Seattle continues on fiber road

Submitted by acohill on Mon, 03/24/2008 - 08:19

The City of Seattle, which selected the open access, open services model as a general direction for its municipal broadband effort last year, is planning to issue an RFP to actually select a fiber to the home vendor. City officials continue to be dismayed with the service offerings from the incumbent telephone and cable companies.

Population: 351 (and fiber)

Submitted by acohill on Thu, 08/17/2006 - 08:27

Here is a story about a woman who the the Director of R&D for a high tech multimedia firm. She lives in Winthrop, Washington, and sleeps in a teepee. Now I know many of you will probably stop reading right there, but this article highlights a growing trend and the power of fiber to change rural communities. From the article, here is a description of Winthrop:

It's more than three hours by car to the nearest freeway exit, two hours to movie theaters and shopping malls. It's a place where, as late as 2001, folks in certain canyons were struggling to get phone service. Four hours from Seattle, a century-wide gap in telecommunications.

No more. These days, fiber-optic cables run like a river down the valley. Microwave towers beam data from peak to peak.

Jokingly, I ask Evans if she can get streaming video in her teepee.

Seriously, she replies, "Of course! . . . Six megabits per second."

Another interesting nugget in the article is the fact that call centers that moved overseas are already coming back. Where are they going? To rural communities WITH FIBER. Rural communities offer workers with excellent work ethics, stable wages, and low cost of doing business. But these days, call centers need the lowest possible telecommunications costs, and they also need to be able to hook a call center into their worldwide VoIP phone systems. Fiber delivers. And it should be a cautionary warning to communities that are hitching their wagon to wireless while thinking that all their broadband problems are solved. Wireless does not provide the bandwidth, security, or reliability that businesses want and need for mission critical services like VoIP.

Farther down in the story, a company in Winthrop had to pay $400,000 out of pocket to get access to fiber for their business because there was no community infrastructure. It's a wonder the firm stayed at all. What kept the firm in tiny Winthrop? Quality of life.

It's a twofer: Rural communities that have the right quality of life and fiber have a bright future. It is important to note the emphasis on the RIGHT quality of life. Every community thinks it has great quality of life, but the amenities, services, schools, and recreational opportunities have to appeal to the kind of people you want to attract to the community, not just folks that have lived in your town all their lives. And there is often a disconnect between the two groups and just what constitutes quality of life. Take a look at the Open for Business handout Design Nine has in its Resources section.

Read the whole article; it is worth the time.

Space elevator tests go well

Submitted by acohill on Mon, 09/26/2005 - 09:52

Initial tests by the Liftport Group of Washington state of their robotic lifter went well, and the company says the next test could use a mile high fiber composite ribbon.

Arthur C. Clarke, the writer and scientist who developed the concept of the geostationary satellite, writes in The Time of London about the potential of the space elevator.

I get a lot of skepticism about my interest in the Space Economy, but it is not space itself that intrigues me, but the potential for spinoffs. The 1960s space program spurred the development of integrated circuits, which then ignited the personal computer revolution and provided the inexpensive hardware for the Internet--arguably the thirty best years in the 225 years of the U.S. economy.

Is a colony on Mars going to change your local economy? No, of course not. But commercial spinoffs of specialized equipment and new technologies could.

Seattle's plan the antidote to "#1 unwired"

Submitted by acohill on Wed, 06/08/2005 - 11:32

I wrote recently about Seattle's plan to invest heavily in fiber. The work that the city has done now seems even more timely because a list of "Most Unwired Cities" came out recently, and Seattle holds the number one slot, just as the city has identified "wired" technologies like fiber as critical. One of the things everyone forgets is that "unwired" hot spots still have to get access back to the wired network, and fiber is usually the most desirable way to do this.

Their task force has recommended a communitywide digital transport system based on fiber, which the task force notes has a 40+ year life span and the lowest cost per megabyte of capacity of any system (e.g. DSL, cable modem, wireless, satellite). The city has a summary of the issues and a link to the plan online. Here is what the Chairman of the Task Force said about broadband:

"The task force believes Seattle must act now to foster the development of advanced broadband facilities and services for our community. Seattle cannot afford to dawdle. Broadband networks will soon become what roads, electric systems and telephone networks are today: core infrastructure of society. Lacking advanced broadband, Seattle is unlikely to maintain a competitive economy, a vibrant culture, quality schools and efficient government."

Seattle says "Fiber--full speed ahead."

Submitted by acohill on Wed, 05/25/2005 - 14:54

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has an article on a report issued by a City of Seattle task force that concluded that the city has to take broadband seriously, and must begin immediately.

This is a must read article that makes many good points. Rather than rehash them, here are some of them verbatim:

The city task force was originally instructed by the City Council to look at doing a citywide wireless project, but after studying the issue, came back with a different set of recommendations that focused on fiber. One city council member has proposed creating an Office of Broadband to study the problem further.

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