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North Carolina State Senator David Hoyle: Fiber Could Be Dead Within Five Years So We Shouldn’t Bother

Back in 2006, Alaska Senator Ted Stevens emphatically declared that the Internet was not a truck, but rather a series of tubes.  That’s why Net Neutrality was such a bad idea, get it?

[flv]http://www.phillipdampier.com/video/Senator Ted Stevens on Net Neutrality.mp4[/flv]

Senator Ted Stevens Infamous “Series of Tubes” Speech from 2006.  (11 minutes)

Fundamentally misunderstanding technology and the Internet is not exclusively the domain of an ex-senator from the State of Palin, however.

North Carolina State Senator David Hoyle (D-Gaston County) managed to illustrate he didn’t know what he was talking about either.

Hoyle’s pretzel-like logic, in opposing municipal fiber broadband projects in the state, is that fiber optics could be obsolete within five years, so we shouldn’t even bother with them:

“You know the technology’s changing daily. Five years, ten years from now … wireless could replace most of fiber optics of coaxial cable or, or copper even. Might become not totally obsolete, but their ability to, uh, you know, to fund the debt service from the hard assets they had to put into the ground.”

If one extends that reasoning to his good friends in the cable and telephone industry — if fiber is potentially obsolete in five years, what about the phone company’s copper wires and the cable company’s coax?  Copper wiring was used for telegraphy starting in the 1830s and is still the backbone of today’s telephone networks.  Coaxial cable was invented in 1880 and still runs into virtually every cable subscriber’s home.  The first commercial application for a fiber optic communications system came in 1977.  In fact, most experts believe fiber optics will be the platform for America’s telecommunications network for at least the next quarter century.  The cable industry promotes its own use of fiber, and forward thinking phone companies like Verizon are relying on fiber to the home networks to stay relevant for the future.

Sen. David Hoyle (D-NC)

Fiber optic has all of the advantages:

SPEED: Fiber optic networks operate at high speeds – up into the gigabits and still rising
BANDWIDTH: large carrying capacity, and growing larger as advances continue
DISTANCE: Signals can be transmitted further without needing to be “refreshed” or strengthened.
RESISTANCE: Greater resistance to electromagnetic noise such as radios, motors or other nearby cables.
MAINTENANCE: Fiber optic cables costs much less to maintain, and upgrades can occur without disturbing existing cable — just switch the laser technology used.

The costs to construct fiber networks, which used to be in the thousands of dollars per household, is now well under $1,000 for companies like Verizon.  Keeping happy customers and having the ability to market phone, broadband, and television services across an all-fiber network open new revenue streams which help defray initial expenses.  Fiber is an investment in the future.

Why isn’t wireless going to make fiber networks obsolete?

Allocating sufficient spectrum to support today’s high bandwidth applications is a practical impossibility, especially considering the politics and in-fighting from current spectrum holders to keep their allocations.  Spectrum is a limited resource, which guarantees limited competition, limited bandwidth, and higher prices.  While wireless applications will continue to be an important part of our communications future, it is unlikely they’ll be the favored method to support high bandwidth content in the near term.  Considering the implications of all of the new cell sites required to provide blanket coverage, it may never survive the inevitable howls of protest from neighborhoods who have to live with the eyesores.

Senator Hoyle opened his mouth and stupid fell out.  He’s not just wrong — his comments also carry implications for his constituents.

The City of Gastonia, along with Gaston County jointly filed an application alongside 35 others here in North Carolina seeking to get Google’s 1 Gigabit Fiber Optic to the Home Network.

How do city officials feel about their representative in the state legislature actively trashing fiber networks?  I will have that answer for you soon.

[flv width=”640″ height=”380″]http://www.phillipdampier.com/video/fiber_obsolete_DS_You_Tube_HQ.mp4[/flv]

Senator David Hoyle (foreground, with back to camera) tells meeting fiber could be obsolete within five years.  (25 seconds)

Currently there are 19 comments on this Article:

  1. Tim says:

    *scratches head*

    Hmmm, so Japan, Korea, Europe, and other areas in the world installing fiber feverishly are dumb because it will be obsolete in 5 years? …WOW…WOW…WOW…

    You know the scary thing, are these troglodytes are ruining the USA’s role in leading technology in the world. These guys are so corrupt, that they are selling their country down the river for money. Anyone with common sense know that fiber is not going to be “outdated” by wireless by any stretch of the imagination in the near or even distant future.

    This really doesn’t give me any confidence in our elected officials. I checked Google’s website and Charlotte didn’t even bother signing up for the fiber. What a bunch of elected idiots. I am so glad I didn’t vote these morons into office because they are MORONS! I think I will be moving as soon as I can get a chance to.

  2. Mary S says:

    God save us from legislators like this. They will say anything to justify letting corporate interests re-write the state laws to prevent technical innovation and competition . . .

  3. Ian L says:

    This guy should go nowhere NEAR nay technical discussion…EVER.

    Sure, fiber has 1.5x the latency of wireless due to physics and is cheaper to deploy, but if it was going to be phased out in five years then why is every smaller-scale operator upgrading their networks to fiber these days?

