French startup Bluwan has finally launched two weeks ago in Milano. Founded in 2005 by former Thomson/Thales executives, the company was kind of acting in stealth mode until the FTTH Council Europe' Conference recently held in the Fashion' s european capital city.
Here's the promotional video of their unique solution, so-called FTTA Fiber-Through-The-Air. Don't be confused: there's no fiber here but the trunk network. There's even no laser beam as the video may suggest - remember FSO Free Space Optics ? Actually, Bluwan has developped a quite interesting multiplexing technology that allows "the aggregation of multiple independent channels (modems) through [our] wideband radios and antennas onto a single air interface."
Being involved with Ultra-Broadband deployment in Rural areas, I'm convinced such a solution must be part of the portfolio of networks operators : faster and cheaper to install than wireline/optics, Radio fits well with mainstream needs in most parts of the country but dense areas. What mainstream needs ? TriplePlay. Telephone, Internet, Television. Downstream apps, actually. Because the only yet radically crippling limit of this FTTA technology is the rather impossible symmetrical mode - as with most of the Wireless Access technologies to date.
Post-scriptum : Among all the ultra-broadband wireless technologies available today for access networks, I do prefer Free-Space Optics. Simply because it's way safier than Radio in regards of signals' s confidentiality. Of course, one may be able to tap in the laser beam to "listen" the actual communications. However, such a hack is much more difficult to achieve, compare to pure radio comms. In the case of BluWan, the interesting thing is the fact that its founders come from one of the key suppliers of the Defense/Military sector. Hence I would rather double-check the security issues with BluWan' engineers before deploying my first FTTA link...
I will run the half day pre-conference workshop on 4th November: "Dark Fibre essentials: introductory guide".
I will also contribute, either as a speaker or a panelist, to the "Trends in Dark Fibre deployment in Rural areas" session on Day One, and to the "Technical maturity status and economics of 40 and 100 Gigabit deployment" session on Day Two. Lots of things to share there...
Shall you be attending as well or in town at this period of time, feel free to drop me a tweet. I'd love to discuss with you Fiber Broadband matters ;-)
Registration for the Dark Fibre Convention here.
post-scriptum : The Broad Group is one of the few events organizers I know who's really looking after Climate changes. That makes the DF Convention even more interesting to follow.
Over the french Culture & Medias magazine "Telerama", journalist Samuel Gontier has published last week the apparently true story of his encounter with FTTH Fiber To The Home.
This story is the exact reflect of the actual situation in the country with FTTH install :
- the contractors, coming from the Enterprise world, are not used to deal with people like you and me, read the Residential market.
- budget constraints and obsolete technics make it difficult for the technicians to overcome material issues such as fiber layout.
The article being written in french, I will do my best to translate it within the next few days. However, you can try a Google Translate from there.
I will also elaborate on my personal view on the problem, which is, IMHO, the real reason why FTTH deployments are not so important at the moment in France : lack of skilled technicians and lack of state-of-the-art organizations are slowing down the whole stuff. Among a couple of other issues of course, such as the fact that private/listed Telcos make their profits on Copper and Cellular, not on Personal Care services...
According to the latest Global Bandwidth Forecast Service' report by Telegeography, Trans-Atlantic communications links are set to face a bandwidth glut within the next few years.
Says the press release: "According to new projections from TeleGeography’s Global Bandwidth Forecast Service, bandwidth requirements will grow 33 percent (CAGR) between 2008 and 2015. At this rate, trans-Atlantic capacity will be exhausted by 2014, and cables providing diversity along geographically unique routes may run out of capacity even sooner."
For Optical Communications long-timers like myself, this is no surprise. It's simply the center piece of the forthcoming overhaul of the Fiber Optics technology: Today's optical transmission systems are based on a 30+ years old technology. That's far enough, for the singlemode fiber which is used in backbones since the mid 80's is reaching its limits with the 40G and (worst) the 100G systems planned by some telcos around the planet.
Telegeography analysts state it clear: "While 2014 is 5 years off, lengthy cable financing and construction cycles mean that carriers must confront this challenge far sooner. New technologies, such as 40 Gbps transmission line rates, may allow operators to expand capacity on some existing systems, delaying the need for new cables. However, these technologies remain unproven on a commercial long-haul submarine cable, and will only postpone the inevitable day of reckoning."
As I already wrote several times here and there, my take is that a brand new fiber technology will leave the labs' s clean rooms to show up on optical systems vendors' s shelves as soon as massive deployments of FTTH Fiber-To-The-Home networks will be over. 2014-2015 seems to be the timeframe for that. (Not) surprisingly, 2014-2015 is also the time when submarine systems will have to be revamped.
For those of you who were not in the Optical Communications business in the 80's, I tell you what: submarine systems have always been the test bed for new technologies, from the SMF Singlemode Fiber itself to WDM Wavelength Division Multiplexing and Optical Amplifiers. It won't be different this time. Five years to go before the big change!
I just came across a brand new (4 months old) website dedicated to Fiber Optics: Fiber Optic Mania. Plenty of informations for both novices and experts. A bit too much of Google AdSense stuff, but as soon as you forget those banners and ads links, the site is worth reading (note to Fiber Optic Mania' s editor: where's the "subscribe" button ?).
Welcome and good luck, Buddy !
Fiber Optic Mania is here.
For those of you who seek informations and/or jobs in the Optical Communications sector, here are your new companions : FiberNews and FiberJobs, which you can follow on Twitter respectively here and here.
Of course, those are RSS feeds which I've put together thanks to Yahoo!Pipes and other cool Web 2.0 tools (BTW, have you noticed how the expression "Web 2.0" is old fashion those days ?).
FiberNews delivers news on FTTH worldwide, and FiberJobs delivers job postings related to FTTH (US only for the time being). Simple, isn't ?
