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Wednesday, 6 October 2010

The energy and thinking behind the paradigm shift

Graham Small of AFL Fujikura has contributed after he 'let slip' that AFL Fujikura were involved in the Chattanooga smart grid.

This blog post can be read at

Unless you have been off-planet, you will know by now that Chattanooga in Tennessee launched a 1Gbps network on 13th Sept to residents and businesses. It has been a collaboration between the electricity company, the community and a global fibre company. It shines the light for every other country, region and community to follow.

Graham writes:

When the utility companies get together with high tech fibre companies then real paradigm shifts can occur….

We have a huge communications and utilities infrastructure in the UK that reaches just about everyone in our nation. Every utility we have provides some means of delivering an optical fibre into someone’s home. Some are tried and tested – a physical drop into a customers premises via duct or aerial means, via the water system (mains or waste) or via the mains gas (optical fibres are inert, non-radiating or likely to produce sparks). The associated trunk infrastructure provides the ideal highway for core and backhaul if we have the wit but to utilize it. BT isn’t the network – there are alternatives!

Once every home has an optical fibre then the possibilities are endless. From the utilities perspective this is an ideal medium for “smart metering” and a huge cost saving in sending a ‘man in a van’ to every household to check the gas, electricity or water meter. We already have bundling of gas, electricity and telephony through utility providers so why not the fourth utility? Indeed, do we even need computers to enable the internet? Cloud computing suggests that we don’t necessarily need our clunky old PC to do everything we want to do “on line”; how about “Smart TV” that provides a fully integrated communications platform offering Telepresence and truly Unified Communications?

This is the dawn of the age of the Stupid Network. Fibre is the conduit that can provide the catalyst for a new age. Think Caxton’s printing press through to the age of manned space flight. We are at the start of another exponential growth spurt breaking down barriers between people, communities and countries; between the voters and their Governments; between health professionals and their patients; between entertainers and the entertained.

OK people, let’s get smart - the view that connecting people to the internet is all about Facebook and Foxy Bingo is dead wrong. It is the catalyst for social evolution and a template for building an Arthur C Clarkian utopia. The industrial revolution was a catalyst for major social change, fuelling the brawn drain from rural communities to the “dark satanic mills”. The communications revolution will fuel a mass migration back, mitigating the need for mass conurbations and providing opportunity for our talented youth to develop 21st century businesses based on 21st century technology.

It takes a BIG Government to enable a truly BIG Society if it can appreciate the BIG picture!


chris said...

ah yes. if only. Unfortunately in the UK our government can't see past the BT hype. Our RDAs and councils hand public money over to the incumbent telco to extend the life of the copper cabal.
I agree, the future is fibre to the home. for everyone. The big society could help make IT happen. We can but hope.

Anonymous said...

Great post Graham, I knew there was a good reason why NextGenUs teamed up with AFL ;)

Somerset said...

Why, why, oh why, do people write such complete and utter rubbish? As in:

Once every home has an optical fibre then the possibilities are endless. From the utilities perspective this is an ideal medium for “smart metering” and a huge cost saving in sending a ‘man in a van’ to every household to check the gas, electricity or water meter.

Smart metering needs tiny, tiny amounts of bandwidth, even for both way links to control appliances.

Actually smart metering may well use the mobile networks with no need to connect to a home network or phone line, simple.

When I read a statement like the one above I wonder about the rest that is written...

chris said...

Somerset, there are smart meters and there are smart meters.
The ones you can picture in your mind can run off mobile. The future generation of smart meters will need fibre. they will do mobile. they will control stuff. they will do wifi. the potential is limitless. if we settle for anything less then that is what we will get.
I am glad you wonder. Far better to think than to just settle for inferior tech.

Cybersavvy UK said...

In Denmark, the utility company laid a fibre ring, and then every house had a smart meter installed. It wasn't to read the meters but to create a wireless mesh across the top of the whole town that used a 3D mesh architecture that was in itself smart.

This meant that whilst yes, the smart meters could read meters, they were also doing something useful! And the justification for the fibre was the installation of the smart meters, but the gains that were accrued by the people were many - health, wealth and learning and a very fat pipe

Anonymous said...


You are a smart cookie and really should know better!

Its not about speed its about applications and above all doing the job one time future-proofed.

BT has had over a quarter century to get this sorted and has let the country down - its that simple and the exaflood is on its way.