In April, 2008, Burlington Telecom looked like a case study of a successful municipal fiber network. Burlington Telecom has subsequently become a financial and political disaster. It may soon become an operational disaster as well. Some developments: Since 2009, and perhaps beginning earlier, Burlington Telecom (BT) has encountered acute financial difficulties. A Blue Ribbon Committee … Continue reading Burlington Telecom disaster
Wireless networks never require retrenchment.
Country gentleman Andrew Crosse began studying atmospheric electricity on his estate in Somerset, England, in 1807. To serve his experiments, he constructed an impressive wireline network. The network consisted of “copper wire one-sixteenth of an inch thick, stretched and insulated between stout upright masts from 100 to 110 feet in height.” The wire originally extended … Continue reading early DIY wireline network
In the late 19’th and early 20’th centuries, local investment in telephone networks drove the spread of telephone service in the U.S. Decentralized network investment made the U.S. a world leader in telephone coverage. U.S. telephone development was especially successful in rural areas. Dis-economies of scale in telephone networks help to account for the success … Continue reading dis-economies in communications networks
While successful municipal-owned communications networks can scarcely be found in the U.S. today, nearly all sizable U.S. municipalities owned and operated their own communications networks at the beginning of the twentieth century. Municipalities built networks to communicate fire alarms and to communicate with police officers patrolling neighborhood beats. The first such network was a fire-alarm … Continue reading long-run view of U.S. municipal communications networks
Economic activity is not distributed uniformly (or randomly) across space. Economic activity has long been highly concentrated in cities. Moreover, larger city size is associated with a greater rate of innovation. The exact mechanism by which concentration of person in geographic space fosters innovation is not well-understood, but the effect is clear. Community-based networks, such … Continue reading network micro-geography
One of the best-supported empirical economic models is known as the gravity equation. According to this equation, trade between two regions is proportional to the product of economic activity (GDP) in the two regions divided by the inter-region distance raised to about 0.9. This relationship is formally similar to Newton’s law of universal gravitation, except … Continue reading the enduring significance of distance
The growth of the Internet has emphasized functional rather than structural aspects of networking. The end-to-end principle, the concept of “the Internet,” and widespread concern about “bandwidth of connections to the Internet” push into the background ownership interfaces between networks and the geographic structure of interconnection. One result is that opportunities to innovate at the … Continue reading cities are important structures for internetworking