Adrian Wooster’s Blog

Adrian Wooster is a widely respected consultant working with INCA on the development of technical and business process standards to support the emerging patchwork quilt. We have syndicated the content of his influential and widely read blog for the convenience of INCA members and site visitors. You can view Adrian's site at

A market view of the fibre evolution

It can be argued that the telecommunications market is undergoing what may be the single largest transformations in its as it migrates away from copper-based services towards -based solutions.

The debate surrounding the shift often focusses on the immediately practical points of the technology choices and the mechanics of who pays for it and how. In this post I try to consider the movements in the market that are under-way and how these might best be supported.

I’ve taken as a starting point a model borrowed from work done by Evans and Wurster in their excellent book, “Blown to Bits”, looking into some of the reasons the bubble burst and some of the survival strategies that helped others prosper. While I’m not suggesting we’re approaching a similarly apocalyptic moment, their view of how organisations align to form a market is pertinent.

A year in deeply rural broadband

It seems to have come along very quickly but I’ve now been helping out in BDUK for a year, so it felt like a time for reflection - what has happened in the world of in the last year?

BDUK will speak for itself and this is not the place for making announcements on their behalf but from a personal observation the Broadband Fund has become a major provider of support for community broadband schemes. The RCBF is now arguably the biggest investor in community-led broadband in this country at the moment with some exciting projects about to emerge from the fund.

Gigabit? Who needs it?

Recently two things got me thinking a little:

  • One of my main PC’s needed a little maintenance
  • I visited the launch of Gigaclear’s Appleton network in

My main Windows PC developed a memory fault and I needed to get a little support from Yoyotech, the excellent people who made it for me. When I got it back up and running, I benchmarked the machine using the Windows Experience Index and saw it was hovering between 7.8 and 7.9 – the index only goes to 7.9.

I’m yet to find a task this PC, when it’s feeling fit and well, can’t do in its sleep.

Where business chooses to go

Its not the most recent of but I was browsing through the Cushman & Wakefield “European Cities Monitor 2011″ – it looks at the attractiveness to business of the key European business hubs after I picked up a reference to it in a report by Benoit Felton and caught him debating the merits of city-level analysis over country-level tables on Twitter.

In the C&W survey, they found “Easy access to markets, customers or clients” remains the most important factor, followed by “Availability of quality staff” and “Quality of telecommunications“.

London tops their table, consistently and across the board – including in telecoms:

Twitter, mapping and you!

I’ve finally got around to catching up with some of my favourite GIS blogs and the latest from Underdark got me thinking:


Twitter provides a goldmine for anyone interested in people, geography and maps. I’ve played with the Twitter API before and have a geo-coded database table of well over a million records I play with from time to time to see what I can learn about how the on-line world relates to the real world

I’ve a small python script I leave running from time to time, days at a time, on my (free) Amazon instance that captures every geo-tagged tweet from the UK and Ireland and logs it to a gigantically enormous CSV file. A few minutes after I’ve stopped the script the whole lot is nicely stored in a database, the co-ordinates with pinpoint accuracy calculated and ready for use.

A professional clique of technologists

I sat down with my 12 year old son to set-up our new family PC – me for work that requires Windows, he for his games and video editing.

During our chat we got to talking about ICT at school. Last week his class had to create an advert in MS Publisher; database lessons extend to setting up a card index in MS Access; there is no computer architecture, networking, programming,……

No-one has ever explained that a computer has a hard disk, or the purpose of RAM or an operating system, or what the actually is.

He went in to tell me that he learns more about technology and the Internet from his family and from sessions like this with me than he ever learnt in seven years at school.

Horses for Courses – picking the right tools for the fibre job!

This blog started life on my Posterous page which I use for quick thoughts but the impacts have been troubling me so I decided to move it to my main page and add a little to it.

It started when I spotted this tweet from FiberNews, run by the excellent Marc Duchesne (If you don’t follow @mduchesn, then why not!):

“MikroTik RouterOS – Hardware suggestions for FTTH ISP

Seeing it raised some big questions in my mind, and ones which I think are largely a UK specific issue and not one which may be of particular relevance to other countries beginning to -up.

FttH is long-lasting national strategic infrastructure. At some point in the future there will be a copper switch-off and the fibre infrastructure left behind will become default telecommunications network in each country.

Reaching out for take-up

At this year’s European FttH Summit in Munich Benoit Felton presented some research on the different market approaches adopted by a broad spectrum of established European project. His work identified that successful projects make a conscious decision to either to aggressively develop market share or to adopt a premium position in the market.

As a rule of thumb, many incumbents tend to prefer a premium position for the NGA services as a means of managing their transition from their existing first generation services, while new entrant NGA providers were more varied in their approaches. But one thing was clear from Benoit’s findings – successful NGA schemes need to be very clear about which approach to adopt; sitting on the fence or having an ambiguous market strategy is a mistake.

Concave Hull – a GIS problem put to bed at last!

Its one of those things when you’re tinkering with geeky stuff that sometimes something niggles at you – you know its probably quite easy but you can’t quite put your finger on how to achieve something the way you want it.

And then one day it finally becomes obvious, your hand makes contact with your forehead and you can move on. This is one of those moments.

Convex Hull – the GIS version of stretching a rubber band over pins in a map is easy – most GIS tools have a menu item to do that somewhere.

That’s great if you don’t have any inlets and concave edges to your outline – if you do you need a Concave Hull.

Concave Hulls – a GIS version of vacuum wrapping a set of points plotted on a map.

Sounds easy. Easy to do with a pencil and paper – its just dot-to-dot with the outer-most points – but not so obvious using mapping software, or at least for me anyway.

BUT I’ve finally figured it out (with the help of some very good web resources).

I use a combination of Qgis and PostGIS – brilliant open-source GIS tools. Assuming you have these and can install pgRouting as well then Concave Hulls are very easy indeed!

Is the future of TV in doubt?

Today Sky announced its to launch a standalone TV service. This seems perfectly timed given that NetFlix has recently entered the UK market, joining Amazon’s LoveFilms and a rash of other services and platforms like Google’s YouTube, Apple.TV, and the BBC’s iPlayer.

All this reminded me of something I heard a while back at last years Broadcast Evolution Summit in Cannes – a very good event but notable for the complete absence of any internet “broadcast” companies and a large number of traditional TV executive who were showing very real signs that they didn’t really get what was about to happen to them.

At the Summit, it was pointed out that it took something like half-a-century before a car had stopped looking like horse-drawn carriage. Similarly, early TV’s often looked like some odd amalgam of sitting room furniture and a radiogram; it then took another generation to pass before colour was added; and another until HD was added.