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"...
French entrepreneur Jean-Michel Planche recently launched internetforeveryone.fr, a new initiative aimed at promoting an open, neutral and free Internet for everyone (french-speaking volunteers : feel free to join here). Of course, this initiative is the french equivalent of the well-known and pro-active internetforeveryone.org which focus on the US.
Beside all the sociological and ethical aspects, which are fundamentaly the most important ones, hence our priority number one, there's all the technological stuff to be adressed. From the very roots of the Internet (i.e. the IP protocol, Ethernet, etc.) to the less high-level kind of matters such as fiber networks installation and maintenance, we must to re-invent the whole thing.
With for some, like network construction, a pretty deep impact on Social : building Fiber-To-Every-Home networks will require tens of thousands of workers - meaning will create tens of thousands of jobs (100,000 in France alone for the next 5 years, shall the telcos push the ignition button). Just like the construction of railroads in the 19th Century gave jobs to thousands of emigrants and locals in North America ***.
That's what makes Jean-Michel' s initiative so exciting - and challenging. For once, we can be part of a World-Changing project.
Now, why now ? Why is it mandatory to * re-invent * the Internet, as opposed to enhance/upgrade/patch the existing infrastructures, protocols, topologies, etc. ?
Then, read this interesting news by VentureBeat, dated July 23d and titled "Hackers begin to exploit a critical Internet flaw". I'm no Networking (the technical sense ;-) specialist, but I know what a DNS server is (thanks to my early days with HP). So, if this news is true, I understand the potential danger of such flaw. Here's the extract of the article that will help you novices to understand too :
The bug is in the Domain Name System, or DNS, which is the system for translating the locations of network computers into Internet addresses. The flaw is in the design of the DNS protocol itself and is thus not limited to any single product that uses it. If someone hijacks a DNS server, they can redirect an unsuspecting Internet surfer to a malicious web site. A hacker targeting an Internet Service Provider, or ISP, could replace the entire Web (as accessible through that ISP) — search engines, social networks, banks — with their own malicious content. DNS is used by every computer on the Internet to know where to find other computers. Those attacking corporations could reroute network traffic and capture emails and other sensitive business data.
Don't you think it's time to think again ?
*** you may call me an utopist or a fool. Then, ask yourself the question : what is the REAL reason for all those FTTH nets' construction delays ? Answer is simple : lack of (skilled) resources.
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...
CNN Dubai reports :
" High-technology services across large tracts of Asia, the Middle East and North Africa were crippled Thursday following a widespread Internet failure which brought many businesses to a standstill and left others struggling to cope.
Hi-tech Dubai has been hit hard by an Internet outage apparently caused by a cut undersea cable.
Industry experts are blaming damage to two undersea cables but it is not known what caused the damage.
Reports say that Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain Pakistan and India, are all experiencing severe problems.
Nations that have been spared the chaos include Israel -- whose traffic uses a different route -- and Lebanon and Iraq. Many Middle East governments have backup satellite systems in case of cable failure."
As stated by one of the interviewed ISPs, this pretty severe outage is a wake up call for the region. But also for the whole Telecoms industry : it's time to stop lay offs and start lay out new cables. Dear submarine systems makers, you've got a bright future ahead of you !
Just like in the mid-90's, when the big projects such as FLAG and SeaMeWe appeared.
The difference ? Today, there are people at the end of the fiber. Applications. Business. Users.
It's showtime for the real Net Economy, folks !
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.
Thanks to The Broadband Hub, this highly interesting presentation by Dr. Robert Atkinson of The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF). Although it's 100% USA-focused, I'm sure most of the ratios apply to the rest of the Western World too (incl. France of course and unfortunately).
Among many key figures which help understanding the real situation in regards of Broadband access & use, the one about the perception of the Internet by Disabled persons (page 39) is quite questioning : the Internet, which normally should be considered as one of the most powerful tool to get Disabled people on board, is not. There is a good news behind the bad one : there is plenty of stuff still to be done for real innovation and entrepreneurship in this domain. "Change the World", right ?...
ps: also found in this presentation, the Virginia Tech’s eCorridors Broadband Access Map, that enables real-time, bottomup broadband mapping. Got to find the same for Europe. Or create it if it doesn't exist yet !...
