Wednesday, 17 February 2010
This time one month ago, I was connected into a very, very, very fat pipe. In America, courtesy of my now good friends at Utopia. I went there to see how you could make FTTH happen in rural Britain. I nearly didn't come back purely because of the experience of being on a fat pipe, except that I know it's possible here too.
I read about FTTH all the time and have been reading about FTTH for at least 10 of the last 15 years. I met people there, and elsewhere in USA, who gave me answers I have been seeking for far too long.
Today, I spoke to someone British who I last saw about 10 years ago. We still share the same dream - connecting rural communities in the UK to fibre and disproving the ridiculous hype about why it isn't possible. That dream really, really matters to me. And him. And many, many others who loiter in my inbox, on Twitter, at colloquia, at other events, in forums etc. There will be a group of us meeting in Lisbon next week. If you are going to be there, get in touch....
In the last few days, I have been quizzed (or rather, interrogated!) about what exactly it is that I have developed over the last 3 months (read: 15 years) to achieve that dream. I know that there are aspects of this ... this....hmm, let's call it a project....about which I am vague. It is not deliberate. It's generally because I am a bear of little brain and I seem to know "a man who does". You don't play in this sector for 15 years without meeting a few people who know their stuff.
I do not need to know every answer to every question about this project. Whether it is a technical or fiscal question - why bark when you have a dog? I do not mean that in any way condescendingly or patronisingly. I mean, if you know a man who can, then make use of that expertise instead of endeavouring to become an expert in something you don't need to be. This has to be about team building. Working together. Learning from each other. Co-operating.
I have my own skillset. It has been finely honed over the years so that I can contribute something of value to this type of project. (Or so I hope!) One of my skills is collecting people in my address book who have the answers, gained over YEARS in the business. Years that I don't have, nor do you, to make the dream of rural fibre happen by becoming that expert. My address book is a team of people now who can deliver, I believe, something quite extraordinary. Disruptive? I guess. World changing? Potentially, in the UK at least. Profitable? Definitely.
This post is about COLLABORATION and CO-OPERATION. I know that in my circle of fibre friends there are a multitude of people who if I could just get them in one room for a weekend would make some very serious things happen for FTTH. Who could make #digitalbritain happen before the telcos will, before regulation can be put in place to overcome untold difficulties created mainly by commercial pressures, before most of this country even understands what the world beyond bog standard broadband looks like.
FTTH could be here very soon. It is not about talking shops or yet more reviews, consultations, lobbying etc. It is about JFDI. I know I keep saying this, and have even written books on the subject (thanks to whoever it was who bought a substantial number of my books today!!), but it really is about getting together and making it happen.
My reward will not be fiscal on past evidence (!), although any money for what this 'battle' has cost to date would probably keep the accountant and bank manager happier. My reward will be to know that we, the team behind this project, have actually JFDI and broken the ground (literally) to show others it CAN BE DONE.
So, to finalise, I know it can be done. You know it can. None of us can do it alone, or it would have happened a decade ago.
Who is in your address book who you should be ringing to talk about actually doing it? If you are missing people with specific skills, come to the colloquia (next week, May/June and Oct). Tell us you need a colloquium on a specific topic, and we will endeavour to get those people in a room for a few hours to discuss coalface issues with you. Join the COTS group and make a difference there and meet the people you need to make this happen. Go to the CLA meeting on 2nd March and collaborate with others on the Final Third issues.
If we all focus on solving this problem once and for all, it can be done. There are communities across the UK with hard-working champions doing much of the leg work without support from those who can resolve their problems, easily. If you are a funder, make funding available for those who are JFDI across this country in rural communities galore. Make a strenuous effort to find out who is on your manor who you have missed and who could deliver your tickboxes far easier than Business Link ever will.
On a commercial basis, this is your market share, your end users, the consumers you want.
Connect with those people.
Come and meet them at the colloquia.
Talk to them.
Work with them.
Collaborate and co-operate.
Make it happen.
I honestly believe that there is a slice of the FiWi Pie for everyone if you do.