French incumbent France Telecom-Orange is entering the age of Smart Moves, thanks to its CEO Didier Lombard. See this announcement.
Remember the late 90s ? France Telecom was leading the Global One consortium. Now they're going global, as one.
Optical Access '08 will be held Thursday, December 4, 2008, from 10:00am to 4:00pm EST, on the Web.
Says the press release:
The event will feature a full roster of live, on-demand conference sessions plus a virtual tradeshow floor complete with exhibit hall, media center, and networking lounge.
Vincent O'Byrne, senior member of the technical staff at Verizon, will kick off the day-long agenda with his 10:00 AM EST keynote address, "A Carrier Perspective on Next-Generation Optical Access." O'Byrne will give the Verizon viewpoint on what's ahead for FTTH, including technology requirements and deployment strategies.
For a virtual demo tour, follow this link.
With the economy crisis' s waves going to hit the Telecoms Land hard, most of the Installation & Maintenance contractors are already tightening up their investments and expenditures budgets, the Dotcom crash being still present in their memories.
The key difference between today and 2000 : there are people at the other end of the fiber. FTTx Fiber-To-The-Whatever is a reality now. And despite the forthcoming yet unpredictable downturn, Telcos, Utilities and Munis are keeping their fiber networks' rollouts plans on. Shifting some deadlines here, downsizing the network's scale there, but the goal is still : "we must deploy fiber" - see the recent announcement (link in french) by the french government.
That means that there is still huge business to come for the I&M contractors. The question is : how to train their technicians to build and maintain State of The Art fiber networks, whilst their budgets will be close to nothing ? Answer is : Re-invent the way we do training. Since quite a while, Installation companies don't send their techs for a 5-days hands-on session anymore, so it's going to be even worth now. Except for a few very specific technology or product training, they won't go off-site. They will ask for on-site (if not in-house...) training, as short as possible to not keep the techs away of the field for too long time. Today, a 3-days session is the standard for novices to become OSP Outside Plant technicians. Tomorrow, it's going to be 1-day (you get the idea).
We Fiber Vets all know that you don't become a true capable Fiber Install guy in a day. You have to practice at least a week. Hence the business case : how to provide a 5-days hands-on in just one single day. The solution : let's come to the Technician. Provide him with the training he needs when and where he needs it. Welcome to Fiber Training 2.0.
Today, we can get the relevant info we want when we want it, no matter where we are : it's called The Web. Let's use it. Do the shift from the old-fashioned way : the powerpoints, the lectures, the 20-people class-room, to the Web 2.0 one : audio and video podcasts on iTunes, training video clips on YouTube, photos collections on Flickr, discussion groups on Facebook, etc.
That's what a couple of Old-Timers, including myself, are working on. See here what Jim Hayes and his FOA Fiber Optics Association is currently offering. I'm also working on such tools. See here for instance, and here. Soon to an iPhone/iPod Touch near you : fiber news, photos, videos, and one more thing (and more ;-).
Of course, nothing virtual will ever replace the real world. You won't learn how to splice two fiber strands together with a video only : you must put your hands on the fibers, the cleaver, the splicer. It's like becoming #1 in Tennis : you won't beat Federer just watching his matches on YouTube ;-)
I've just learned that french fiber optics expert Alain Oudet passed away last sunday. Alain was well-known and highly respected in the french optical communications industry. Together with Regis Trouart and Patrick Desprez, Alain started TDO (Trouart Desprez Oudet), the very first fiber optics training company in the country, back in 1986. In the early 90's, TDO, AMP (now Tyco) and Alcatel (now AlcatelLucent) launched Le Club Optique, a counter-initiative to the famous CREDO created by the cable manufacturer Acome and hardware maker Pouyet (now 3M Telecoms).
Alain and myself never been real "buddies". First of all, I wasn't part of his "inner-circle". Then, we've been pure rivals when I run my own firm, XWinG. Provided that in 1995, after 2 years of operation only, XWinG was taking over the installed base of TDO, thanks to a nice WOM marketing. Last, Regis Trouart joined me as associate in 1994 : it didn't help improving our relationships at all...
In 1997, we were #1 on the market. That pushed TDO to move to another business : fiber networks expertise. Alain quickly became a master of OTDR and dispersions measurements, gaining a pretty strong reputation on the fiber characterization services business in France and other parts of Europe.
As I joined HP/Agilent as a regular employee mid '98, I lost contact with Alain and TDO. When I came back to the french marketplace two years ago, Alain was still the same : smiling, engaging, and... smoking.
I don't know what TDO is going to become now that its leader is gone. Not my business, after all (actually, not exactly true : I'm in the fiber optics training business too. But I don't consider TDO as a rival any longer : we're not on the same page, simple as that). I just know why I haven't met Alain in the alleys of Odebit or the Telecoms Forum in Paris last week.
[updated 10/7/08 4:36PM CET] See this 1Gbit/s trial in Amsterdam ? Imagine the same type of apps (3D-HDTV for instance), right at the size of your district. A true field trial. That's what the Pau Greater Area and its Pau Broadband Country FTTH platform can offer to you Next Gen Apps vendors and to you Heavy Bandwidth Consumers.
Plus, Pau is a bit south of Amsterdam, which makes it a slightly better place for work and fun - as long as you prefer sports & nature lifestyle rather than nightlife in a city that never sleeps ;-)
If I were a NGA vendor, I would do the testing in Pau and the implementation in Amsterdam...
I will be attending ECOC'08 tomorrow Monday at the Brussels Expo exhibition center.
No, this domain name isn't mine, unfortunately ! That's a french blog on Fiber-To-The-Home and related stuff held by proactive insiders.
Shall you read/speak french, "fibre-optique-france.com" is worth bookmarking and subscribing.
The beauty of Dipity is that you can display any type of content in a chronological order (Timeline view), on a carousel (Flipbook view), or on a map (Map view, surprisingly ;-). For teachers and instructors of all kind, what a nice tool to keep your audience up and running.