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.
UK-based Telco 2.0 is running a market survey on the future business models in the Broadband arena. To participate, click here.
My take : IP, FTTx, and Web 2.0 are going to change the whole Telecoms landscape, with Telcos and ISPs and others to make money on services rather than on infrastructure.
Thanks Benoit for the heads up.
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".
In other words, Telcos are readiing their FTTH-Everywhere strategy. Read this.
(thanks to Benoit for the heads-up)
The image I've used in the former post is grabbed from the famous yet extraordinary Web Trend Map of iA.
See the clickable version (warning : it don't work under Opera 9) here - SnapShots at its best.
To understand why thinking out of the box often leads to outstanding outcomes, read this excerpt from the original announcement by Oliver Reichenstein of Information Architects :
Less Japanese Jokes
There are less insider jokes about the different stations and more consistency within the connections and the neighborhood of the different sites. People who know Tokyo will still find lots of little hints and sarcastic comments hidden in there.
- Google has moved from Shibuya, a humming place for young people, to Shinjuku, a suspicious, messy, Yakuza-controlled, but still a pretty cool place to hang out (Golden Gaya).
- Youtube has conquered Shibuya.
- Microsoft has moved to Ikebukuro, if you know what I mean.
- Yahoo is in Ueno, a nice place but nothing going on there.
- Wikipedia now is in Shimbashi, the place for the square and hard-headed Salaryman, like the Wikipedia watchdogs.
- The Chinese line runs parallel to the “share line” which starts with the main pirates…
- Paper info designer Tufte is right below the Federated Media, right before joining with the interactive information design circle in a 90 degree angle.
- “You” are in the Emperor’s palace, in the center of the network.
More Revealing Coincidences
- The main Japanese sites are all on the money line. I never notice before, but most big Japanese sites are financially successful.
- The northern part of the Yamanote line (”main sites”) is a boring unknown territory (just as in real Tokyo).
- Ze Frank ended up close to the German carousel.
- iA ended up close to the pirates.
- Adobe moved from Ginza (high class) to Tokyo station (anonymous, lots of money there), which is pointing at the fact that they continue to move towards the center of gravity without being too loud about it.
- Skype has conquered a place that doesn’t exist.
Insider Circle and Your Palace
There is a new insider circle with the tech trend scouts, the tech bloggers and You, occupying the Emperor’s palace.
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)
Today, Skype is holding its breath, for the first time ever according to my early adopter's s memory.
For those of us who use Skype for overseas business communications, the issue might cause only some minor troubles - hey, we still have landlines and cellphones, right ?
However, it's interesting to see how the Internet is prominent in our daily life
today those days. Hence the very basic question : what would happen if Google goes down someday ? Here's a funny exercise : count all the Google services you actually use every day, if not every hour, and be prepared for a scarring moment ;-)
UPDATE August 17, 2007 @ 10:51AM CET : Skype login still down.
I can't discuss via IM with my friends of Belarus, for our usual early-morning coaching session (I do help those folks to jump on the 21st Century' bandwagon). We don't want to use MS or Yahoo! Messenger(s), as those are not efficient tools for business purpose; we could set-up a Wiki rapidly, but this would become useless when Skype goes live again; we don't want to do a confcall via telephone : both landline and cellular communications are damned far too expensive from/to France to/from Belarus. Twitter would be good, if there was no text size limits. Therefore we do communicate the old-fashion way : email. Just hope we won't be forced to go back to Morse and telegraph someday ;-)
Got to tell you : Testing 2.0 becomes real. Some much fun with all the Web 2.0 apps out there. Web-apps, not Client-apps, that's the key. Stay tuned, more to come next week.
Japan Telco & R&D leader NTT was the first to come on the market with a new type of fiber aimed at Fiber-To-The-Home easy deployments. That is due to the fact that FTTH roll out started earlier in Japan than in the US. The question is : how about Europe, and France especially ? Local Telcos and ISPs seem not to be concerned by technics, and the local fiber optics industry has been almost wiped out after the crash, back in the early 2000's. So, no industry, no innovation, no innovation, no more industry. Time to do something, Mr President !
Worldwide leader Corning announced a breakthrough optical fiber technology, performing over 100 times better than standard fibers. The N.Y.-based fiber maker worked closely with Verizon to resolve FTTH installation challenges.