    Sure, a well-tuned wireless backhaul can run in excess of 100 Mbps using cheap equipment (okay, we’re talking several hundred dollars per link but that’s cheap). However that’s assuming clean spectrum…and two strands of fiber can handle Nx10 Gbps, where N is an arbitrarily large number thanks to DWDM.

    • Tim says:

      “Sure, fiber has 1.5x the latency of wireless due to physics and is cheaper to deploy…”

      I have read the opposite. Wireless from what i have read suffers from latency, packet errors, and jitter issues. Also, I would assume that wireless also has consistency issues. I knew a few guys that had WISP service and it was always terrible for gaming. Latencies always jumped around a lot and sometimes real high, 300-600. In a game that uses lag compensation, even 300ms latency is bad. That is 300 to server then 300 back plus any interpolation, which amounts to over a half a second. Doesn’t sound like a long time but it is in a game and it also “lags” the server down so everyone else is affected too.

      • Ian L says:

        Tim, what you’re seeing is a poorly run WISP. I know the feeling…the wireless ISP that I used to use went from fine (60ms to Google, 5ms from my router to the edge of their network) to horrid, with latency going all over the place. Go to the Wireless Service Providers forum on DSLReports and look for traceroutes that those people are putting up. You’ll find the service to be consistent, with low latency, low jitter, negligible packet loss, etc.

        Because wireless is relatively easy to do (especially with an unlicensed-band WISP) it’s easy to do wrong. Done right, wireless can be nearly as reliable as a well-maintained fiber optic network, albeit with significantly less bandwidth for the buck on a shorter link.

        Hope this clears things up 🙂

        • Tim says:


          I guess it is hit or miss. I have read some posts saying Wimax rocks while others are negative. I even noticed they have a lawsuit pending against Clearwire because of poor service and outrageous ETF’s.

          I believe the service is great if you want mobility. But a replacement for fiber, that is highly doubtful.

    • Mike says:

      I think you meant to say t he opposite, with wireless having 1.5x the latency of fiber at best. A good wired provider can deliver a connection with around 20-60ms of latency, while a wireless provider such as WiMax is often deliverying close to 120-240ms in a best case scenario with no interference.

      Offering wireless as a competitor to wired infrastructure is a joke. It’s simply not reliable, it’s bandwidth limited, latency is higher, and coverage is difficult. Cellular data service is better for coverage but has even more drawbacks in all of the above.

      • Ian L says:

        No, I meant that a signal in a fiber optic cable takes 1.5x longer to propagate the same distance versus wireless transmission. Light bounces around in a fiber cabl e(light pipe), something that doesn’t happen nearly as much when you’re sending an EM wave through the open air.

        Also, not all wireless techs are WiMAX. This may surprise you but you can use stuff similar to 802.11n on the large scale, and those techs have the same latency you’d see on a wireless router (<3 ms). Google DragonWave or Trango Broadband for some more proprietary radios; they push boatloads of bandwidth (over short distances, or at great expense) with sub-millisecond latencies.

        If you want more proof I'll run some traceroutes over a two-hop wireless backhaul link this weekend. Around eight miles total. Less latency than cable.

        • Mike says:

          What’s the signal penetration like for those through trees, walls, concrete?
          Any better than WiMax? Is deployment and costs comparable to be commercialized or are these more just for enterprise use in site to site situations?

          We had AT&T roll out WiMax locally since last year, which has been pretty abysmal.

          • Ian L says:

            Radio waves don’t go through walls well…especially stuff in the 5 GHz band. But they’re good for line of sight (if you have a concrete jungle then you should be dense enough to push out fiber anyway).

            As far as being enterprise-class gear, actually no they aren’t 🙂 http://ubnt.com. Dirt cheap if you ask me…

  4. Matt says:

    Haha, wireless. I didn’t realize it was so great, I guess that’s why I still can’t get a cell signal at my house.

  5. Michael Chaney says:

    “Senator Hoyle opened his mouth and stupid fell out.”


  6. What exactly will be connecting the wireless towers to the Internets?? Magic, I presume…

    • Brent Neader says:

      Exactly. If fiber is so crappy Why is ATT spending billions expanding fiber to towers? Why do companys such as comcast have entire divions devoted to selling fiber to wireless companies.

      That is the best they can come up with?

  7. Markus Robbed says:

    Yeah. He depended on the Time Warner lobbyists to give him good accurate talking points. They made him sound stupid. They knew it was wrong, and they still had him make the point. They opened him up to criticism. Senator Hoyle should be livid with them.

  8. Jeremy says:

    I won’t dignify him by referring to him as a Senator, he’s just a bribed scumbag that should be booted from office. He’s old enough now and so far removed from technology, or doing anything that is right for his constituents for that matter, that he should be put out to pasture.

    • Jay Ovittore says:

      The good news Jeremy, is that he is not running for re-election. The bad news is he will be there for the next session and try to ram this through before he leaves. I would out money on the fact that he will probably wind up being a lobbyist shortly after he retires.

  9. PreventCAPS says:

    Sounds like it’s being said they shouldn’t bother to upgrade because there’s always going to be some technology that’s bigger, better and faster just around the corner. Fair enough; technology keeps getting better. However, at some point, what you have becomes so obsolete that it’s ridiculous and a replacement technology is required to move forward. You can’t keep waiting for the next great thing, eventually you have to decide that something is good enough and go for it.

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