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

“not for profit” broadband co-ops v “commercial” operators is missing the point

I was reading this post about US broadband co-ops in Minnesota and it left me bemused. It’s hardly breaking that the US has telecommunications co-ops – they have been there since the year dot in telecoms terms. It was the language used to describe them that prompted me to repsond.

The article is littered with comparisons between the co-ops and “commercial providers” as though, somehow, co-ops aren’t commercial - they don’t trade and make a profit? Really? So how did they last so long?

Broadband, noisy neighbours and dogs answering the phone

I used to explain to non-technical folk (real people) that the reason ADSL is distance limited is essentially the same reason that you can only hear the bass beat and not the violins and soprano of a noisy neighbours music (very middle class neighbours with thin walls).

Higher frequencies attenuate quicker than lower frequencies, so the drums passes through walls when the violin frequencies are more quickly absorbed.

ADSL uses the frequencies we can’t hear because we want to continue to use the phone line to speak to each other. The lower frequencies needed to carry phone calls travel a long way down a copper wire, but the much higher frequencies used to carry a signal will attenuate more quickly just like the  soprano living next door.

As we demand ever higher bandwidth, we need to use more and higher frequencies which will fade away even more quickly, which is why the broadband equipment in VDSL, like BT’s Infinity service, needs to be closer to our homes.

Community services in a multi-dimensional world

I’ve written a few articles on the importance of open access networks, both now and as the market evolves around Next Generation Access networks – but this is grand scheme stuff, its not immediately clear how this works for individual network builders now.

If I were building a next generation platform today I would certainly ensure that ALA was a central part of my strategy, and I would begin to consider how I could use that to bring my investment closer to people and relevant to their lives.

Open is the best (only) policy – Ghost of Christmas Future

In my last post (Open is the best (only) policy) I gave a high-level view on why I think open access networks are important today but I didn’t really explore why I think that offers just a narrow glimpse of why open access will become the single most important thing network operators can do for their customers, and why the UK is unknowingly paving the way.

So a bold statement:

I think that Active Line Access (ALA) will become one of the most important features of public networks in the years to come – but it will take a little time for that to become apparent. I also know that so far very few people have understood this.

Open is the best (only) policy

If I’m honest I’m a little tired of the whole open network debate – largely because I don’t think there is very much to debate.

It seems very odd to me that people who are happy to argue that their own networks should be closed and vertically integrated are often well informed about the European open access models and the US debates – that these great debates are basic human right but that they somehow don’t apply to their networks but should to everyone else’s.

Until recently it was certainly true that all but the very largest networks had little choice but to deliver their own internet services – but that was a market imperfection rather than a point of principle or commercial choice. That market flaw is easing – far from fixed but progress is being made – and it is no longer a necessity to restrict service choice.

Radio silence

It’s been very quiet on the blog front lately but hopefully I’ll find time to rectify that soon – I’m planning articles on a pile of subjects from for rural , -network interactions, and emerging applications but finding the time has been the biggest challenge.

WISPy Duplex – only half the truth

I overheard some wireless operators the other day talking about “25 Mbps duplex” and aligning it with superfast when they didn’t mean that at all. What they really meant was “12.5 Mbps in both directions added together to make 50 Mbps”  which is some way off being NGA, and does nothing to help the wireless industries case for being included in the EU’s NGA definition (only -based fixed-line services count at the moment).

I keep hearing this dubious use of language but exclusively from wireless operators and its at best very misleading.

If they are right, then I need to tell Intel to stop referring to my gigabit Ethernet card in my PC as 1000baseT and to start calling it 2000baseT.

Will Twitter get left behind?

I bumped into an old friend yesterday in the car park after an event and we got talking. It started over whether or not Google+ was becoming strategic or if it would head the way of Wave and Buzz, as another very interesting but temporary event on our horizon.

As we rambled, my friend said that he thought Google+ would outlive Twitter – it was more rounded and open. That’s a big statement but it got us thinking about the relationship various social media platforms have with their developer communities.

Twitter – a huge success with a very open API that enables developers to do a vast amount with very little effort but so far the focus seems to have been on creating a huge scrap yard full of also-ran replacements to TweetDeck.

Yet the combination of hashtags and friends could so easily have been shaped into “circles” with the right interface but no-one seems to have done it as part of their Twitter interface.

What’s actually going on?

It still surprises me that after 18 months there seems to be confusion in the twittersphere about what is actually happening in terms of deployment and the goal of the ’s policy.

There have been conversations which seem to jump from a position that to every home is the only real solution to suggesting they are being short-changed by some mythical with nothing in between.

Promising signs for UK broadband

During the week there has been disappointing from Akamai’s quarterly state of the internet report which shows the UK slipping further down the international league tables but hidden away elsewhere there has been better news (isn’t that always the same with good news?) – evidence of new entrants and innovation beginning the reach people.

(Chris Conder) has been running a Speed Wave on, capturing UK speeds and the leader board makes very interesting reading.