Yesterday, Michael Weinberg was interviewed on the pdx.fm show PDX Gen-Y by Bret Bernhoft about the importance of Google Fiber and Portland Fiber in general. Michael does a great job of explaining why open-access freedom and high capacity are so important to the future of Portlanders. Worth a listen.
Forget 1Gbit, USA Today reports that a Swedish woman has an experimental 40Gbps fiber-optic Internet connection. While the article makes it clear that she only uses a fraction of the speed available to her, it’s important because it demonstrates the power of a fiber optic infrastructure.
The 40Gbps speeds were accomplished with a new modulation technique—meaning the light pulses traveling over the fiber are upgraded, but the fiber optic-cable itself does not need to be replaced. Fiber-optic cables carry light, which travels at the highest speed possible, period. Bandwidth increases are accomplished by altering the frequency and pulses of the light sent over the cable. These upgrades can be made without replacing the entire infrastructure. Unless and until someone invents ansible-like communcations, fiber-optic infrastructure will remain the fastest possible means of transmitting data.
Today, a friend of mine spotted Comcast in his neighborhood running fiber-optic cable down the street, but not replacing the copper infrastructure that runs to homes. Halfway build-outs like this will continue to necessitate replacement and upgrades to infrastructure. Incumbent providers expand their networks on the cheap, while keeping customers in the slow-lane of the Information Super Highway.
This morning, Mayor Sam Adams, Cable and Franchise Management Director David Olson, Hopworks brewer Christian Ettinger and members of the beer, and tech communities met at the Portland International Airport to send a very special package to Lafayette, LA.
Lafayette, which built the first municipal Fiber to the Home network in the US, is hosting FiberFête, a conference celebrating and discussing high-bandwidth, municipal networks. Portland will have an extra special presence at FiberFête, because along with representatives from the City of Portland, there will be about 15 gallons of Hopworks Brewing’s Gigabit IPA. The beer, a gift from Portland to Lafayette, is slated to be tapped on Tuesday evening and shared with FiberFête attendees, including members of Google’s Fiber for Communities team.
Sending the beer to Lafayette was no small feat. Given the tight timeframe, the kegs needed to be escorted on a commercial flight as checked luggage. Volunteers were able to organize and fund a seat on United Airlines, and David Olson signed up to fly with the beer.
The arrival of two kegs at the ticket counter aroused some curiosity, even among normally unflappable baggage handlers.
Like any luggage, the kegs had proper baggage tags placed on them. Once they were weighed and checked in, they had to go through the X-Ray machines, at which point a small problem arose.
Without going into too much detail, it turns out that the TSA can’t allow kegs to fly as checked baggage. Their X-Ray equipment cannot determine that fresh, tasty beer is the only thing inside the keg, and if they can’t confirm that, they won’t let them on the plane. Fortunately, Christian from Hopworks had some smaller, plastic kegs that could clear TSA screening. The two metal kegs were rushed back to the brewery for transfer and made it back just in time for the flight.
Much like Portland’s bid for fiber, the keg shipping was a serious team effort. From City staff, the brewers and members of the tech community, to helpful United Airlines, Made in Oregon and Powell’s Books employees, many hands made light work, and Gigabit IPA was finally airborne to Louisiana.
The United States Court of Appeals ruled today that the FCC does not have authority to require Net Neutrality on privately owned networks like Comcast’s cable Internet or Verizon’s FiOS. A variety of approaches suggest themselves to preserve the essential freedom of the Internet. One is to change the law to provide the FCC the needed authority, however this is likely to lead to protracted legislative and legal battles, where the network owners fight to preserve their control and freedom to manipulate conditions of use. Considering it is their investment, the private owners have some reasonable grounds for that position. Another approach is for the public interest to exert itself through direct investment. That is, for the public to build their own last-mile infrastructure and for that public infrastructure to be operated in their own interests, including freedom to use that infrastructure as they see fit, consistent with the physical limitations and fairness. Fiber optics to the end-user provides the best capacity bang for the buck. Public ownership provides the best freedom bang for the buck.