As any true Web 2.0 app, Dipity is UGC : User Generated Content. In this case, it means that teachers and instructors can call for help to create a better content - think Wikipedia.
Well, Dear FiberGeneration Readers, I'm therefore calling on you ! I'll continue to edit the current timeline, for instance adding the missing locations, photos, URLs, etc. What I'm asking you is to add relevant content. For instance, as you can see the timeline ends in 1996. As some of you may have notice, quite a few interesting events occured between then and now in the Optical Communications arena. Those are typically the things you can contribute to, shall you have the relevant experience, knowledge, or insight ;-) Major milestones, breakthrough technologies, interesting field trials : please feel free to add !
Just drop me a line at : marc[dot]duchesne[at]mac[dot]com, and i'll set you as editor for this History of Fiber Optics. Thank you.
post-scriptum : for those of you who are not familiar with Fiber Optics, Jeff is publishing the "Understanding Fiber Optics" series since almost two decades now. The fifth edition was released in 2005. It's available here at Amazon.com. Enjoy the ride !
As I am preparing the Back To The (Fiber) School season, which is going to start quite strongly in a couple of weeks, I am digging into my personal archives to put together some fancy tutorials on Technology and Markets trends.
Among a couple of interesting things that I've re-discovered, I found this slide - part of a 140-slides training binder that I've created back in 1992. It shows the theorical minimum attenuation of so-called "infra-red optical fibers. Take Fluoride fiber for instance : 0.001 dB/km kind of order of magnitude. A 100 times less (means : 100 times better) than the best of the best optical fibers currently manufactured for submarine systems (the Formula One of Optical Communications, that is).
This slide is 16-years old. Those magical fibers are still under the hood of some secret labs somewhere on the Planet (Corning might be one of those). Why ? My take is that this technology is such a fantastic leap frog (remember : attenuation 100 times better than the best fiber today) that its introduction will induce a complete revamp of the actual network design and construction methods. New cables, new splice boxes, new splicing process, new connectors, new test instruments. Plus, on top, new transmission systems. The whole supply chain to be changed.
For an industry which is just recovering from a quite heavy downturn period, such a paradigm shift is not yet welcome. Let's wait for the (almost) whole world to be Fiber-To-The-Home cabled, and then you'll see the first field trials popping up here and there (my take : US first ;-) to test those new fibers in some long-haul links.
Because when the World (almost) will be Fiber-To-The-Home cabled, the Optical Communications industry will need to create a new market to sustain its development. Considering that the actual long-haul/core networks infrastructures won't be able to carry the Internet traffic as it will be in 10 years - or even less - from now, new fibers are mandatory. If I had some money to spend on the Stock Market, I definitely would rate Corning as a "Buy"...
Whilst my friend Andrew decided to go to FOD Fiber Optics Devices Ltd, some of his colleagues at the IIT Institute of information Technologies of Minsk, Belarus, decided to create their own firm : OptixSoft.
A unique start-up of its kind, OptixSoft provides outsourced R&D services to the Fiber Optics Test & Measurement industry :
To give you an idea of OptixSoft' s capabilities, CEO Mike Ziuzin developed a few years ago a project of his own : a *pocket-OTDR*, based on a micro test probe (the "OTDR" per se) and a Pocket-PC. WiFi, BlueTooth, and miniaturization : the right package for an FTTH Fiber-To-The-Home tester...
You can contact OptixSoft by email at : email@example.com.
Alex Che, software expert, waits for your twitts here on Twitter
I visited IIT a few years ago. It was like if I were playing "Back To The Future" : those folks were using pretty aged equipments, things that we Frenchies got at the university back in the early 80's. And those guys were doing absolute jewels. Out of almost nothing, at least for someone like myself who has been working with the big T&M vendors such as HP/Agilent and NetTest for years.
Since this visit, I'm convinced that this team is capable of miracles. May The Force of the T&M be with them ;-)
Rumor confirmed by a source who was dealing with Sunrise Telecom (SRT) on a *advanced fiber monitoring system* : SRT's Swiss-based subsidiary is no longer part of the company.
Rumor is spreading around the Test & Measurement small world : some interesting news coming soon from Sunrise Telecom, San Jose, California, and its swiss subsidiary.
Since I came back in the training business a year ago or so, I decided to drop the traditional slideware stuff * for a more 21st Century stylish method : use the Web 2.0 gear such as YouTube for tutorial videos, Picasa for real world photos, and more recently Facebook for post-training social and collaborative networking (note : all free apps, as I want to keep the learning materials costs as low as possible for the customers).
However, whilst going whole online digital is nice because it's hype, I still need a paper board to explain a lot of things, which a video clip will never replace (except perhaps those made by the folks at CommonCraft).
I love paperboards : it forces you to go crisp & clear, splitting your explanations into simple/one-page explanations - as Twitter forces you to write a message in less than 160 characters. Over the last 15 years that I was delivering training courses and sales seminars, I've collected lots of my paper rolls, for me to keep record of the interesting discussions with the attendees.
Of course, bringing a paperboard roll back home works fine when you travel by car, but it's a bit more tricky when you fly. Thanks to Apple, this issue is over. I now capture all the relevant stuff with my iPhone, and upload it on the MacBook right away. That makes the paperboard digital ;-)
* note : I'm thinking of using cartoons such as this one to explain and share complex stuff in the next future.
Why spend time on training course slides and notes design and edition, when everything you need is available on the Net ? Provided that people better remind images rather than text, YouTube is one of the new companions of the teachers, trainers, and instructors of all kind, together with Wikipedia and a few other Web 2.0 tools.
Here's a collection of videos I've put together for fiber optics training - most are in english, some are in french. Enjoy, and feel free to use. The playlist is available here.
