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Saturday, 16 July 2011

I'd like to know.....

If everyone in this country was connected to a min 100Mbps symmetrical pipe, or more, by 2015, and let's assume that those who like using the Net level out the usage for those who don't, what exactly would it cost and to whom? Not the actual FTTH solution but the bits that will need to be transported around the much will they cost and what precisely do we need to achieve that aim?

This blog post can be read at

We all hear how scarce they are, these bits, and we know that the core network is struggling anyway, but JANET upgraded their core network recently so we must have actual hardcore (ouch!) figures to play with.

Don't stress over how it gets to each person, just assume it does. What do we need in Telecity, Telehouse, datacentres, bitmines etc etc to achieve what Erol Ziya wrote about all those years ago - the cheapest country within which to move [unlimited - my addition] data?

Which, it seems to me at the end of a long week, is what we surely STILL need to achieve.....

But how to do it practically? The investment needs to come not in the first mile alone (like *that* is happening, ho hum), nor in the middle mile alone, nor in the core alone. It needs to be across the board.

Ergo, my tired little brain would suggest, this requires a cunning plan. A collaboration. A big picture with a road map to the endgame.

So, who out of our dear, expensive analysts has considered this? Who has the requisite data?

Because, it seems to me, that every which way we turn it all seems to be "too expensive" to do. Telcos don't want to do FTTH in the first mile and are struggling to even see the point of less suitable technologies as economic solutions to properties; backhaul is bloody expensive for communities, ISPs, etc; and longhaul seems to be a struggle too if you talk to ...well, pretty much anyone.

So, what do we need to solve the problem of transporting bits around this country in the most economical and affordable fashion possible to help bring a long-awaited end to those arguments?

Your thoughts are welcomed.....


PhilT said...

JANET spends just under £50m per year in operating costs, if that helps.

Up to July 2010 their networking fixed assets were £25m and they bought £3.7m of networking kit in that year.

Adrian said...

In the beginning, a rural fibre project developed - it needed internet access so it built an expensive fibre link to the nearest traditional peering point.

A nearby by village thought "I'll have some of that" but, being neighbourly, the first village offered to use their link to the peering point rather than expect their friend go through the same expense, so they only had to connect a few miles away.

The story spread of this kindness and over the coming years a spiders web of connections grew up, each offering their neighbour help.

In 2003, I called it "OpenPipe, and you and Erol had names and descriptions for it too. For my part, I might have been a little idealistic then but the experience I've gathered since then suggests its not unrealistic or unworkable.

In Scandinavia they called this OneStream ( or at least its a first stab at it. It can be done.

wireless pacman said...

Think of it as consisting of three stages:

1) local backhaul to a big city
2) backhaul from big city to London/Telehouse
3) final connection to the internet

Of the above only the first one is a real issue, everything else will scale pretty much as required without horrendous costs (assuming we do not have a 1000 times step change in usage needs for the same customer base of course!).

For example, we now have a 1Gbps bearer from our main PoP in Gloucester down to Telehouse. As and when I need to, I could quite easily get that up to either multiple 1 Gbps bearers or indeed one or more 10 Gbps bearer, and the costs of this would not be prohibitive (ie readily paid for by the increase in customers).

For us it is the cost of getting from our individual locations back to Gloucester that is the main issue. Wireless links are fine but limited in throughput. After that, only real option is Openreach EAD circuits.

MB94128 said...

HMG's MOD <-- This is the sleeping lion in this mess. If the UK's military has their own fiber network that is mostly dark then that could be a source of carriage for government traffic (municipal, county, etc.). While the backbone's routing would remain secret the spurs that tie government offices in would only be as secret as your typical trunk line. There are three clear benefits to this approach : [a] cheap connections for govt. offices, [b] a source of recruits for the military, and [c] a long term training program for the civilian sector.

HMG could also help by requiring all ROW owners to provide space for a cabling duct (or ducts) on a non-cash basis. The standard rate would be a free fiber pair per each multi-pair bundle. Cash rent could only be charged for buildings (e.g. rented offices) and land used for sheds and cabinets. NO GOUGING !

The next piece of the puzzle is the abusive (and probably illegal under UK and EU law) taxation of fiber trunks. In brief, BT is getting away with bare-faced highway robbery. There needs to be a ramp-down of the fiber trunk version of the window tax . Let HMG continue to charge this absurd tax but do it on a level playing field. Charge the small guys the same rates that BT is being charged. And yes, this may mean that BT will have to pay more in taxes because their smokescreen will no longer exist.

I think the above would go a long way towards unjamming the UK's data pipes. There needs to be a combination of ice-breaking via cheap connections and skid-greasing via reducing the costs of fiber trunks. And while that blasted tax may be unkillable, perhaps you can scare BT into supporting a reduction in its bite.

JANET (Wikipedia article)

MB94128 said...

Re : OneStream

Start page for English speakers. Their coverage is very impressive in spite of "harsh geography" .

P.S. There's another 'OneStream" in the U.S. but they are OneStream Networks (note the plural).

PhilT said...

@MB94128 You've run out of Courts to argue that the fibre rating thing is unlawful. Sorry. Get over it. Move on. R&E basis is open to all, not just BT.

PhilT said...

Not sure if my JANET comment got lost, or if the anti-spam moderation is censorship ;-)

JANET's opex budget is a bit less than £50m, they added £3.7m worth of networking kit in y/e July 2010

Somerset said...

So wirelesspacman says backhaul costs are not an issue, interesting.

Many MoD circuits are rented from telcos?

Cybersavvy needs to understand network design! What is the issue being asked? Bits are scarce? What's that about?