"This is a game-changing technology for telecommunications applications," said Peter F. Volanakis, president and chief operating officer at Corning. "We have developed an optical fiber cable that is as rugged as copper cable but with all of the bandwidth benefits of fiber. By making fundamental changes in the way light travels in the fiber, we were able to create a new optical fiber that is over 100 times more bendable than standard fibers." Corning's newest fiber technology achieves this while maintaining compatibility with industry performance standards, existing manufacturing processes and installation procedures. "So, customers don't have to sacrifice one benefit to get another," he said.
Now, the need for trained outside plant technicians is a bit less critical. The only issue still to be resolved : testing...
About broadband access : " Fibre in the Last Mile in Europe ", the recent report from Frost & Sullivan, published: 9 July, 2007.
F&S claims fibre-to-the-home deployments reached over 2.5 million homes in 2006 and estimates this to reach over 14.0 million in 2012.
There's still business to do in Fiber Optics ;-)
Searching for information on the Global Information Grid, I found this awesome/mind-opening/think-out-of-the-box article : "Network Maps, Energy Diagrams : Structure and Agency in the Global System", by Brian Holmes.
Holmes describes current researches aimed at mapping networks of all kinds, from the obvious Internet to illegal sea-going immigration routes to pedestrians' s everyday itineraries in Amsterdam.
To document its very detailed yet comprehensive explanations of the background and applications, Holmes links to lots of websites which are worth the visit. Among all those sites, you may check this one : Each frame of this movie-map is a snapshot of Internet usage across the world during a few hours time; five different images were compiled every two days, over a period of some eighteen months. The result is an extraordinary visual experience. The ISPs turn green and advance toward the center as their connectivity increases; the link lines shift as the routing structure reconfigures to meet the moment’s demands. We watch the diurnal flux of the Internet, and feel the complex, disjunctive rhythm of the global information machine. It’s like the pulsing of a hive, a planetary brain: the cognitive and imaginary activity of untold millions of individuals, establishing far-flung connections.
To give you the flavor, here's the introduction :
The Internet is the vector of a new geography – not only because it conjures up virtual realities, but because it shapes our lives in society, and shifts our perceptions along with the ground beneath our feet. Networks have become the dominant structures of cultural, economic and military power. Yet that power remains largely invisible. How can the networked society be represented? And how can it be navigated, appropriated, reshaped in its turn?
Reflecting in the early 1980s on the spatial chaos that technological and financial developments had impressed upon contemporary cities, Fredric Jameson pointed to the need for “an aesthetics of cognitive mapping” to resolve “the incapacity of our minds, at least at present, to map the great global multinational and decentered communicational network in which we find ourselves caught as individual subjects.” He conceived this cartographic aesthetics as a collective pedagogy, whose challenge would be to correlate the abstract knowledge of global realities with the imaginary figures that orient our daily experience. Epistemological shifts, pushed forward by the use of sophisticated technical instruments, would need to be paralleled by the deployment of radically new visual vocabularies, in order to produce a clearer understanding of contemporary symbolic relations (social roles, class divides, hierarchies) and a fresh capacity for political intervention in the postmodern world. Only by inventing “some as yet unimaginable new mode of representing” could we “again begin to grasp our positioning as individual and collective subjects and regain a capacity to act and struggle which is at present neutralized by our spatial as well as our social confusion.”1
Twenty years later, what has become of the mapping impulse? What new forms of cartography have arisen to chart the virtual/real spaces of the present? What kinds of agency do they permit? What modes of social organization do they foster? Can critical and dissenting maps be distinguished among the established and dominant ones?
Full article and much more, here.
"French policy has nurtured competition among providers, advancing the country to the cutting-edge of broadband technology", writes BusinessWeek correspondent in Paris Jennifer Schenker in her article Vive la High-Speed Internet!
What a difference a few years make. In 2001, France had one of the weakest markets for broadband Internet access in the developed world, with less than a quarter of the penetration of the U.S. Today, it has sailed past the U.S. to become one of the world's most wired nations, with more than one in five inhabitants enjoying high-speed Internet connections.
