Saturday, June 30, 2012

Why wireless premise Internet won't cut it -- and only fiber will

Why you will need a 300 Mbps broadband connection — Broadband News and Analysis: There are several reasons for this, but it boils down to the presence of more devices in the home and streaming video. Other dynamics such as whether or not folks are gamers or work from home also comes into play, but across the board it’s the rise in Netflix subscriptions, YouTube videos and family members toting smart phones, tablets, perhaps while watching content on a connected TV. If there are four people consuming media with a tablet in one hand and their eye on the TV, your home requires a fat connection.
Back in October 2010, I observed bandwidth demand emulating Moore's Law.
This item explains what's driving the demand, which slows no sign of slowing and also makes clear that only fiber to the premise infrastructure will be able to keep up.

Telemedicine market to reach $2.5B by 2018 | Healthcare IT News

Telemedicine market to reach $2.5B by 2018 | Healthcare IT News: Moreover, telemedicine has been seen to be beneficial for individuals living in isolated communities and rural regions. Telemedicine technology allows patients who live in these rural areas to be seen by a doctor or specialist, who can provide an accurate and complete examination, without the patient to traveling away from their families to far-off medical centers.
The problem is these communities typically lack the necessary telecommunications infrastructure to support telemedicine.  This infrastructure gap will be more keenly felt in the near future as the U.S. Patient Protection and Affordable Care significantly increases the number of people in these areas covered by public and private health insurance.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Internet Providers Testing Metered Plans for Broadband - NYTimes.com

There’s a clash between what users expect from broadband service and what is actually delivered to them, said Chris Balfe, the president of Glenn Beck’s media company, which created an online TV channel nearly a year ago. He has noticed sluggishness at home when trying to view YouTube videos. “As a broadband video provider it’s frustrating, but as a user it’s absolutely infuriating,” he said.
This New York Times piece makes the case for community owned fiber to avoid incumbent cableco and telco manipulation of their natural duopoly (or monopoly in some cases) to create bandwidth scarcity.  It's important to create a perception of bandwidth scarcity in order to preserve bandwidth rationing and the unit-based billing of their decades-old business models.  Communities can and should disrupt that business model and build their own fiber to the premises networks.  Enough is enough.

Magazine - Why Women Still Can’t Have It All - The Atlantic

Being able to work from home—in the evening after children are put to bed, or during their sick days or snow days, and at least some of the time on weekends—can be the key, for mothers, to carrying your full load versus letting a team down at crucial moments. State-of-the-art videoconferencing facilities can dramatically reduce the need for long business trips. These technologies are making inroads, and allowing easier integration of work and family life. According to the Women’s Business Center, 61 percent of women business owners use technology to “integrate the responsibilities of work and home”; 44 percent use technology to allow employees “to work off-site or to have flexible work schedules.” Yet our work culture still remains more office-centered than it needs to be, especially in light of technological advances.  (Emphasis added)

Indeed it does.  Anne-Marie Slaughter's piece in the July/August issue of The Atlantic points up how the Internet is making the office as we know it obsolete. But the Internet notwithstanding, the 1950s office culture still predominates, forcing women into the unfortunate and now unnecessary circumstance of having to choose between their professional lives and parenthood.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Don't study broadband black holes -- fill them with fiber to the premise

Counties plan study on broadband Internet access - Niagara County - The Buffalo News: LOCKPORT — Niagara and Orleans counties are planning a study to zero in on which roads and households lack broadband Internet access.

Evhen Tupis, former information technology director of the Medina Central School District, told the Niagara County Legislature on Tuesday that he has already done that sort of study in the Town of Wilson.

Tupis said he also has surveyed much of Orleans County and has determined that the official state and federal statistics, which claim 97 percent broadband penetration in the two counties, are bogus.
Of course they are.  But rather than waste time drawing maps and conducting studies to refute the dubious data  -- sourced from incumbent telcos and cablecos looking to downplay gaps in their last mile networks -- communities would be better served by building their own fiber to the premises networks.  And they shouldn't worry about overbuilding the incumbents because fiber to the premise telecommunications infrastructure is superior to most any last mile cable plant they have on the poles and in the ground.  Fiber provides sufficient capacity as bandwidth demand explodes -- both now and for the future.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Connected company muscled state agency out of Internet contract - Florida - MiamiHerald.com

Connected company muscled state agency out of Internet contract - Florida - MiamiHerald.com: TALLAHASSEE -- In 2009, with more than a quarter of all Floridians without broadband access to the Internet at home, state officials lined up to get some of the $7 billion in federal stimulus money to finance state-based programs to increase access.

Enter Connected Nation, a little known but well connected Washington-based company. It won the Florida contract to use $2.5 million to map the broadband gaps for use by policy makers and telecommunications companies.

A year later, when the state won a second grant for $6.3 million to extend the broadband efforts, Connected Nation, a non-profit company, believed it had signed up to be part of a public-private partnership with the state that entitled the firm to a no-bid shot at that money too. But the Department of Management Services, the state agency that housed the project, disagreed.

