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September 01, 2009


Thanks for the post, Pub, and for the link.

Thanks, publius. I really appreciate your posts on telecom issues.

Yeah, people tend to dwell on the initial costs with infrastructure without ever considering the multiplier effects of the investment (productivity gains, new possibilities, etc). The current debate in Australia over the proposed high-speed broadband network is following those lines...'it costs too much' vs. 'but think of the possibilities'...

So that's the point. As our country moves to next-generation networks with significantly higher speeds, lots of new services (particularly video services) will emerge that we can't even imagine. Higher speeds (plus openness) will enable this innovation.

Higher speed needs new infrastructure. How do you intend to encourage the building of that infracture. (This, by the bye, would have been an excellent project for the stimulus package .....)

My wife's probably tired of hearing me say, "spend strategically," as we contemplate our household budget.

The idea is that, while I can be a bit of a pennypincher on a day-to-day basis, I'm all for spending money - on stuff that's going to make a positive difference in our lives. I just don't want to fritter our money away, is all.

Under GWB, we frittered our money away. We cut taxes and had a real estate bubble that resulted in our spending a big chunk of our national treasure on housing stock that may never be particularly useful, because $5/gallon gas will make it far more expensive to use than it is to buy.

We, as a nation, need to spend strategically. We need to invest in the infrastructure that will put us on a solid foundation for economic growth between now and 2050. That means everything from refurbishing our (often ancient) big-city water and sewer systems to subways and light rail to bringing high-speed broadband to everyone.

Sure, it'll cost a lot of money. But we'll get real returns on it down the road. Our children will live much better lives if we spend money on things like this.

Not me, jerk.

von: I thought your problem with the stimulus was that it wasn't fast enough, and should have been more tax cuts. Laying fiber would be just as slow as any other infrastructure project, and then what would we do with it, just give it away to the existing local telecom or cable monopolies?

Not that I think installing fiber is a bad thing, I'm just not sure how it's so much better than what was in the stimulus.

Today, many of these cable networks still lay unused, or “dark.” There were hundreds of thousand of miles of cable laid, but due to the many different owners of the many different networks, there is no clear estimate as to the exact amount of unused bandwidth still available. Fiber optic cables can achieve transmission speeds of up to 14 Tbit/sec over long stretches, and the price of buying dark fiber from the firms that bought up the excess is very low, now reaching prices less than $200 per mile. In many cases, it is now becoming cheaper for firms with heavy bandwidth requirements to buy their own dark fiber network, rather than pay to lease bandwidth from service providers.

Despite the ever-increasing amount of information being swapped on a daily basis, the world’s information network has plenty of room to grow. Dark fiber will inevitably play a huge role in the further development of the world’s informational infrastructure. Perhaps the shortsightedness of the dot-com boom was in fact the best long term strategy of all.
Shedding Light on Dark Fiber

CharlesWT, I think you're confused. There is lots of dark fiber in the internet's core. But there is very little on the last mile connecting individual residences and businesses with the internet. You can have lots and lots of unused network capacity in the core but the average person's experience is limited to the capacity of the connection on the last mile between their house and their network provider. Upgrading these last mile links to fiber is the real issue, not fiber in the core.

"Upgrading these last mile links to fiber is the real issue, not fiber in the core."
Point taken.

How I wish Verizon would bring FIOS to my little burg already....

Fiber in the core is a related issue, though. It would be no good upgrading everyone to 100Mbit fiber at home if the backbones weren't going to be capable of delivering services at those rates.

Luckily that is unlikely to be the case, not just because of the dark fiber overhang, but because it just isn't that expensive to build additional core network capacity compared to building last-mile links.

Higher speed needs new infrastructure. How do you intend to encourage the building of that infracture.

Investment like a public utility, with the utility as a wholesaler of bandwidth, and private entities selling services over it.

Actually, implementing new standards such as Docsis 3.0, can provide major speed boosts without major infrastructure upgrades.

It would literally be illegal in much of the advanced industrial world to sell as "broadband" the stuff American providers pawn off on us. The download speeds are not great, but the real disaster is the lack of upload speeds. I coordinate an extensive educational program for legal professional using interactive video conferencing, an option that allows great efficiencies over flying people all over the country for meetings. Often I feel like cutting my wrists when trying to get decent connectivity from many of our users. If we were in South Korea or Finland, this wouldn't be a problem. Unfortunately, America (e.g. the FCC and various state PUCs) made several wrong turns since 1996, and, as publius notes, whole areas of innovation have been stifled. Welcome to the 21st century third world.

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