Monday, March 29, 2010

Fiber mania - let's get ready to rumble

There's an old saying to the effect that every revolutionary change goes through three phases: universal dismissal, grudging acceptance, and finally adoption as an unquestionable and indispensable fact of daily life. I remember once asking at a conference for a show of hands of Skype users, and seeing only 10% or so raised. Now it is everywhere, established as a verb, alluded to on "The Archers", used by mainstream news media.

Around the same time as that conference, in early 2004, I started writing (dip in around page 60) about the inevitability of fiber, and the politicization of true broadband as a lever of socio-economic development policy, as well as the limited scope for the associated benefits to be captured within the narrow envelope of telco "shareholder value."

As with my earlier work on Skype, I think my sales team thought I was wandering off down some trivial, theoretical blind alley, or worse, just talking science fiction crap. I stuck to my guns. I'm mainly stating this to avoid any possible misinterpretation as a "trend-rider" by those not acquainted with my background.

Given all this background, I must say that it's hugely satisfying, and entirely unsurprising, to see the current mania surrounding fiber, and particularly the lengths some people will go to get a piece of the fiber future. As a former Memphian, I am proud of the relatively more down-to-earth and dignified appeals being made for the Memphis case for inclusion in the Google project. I will be pulling for you, Memphibians.

On the subject, I am looking forward mightily to participating in Fiberfete, in sunny Louisiana in three weeks' time. It should be a good opportunity to reignite my fiber enthusiasm.

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