22 Dec Damn the incumbents, and full speed ahead
The American people should be outraged at getting a second-rate solution for something as critical as its network infrastructure. It goes against what average consumers demand in almost every other product and service arena.
Speed is the common measurement that cuts across many products and services as the general metric for assessing whether or not a product is good, bad, or world class.
Speed is good
To paraphrase Gordon Gekko’s “Greed is Good” from the movie Wallstreet, “Speed is Good.” People want speed in everyday processes and should be demanding efficiency, not bureaucracy, in the regulation of the network.
Who wants a slower car? Who wants to spend more time on a commuter train going to and from work? Who wants to wait in a grocery check-out lane or in this season’s favorite – the post office? Who wants to wait 10 to 15 seconds for download of a file if they can get it instantaneously?
And what about things you cannot have today? What about downloading a first-run movie in 10 seconds to watch on its opening day? Too slow? Make that less than a second.
What do most people do that want to go to a faraway vacation destination? Do they take a train, a plane that has two intermediate stops, or a non-stop plane?
People take the fastest route. They want to get to their destination as fast as possible. Most people would not want to spend time waiting or traveling at a slower rate. The same should hold true for their network infrastructure.
Go on any trading floor and tell the traders that their line will be 250 milliseconds slower than the person next to them and see if you walk away alive. Those same traders want to hear that you are installing a faster network connection for them, and that they will be 250 milliseconds faster than anyone else on the floor.
Technology should take the “wait” out of everything. That’s what people want in everyday life. There are many reasons that we could list, but all you have to do is look around to see what people are doing and what they are gravitating to.
Going against the networks’ universal truths
A long time ago, I came up with the four universal truths of networks for viable organizations. This was long before DSL, triple play, and Wi-Fi. Some things are always true and are accepted as the basic framework for any type of viable network:
• Networks never get slower. (When was the last time you heard someone saying we are downgrading your connectivity? We are switching out DSL for 9600bps modems?)
• Networks never get smaller. (You are always adding on to networks – by adding users through acquisitions, new applications, etc.)
• Networks never stay the same. (Organizations are always adding on or changing network configurations due to acquisitions, mergers, downsizing, and other organizational fluctuations – not to mention upgrades and equipment switch outs.)
• Networks never work all of the time. (All networks can fail. You may have 99.999 percent uptime, even 99.9995 percent or even 99.9999 percent, but no one has 100 percent. NO ONE.)
These universal laws of networks are still relevant and yet we have many people that are clueless to these laws.
Once you understand them, you realize that you are going to have to spend some money to have the best network infrastructure. You are also not going to tolerate anything that is inferior to someone else’s network.
Second best is not acceptable, nor should it be sold in the United States as “the next generation of network solutions.” Americans want the best. Trying to sell us something else doesn’t work.
Eventually, those companies are found out and paid back by consumers voting with their pocket books. Need an example? Ford, GM, and Toyota. Check the stock prices. What do you drive?
If there was real competition within the network infrastructure area, we would be using the Toyota fiber network or some other quality network that data, video, and voice would being screaming down on gigabit speeds.
Why are we accepting second best?
Today, we should be looking at rolling out fiber to the premise (FTTP) or a wireless equivalent that can provide gigabit capability. Anything in the planning stages at this point should be looking at gigabit if not multi-gigabit speeds.
California has had a broadband initiative that says “One Gigabit or Bust by 2010.” Everyone is supposed to have one gigabit (one billion bits) access by 2010, which is very good objective. Hopefully, they will attain that in the designated timeframe.
Just like “Best Practices” are a moving target, goals for bandwidth speeds also are a moving target that has to be carefully understood.
What target speed should be the national goal? Is California’s one gigabit the speed goal? This decision is critical because it would put some pressure on the traditional phone company, now referred to as AT&T, to get its act together. Its current solution, Project Lightspeed or U-verse, falls dismally short of putting America back on top. The top speed offered is 6 Mbps (million bits per second) and the future speeds are touted at 25 to 30 Mbps. There are intelligent industrial campuses that are looking at implementing 40 Gbps speeds today. Project Lightspeed looks more like Project Speed Lite.
No strategic direction
With other countries looking at gigabit speeds and universal coverage, our traditional phone companies have tried to put the bureaucratic brakes on innovation as well as global competition in order to milk another couple of years of profits on copper-based infrastructure that should all be replaced today.
What was cutting edge in American network infrastructure is now cutting corners to squeeze another couple of years of profits instead of making the investment to leapfrog everyone. Sorry, but you haven’t sold me.
CARLINI-ISM: Don’t sell me a painted stagecoach and tell me it’s NASCAR.
Copyright 2006 – James Carlini
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Check out James Carlini’s blog at www.carliniscomments.com.