday, October 12, 2013
Poor internet connections in the countryside are hitting rural property market, estate agents warn - Telegraph
One agent who helps customers buy homes worth more than £1 million told The Daily Telegraph yesterday he was advising all of his clients against looking at properties that have slow internet speeds.
It came as reports in Scotland claimed people dubbed "digital refugees" were now moving from the countryside in search of faster internet speeds in the country's towns and cities. Frank Speir, director at Prime Purchase said: "Slow broadband speeds are having a definite effect on the market. It's becoming a much bigger issue."
This is bound to become a much bigger issue in America as well. Notwithstanding some high profile limited 1 Gigabit closed fiber to the premise networks in metro areas, much of the countryside remains without modern Internet connectivity, still served with dial up technology that was state of the art when Bill Clinton was beginning his first term as US president.
Conversely, a property having a fast fiber Internet pipe is more desirable, according to a 2009 study of U.S. broadband consumers, finding 82 percent of homebuyers with fiber to the home ranked it as the leading real estate development amenity.
Wednesday, October 09, 2013
IIA Report: Time To Begin Full IP Transition - 2013-10-08 14:53:14 | Broadcasting & Cable: Only 5% of U.S. households rely solely on traditional home phones and that means the current regulatory framework is lagging the marketplace and siphoning off investment from new infrastructure.
That is according to a just-released report from the Internet Innovation Alliance, a broadband adoption and deployment advocacy group whose 175 members include AT&T and fiber-maker Corning.
The report, from analyst Anna-Maria Kovacks, finds a "plethora of choices" for voice, video and data including from wireless devices, cell phones, wired Internet VoIP and Internet applications (Skype), and that 99% of communications traffic is now IP-delivered. She said that despite the speed differentials between wired and wireless — wired is faster — wireless was a legitimate competitor and could deliver even a competitive video service.
From the end users perspective, she said, it would be possible to make them happy with LTE as well as fixed wired broadband.
The legacy telcos are engaged in a disingenuous circular argument. Their business models don't allow them to revamp their legacy copper cable plants -- over which they offer only outdated dialup Internet access for many premises -- to fiber to the premise (FTTP). Oddly, however, they wonder why they remain subject to a regulatory scheme designed for POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) delivered over Public Switched Telephone Networks (PSTN). The answer is pretty self evident. They only have to look at their own networks and service territories for the answer. If they deployed FTTP networks to all of their customers, then their question would be relevant.
As for mobile wireless, it is not a substitute for premise service (can you spell M-O-B-I-L-E?) since it can't offer sufficient bandwidth capacity to serve various IP devices in the home ranging from video, voice service and personal devices like tablets. It comes with bandwidth caps for good reason since compared to FTTP, mobile wireless can't even come close in carrying capacity.
Sunday, October 06, 2013
UK Internet infrastructure subsidization policy reveals split between citizens and incumbent telco BT
BBC News - Rural broadband: How to reach the broadband notspots
This BBC article goes into good detail on the Internet infrastructure deployment difficulties in the UK. As in America with AT&T, the incumbent telco, BT, prefers to deploy slowly over a period of many years, employing FTTN (Fiber to the Node) network architecture (or FTTC as it's called in Britain -- Fiber To The Cabinet). AT&T's analogue is its U-Verse product, which feeds neighborhood nodes with fiber and uses existing copper twisted pair cable designed decades ago for voice service to bridge the final link to customer premises. However, unlike BT, AT&T limits U-Verse to urban and suburban areas.
British households and small businesses left of the Internet are running short of patience with the slow BT rollout after having waiting about a decade to get some form of wireline Internet connections. Some communities see the passage of time and burgeoning bandwidth demand as having technologically obsoleted FTTC and want Fiber to the Home (FTTH) infrastructure.
Government subsidies are available. As the article notes, a big question is whether they continue to go toward older but less costly FTTC infrastructure favored by BT or FTTH preferred by the locals who don't want to spend more years waiting for modern Internet connectivity and want a greater degree of control over infrastructure deployment in their communities.
Monday, August 26, 2013
With the relentless pace of Internet bandwidth demand growth
to support multiple services including video, voice and Web-based services as
well as a portable devices used in the home, there is near consensus that only
fiber to the premises infrastructure will be able to accommodate the demand
That’s why I’m taken aback to continue to see surveys such as this one issued today by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project that take a decidedly retrospective view of telecommunications services with their late 1990s distinction between narrowband (dialup) Internet connectivity and “high speed” broadband connections.
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Why We Should Build a National Internet System Under the National Highway System - Eric Jaffe - The Atlantic Cities
Why We Should Build a National Internet System Under the National Highway System - Eric Jaffe - The Atlantic Cities: The National Broadband Plan of 2009, for instance, was mostly limited to policy recommendations and failed to encourage competition (which explains why incumbent providers like it so much). Proposed legislation requiring highway projects to install broadband conduit hasn't made it too far. The Obama Administration did issue an executive order last year calling for a "dig once" [PDF] policy to help promote broadband-highway coupling, but that still relies on private enterprise to do what it hasn't done to date: lay fiber everywhere.
