How Did Japan Leap Ahead?

Jim Baller of the Baller Group sent around an interesting article yesterday (Japan’s Warp-Speed Ride to Internet Future).

It talks about how and why Japan is doing so much better than the US is doing. The indisputable reason is:

The copper wire used to hook up Japanese homes is newer and runs in shorter loops to telephone exchanges than in the United States. This is partly a matter of geography and demographics: Japan is relatively small, highly urbanized and densely populated. But better wire is also a legacy of American bombs, which razed much of urban Japan during World War II and led to a wholesale rewiring of the country.

They also say:

Japan has surged ahead of the United States on the wings of better wire and more aggressive government regulation, industry analysts say.

I didn’t know much about the history of broadband in Japan so I found it interesting. Apparently the Japanese government urged the phone companies to open up their lines to local ISPs, which installed lots of DSL. DSL is faster in Japan because the phone lines are generally shorter. It was very popular. (Apparently the early version of the Open Network was a good idea.)

The phone companies saw the potential and decided to install fiber to the home and premises – and that too has been popular.

Vince Cerf is quoted in the article. He is worried about the US being left in the dust. Clearly that is a real concern – I think one lesson we can take from Japan is the early success of the open network structure, for the vendors who opened the network, for the resellers, and the end customer.

Broadband Costs Around the World

On Monday I left for Dublin, lots of airport time gave me plenty of time to read Wired! There was an interesting article on broadband (Access Denied).

They claim that only 3 percent of the world’s population has broadband. They also gave cost of bandwidth in various places in the world and the percentage of local average salary that would be required to buy broadband locally:

County Cost per Kbps Total Subscribers Percentage of Monthly Salary
South Korea $0.08 12.2 million  
Netherlands $0.14 4.1 million  
US $0.49 60 million .01
Nicaragua $14.65 6,600 20
Russia $28.13 1.6 million 8
Bolivia $39.06 11,000 50
Pakistan $106.98   2
Mozambique $361.83   1,400 times the average salary
Saudi Arabia $571.82 .1 percent of population 58

I’m not sure yet what the cost of broadband in Dublin is going to be. I had heard from everyone that it would take 1-2 days to get broadband. Unfortunately that isn’t the case. It will be 5-10 days. I’ll report more when it’s actually installed.

The good news is that even out in the suburbs, there is free WiFi access in the library – and a place to plug in a laptop. So that’s been a life saver.

Fiber, Wireless, Municipal, Open Network…

Thanks to Becky LaPlant for sending me a recent article from TwinCities.com (Speed up, with fiber). The author does a great job of outlining broadband efforts throughout the state.

She mentions

  1. Eagan’s efforts to pledge to get gigabit-a-second Internet speed by 2015 (which they seem to want for the whole state!).
  2. The Iron Range and their $45 million project to build out fiber in 11 communities.
  3. Monticello and their referendum next month to decide whether it can build a citywide fiber-optic network that can offer phone service along with television and a high-speed Internet
  4. Red Wing and their early efforts to make a plan for broadband
  5. Wabasha and their Hiawatha Broadband installed a fiber-optic, which may soon include neighboring areas such as Rolling Stone, Stockton and Lewiston
  6. Minneapolis and their wireless network, which was an asset in the 35W Bridge incident
  7. And finally ST Paul and their recent efforts

She even mentions the Blandin Foundation because the Foundation believes that cities can often be a good broadband partner because cities do not need to recoup investment costs as quickly as a business would.

I wish I could say more – but I’m getting ready to hop on a plane to Dublin🙂

Onvoy Purchased by Zayo

Minnesota ISP, Onvoy, was recently purchased by Zayo. (You can read more in the Minneapolis/St Paul BizJournal.)

I worked at MRNet (Minnesota Regional Network), which was purchased by MEANS, who in turn became Onvoy. I was gone before the name change so I don’t feel as if I ever worked at Onvoy, but I do know some folks over there.

Zayo looks like a small organization that has been buying up broadband providers all summer. According to their brief web site, “Zayo is committed to providing large amounts of bandwidth at reasonable costs in geographies where it owns fiber networks. Zayo collaborates with its customers to develop bandwidth solutions that meet their specific requirements.”

It should be interesting to watch and see what happens.

Need to Build, Support Infrastructure

Thanks to Jamie for sending me the following article: WiMAX Blog US Telecom infrastructure “deficient”, too

It’s an interesting look at the need to invest in infrastructure. It starts with comparing broadband infrastructure to road repair – or really to the 35W Bridge collapse a few weeks ago.

I live a couple of miles from the 35W Bridge. I used to drive under it every day to get to and from work. I am fortunate in that I didn’t know anyone on the bridge when it went down.

Here’s the obvious statement of the day – bridges shouldn’t go down. We have the technology. The reports have indicated that the bridge was known to be “structurally deficient”. And yet, not enough was done to repair or rebuild it. (Now maybe time will tell that nothing more could have been done – but right now it doesn’t really look that way.)

It seems, as article above outlines, that broadband infrastructure is no more stable in most communities.

“Almost all cities and towns across the nation rely on one hub or Central Office (CO), meaning that if that hub were to be destroyed, that city would lose all land line telephone connectivity with the outside world.”

I worked for MRNet in the 1995, when a fire under the Washington Bridge (very near the 35W bridge) essentially took out the link from Minnesota to the rest of the world. It was a huge pain the rear – but I’d venture to say that an outage like that now would be much more costly and destructive.

This article touts WiMAX as an answer. And it may be. But more than anything I enjoyed the article as a wake up call to start looking into investment in infrastructure. Reports show that the US technology rank is slipping. We have the technology (several technologies) to leap frog us back into the game, we just need to recognize the need for investment.

Scott County Builds out Fiber

Thanks to Bruce Ponerantz who just sent me an article from the Minneapolis Star Tribune (Scott County betting on fiber’s future).

Apparently Scott County is creating a 94-mile fiber-optic ring. It will be the largest government-owned high-speed network in the state and one of the largest in the nation. It is financed and owned by a government.
The immediate goal is to connect the police departments, schools, libraries and government agencies. With hopes to connecting residents and businesses with help from private partners.

The system cost $3.5 million but is expected to save $500,000 a year by eliminating payments for Internet connection – and that’s just to start. It is also expected to boost economic development.