Thursday, November 15, 2012

Club 20 Building Toward Broadband for Colorado Conference - Telecommunications Fundamentals

November 15th and I am spending the day at the Club 20 “Building Toward Broadband for Colorado” conference.  I will provide posts about much of the content.

The first session is “Telecommunications Fundamentals” by John Sluder of Western Colorado Community College.

Mr. Sluder provided a quick overview of the history and technology of voice and data.  A critical point he made in his presentation is that the twisted pair infrastructure in place in Western Colorado (and throughout much of the nation) is based on a 4 Kbps sampled analog voice signal (64 Kbps sampled digital voice).  One constraint suggested by our telecommunications history is that our telecommunications is, in some ways, constrained by design decisions made in the 19th Century.  Unfortunately, our imagination is also constrained by historic business models.

Moving into a wireless discussion, Mr. Sluder suggests 4G and LTE are powerful technologies with significant bandwidth potential.  However, they are 1st shared and 2nd constrained by the fact that they must connect to the rest of the world through wired networks.  Wireless is critical for mobility. 
After an introduction to the history and technology of the telecommunications, Mr. Sluder turned to some of the business decisions associated with deploying broadband.  He suggested broadband business decisions revolve around cost, distance, and density.  As part of the presentation, Mr. Sluder turned to a discussion format.  The discussion emphasized the fact that rural Colorado depends on subsidies.

Mr. Sluder suggested Telecom 101 as a good introdction to telecommunications book.

Mr. Sluder suggests that DS3 (about 45 Mbps) is the best we can do on copper – but fiber is virtually unlimited.  As we talk about new construction – especially state sponsored construction – we should be talking about fiber construction.
Mr. Sluder said, "Competition is a relative term because if there is not a revenue stream the competitors are not going to build out a system.”  Open access networks help resolve this situation.  One of the faults in our current model of delivering competitive broadband to rural Colorado is the insistence that the service provider and the network owner are the same person.  This creates an environment where funds are spent inefficiently.  Couldn't the state provide the infrastructure as a public utility and allow multiple service providers to compete?


  1. Paul, I am of the opinion that the discussion was a bit one-sided because I sense a lack of education on Microwave technology advancement in the past couple of years and what we can look forward to in the next 3-5 years. As you know, one solution does not fit all communities and we must be fiscally responsible as well. Mixed solutions, especially if we include redundancy, should always be at the top of the list.

    1. Mixed solutions - in all communities but especially rural Colorado - should be presumed. Jeff, you know I am a fiber bigot but I am not so prejudiced as to deny a community broadband simply becasue we can't get fiber there; or to put them in a position where a single line cut throws them back into the telecommunications dark ages. Wheter we deliver packets with photons, electrons, or concentrated radio waves, let's deliver packets - and boatloads of them!