You may have you wait til May for the 1 Gigabit Fat Pipe, but Gigabit IPA is bottled and ready to enjoy. Here’s your proof:
Hot on the heels of Hopworks’ Gigabit IPA, a few enthusiastic Portland glassblowers have announced the Google 1 Gbit Fat Pipe:
In honor of Portland’s bid for Google’s historic 1 Gbit Fiber project, local glassblowers Andrew Clifton and Anthony Kaufman have created the Google 1 Gbit Fat Pipe. The 1 Gbit Fat Pipe promises an unparalleled and future-ready smoking experience, beyond anything previously offered in the United States. Though it is designed for tobacco use, the open design of the 1 Gbit Fat Pipe is compatible with local laws both current, and those that may be changed through pending referendums.
According to Clifton, “Portland is clearly the best city for Google’s 1 Gbit Fiber, and we believe the city and community response speak to that. We’re just trying to do our part to generate some buzz.”
The 1 Gbit Fat Pipe will be available for purchase through your local glass art dealer in early May.
Update: More info is apparently available here.
Please read on for complete details on the release of Hopworks’ Gigabit IPA.
Portland Brews Up “Gigabit IPA” To Attract Google’s Fast Gigabit Fiber Network To Portland
Google-inspired IPA will be introduced to the public from 4pm to 6pm, Friday, April 2, 2010, at Portland’s Green Dragon, where the city’s geeks and creatives meet for “Beer and Blog’’ every week Portland’s geek, creative and beer communities have joined forces to brew up Gigabit IPA, special microbrew to help the City of Portland convince Internet giant Google to build an innovative gigabit fiber network here. Friday afternoon from 4 to 6pm, the new “broadband beer” will be introduced to beer enthusiasts at “Beer and Blog” at the Green Dragon brewpub (928 SE 9th Avenue, Portland, Oregon 503-517-0660) where techies and creatives gather to blog every week.
Justin Kistner, host of Friday’s event, says, “You don’t have to be a blogger to come. Everyone’s welcome to come and ‘embrace the bandwidth’ with a growler of Portland’s newest microbrew.” A senior executive at Webtrends, Kistner founded Beer and Blog in Portland two years ago. Today Beer and Blog chapters meet every Friday afternoon in 18 cities as far away as Tokyo, and Kistner is inviting all of them to join in serving Portland’s Gigabit IPA.
The idea of brewing a special beer in honor of Google’s superfast broadband began at a potluck with local geeks and creatives meeting with the City of Portland team to come up with a strategy to get Google’s attention. Over 1,100 U.S. cities have applied to be testbeds for Google’s innovative network, but Portland offers something extra that geeks at Google are reputed to love: awesome craftbeers.
Portland beer maven Kerry Finsand (whose title at start-up Taplister.com is “Chief Beer Officer”) was enlisted to find a local brewmaster who could produce a world class beer for the Google initiative and do it at Internet speed. He suggested Christian Ettinger of Hopworks, whose organic IPA won gold at the World Beer Cup. Ettinger spent years designing and building the world’s first carbon-neutral brewery in Portland, a city where green and sustainable living is the goal. (Google is also known for its many green initiatives. Google’s innovative gigabit network will utilize fiber-to-the-home to save many millions of dollars in energy costs.)
The new Google-inspired beer is, of course, organic. The best description of Hopworks Organic Gigabit IPA is the words on every bottle:
“This fresh & edgy IPA honors Portland’s new gigabit network project to pioneer a connected future with Google fiber-to-the-home. Embrace the bandwidth with a massive NW hop aroma, with rich citrus and pine accents aggressively balanced with clear malt caramel flavor, and a deep, clean, satisfying finish. From Hopworks, the world’s first carbon-neutral artisanal brewery.”
The cheerful logo for Gigabit IPA, with colors that evoke the Google brand, was designed by Bram Pitoyo, a typographer popular with the PDX geek community. The Gigabit IPA story and logo are featured on www.portlandheartsgoogle.com, the City of Portland’s new website, where visitors will find links to many communities and organizations supporting the new network initiative.