Dan Lyons aka Fake Steve Jobs has the point with Bob Metcalfe' s EnerNet idea. His "one pair of glasses" theory is worth reading. Trust me. Because I'm a proponent of this idea that the Internet, Broadband, and Fiber can help solving the Climate Changes issues.
Back from San Diego, I had a meeting yesterday night in Paris with the VP Sales & Marketing of a new startup working on some *fiber network monitoring* stuff. I can't disclose anything of course, just that it's about Fiber-To-The-Home.
Things we've discussed until late in the evening were on the forthcoming changes in the optical comms industry per se and our own lives.
Like this one : thanks to FTTH and 40G/100G/etc. networks, we're going to be "online" everywhere anytime, with our entire "life" relying on *The Net*. Fine.
Now, since we'll do everything - working, watching TV, training, sharing life, etc. - through a single fiber strand, this one better stay up and running 24/7 : we won't accept being cut off for 2 days until the Repair guys come in. Hence the need for monitoring systems, which would look after the faults on the fiber right up to our living room.
A tremendous challenge, provided the numerous FTTx networks topologies and technologies. A challenge which requires to think out of the box. Something the legacy Test & Measurement firms can't do. Something a well funded startup can do. How much do they need ? $5m. Which is not that much for a solution which will help change the World (because it'll guarantee your fiber stays okay).
Ed. note : French world-famous blogger Loic Lemeur got $6m for his Web 2.0 video-sharing platform. Raising $1m less to produce something which really serves the World shouldn't be that much a problem. At least in a perfect World...
According to Mr Metcalfe himself, the Communications world is now based on a 4-layers model : Ethernet > Internet > Web > Google.
Google : recruiting at OFC. Of course we know Google has its own fiber infrastructure. But. What if... Google is the only company on Earth able to do what Bob Metcalfe asks the whole Communications industry to do : re-invent the Network.
Okay, the idea of having one single company managing the whole stuff could be scarring off some people, but heck, that would be an exciting journey.
Doesn't Google have its own switches now ? So, imagine Google coming up with some fancy optical transport technology. Like Soliton, for instance...
This are my running notes of Bob Metcalfe' s keynote speech at the opening plenary session here at OFCNFOEC'08, San Diego, California. Posted after the speech, for misspelling corrections and irrelevant stuff deletion.
I'll comment some of them later on, in a further post. Just this personal note : Mr Metcalfe himself confirms that good times are ahead for the the Fiber industry. Should she wants to reinvent herself.
Running notes :
- BM has no ppt slides.
- uses instead 3 cards stacks, today will use 5 packs - reads the cards either on the table or hand held.
- the agenda of the day is to get the answer to two questions : "why should we be Terabit Ethernet ?", and then "how ?".
- 20 years between the first optical Ethernet in 1978 and the real commercial one.
- BM has a new project : create the Ether-Net, to solve energy crisis.
- SONET vs Ethernet : Ethernet won because of prices slash on cost per bit.
- BM prefers the terminology "telephon television and data" vs "voice video and data".
- the Internet is now carrying video, mobile, and embedded apps.
- Internet was not designed for none of them.
- Bubblephobia : people still afraid of traffic growth after the 2000 burst.
- expects growing traffic on embedded apps : first were mainframes then mini-computers then PCs then laptops then palmtops, so what's next ? : embedded.
- "alien wavelengths" : fiber people don't allow computer people to send their own wavelengths on the fiber.
- Ethernet technology will continue to ramp-up on a 10x slope, not 4x : 10G, then 100G, then 1T.
- Terabit Ethernet needs break out the existing infrastructure, otherwise it will be chaos.
- chaotic infrastructure because of too many levels, pieces, components - too much complexity.
- BM to the audience : "it's good news for you : it's gonna be fun". invent new stuff. means new business.
- BM lists some directions : new fibers : maybe carbon fibers ? how about no fibers at all ? how about free space mesh ? OOO (no more OEO conversion) ? etc ?
- we will never hear the word "OC3072" because of Ethernet 100G.
- Intel Sales & Marketing VP says TbE will not happen on terminal devices - it will be WiMax instead.
- when Tim Berners Lee invented the WWW, he never thought there will be a Google.
- today we have 4 layers, no more the 7 of the OSI model : at the bottom : Ethernet, then Internet, then WWW, then on top : Google.
- we need to re architect Ethernet because online video : download needs bandwidth, streaming needs QoS, interactive needs low-latency : Ethernet never been good at that.
- re-architect Ethernet : routing, switching, etc.
- meet people needs for lower energy consumption.
- Ethernet will help reducing transportation needs etc.
- BM asks the audience : "you fiber communications people are you ready to help solve the energy crisis ?"
Short biography of Dr. Robert M. Metcalfe: MIT engineer, Harvard mathematician, Internet developer, Xerox scientist, Ethernet inventor, Stanford professor, 3Com founder, Cambridge fellow, InfoWorld pundit, and now Polaris partner.
Read the OFCNFOEC plenary session program here.
See Bob Metcalfe' s recent interview by Light Reading here, and read more here.
Get the clear picture on why online video naturally changes the World here.
Last but not least, the legend of Bob Metcalfe is here, by Wired.
I'm heading for the OFC'08 tradeshow, going first to San Francisco to do some business with a couple of french friends of mine who have the very chance to have both a french and a US passport.
I'll do my best to do live blogging on Tuesday next week, for the OFC Keynote - Bob Metcalfe will be there.
CU soon ;-)
Buddy Blogger Benoit Felten has published an outstanding interactive map on the actual situation of FTTH Fiber-To-The-Home networks worldwide. Worth the look (and bookmark) for all of us working in the FTTx field.
FYI, here's the comment I just left :
"About Pau : the 6,000 active subscribers milestone will be achieved within the next couple of weeks.
