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Monday, 26 July 2010

News just in - 500 homes is FTTH viable!!

I can't share any more right now but I've been waiting for this particular solution to be scaled down for nigh on a year (read: 15yrs).

This blog post can be read at

At the beginning of this year, I went out to the States to see various different rural FTTH solutions and meet their initiators after lengthy email, Skype etc discussions. It was quite a trip!! And I would recommend it to anyone. If you need a guide and intros, please, just ask.

I've just had an email saying that due to RUS etc, (and hopefully meeting me!) one particular group have worked on scaling down their FTTH solution so that it would seem to be financially viable AND sustainable in low density populations. e.g around 500 connected homes on a 25% uptake. No mention of timespan yet, but previously they were working on cash positive within 6 years. We were talking about densities of 10-15 so I can't imagine they have gone much beyond that.

I have *every* belief in these guys having met them. You should too. These guys have already JFDi swathes of the USA that would leave many of our counties with minimal notspots. There are differences between the States and here, but not so big. You can tweak a business and deployment plan to apply it here in Europe/ UK. Particularly in light of some of the announcements that have come out recently at this end.

So, if you could create a sustainable, deployable network to 500 homes+, would you JFDI?! I will!

As more and more people struggle to find investment opportunities for the common man, this could prove to be one of those long term 'bonds', like a Premium Bond or Building Society, that delivers a return at a suitable rate of interest, not just to the investor, but also, in spades, to the community it involves and that the investor lives in.

These were the guys who introduced me to 'leans' on houses, were there when I saw the war/planning rooms filled with peanuts (no, seriously, they were Very Important Peanuts), and taught me the basics of community mapping etc. They also refused to let me steal the Utopia NGA demo HeaVAN. (Pictured above - thank you Todd for pandering to my desires, and bleurgh to the others for not letting me bring it home!!)

The sooner we in Britain have a Heavan to show people what we mean by TRUE BROADBAND and solutions like these, the better. (And the photo is my truck, which is ready and waiting to become a Heavan - sponsor reqd as I will put you all to shame if I jfdi alone.)

I think it stands for High-Bandwidth, Everything-goes (symmetrical in other words), Awesome Van...guard Approach to Real Broadband in Rural Communities with Low Densities where the Incumbent Fears to Tread Demonstration Vehicle..... or something ;o)


GuyJ said...

One of the benefits we have in this Digitally backwards Isle is that we can reverse the flow of the Industrial Revolution and copy the best of others for a change.

Well done Utopia!

And thanks for making us aware of what's out there in the wider world.

GuyJ said...

BTW the correct URL for Utopia is

Cyberdoyle said...

so now our job is to bring utopia to the garden of Eden. JFDI Power and light to the people. We CanDo This.

Somerset said...

So how do they actually do it and how would we do the same in the UK?

Somerset said...

Read this!

The question for the 11 cities, then, is whether to back even more debt, up to $60 million, to market the system and build it out in phases. They would target clusters of customers who are willing to sign long-term contracts or pay the $3000 upfront to bring fiber-optic cable to the home or business, as Brigham City has done.

Somerset said...

The last 2 comments are in a Chinese font!

Cybersavvy UK said...

@somerset - Blog keeps being spammed but I am loathe to put moderation on all comments as it would mean giving up my day job to monitor it in a timely manner for the US etc contributors!

Cybersavvy UK said...

I spent 3 days, at my own expense (as ever), earlier this year in Salt Lake City with others who have JFDI in rural USA endeavouring to understand the Utopia history, model, solutions, theory, methodology and much more. And that was just the beginning of the road trip across the US of A!

We asked some damned awkward questions because Utopia for some of us has been on the radar since it was first set up. We've watched the ups and downs, and until Todd Marriott came along, I think all of those involved at the outset (and I met a couple of the instigators) would say it was definitely more down than up - a bit like your standard ADSL connection in fact.

I have high hopes for Utopia. It's not a great model in some ways for rural UK replication because the whole layout of 'built America', as I really began to understand when looking at the street level maps of the network, is VERY different to our village/town/hinterland set up.

However, as far as the economics and co-operation go, the different networks who attended the conference clearly illustrated the UK-US similarities. For instance, what we think of as low density means nothing when you get out into the middle of Minnesota, Utah or similar places. (We're talking about roads where it says, Next turn off 52 miles!)

Utopia's financial modelling is not something we should ignore either, despite constant media attempts to undermine the progress. The £3k lean on houses raised well over a million dollars on the first run, (as I understood it) and this from a community that even Utopia believed wouldn't buy in easily.

However, clearly, considering the latest Utopia news (dated 5th Aug 2010), it is proving a success and nay sayers would do well to either pay me to share what I learnt, or go there themselves and see exactly how long-term sustainability can be built in by giving the users a level of ownership and engagement that many telcos won't even consider.

One of Utopia's problems that may show its head here is the ownership of downtown Salt Lake City. We potentially face similar land ownership issues in the UK. Both in Westminster, where I understand there are very few landowners, and rural areas where the situation is often very similar. You only need one belligerent landed gentry to make life extremely difficult for all those around that area in the UK......

In the meantime, having met many of the Utopia crew on our visit and been treated inordinately kindly, I will continue to be supportive of a network that I think IS an exemplar of what can be done. Utopia hasn't been successfully instantly, because this isn't a simple problem with easy solutions.

But if anyone in the UK tells me they know how to do it here and they haven't studied Utopia, I'll await their demise with some sadness. Utopia is and was a leader. If you know better than they do and can't learn lessons from there, I'll eat a small poem. (Don't have a hat and am Vogon)

Cybersavvy UK said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cybersavvy UK said...

And just to make it absolutely clear, the viable 500 homes is NOT on Utopia's patch. It's waaaaaay more rural. That was just so I could push the Utopia broadband bus image to a few more people because one day someone will buy me one to flit around the country in, plugging into fibre at the roadside to demo what can be done when you have unlimited access to a 1Gbps+ pipe....