So why not make the whole national internet system a public one, like the national highway system before it? At a time when elected officials are struggling to find a truly federal transportation goal, the concept might serve as a welcome rallying point. The government could sell some of its broadcast spectrum to foot the bill, but the user-pay model could probably work well, too — especially since people don't suffer the illusion that Internet access is free, unlike they do with roads.
"There is a really interesting parallel between transportation and broadband," says Lennett. "In the 20th century we needed to move cars, and in the 21st century we need to move bits.
Posted by Fred Pilot at 12:01 PM
Governments Should Focus on Infrastructure Despite False Statistics Peddled by NY Times and Others | community broadband networks
Governments Should Focus on Infrastructure Despite False Statistics Peddled by NY Times and Others | community broadband networks
Excellent commentary by Christopher Mitchell. A must read.
Posted by Fred Pilot at 9:00 AM
Friday, August 16, 2013
Satellite broadband: can it light up the UK's broadband blackspots? | News | TechRadar: Due to the distance the signal travels, latencies never dropped below 700ms and hovered around the 800ms mark. Even with predictive caching that makes web browsing speedy, there's always that near-second delay traversing pages. It's not annoying enough to stop you browsing, but it just doesn't feel as snappy as a landline internet connection.Despite new sooper dooper "Surfbeam" technology, latency remains sub par as this story shows and bandwidth is costly and rationed. This item appeared the same day as this ridiculous story on Google's O3b satellite venture that will supposedly provide 1 gigabit speeds via medium orbit satellites. And at latencies of less than 150 milliseconds, according to this IDG News Service account.
I'm not buying it. Satellite Internet sucks, period. It cannot support reliable voice or real time video connections or provide a high quality Internet connectivity user experience. Google should scuttle this misadventure and instead partner with community fiber projects instead of perpetuating this substandard Internet connection scheme to as a poor substitute to badly needed fiber to the premise infrastructure.
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
The California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) construction
subsidy fund for Internet infrastructure won’t likely help offset the cost of
building community owned fiber to the premise networks.
The CPUC’s California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) limits grant and loan subsidies to infrastructure projects that would serve either an “unserved area,” defined in CPUC Decision 12-02-015 as not served by any form of wireline or wireless facilities-based broadband such that Internet connectivity is available only through dial-up service or an “underserved” area defined as an “where broadband is available, but no facilities-based provider offers service meeting the benchmark speeds of at least three megabits per second (mbps) download and at least one mbps upload.” The CPUC retroactively revised the definition in 2012 resolutions T-17362 and T-17369 as areas “where broadband is available, but no wireline or wireless facilities-based provider offers service at advertised speeds of at least 6 mbps download and 1.5 mbps upload.”
Under either definition, both fixed and mobile wireless providers could block CASF funding of a community fiber project. And under the definition adopted in the 2012 resolutions, they wouldn’t even have to actually provide service to an area. They could merely claim they advertised service there at the specified 6/1.5 Mbs speeds.
Wednesday, August 07, 2013
Millions miss-out as Britain's broadband divide reaches record levels - Yahoo! Finance UK: Telecoms regulator Ofcom warned the difference between the 'haves' and 'have-nots' would also get worse before it gets better as telecom and pay-TV giants focus investment on next generation "superfast" fibre networks in Britain's biggest towns.Americans living in rural, quasi-rural and exurban locales and stuck with dialup or satellite or forced to make do with costly, data capped mobile broadband for their premises Internet service would find this account puzzling. For them, having access to nearly 10Mbs throughput would hardly be considered deprivation at the present time.
Figures revealed by Ofcom today showed the average internet connection speed in urban areas is now 26.4Mb per second. In rural areas it's just 9.9Mb. Rural speeds have more than doubled since 2011 but households in the countryside now trail city dwellers by an unprecedented 16.5Mb per second.
Monday, July 29, 2013
AT&T’s latest home broadband service isn’t DSL or fiber. It’s LTE — Tech News and Analysis: The idea of using a mobile network to connect homes that have either no or slow broadband access is definitely an admirable idea, but it has its limitations. Today’s mobile networks simply aren’t designed for the intense data demands of are increasingly hungry home broadband appliances — they have limited capacity and that capacity must be shared with all of the other users on the network. That’s why the per-gigabyte costs of mobile broadband are so much higher.
An excellent point in this GigaOM article that puts this service in the proper perspective. It's designed for mobile and not premises services. Offering a mobile service to a premises does not make it a premises service.
A few paragraphs down, the article notes:
In fact, AT&T is trying to eliminate the distinction between residential and mobile service entirely.Nice try, but it won't work. Mobile is mobile. Premises is premises.