Based on the map, which is pretty accurate thanks to Benoit's outstanding work, one can note that Pau is the ONLY european city south of the Loire river (means, where weather conditions are wonderful for most of us ;-) that offers up to 100Mbps connectivity to enterprise & residential customers."
Go to the map here.
Back in 2000, I titled the brief report of the OFC Optical Fiber Communications exhibition to my management at Agilent Technologies : "The Magic is gone." The whole Telecoms industry was ruled by marketeers, and Fiber was no different. The Lucents, the Cornings, the Pirellis : they were all selling wonderful shiny proprietary solutions to hungry customers (the new telcos which were popping up like hell everywhere on the Planet), totally forgetting that what made the Optical Communications industry in the past was Innovation.
Fact is, until 1998 the fibers were sporting strange names, such as "ITU-T G652". Everything changed in '98, when Corning came out with its Leaf, Lucent with its TrueWave, or Nec with its Lucyna. Since then, marketeers took over the business, leaving inventors and researchers in their labs. The best example : the Pirelli Telecoms booth at OFC'99, with an... italian motorcycle as the only product on stage.
For people like myself, whith a technical background, a marketing position and a customer-focused mindset, the outcome was obvious : a total lack of real customers' s needs, leading to what happened to be a violent downturn.
Today, almost 8 years later, my feeling is that the Magic is back. Reaserchers and innovators can talk to end-users again. See this product presentation video by... Corning : for the very first time since a decade, a new product is a true solution to a real customer problem.
See here. And apply the same concepts (i.e. remote control, keyless, etc.) to testing devices or networks. You'll get the idea. Granted.
Digging the Web for data on FTTx Fiber-To-The-Something key players in the Bay Area, I found this 125+ pages document. Quite an extensive overview of the FTTx markets, although the study is dated 2003. Considering that the Telecoms industry just recovered by the end of 2006, IMHO most of the informations you'll find in there are still pretty much relevant - simply change names when M&A apply.
Ehrhardt & Ehrhardt consulting firm website here (in Dutch)
Earlier this week, US Telco Verizon unveiled a Groundbreaking FiOS Internet Service. Claims the press release : " Verizon has changed the definition of "fast" with the introduction of a new, symmetrical Verizon FiOS Internet service for consumers, featuring an upload and download speed of up to 20 megabits per second (Mbps)."
Wow. 20Mbps on fiber, that's quite a breakthrough. For the US. Because, not willing to play the Arrogant Frenchie, but... we've got 20Mbps DSL since years, allowing real TriplePlay services including HD-TV. Okay, DSL is not symmetrical. Guess what : we (well, the lucky guys in Paris or Pau and many other cities across the country) can get full-symmetrical 100Mbps on fiber since months.
Take the city of Pau and its state-of-the-art 'Pau Broadband Country' broadband access network : 40,000+ homes passed, with 6,000+ active subscribers : NeufCegetel offers symmetrical 50Mbps since May this year, whilst enterprises and high-end users enjoy a full 100Mbps connection.
So, for those of you who seek bandwidth hungrily : take a one-way ticket to the 21st Century' (Broadband) Capital : Pau.
Update 10-27-07 : I just replaced the previous photo for the one above. The reason is that the author of the original photo sent me a message today, claiming the copyright. He wanted me to mention his name, blahblahblah. Well, I would, should this famous photo be about a private thing or so. Fact is, the photo shows a public work on a public street, for a public community (a french city somewhere in the Alpes). In summary, the guy shot a picture of something paid by the French citizens, and he wants a copyright on it. Weird, IMHO. Especially at the Age of the Web 2.0.
To reach this modest person, click here, er, nowhere : I haven't seen any "email me" button on his weblog, which is here.
post-scriptum : the photo is mine, means I shot it myself some years ago, somewhere in Santa Rosa, California.
I must apologize : I didn't ask the authorization to PacBell to take this picture. However, it's here for you, with no copyright. Enjoy it, copy it, save it, distribute it : it's free, because I decided to put it here, on my blog, on the Web, on the Internet.
By the way, the PacBell folks did a great job repairing a fiber optics cable this beautiful morning. I wish the French telcos and I&M contractors be able to deliver the same level of quality. But that's another story.
Ten years after leaving my own firm to do something else, I'm back in the Fiber Optics Training & Consulting business. Since Monday this week, I'm in charge of the creation of a ad-hoc subsidiary at a 20-yrs old / 50-people / fast-growing company here in France.
It's a little bit strange to me : I'm paid to do what I haven't had the chance to achieve with my own firm ten years ago.
The good news is : today, the market is there (thanks to YouTube, Facebook, and MSN), the customers are there, and the tools are there (thanks to the Internet and the Web 2.0).
And thanks to those ten years out of this particular business, I've learned so many different things myself in so many different domains that I'm more capable to run this business successfully than in the 90's.
For instance, this : today, I've been working at Production, assembling and testing fiber patchcords. For the first time since 1983 when I first put my fingers around an optical fiber, I've been shaking. I was afraid of breaking the fiber whilst stripping it. Now I understand my attendees fifteen or ten years ago, when they were shaking and I was saying "come on guy, look at me, am I shaking ?"...
Over the last ten years, I've learned a lot of things, for sure. Maybe the most important one is humility.
Heard from Mr Dominque Paret, IT Development Director at the Region of Loire (you know, Saint-Etienne, their Soccer Team, their Schlumberger/Wavetek/Acterna/JDSU/Who'sNext? Fiber Optics Test R&D & Manufacturing Plant, etc...) last week at the Odebit Conference in Paris, this true fact - for France in this case, however I'm sure it also apply to many other countries in Europe : when you build a new road, you know the traffic will double the next year AND you know there will be a new college within the next five years. Simply because people have moved all along that new road.
According to Mr Paret, this is a well known and well mastered model (that's why we have those ENA and X and Mines things ;-). The problem with fiber is that there is no such a model at the moment : nobody can tell for sure what will be the outcomes of a FTTx network five years after its completion.
