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Tuesday, 15 February 2011

What would it be like to eat an orange?

Imagine you have never seen or heard of an orange. Someone comes along and asks you, without even showing you an orange, "What do you think it would be like to eat an orange? How much will you be willing to pay for it? What else could you do with it?" We are doing exactly the same with FTTH.
This blog post can be read at

Most of the people making the big decisions about FTTH - RDAs, government, councils etc - have never seen this particular "orange". They don't know the recipes you can make with oranges, what it tastes like, and hence can have no comprehension of what it might be worth either as a wholesaler, retailer or customer.

Right now, there aren't even any oranges for sale, so you can't begin to imagine what people might do with it. Stick cloves in it at Christmas? Use the peel to moisten dried out tobacco? Fire it out of a potato gun powered by hairspray? Who knows? None of these applications for oranges can even be thought of yet as we don't have a clue what people will come up with once oranges are freely available.

One of the big questions in Milan was "Which comes first - the infrastructure or the applications?". Here in the UK we are so busy trying to find out what people might use oranges for, that we have failed to actually arrange for anyone to grow them so we can see.

You can survey all 60 million people about FTTH but it's a total waste of money. Except for the very, very small percentage of people who have ever tasted an orange, the rest will stare blankly at you. And we, who have been lucky enough to taste an orange can shout as loud as we want about how bloody marvellous oranges are and the fact that the British are actually going to make something called "marmalade" which will become a global phenomenon far into the future, we appear to be wasting our time. Until someone starts growing oranges on a commercial basis and makes them available to everyone. And then we can come up with marmalade, tangerines, clementines, etc etc etc. Can't we?!


Cybersavvy UK said...

With thanks to HelenJ for her zest!

Anonymous said...

Great analogy, which is why building FttH exemplar networks in rural areas os so much more important that trying to spread the jam thinly only to achieve some dead end FttC/ Race to Infinity (ho ho).

chris said...

I have tasted the orange, and I seem to spend all my spare time fighting for the chance for others to taste one. What bugs me is if people like me didn't have to spend our time finding oranges we could make up some great recipes with them.
I have been trying all day to upload a large file a friend needs for a conference tomorrow. Time after time it fails, for one reason or another. With a fibre connection I could have done it in a few seconds. Next time he will remember this and ask sooner for a cd in the post. This is going backwards...
Analogue is still the order of the day in well over a third of this country, simply because the copper can't cope, it doesn't taste nice and you can't make marmalade with it. its poisonous.
And the Aberdeen conference tomorrow won't be able to show the film it wanted to in good quality, it will have to make do with a shortened, compressed youtube video of the film.

Cybersavvy UK said...

@chris there are times you just hit the nail on its head...

Yep, copper makes cruddy marmalade. At least with fibre, we have glass (jam jars) to put the marmalade in. Or bottles in which to put our Gran Marnier.

And can I refer everyone back to the Fibtic presentation which really did it for me in explaining why rural FTTH matters and how to approach the so-called 'problem'. Fibre to the Farmyard