Broadband as it Should Be

Yesterday Singapore announced it was building a next generation broadband network that would bring 3 gigabits per second to each home.  The government will supply $750 million to put the fiber optic conduit  and two private companies are bidding to run the network. What’s most important from a policy standpoint is that the network will be run on an open access policy. For those of us who believe in Network Neutrality, it is a breath of fresh air.

Any operator can plug into it for a fee and provide Internet, IPTV and telephony services. No single operator will be allowed to own the network and block newcomers from accessing it.

Last night I toured with my host the new Fusionopolis Complex where many of the creative industries are starting to locate. They have everything from a Lucasfilm animation facility to a state of the art Biotec research center. It is a brilliantly designed complex of live-work spaces with large swaths of green park, all built, ironically on the military bases of the former British Army Colonial occupiers. The attention to cutting edge detail in the building is astonishing right down to the acoustic sound treatment on the auditorium walls–millions of teak balls with hollow centers that baffle sound. Because Singapore has very little fresh water they have already deployed on a wide scale desalinization and reverse osmosis water recycling plants and are beginning to sell the technology to an increasingly water starved world. Some of the work they are doing in browser based 3-D virtual worlds sounds to be on the leading edge of what you will see in the coming years.

One of our community has pointed out that Singapore is a command and control economy. I am well aware of this, but the reality of being in a country that does not have a huge military budget, is not in debt to the world and in fact generates surplus capital from its trade balance is quite stark. It means it can invest in next generation technologies, build cutting edge research labs with the world’s great universities, educate all its students brilliantly and bilingually and–when needed bail out the West’s failing financial system.

Imagine what the US could do for its citizens if it wasn’t so busy spending its blood and treasure “fighting the last war?”

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0 Responses to Broadband as it Should Be

  1. Azmanon says:

    “3 gigabits per second to each home”

    Whoa nellie… I suggest they also provide easy access to video and photo cameras (for every 5th child) and provide some form of user friendly editing and sharing software. I’m also curious what would happen of you teach a programming language to children alongside spoken languages. How would these things shape our software world?

  2. Another Jon says:

    I wonder how many people here would like to see something like that happen in this country. I, for one, am on board with federal investment in a new and open backbone that leases access to providers in order to provide equal, open access. We touched on this in a previous string about education. This is the kind of infrastructural investment we need. Teach a man to fish……

    Net neutrality scares the bejesus out of me.

    And for the conspiracy theorists worrying about big brother….maybe they should write their local congressman. The new FISA bill and retroactive immunity have made it all a moot point.

  3. Ptrk says:

    Maybe we can get a Chinese company to put in the investment needed to upgrade our infrastructure…,0,2206623.story?page=1

  4. Hugo says:

    A.J., in re your new, fat, fast pipe: could it be a commons, somewhat like Franklin’s free library? Is it necessarily “leased”?

  5. Another Jon says:

    Hugo, I think it COULD be a commons, but in my somewhat limited understanding of how the backbone works upstream it seems like it would require a larger government organization. So it could happen that federal investment in the backbone is the impetus, while more localized control of the hosting and delivery to the individual happens at the municipal level.

    The reason I mentioned leasing is because I am thinking specifically who builds, maintains, and monitors the network access points….and I wanted to take baby steps into the conversation.

  6. Ken Ballweg says:

    If, as so many pundits explain, the one commodity we still have for export is our “Knowledge Industry”, there is a good rationale for an infrastructure upgrade equivalent to the Interstate Highway system.

    The trouble with selling such concepts in the US is that private corps want to have the piece, the pie, and the plate only if it’s profitable, and the public currently doesn’t want to pay for anything that involves taxes (except for prisons). We can’t convince voters to support existing infrastructure let alone develop something as bold as the interstate highway system, or highspeed rail to replace carbon spewing air travel.

    Something as abstract as the underpinnings of the interwebs will need a very pretty ribbon indeed to sell it to John Q: e.g. being able to watch “Ow My Balls” in wall to wall photoreal HD.

  7. Morgan Warstler says:

    Well there’s some laws of physics and market demands that are kinda hanging over us.

    A G-Sata drive, very high end stuff, can’t really sustain write speeds past 150MBps (1.2gbps). And it is screaming when it does it. We got years before that’s standard anyway.

    The actual need for that kind of speed in all these places is pretty thin – high end IP video looks great at 2Mbps these days (4Mbps if you want IP-HD). Regular digital HD runs only to 19.2Mbps.

    None of the TV’s coming into the market for years can use a signal bigger than that anyway.

    And then on the near horizon for us (next 1-2 years), we have 150Mbps Docsis 3.0 and FTTH.

    Storage prices are falling like crazy. I’m sitting on 1TB of storage and it is almost full – amazing.

    If you look at the new release window at Blockbuster, say 40 movies a month x 5GB file size, there’s just nothing out there – not enough data has been created in all of human history to warrant that kind of infrastructure build out.

    What we have works wonders, and I say that as a guy who’s had more than one project that would have completely enjoyed more broadband sooner. We’re barely capitalizing on what we got.

  8. Another Jon says:

    Morgan, I think you meant to post this in the “America’s Innovation Culture” thread.

  9. Jon Taplin says:

    Morgan. If you have four high def signals going to one home over an IP Pipe, 1 gig/sec. is helpful.

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