Shall YOU have heard or experienced or built such a model yourself (i.e. in/for your community), please don't hesitate to share it !
Thanks to the weekly delivery of my YouTube' subscriptions, just discovered this video from the Electric Power Board, a.k.a. EPB, of the city of Chattanooga, Tennessee.
A Chattanooga' s public utility, EBP launched a Fiber To The Home initiative back in August this year. In the official announcement, Harold DePriest, EPB’s President and CEO said : ”A Fiber to the Home infrastructure will help ensure a growing supply of jobs for our children – and our grandchildren. Fiber to the Home will be as critical to Chattanooga’s quality of life as electric power was in the 1930s or the Interstate system was in the 1950s. On top of that, it will help make electricity in our area even more reliable and affordable.”
What makes this initiative an interesting case study for the cities and local collectivities wondering if a FTTH network is worth the investments : it's a 160,000 inhabitants town, with a local economy that includes a diversified mix of manufacturing and service industries, four colleges, and several preparatory schools. According to Wikipedia : Chattanooga is the corporate headquarters of many mid-sized firms including bicycle manufacturer Litespeed (looking for a titanium bike ? there you go ;-) and sustainable design company Tricycle Inc.. Many businesses in the banking and insurance industries run their operations from Chattanooga. The city is also home of large branch offices of AT&T and UBS. In summary, Chattanooga is pretty similar to lots of european cities, take many Germany, UK, and France for instance, which might benefit from Fiber-To-The-Home too...
Back to DePriest announcement :
“A recent study by a group of professors at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and Tennessee State University suggests these economic and social benefits alone could top $600 million for Chattanooga over ten years.
Another study, verified by the Electric Power Research Institute, indicates that Fiber to the Home will also allow EPB to make significant improvements to its electric power distribution system. The infrastructure can help the company locate problems earlier, restore outages more quickly and gain efficiencies that are not currently available. It will also allow EPB to provide more tools to help customers reduce their power usage and cost.
The value to electric power customers in the form of reduced outages, energy conservation and other efficiencies is estimated at roughly $300 million over ten years, bringing Fiber to the Home’s total value to the community to nearly $1 billion over the course of ten years.”
Quite an interesting ROI, right ?...
See the video - and much much more - directly on EPB' s website here.
Read why the such an initiative always generates FUD here and here.
More on the lovely city of Chattanooga here. Among many other key factors to make a city a nice place to live in, this : "The city supports a downtown shuttle fleet of zero-emission electric buses - manufactured here in Chattanooga - for commuters and visitors wishing to park-and-ride."
[updated Sat. 09/22]
At the recent ECOC European Conference and Exhibition on Optical Communication which closed its doors yesterday in Berlin, Germany, Alcatel-Lucent researchers delivered post-deadline papers that remind me the good old days of the pre-Bubble era (i.e. when Marketing was not the ruler).
Among several outstanding breakthroughs (for fiberoptics technology- savvy guys ;-) : the transmission of 12.8 Tbit/s of data through a single optical fiber over a record distance of 2,550 km, and a 8-Tbit/s WDM transmission with 80 channels, each modulated at 100 Gbits/sec, transmitted over 520 km
A few facts for novices : a data rate of 1 Terabit per second represents roughly 12 millions telephone landlines; ten years ago, the transmission record was set around 3 Tbit/s, equivalent to approximately 40 millions lines; in late 2000, the record was at 6.5 Tbit/s, allowing the transmission of 1 million motion pictures over a single fiber at a time.
As stated by french pioneer and researcher Emmanuel Desurvire in his paper "Optical Communications in 2025", presented at ECOC'05 : " 20-years objectives can only be reached though tech-driven research and there is an urgent need to get started."
It seems AlcatelLucent got started again, leaving marketing behind the labs' s doors for the sake of the whole Fiber Optics industry.
The Fiber Optics Industry keeps accelerating its pace towards full recovery and bright sustainable future. The forthcoming "GPON Deployment Forum" organized by IIR Telecoms is a must-attend for all of you involved with FTTH Fiber To The Home networks.
GPON Deployment Forum is to be held Mon 03 Dec - Thu 06 Dec 2007 at the Moevenpick Hotel, Amsterdam, Netherlands.
This week could be the Week Of Broadband here in Europe, with the Apple+O2 deal on the iPhone in the UK, with ECOC'07, the european Fiber Optics conference & tradeshow in Berlin, Germany, and with Odebit'07, the Broadband conference in Paris, France.
Let's take this opportunity to go back to the fundamentals : why fiber is the only medium of choice when it's about delivering multimedia content instantly - Here is an excerpt of the FTTH Council' s Feb.07 report : "Fiber To The Home, Advantages of Optical Access " :
Common sense suggests that communities with plentiful, reliable bandwidth available will do better than those without. FTTH-powered bandwidth is essential for:
• Hometown businesses competing in a global economy.
• Professionals and others who work at home.
• Quality of life provided by online entertainment, education, culture and e-commerce.
• Special services for the elderly and for shut-ins.
FTTH thus helps define successful communities just as good water, power, climate and transportation have defined them for millennia.
That’s obviously so for greenfield developments – the data, in previous sections of this report, show that fiber-equipped homes and offices sell faster, and command a price premium over real estate developments without fiber. But what about existing communities? Direct comparisons are admittedly difficult because FTTH has not been widely available until recently, but virtually all of the real-world economic studies have borne out the predictions; none has suggested otherwise.
By far the most comprehensive look at broadband’s impact is a 2005 study by William H. Lehr, Carlos A. Osorio, and Sharon E. Gillett at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Marvin A. Sirbu, from Carnegie Mellon University. It was funded by the Economic Development Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce and by the MIT Program on Internet & Telecoms Convergence (http://itc.mit.edu). The study found that broadband enhances economic activity, helping to promote job creation both in terms of the total number of jobs and the number of establishments. Broadband is associated with growth in rents, total employment, number of business establishments, and share of establishments in IT-intensive sectors.