Portland has worked for 15 years to bring fast broadband and rich connectivity to this international hub for open source technology. And by coincidence, 15 years is exactly how long Christian Ettinger has been brewing innovative craftbrews. Plans are to make Gigabit IPA, his newest, available on tap, in kegs and in 22 ounce bottles in Portland.
Kerry Finsand at Taplister has the exclusive scoop on Hopworks Urban Brewery’s upcoming Gigabit IPA. Kerry, Sheldon Renan and Teresa Boze put their networks to work and the wonderful folks at Hopworks stepped up to create a beer that will honor Portland’s efforts to see a high-speed, open fiber network built.
The logo was created by Portland’s own Bram Pitoyo, and we certainly hope that the folks in Mountain View will see it as an homage and invitation to come enjoy a pint or two of one of Portland’s finest productions.
Someone on twitter recently mentioned Molalla Communications Cooperative as a nearby existing fiber-to-the-premises network. It is, and there are others. It has better bandwidth and pricing than we get from incumbents here in Portland, their X-Fon product has 40 Mbps down, 10 Mbps up for under $50/month. However, looking at their fine print, we find this clause:
“You shall not connect servers of any type to the Services. Molalla Communications reserves the right to suspend or terminate Service without advance warning if a violation of this policy is detected.”
If you take that literally, and I think you have to, it would mean no Linux boxes that you can log into remotely, no web servers, no business email servers, no other “normal” internet services. It prevents you from using off-site system administrators to help you solve technical problems. In many realistic circumstances, this restriction makes the service unacceptably limited. Comcast has similarly restrictive terms of service. Service providers seem to like the bright line between producers and consumers, that you are a consumer and a consumer only. “We went to the trouble of labelling you, stay in your damned box!”
Users of infrastructure should pay for the infrastructure, but having done so, they should have the ability and freedom to use that infrastructure for what they want, not limited to some artificial set of consumption-only activities. Ward Cunningham tells the story of how he changed the world because he could provide a service over a 14,400 baud modem with a $300 computer under his desk that let people communally develop and refine ideas about computer programming. The “no servers” rule would strangle in the cradle just that kind of innovation and collaboration that can make progress possible and life for everyone better. Maybe there are no creative people in Molalla (I know that’s not true), but there are in Portland. A Portland fiber network cannot have a restriction like that and be considered a success. This is why an open-access model, where many providers on the same infrastructure compete on price, quality and terms-of-service is essential.
Qwest, our local phone company–the company that owns all of the phone lines in the city, ran this full page ad in the Oregonian. Qwest is eager to advertise their “Fiber-optic* fast connection speeds up to 20 Mbps.”
What Qwest is less eager to advertise is the little asterisk on “fiber-optic” which leads to the fine print “Fiber-optics exist only from the neighborhood terminal to the Internet.” So, if you happen to live in the neighborhood node, this is a pretty great deal. Unfortunately, the node in my neighborhood is about 4 or 5 blocks away, and the size of a doghouse. Really, Qwest is selling plain old DSL, but they’ve moved the DSLAM (the device that creates the DSL signal on the phone line) into a box in your neighborhood, and connected it back to their office with fiber-optics. They could just as easily call their service “Ethernet fast connections,” because somewhere, far away from your home, they use Ethernet to connect equipment to the Internet.
Don’t be fooled by DSL service disguised as fiber-optics. The only truly fiber-optic service is one where the connection between your home or business all the way back to the data-center is fiber-optic. That is the only fiber service that will offer 1Gbps speeds. The best fiber service will also be open-access, allowing any service provider to compete to offer you the services you want. Qwest’s fake fiber doesn’t provide any of that, but open-access, community fiber would.
Qwest’s ad calls their service “100% fast. 50% off.” It would be more accurate to call it 50% fast, and 100% off. Qwest doesn’t offer fiber speeds or fiber service and they never will. That’s one reason Portland responded to Google’s Fiber for Communities RFI, and it’s one reason that we shouldn’t be content until we have a citywide, open-access, fiber to the home infrastructure.