Tag Archives: cisco

Readying for a broadband future

The study I trailed yesterday has been published and reported on today. The full Broadband Quality Study from Cisco (my client) and the Oxford University Said Business School is available here.

The reason I care so much about this topic is that I truly believe that for societal and economic development, quality broadband connectivity is essential. The things you can do – from the simple act of being more connected to friends and family on Twitter and Facebook, to high-resolution video calling, photo & video uploads, & (in the future) interactive engagement in virtual environments (I still don’t quite believe in Second Life, but I do believe in what it and services like it will become) – dramatically change relationships, the way you learn, the way you interact, the way public services are delivered and much more.

I’m pleased that there’s so much development globally in terms of policy and infrastructure investment, particularly in the UK obviously. Keen to see wireless infrastructure development move on apace so we can bridge the urban/rural divide and get fibre-like broadband quality out to more people, more cost effectively (and get to a point with pervasive broadband connectivity across devices). I’d love to see more fibre too, but can’t help but feel that the days of multi-billion pound massively government subsidized infrastructure investment might be behind us for the time being… but we’ll see!

Cisco’s study looks at how broadband quality varies internationally – quality rather than pure speed as latency, the other factor weighted in when considering quality, effects the usefulness of a broadband connection in delivering certain services – e.g. realtime video communications, as opposed to video downloads, the former of which requires low latency (delay), the latter of which is a little more tolerant. The UK ranks in at number 25, which isn’t too bad when you consider that most of our telecommunications infrastructure was built out in the middle of the 20th century and we have aggressive targets for improvement in the future thanks to the recent Digital Britain commitments. We also do well for broadband penetration thanks to our universal service mandate, which bodes well for my eventual move to the countryside…

Have a read, let me know what you think.

Crossposted at Chivalry House.

Tech blog post to follow

I know I’ve been blogging about food non-stop (its the diet, the wedding planning, the general mania), but tomorrow I’m going to take a little break and get back to technology with a post about a new global broadband study we’ve been working on with my clients over at Cisco. It’s a topic I feel pretty passionately about myself and there’s some interesting perspectives being published tomorrow – watch this space.

Cisco on Innovation

Cisco is a client of mine, so you know.

I don’t ordinarily write about clients at the weekend. Pretty much never, actually. Buy we’ve been working on a cool project with a man called Ian Kennedy at Cisco, and I spotted that Ian Forrester had been involved with the Thinking Digital conference in Newcastle last week and caught Ian K’s talk on ‘Open Innovation’ on Blip.tv.

Much interesting insight. Ian Kennedy’s a very smart guy and if you’re interested in the ongoing development of technology (well, everything really) in the UK and how one of the very big, very innovative companies in the world is approaching it, have a view:

Update: Turns out Ian made it onto Sky News this weekend too, talking about future collaboration and meeting applications, amongst other things.

An interesting work week

Had a really interesting week at work last week – amongst other things, was working with a couple of fascinating senior Cisco-ites (Richard Allan and Robert Pepper) to campaign for wireless broadband to get some of the spectrum that is being freed up following the Digital Switchover. If you don’t know what the digital switchover is, check thisand this. For those who need disclaimers, obviously Cisco is a client…

In any event, here’s what’s happening. The analogue TV transmission signal is being switched off, in stages, starting last week in Whitehaven, Cumbria. In 2012, or just before, Ofcom will ‘auction’ off the license that is being freed up, as digital TV transmissions are more efficient, and can be compressed to use less spectrum for more channels. Various people, including the HD for All group and the EU commissioners (as I understand it) are campaigning for different things — the HD group for the spectrum to be allocated to HD over Freeview, and the EU has some thoughts on allocating some spectrum for DVB-H (mobile TV).

Cisco’s thrown its hat in the ring for wireless broadband, and I’m totally with them on this one. The impact broadband has on social and business development is remarkable and intuitively understood by someone who works where I do… a conversation with Damian highlighted the fact that, actually, it may not be so intuitive for others, but this is the role of education, and local business industry groups to work on. It is ludicrous that in this digital age, things like this happen — according to the Times, a woman had to wait 11 months for broadband to be wired to her home… 90 miles from London, the biggest Facebook city in the world.

There are a few reasons broadband needs this spectrum…

First: As Richard put it, it is the “Park Lane and Mayfair” of the EM spectrum (Pepper called it the “beachfront real estate” for you American readers) – it passes through everything easily, which a lot of wireless technologies, operating in their native frequencies, don’t. If you live in a big house, does your home Wifi signal penetrate through as many walls as you’d like it to?. Cisco’s actually technology neutral in this debate — they just “love broadband.” How else will you reach that 0.7% of the population (or whatever it is) that live outside the range of the fixed line infrastructure?

Second: Fixed line broadband needs viable competition! Wireless broadband will force the fixed line providers to up the ante and be good for consumers.

Third: In developing countries, we can skip fixed line altogether! But we need this spectrum – higher frequency transmissions apparently don’t pass through leaf foliage. Not quite so useful…

Fourth: You can still have video content delivered (over wireless broadband), which will be more interactive and generally better than the TV you’re used to (eventually, once Joost and IPlayer and applications like them grow up and get better). And, thanks to compression, you can still have HD over Freeview and mobile TV – just maybe not as many channels as people might like. But then, how much HD content is there? And, over time, we can re-allocate the current TV spectrum between SD and HD channels…

Fifth: The opportunity to ‘rezone’ the spectrum doesn’t happen often! We shouldn’t miss this opportunity by locking ourselves into a restrictive medium that doesn’t reflect the way people increasingly live their lives… (think of all the surveys that have shown that we surf the web more and watch TV less…)

There’s lots more to this debate, and some of it has been picked up by some of the journalists we spoke to – including Jane Wakefield’s piece on BBC News Online and David Meyer’s ZDNet article. There’s lots more interesting things coming – Google is rumoured to be putting a bid in for the US’ spectrum (which goes on auction in January) so there could be a whole spate of new, disruptive technologies coming into play.

Completely fascinating stuff, and great to be involved with them on this. Be interesting to see how the conversation develops over the next few years.