There are also numerous case studies, comparing specific communities before and after public investment in broadband. A few examples:
• One early study, of a municipal fiber network built in 2001 in South Dundas, Ontario, showed substantial benefits. It was prepared for the UK’s Department of Trade and Industry.
• A 2003 study by D. J. Kelley comparing Cedar Falls, Iowa, which launched a municipal broadband network in 1997, against its otherwise similar neighboring community of Waterloo. Cedar Falls bounded ahead of its neighbor.
• More recently, Ford and Koutsky compared per capita retail sales growth in Lake County, Florida, which invested in a municipal broadband network that became operational in 2001, against ten Florida counties selected as controls based on their similar retail sales levels prior to Lake County’s broadband investment. They found that sales per capita grew almost twice as fast in Lake County compared to the control group.
Similar patterns have emerged for communities using FTTH provided by private enterprise. Fort Wayne, Indiana, has taken good advantage of a Verizon FiOS investment there, for instance. And in February 2007, two big studies of housing sales in Massachusetts – where FiOS is coming on line in numerous communities – show a startling recovery. Sales are up, and prices are down only slightly (after a decade-long rise that makes housing there among the most expensive in the United States).
The data are clear and consistent: FTTH, whether provided by private or municipal organizations, is an economic plus for all communities, and an outright boon for many.
FTTH and Economic Development FTTH helps define successful communities just as good water, power, climate and transportation have defined them for millennia.
Also a must-read, the american online magazine Broadband Properties. Its baseline : "Building The Fiber-Connected Community".
[updated 09.14.07 @ 8:22PM CET]
Please welcome the new member of the Fibergeneration family : FiberNews !
FiberNews is a GoogleMap mashup, displaying FTTH Fiber-To-The-Home related news per their respective location.
See the previous post here.
Created with Yahoo!Pipes and GoogleMaps, of course.
The process is very simple :
1. get news feeds from different online news websites,
2. filter them on specific items, extract the location out of the press release or information,
3. get the corresponding output file as a KML file,
4. open it with GoogleMaps,
5. get the HTML code,
6. embed it in a blog post.
Next steps : a) add more news feeds - for the time being, that's only Fiber Optics Online and The New York Times, b) add a Yahoo!Maps display, to compare with Google's, c) test new ways to show information, as on Babelcast for instance.
You can see, use, and copy the fibernews pipe here.
FiberNews webpage is here.
In other words, Telcos are readiing their FTTH-Everywhere strategy. Read this.
(thanks to Benoit for the heads-up)
Thanks to Benoit Felten, this article by Andrew Schmitt of Nyquist Capital : "The Proving Ground of NTT", or how Japan expect to reach 100% broadband coverage, 90% of which to be ultra-high speed (read : fiber-based) by 2010.
In the early 90's, the Japanese economy crashed. Fifteen or so years later, Japan is back in the Top-5 concert of leading nations. Since fifteen years or so, Japan is building a truly broadband infrastructure. There is a strong link between those two facts : nationwide networks construction creates and maintains jobs, whilst thus available high-speed links helps creating new products & services, hence new jobs. A virtuous circle that propels the Economy.
I'm pleased to announce the release of my new weblog : " Fiber On Demand ".
Fiber On Demand displays all videos related to the FTTH Fiber To The Home technology available on the Net.
The first version, aka "beta" as usual, do aggregate content from YouTube and GoogleVideo. The actual query looks for all the files tagged "FTTH", without any further operation but filtering non-unique items, the results being combined into one single RSS feed.
To create Fiber On Demand "Beta", I've used only two tools, beside the TypePad platform of course : Yahoo!Pipes and Feed2JS. Total time spent to put together the actual version : less than 60 minutes, including 10 minutes to build and test the pipe, 20 minutes to test several options to display the RSS feed on a TypePad' weblog, and 20 minutes to create the current design of Fiber On Demand.
To get started, here is a comprehensive list of useful ressources :
- Yahoo!Pipes Blog
- Some Template Tips & Tricks blog
- 5 cool ways to use Yahoo!Pipes
- Yahoo! Pipes: Unlocking the Data Web by Jeremy Zawodny
My "FTTH_videos" pipe is available here. Developed from scratch - means it's not a clone of an existing pipe. Just to prove how easy it is to build your own app, even if you haven't put your hands on C++ since years (myself : was in the mid 90's, when I were a registered NeXT Developer ;-)
The next revision of Fiber On Demand will : a) exclude french-speaking videos, b) sort the videos by location.
Also, I'll do my best to get embedded YouTube clips instead of vignettes.
Last but not least, I'm preparing another video blog, this one aimed at education on fiber optics technology. Stay tuned ;-)
post-scriptum : to go to Fiber On Demand, click on the link under "Blogging On Fibergeneration" in the right hand' sidebar.
UPDATE Aug. 27, 2007 : I will publish the step-by-step process in a future post (read : soon).
A new business model is making its debuts in the Fiber-To-The-Home market. In " Europe Fiber futures: 40 Gbps to offices & 100 Mbps to homes ", VON' European Editor Bob Emmerson explains what a Nordic telco, Lyse Tele, is currently doing with its customers. The real innovation : subscribers can lay the last meters themselves, in order to reduce the costs.
IMHO, this is the very first step towards a " Network 2.0 " approach, where the end-users will build their access networks according to their own needs. The technology is there, the tools are there.
Imagine the fiber network in your neighborhood as a giant loop, open, always on, delivering enough bandwidth for the common applications and services - say 100Mbps -, onto which you can plug your terminal at will.
We just have to do it (I will come back on that one later).