What's even more interesting is what the French are doing with their fast hook-ups. According to tech research firm Analysys, a remarkable 52% of broadband connections in France today are used for voice-over-Internet protocol, or VoIP, phone calls—far and away the highest level in Europe and perhaps in the world. In Britain and Germany, by comparison, just 6% of broadband connections are used for VoIP.
The Battle of the Boxes
The French also have gotten off to a fast start in Internet TV. Analysys figures 2.6 million households in France now get TV over the Net using Internet protocol technology (IPTV). That's about 10 times the number using IPTV in Britain, qualifying France as the European leader in video-on-demand services.
How did the land of wine, cheese, and luxury goods become a world-beater in cutting-edge Net services? Part of the credit goes to what could be called the Battle of the Boxes. Paris and other cities are plastered with ads for state-of-the-art home Internet gateways—with names like Livebox, Freebox, Neufbox, and Dartybox—that offer connection speeds of up to 28 megabits per second, plus voice calls, TV, and Wi-Fi. They usually come for free with a monthly broadband subscription starting around €30 ($41).
According to Forbes, ten small European optical-fiber network operators are to combine their infrastructure in an alliance called Euro-One. New entrants, new countries are involved (e.g. Czech Republic). It reminds me the pre-Bubble times, back in the late 90's, with all those alliances between telcos. I hope the new guys have learned from the mistakes of their predecessors. The good news is that the Internet has dramatically changed since 2000 : way more users, applications, usages, etc. It should help Euro-One to build an infrastructure that fits the actual needs of the customers. Note : maybe I will stay in the business. Perhaps someone at Euro-One needs my expertise ;-)
The battle for the soul of the broadband customer goes on behind closed doors. But it's not all behind the doors to the development labs where ingenious engineers hatch super-secret capabilities. Nor is it all behind the doors to the central office from which all bandwidth flows. One of the biggest battles is being waged by technicians behind the doors to the den and to the family room.
“The home is the new frontier,” said Dave Holly, head of the cable networking division for JDSU. “It has dramatically changed what is being introduced to the network [by end users] as well as the portfolio of [test] tools we must develop and deploy.”
In this new frontier, the key to winning the broadband battle — not that there ever will be a clear-cut winner, only interchangeable market leaders — may depend on the weapons, or tools, with which service providers outfit their technicians.
With FTTH and FTTN implementations in full swing, significant changes are taking place in all aspects of network testing that will affect not just an upswing in the sale of test gear, but how, from where and by whom live networks and services are tested.
There are still those vendors looking for ways to “outfit the Super Tech,” said Peter Schweiger, business development manager for optical network test systems at Agilent. But he and others believe that may never happen. In some respects, the technologies are too numerous and complex for technicians to have command of them all. For the same reasons, it is untenable to have a single tool a tech can carry.
Test equipment manufacturers are trying to strike a balance between building what Schweiger calls the “minimum viable product” — a hand-held device with a couple of red and green lights that tests continuity and perhaps a little jitter and response time — and a full-blown analyzer that looks at Sonet, Ethernet and dense wave division multiplexing and acts as an optical time domain reflectometer and perhaps even POTS tester in the same box. He calls it, poetically, the difference between “tools for techs” and “instruments for engineers.”
Much more in the full article here.
The whole Testing 2.0 concept is right at the core of this article : for several different reasons, today's technicians need simple red & green lights tools to test the broadband access (and TriplePlay services) at the subscriber premise. Testing 2.0 goes even further : it's all about making tools for non-technicians.
Watch this video, created by the FTTH Council in the US. Straight to the point : is the Internet as we know it today ready for the new huge amount of data that is coming out from all those new online applications. Such as video, for instance...
This weblog being named after the fiber optics technology, it's time to go back to the roots.
Here's an interesting view on the necessary evolution of communications networks, by Jon Oltsik for C|Net. Oltsik' s conclusion :
" More bandwidth is always beneficial, but it is no longer a networking panacea. If we want to add complex network-based applications, we better be ready with an appropriate network architecture."
My take on that : once the FTTH Fiber To The Home networks will be largely deployed in every major city of the World, the whole Telecoms industry will move for a giant overhaul. New fibers for wireline infrastructures, ubiquitous Wifi/WiMax everywhere, and mesh archictecture as the standard.