DMS said the grant requires it to use some of the money to pay for three more years of broadband mapping and the rest to expand broadband access in libraries and schools.
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The real story here is the tragic policy failure of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to provide technical assistance funding to communities interested in building their own open access fiber to the premises networks instead of dubious "broadband mapping" projects.  It would have been a far more productive use of money to fill in the gaps with actual infrastructure instead of wasting it creating maps that won't connect homes in Florida and other states that remain disconnected from the Internet.

Friday, June 15, 2012

It's still 1985: California state offices stuck in pre-Internet management mode

While riding in a cab in downtown Sacramento this week — the daily commute destination of thousands of State of California employees — the usual topics of weather and traffic came up.  The driver offered his solution to traffic congestion: rather than commute to work, state employees should stay off the roads and work remotely from home offices.  After all, the cabbie pointed out, the technology allowing them to do so has been in place for many years.  They can get their work done on a computer from home just as easily as their office.  So why aren’t more state employees teleworking, he asked?

The explanation appears in a January 2008 white paper prepared by a group of state employees, the Statewide Work Anywhere Team (SWAT).  The paper notes use of information technology “is uniquely positioned to further the state’s ‘Green initiatives’ by contributing solutions for larger issues facing California: traffic congestion, dependence on oil, air pollution, and quality of life to name a few. It is possible to perform work from virtually anywhere. We can do business better. Work Anywhere provides one viable option that we should fully explore.”  It adds, “[w]orking from anywhere and using virtual teams are integral to the success of today’s workforce” and recommends “the State of California initiate a statewide standard for expanding the concept into its work environment.”

So why hasn’t the state more widely adopted telework four years after the paper was issued?  Despite the bulk of the work being white collar, information and knowledge work, a blue collar shop floor management by observation culture dominates.  The paper explains:
Many program area managers and executives are hesitant to implement Work Anywhere strategies/policies due to concerns regarding monitoring staff productivity and the staff’s ability to perform their duties effectively from a remote site (usually their home) without immediate access to other workers. Additionally, there is concern on monitoring staff that under-perform. The main challenges mentioned by all contacted in the study were the importance of determining the types of duties that are easily measurable and candidate selection requirements for performing tasks that could be part of a Work Anywhere plan. The most often stated concern was how to quickly manage employees that are out of sight. Some of the examples of telecommuting floundered because they lacked executive sponsorship, clear performance measurements or procedures for implementation of the policies. Additionally, some of the managers indicated an interest in receiving additional training for developing skills to better manage employees who work away from the main office.
That remains the case today.  In September 2011, the then head of the Telework Advisory Group of California’s Department of General Services, Geoff McLennan, reported only about five percent out of a state workforce of about 240,000 telework.  More recent data would put the number even lower.  As older state workers retire in large numbers and as the economy slowly recovers, younger workers accustomed to being connected to the Internet from anywhere aren’t likely going to find state employment and its pre-Internet, 1980s office culture an attractive option.   

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Broken Promises: The Telecommunications Trust That Doesn’t Deliver | Stop the Cap!

Broken Promises: The Telecommunications Trust That Doesn’t Deliver | Stop the Cap!: In Kushnick’s view, phone companies like AT&T and Verizon are breaking their promises to regulators and consumers.

“Illinois Bell was supposed to rewire the state (with fiber-optic cable), starting in 1993 at an initial cost of $4 billion,” Kushnick said.

Instead, AT&T moved in and bought out the phone company and has dragged its feet on fiber deployment, along with most other big phone companies.

Kushnick told the Journal Star phone companies are going cheap avoiding fiber optic infrastructure while still ringing up huge profits

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Calling wireless Internet service "fiber grade" disingenuous and misleading

Broadband network expansion set for Dayton, other Ohio cities - Dayton Business Journal: A Canton-based company announced plans Thursday to build statewide network for wireless broadband services, bringing high-speed Internet access to 3 million Ohio address points, including 100,000 that currently have no service.

“It’s an exciting thing for the industry across the board,” said Kyle Quillen, chief technology officer of Agile Network Builders. “We’re going to enable anybody to get that last-mile connectivity with a fiber-grade connection anywhere in the state of Ohio. That’s a big deal.”

Calling terrestrial wireless Internet service "fiber grade" is disingenuous and misleading.  It cannot emulate fiber or its carrying capacity, particularly for the delivery of high definition video.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

AT&T struggles with burden of legacy copper wireline plant

This Bloomberg item shows how the nation's largest wireline telecom player continues to struggle under the burden of its outdated legacy infrastructure.  According to the article, AT&T is trying to decide whether to sell off wireline plant where it does not offer its DSL-based U-Verse triple play product.

At issue is whether to upgrade field distribution equipment to extend the reach of U-Verse to more premises.  But doing so still relies on AT&T's decades-old, legacy copper cable plant to bring the service to residential premises.  That plant is less than optimal for transporting the higher frequency and more interference-prone VDSL protocol utilized by U-Verse, boosting the volume of customer service calls and increasing operating expenses.  The technical limitations of the copper plant also bar AT&T from reaching about 5 million residential premises that remain disconnected from the Internet, as noted in the article by Barclay Capital analyst James Ratcliffe.

 
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