The parent company of Lyse Tele is a utility that had and still has a core asset: an established billing relationship with millions of electricity users. In April 2002, they formed a subsidiary to enter the IPTV arena, so while the activity was brand new, the name was not. Moreover, this was a company that the market could trust, and that is something technology cannot create.
The company started with a clean sheet of paper. There were no legacy investments or services to protect. But to compete, they needed a visionary strategy and an offer that was not merely different but radically different. All service providers employ the same technologies, so the radically different visionary strategy and offer had to come by way of marketing.
Selling Before Building
Their go-to-market strategy is alarmingly simple: before you go anywhere, make sure there is a market. They make sure by creating it.
They could not realize differentiation over cable or copper. It had to be fiber. To justify the investment, the company set up meetings in the neighborhood. They provided a supervised play area for children, coffee, mineral water, and a presentation.
The basic pitch is also simple. The company will lay fiber to your home, and you get 100 Mbps IP access (minimum), IPTV and triple play services, and because the bandwidth is symmetric, you can also participate in a community of interest groups. But all of this can happen only after enough households sign up. Participants can sign up at the meeting or later, and they are encouraged to spread the message if they want the service.
It works. To keep costs down, subscribers can lay the last part of the network themselves. There’s a do-it-yourself kit, and they save €500 (US$630). Around 80% do the physical, self-provisioning part themselves.
Apart from saving money, subscribers who lay the fiber themselves feel that they own that part of the infrastructure. VoIP calls made within the broadband network are free. This part of the strategy minimizes churn, as does the decision to deploy symmetric access to facilitate the development of community services. It works. Upstream traffic exceeds downstream.
All right, I have to admit it : this post "Paris Finally Gets Free fiber -- But Not The Kind You're Thinking" is a fake.
Nicos Sarkolazy doesn't exist, neither this Fiber 2.0 startup (at least, as far as I know ;-) and his founder Mark Billaud.
This post was a proof of concept : to show that shifting the paradigm can help communities to deploy their own broadband/fiber networks.
I simply took the recent article written by Terrence Russell for Wired, and changed the names and locations.
Now, we might do our best to make it real ;-)
post-scriptum, about the names : it's a reference to a recent post from Jean-Michel Billaut (link in french), who wrote an open letter to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, urging him to push on the deployment of FTTH Fiber-To-The-Home access, for every French Citizen to get universal broadband access.
Exclusive report from fellow journalist & columnist Nicos Sarkolasy. [with typo corrected]
Between the nationwide
decline explosion of municipal fiber projects and the stall huge perspective in Paris's FT fiber plans, it's not shocking to hear that other companies are coming up with their own homegrown solutions for the tech savvy city. The one that's been creating the most buzz in France over the last couple of days has been Fiber 2.0, with its audacious pledge to "free the broadband". With funding from Google and Sequoia Capital, the Biarritz, Euskadi-based company has recently announced its plans to expand its free coverage from the two Paris neighborhoods it currently blankets to an additional six communities within the city.
But here's the rub--even though Fiber 2.0 has been generous enough to donate the equipment, the deployment of the network relies heavily on volunteers. Although the company has seen success in providing free fiber in roughly 25 countries around the world, I wasn't sure how the service could become a viable way to connect with its sub-municipal scale and reliance on the generous and willing. To get the story straight, I had a brief chat with Fiber 2.0 CEO and Co-founder, Mark F. Billaud.
"We don't think of ourselves as being in competition with the FT deal," Billaud clarified during our phone conversation. "In many ways we serve a different market. We're not trying to be the backbone coverage for emergency services like police and fire departments, and that's a big part of what France Telecom and Orange are trying to do in Paris."
Ironically, I think Billaud touched on an important point while describing the role of Fiber 2.0's free service in a city setting. The availability of using the Web 2.0 and the ability to watch HD-TV on the go is what most of us associate with municipal fiber, but the truth is there's a much more complex element involved when the service is meant to become part of a city's infrastructure. Building out a speedy and adequately blanketed fiber network is not only expensive, but also a logistical nightmare when it comes to guaranteeing near flawless service for the public safety sector. Rather than trying to provide a de facto solution for all situations, Fiber 2.0's founders made the wise decision of focusing on enabling a community to buildout its own network for casual use.
There was still one thing that was bothering me--what's with the whole volunteer element? "Most of the people who contact us about volunteering are interested in doing their part by putting a booster on their windowsill," Billaud explained. "But we still encounter a fair share of people that are actually interested in sharing some of their unused bandwidth to provide connectivity for the community."
If the citizens of Paris can methodically build their own patchwork network, I'm left to wonder who really merits from the FT deal. But does Fiber 2.0 really have what it takes to even knockout a lot of the floundering muni-fiber projects out there? With all the bureaucratic red tape surrounding most muni projects it's possible, but the company would need a lot of visibility and a continuous supply of altruistic community to pull it off. Until progress is made with FT, or we see the rollout of WiMax/Xohm, I'm willing to give it a shot. It's not like it's going to cost me anything...
" Cisco found that American video websites currently transmit more data per month than the entire amount of traffic sent over the internet in 2000. " This, and much more, into the article written by Matt Chapman of the Australian online magazine ITNews.
For the Telecoms Industry, this is the best news since the downturn : Finally, there is a real need for bandwidth.
It's a given that telcos, cable TV operators, and the remaining carriers' s carriers will have to build lots of new long haul networks pretty soon, for the actual infrastructure will start showing off its limits.
Let the big guys deploy their FTTH networks here, the CableTV folks upgrade to DOCSIS 3.0 there. Then, watch them struggle with the first Internet black-out, and you will see how quickly those new long-distance infrastructures will show up. So wonderful time ahead for the Fiber Optics fellows ;-)
post-scriptum : You may also read the original article published by Ars Technica last week : " Report: Cable companies facing big bandwidth crunch ".
(Thanks Bruno for the heads up)