Saturday, July 27, 2013
Mark dance sundridge broadband campaign pointless | This is Kent: Jane Hunter from the Westerham Town Partnership has campaigned at every opportunity to add names to the petition but she says she is not surprised to hear the votes will not influence the rollout.
"They have been stringing us along for no reason," she said. "They don't want people hassling them so they haven't told us the reality of the situation.
"And while we have been given figures by the council they never answer any of our questions on exactly what the criteria were for which areas would be part of the superfast project.
Across the Atlantic in the United States, petition drives similar to this one in the U.K. -- some dating back years and encouraged by incumbent providers and misguided demand aggregators -- proved equally pointless. Signatures on petitions can't overcome market failure and are just as futile as "mapping" broadband not spots will make them disappear. The result at the end of the effort is the same: bumpkes.
Friday, July 19, 2013
House of Cards Emmy nod a breakthrough for online TV - The Washington Post: Television series produced by the video service Netflix garnered 14 Emmy nominations Thursday, a historic haul for shows that viewers watched exclusively over the Internet without needing satellite dishes, rabbit ears or cable wires.The first two paragraphs of this Washington Post story are lacking so much detail that clarification is needed to fill in the holes.
Instead, the fans of “House of Cards” and “Arrested Development” could tune in wherever and whenever they pleased on any device with a decent Internet connection — so long as they also had a Netflix subscription. And while that may not seem revolutionary in a world with more than 1 billion smartphones, the nominations highlighted the weakening hold that traditional distribution systems have on the wallets of viewers.
Specifically, the assertion that viewing Netflix does not require "satellite dishes, rabbit ears or cable wires." The only accurate element is rabbit ears since Netflix is not an over the air television service.
As for satellite dishes, if a Netflix viewer is in large chunks of the United States where the only Internet access options are outdated dialup from the phone company or satellite Internet service providers, then a satellite dish is necessary since dialup doesn't provide sufficient bandwidth. And the satellite providers will slow a customers service to dial up crawl speed if they stream too much Netflix by invoking bandwidth rationing limits that come with satellite Internet service contracts.
Bandwidth rationing is also in force for mobile smartphone services since they are not intended to provide robust Internet connections on a par with premises cable service. Which brings me to another and very misleading element of the lead paragraph: that Netflix can be viewed sans "cable wires." Hardly. Many Netflix viewers stream the service using Internet connections provided by -- you guessed it -- their cable company.
And yet another misleading story headlined A fifth of US Netflix users have cut the cord reports 20 percent of Netflix subscribers have cancelled their pay-TV subscriptions, citing research by Cowen and Co. A pay TV subscription is not a "cord" and if cable subscribers cut their cords, they won't have Internet. No Internet = No Netflix streaming.
Interesting dispatch from the UK that portrays the dominant incumbent telecoms provider, BT, as favoring American AT&T U-Verse-style FTTC (Fiber To the Cabinet) over Fiber to the Premise (FTTP), apparently to avoid the higher cost of the latter network architecture.
The UK Government entity charged with overseeing that nation's Internet infrastructure program also allegedly ruled out fixed terrestrial wireless as a viable premises service option. That's consistent with the first point since fiber would have to be deployed to bring it very close to premises in order to achieve high wireless throughput.
Saturday, July 13, 2013
Creative risk taking is essential to success in any goal where the stakes are high. Thoughtless risks are destructive, of course, but perhaps even more wasteful is thoughtless caution which prompts inaction and promotes failure to seize opportunity.
Part of the reason the U.S. is falling behind is that most cities haven’t been intentional about their broadband infrastructure. Cities know they have to make sure the water system works and scales to support growth, the roads are maintained and built, garbage is collected properly. But often, they think broadband is something that the phone company or the cable company will take care of for them and they can ignore it, or that the FCC will make sure the appropriate incentives are put into place to drive competition and upgrades. Depending on those processes is how we got into the situation we’re in today.
Some argue that fiber networks are not really needed because of wireless network growth. As an engineer, quite honestly, this kind of talk makes my brain hurt. Wireless network growth is driven by fiber. All those base stations that smartphones connect to are increasingly connected by fiber because, as speeds go up, fiber is required to carry that kind of traffic. Copper just won’t do for modern wireless networks.
Cisco and others expect wireless data to grow by a factor of 50 in the next few years, and you’re not going to be able to solve that kind of growth by throwing more spectrum at it. You’re going to have to reduce the size of the cells, shrinking them, reducing the number of users that are being served by a given base station. And that means a lot more cell sites and a lot more fiber to feed those cell sites. In the limit, the future of mobile is going to look a lot like Wi-Fi: tons of small cell sites connected by a wireline network, connected by fiber – and that’s just physics, folks.
The full Broadband Communities article excerpting Medin's speech can be viewed here and here (pdf).