Monday, August 16, 2010

Why go to all the trouble to transform from the legacy copper telecom world to the Next Generation fibre and wireless communications world?

The adjective “ultra-fast” oversimplifies and understates the underlying purpose and reasoning for making the transformation from copper to fibre.

While fibre-based services certainly are many times faster than copper-based services, they also are much more versatile, can be fit for purpose, can make distance within any country disappear and the key underlying fundamentals are “future proof.”

The concept of “versatility and fit for purpose” means that anything that can be digitized can be transported to anywhere on the fibre grid with the speed, priority and quality fit for its particular purpose.  Anything that you can see, hear, measure or calculate can already be digitized, yet we are still in the early phase of harnessing the power of digital technologies.  This versatile capacity to carry any digital traffic in any direction for any purpose is why legacy copper networks are out of date.  Telephone networks were designed for voice only, cable networks were for broadcast TV; and they did this job well but these services are no longer the driver for demand.  Like any other out-of-date plant, it is time to be replaced.


The ICT sector is just now graduating to a more mature industry structure that is based on providing end users with a professionally managed service as opposed to expecting the end user to be the technology integrator in order to make their PC work.  This evolution is irreversible because the end users are demanding.  They want higher performing, easier to use digital services that cost less.  All of these outcomes can be accomplished by using Cloud Computing and Software as a Service delivered over a fibre-based Next Generation Network by professionals.

What does this mean?  It means that Google, iTunes, and smart phones are just the very first wave of customer-centric services that are easy to use and provide a totally transformed value proposition.   Next are all the sensor-based technologies that can monitor assets, a person’s life information, security and so on, bringing about a revolution in the way such things as health and education can be delivered.  The limited performance and the cost of the legacy network at even moderate speeds and quality is the main factor limiting an explosion of individual customer-focused, professionally managed services that will improve your productivity, help you keep your knowledge base current, keep you in touch with those close to you, and provide you with personalized entertainment.

Why not wireless instead of fibre?  Actually, I see fibre and wireless as fully complementary.  It is already clear that the customer preference for use of a mobile phone is moving to subordinate the phone call to all the other services available on a smart mobile device.  The other services are more bandwidth intensive than voice.  Therefore successful adoption drives much larger connectivity requirements from the tower back to the world.  The best answer is Next Generation Network fibre connectivity to the tower; copper simply can’t handle that traffic.  Local WiFi in a home attached to Fibre to the Premise enables all the devices in the home without paying the cost of mobility.  Fibre to the Tower combined with Fibre to the Premise creates the ideal combination with no compromise performance when at home and full functionality when on the move.

Services over fibre make distance disappear for end users without compromising either their performance or selection of services available to them.  This is particularly important for geographies like New Zealand and Alberta, where everyone’s prosperity depends to a material degree on the competitiveness of the non-metropolitan-based industries.

The underlying fundamentals of a fibre grid working in tandem with wireless are future proof.  The fibre is inert, creates no significant emissions, has a very long useful life and is made from readily available materials.  Nothing travels faster than light and there is no friction or wear and tear.  Routing, switching and optics costs are reducing and their performance increasing.  Global standards for Internet Protocol are here to stay because end users demand global connectivity.

The case for transforming from copper to fibre / wireless is compelling from performance and “fit for the future” perspectives.  It enables the digital economy and the knowledge economy.  It enfranchises everyone that has access to it.  The only legitimate question is, “Is the cost for the end user too high or the cost for the country prohibitive for the benefit delivered?”

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