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Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Graduation from the school of hard NOCS

Over the years, Utopia has suffered some ups and downs. Those who know even part of the history will know thie is somewhat of an understatement! I am sitting in the very comfortable lobby right now, having spent the day hearing the Utopia Today story from Todd Marriott and others in Utopia.
It is quite clear that Utopia has had to learn far too much the hard way - it is one of the known problems of being a pioneer. However, what we are seeing here today is a success story, that stands to become yet more so in future and is clearly an example for others to follow.

Whilst the Mobile Command Centre (photos to follow as soon as we get back to the hotel - personally, I'd rather stay here!!) may seem an over-exuberant way of promoting Utopia anywhere in the region, it serves a valid purpose too. Its very existence highlights the benefits of a distributed core network that can be run from anywhere, has multiple failsafes built-in, and is supremely redundant. The Mobile Command Centre is not just a posh camper van converted into meeting and sales rooms; it is a full NOC - you can run the whole network from this vehicle, wherever you choose to park it within the Utopia footprint. It is used 24/7 and therefore the marginal expense required to acquire and kit out such a vehicle can be justified many times over.

The Utopia story is about to take a leap forward as Todd explained to us. I can't go into too much detail but the 30+ pages of notes that I have and the fact my brain is on high speed spin cycle now should be an indication of the amazing things we have heard and discussed here today! The financial modelling of future projects is far more sophisticated than previously in Utopia's history, and there are indeed a deal of lessons learnt in this network that are now being strenuously applied. Not just within Utopia, but in the many other networks who are now benefiting from Utopia's survival of the school of hard NOCs. (Zero apology for the pun)

There are a large number of networks represented here today. Some are at the outset of their journey, whilst others are celebrating 10 years serving their communities. This commitment to providing connectivity to communities is something which governments, regulators and incumbents could learn phenomenal amounts from, if they just opened their ears (and wallets to pay for this invaluable experience).

The story that is clearly coming out of Utah at Geoff Daily's mini conference is that all those who keep saying wireless is the new black have not thought this through. OK, so this is a self-selected group of people who are bound to argue for fibre, but even so, the figures we are seeing today show that, for instance, to build ubiquitous wireless in one network would have required 1000 miles of fibre to support that network and the antenna sites. To FTTH the whole area required 1500 miles of fibre and then the wireless can be overlaid on that for minimum cost. Still think wireless should coem before FTTH?!

There is far more I could write here but I am going to write it in several parts. What I am hearing today merely reinforces much I personally have believed for more than a decade, but this trip to the US has brought me into contact with the hard evidence that sadly seems to be essential to get people to the point they need to be to understand why we need FTTH and we need it NOW - be they regulators, policy makers, investors, consumers, incumbents, RDAs etc.

And if you were sitting directly connected to a backhaul connection that until today you had only ever dreamed of being able to play on, and where the bottleneck throttling is caused by the 100MB ethernet, wouldn't you want to be doing more exciting things on that very fat pipe than writing your blog?!!!!

As far as the fat pipe goes, it is awesome! I knew it would be, and I wish somehow I could bottle this connectivity and bring it home. Oh yes, I can. It just won't be in a bottle, it'll be in a glass tube. For all those who say 2Mbps is fine, or who don't fancy delivering much more than that (50Mbps contended is not much more if all your neighbours are on iplayer when you are) I can absolutely stake my sanity on the fact that it is NOT. And there are those of us who are going to prove, by JFDI, how very wrong you are that 2Mbps is sufficient. Watch your backs!


Cybersavvy UK said...

Jet lag kicking in - spot all the typos! But no reason to forget common courtesy...

An enormous thank you to Todd, Roger and Chris for all their hospitality and generosity today; to Geoff for inviting me to the USA and making it such a worthwhile visit already; and to all the other Fibrevolutionaries for answering my somewhat dim questions eg what *is* downtown?!

Cyberdoyle said...

will forgive typos, knew the reason for them...;) so glad you made it to utah despite cancelled flight and lost baggage and that it was as good as you thought it would be.
Nowt much going on here, free laptops and broadband for poor families. nothing said about the poor rural kids who can't get any form of broadband. Just another day in digitalbritain. Orgs cashing in on government funding for useless initiatives whilst the copper cabal marches forward milking the obsolete victorian phone network. Bring back your ideas and lets JfDI.