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App-Rising.com covers the development and adoption of broadband applications, the deployment of and need for broadband networks, and the demands placed on policy to adapt to the revolutionary opportunities made possible by the Internet.

App-Rising.com is written by Geoff Daily, a DC-based technology journalist, broadband activist, marketing consultant, and Internet entrepreneur.

App-Rising.com is supported in part by AT&T;, however all views and opinions expressed herein are solely my own.

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October 1, 2007 3:15 PM

The FTTH Conference Begins! A Thought on Fiber Discrimination

It's sunny and gorgeous out here in Orlando, FL, but I wouldn't know it as I'm in a hotel on my way out the door to the opening of the Expo Hall at the FTTH Conference!

As always happens, I've already missed some great content: a keynote address by Bret Swanson, a senior fellow at Seattle's Discovery Institute on the exaflood.

He's apparently the guy who coined the term "exaflood" and the big reason he's speaking at this show is his belief that fiber-to-the-home is the best answer to dealing with the oncoming demand for bandwidth.

I had to miss what I'm sure was a fantastic talk because I was helping one of my clients for whom I've done some marketing work pull together some last minute items on the show floor.

That client is a company called Global Online Solutions Network, or GOSN. I'll write them up in more detail in the next couple of days, but for now I wanted to share one thought with you that I picked up from a conversation with John Hughes, their founder and CEO.

He said to me during a powwow session that one of the keys to his company, which has developed a way to protect communities and homes through live, event-driven video monitoring, is that they don't discriminate. GOSN doesn't care if who's trying to break into your house. It doesn't matter if they're black, white, young, old, male or female. They catch them all.

He then alluded to his belief that fiber should be the same way. The deployment of fiber should not discriminate; we need to be shooting for the goal where everyone can get it, without regard for whether you're rich or poor, in a city or in the country.

Of course, this goal is easier said than done as forcing mandatory buildout requirements on private operators is troublesome as they try to make the numbers work, and municipal broadband initiatives are still limited across the country, even though many are finding great success.

So in my mind that means we either need to get momentum behind widespread government deployment of fiber that can forgo the need to realize short-term gains, or find a way to make everyone an attractive potential customer for private deployers to go after.

Here's one thought I just had while writing this post: what if we provided some sort of financial incentive (tax breaks, loans, grants, etc.) that becomes more lucrative the further out a home is from a community? Additionally, what if we provided a broadband subsidy that increased the lower the income of a household?

I don't think focusing more attention on getting fiber to the less advantaged will harm or slow down the deployment of fiber to the more well off and urban. And perhaps this might be a more effective stimulant for private entities to pursue what are currently believed to be not all that attractive users.

I don't know if this is the answer, but it's an answer. What ideas do other people have? Is it even realistic to think we can ever reach the ultimate goal of 100% fiber penetration?


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Comments (1)

One of the keys is whether the mechanism is recurring and for how long. Using tax dollars to encourage connectivity is fine by me so long as it is done sensibly and does not turn into an indefinite program that will strand rural folks if the funding stops.

We need solutions that will permanently give them good connectivity. The eRate program seems problematic to me in the sense that after some $20 billion, the program has not helped libraries and schools to be less dependent on that aid.

Posted by christopher on October 4, 2007 12:41 PM

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