Forget Net Neutrality and Build More!

How net neutrality is understood is that there is a limited resource and specific applications are being favored and some are not. This is not really what is happening.  Data use on the internet is doubling every 1.9 years and this large S-curve style growth curve is driving the need for building, re-building and re-building again, similar to the growth that processors experienced. Most of the growth is fueled by video as broken down here:

Think of the internet as a system of driveways, roads and highways. Now, at a 2 year growth rate, the number of lanes in place on the roads and highways needs to double every 2 years to accommodate this growth.  Otherwise what happens is gridlock, or in the networking world what we call congestion. What happens during gridlock/rush hour? Take an ambulance. Sure, it has priority but it still takes longer to get through during gridlock. It’s much better to just build more lanes right?

What is happening behind the scenes is a debate about business models. How do companies make money while still accommodating this growth? How does the model encourage growth?

The current business models may have worked well for unconverged communications but the reality is that everything has converged. By converged we mean that voice, video (TV), email, literally everything, uses the same physical wires whereas in the past they each had their own wire. Because of how it all came about, the incumbent communications companies own the passive infrastructure, which is to say the cables, buildings, and towers that electronics and radios use (called active infrastructure). This passive infrastructure makes up somewhere between 75-95% of the cost of providing communications. Because of its huge cost passive infrastructure creates a natural monopoly if a company controls both the active and passive infrastructure as typically the company makes money from the active infrastructure.

The business model that benefits the economy & consumers is an Open Access Network (OAN) business model in which the passive infrastructure ownership is separate from the active infrastructure ownership. Passive infrastructure investment should behave like real estate – the owner is essentially looking to place as many active infrastructure tenants as possible to maximize their return. Being freed from the capital outlay, the active infrastructure companies have more money to build, re-build and build some more (and coincidentally there is more competition).

And finally, the country is not overbuilding its passive infrastructure… yes, all of Canada could be serviced well despite the large size as there is an incredible amount of passive infrastructure just sitting empty. Regulation aside, there is no passive infrastructure marketplace like in the USA or the UK making it difficult for active infrastructure participants that do not own passive infrastructure to build networks.

So next time someone asks about “net neutrality”, explain to them what they really want is an OAN and an effective passive infrastructure marketplace.

Want to know more about Open Access Networks and Net Neutrality? Wikipedia has some great summaries:

Death from Health Related Administrative Errors is 10x Rate of Automobile Accidents

Administrative errors made when managing your health caused 10 times the death from car crashes in the US at 440K deaths per year. In fact, it’s the 3rd leading cause of death in the USA after heart disease and cancer (see Consumer Reports May 4, 2016). As a cancer graduate, this is near and dear to my heart.

I have personally experienced administrative errors in Canada and they are alive and well. In my particular circumstance, they had forgotten to tell me that I had been diagnosed with cancer.  For my surgery, I circled the part being operated on with a marker and got a “that’s a very good idea” from the attendant. When my son was in one of the top hospitals in Canada, we corrected at least 3 administrative errors since there were lag times between when the doctor entered notes into the computer system and when the nurse visited.

In the USA, Consumer Reports is asking Americans to send a letter to their representative in support of a National Patient Safety Board (similar to the National Transportation Safety Board & the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau). Follow link here to find a suggested letter:

What can you do as a patient?

Try to bring to all your appointments a second pair of eyes and both of you take good notes, ask lots of questions and do your research. For the hospital, this person will be your advocate since there will be a lot of activity. If you don’t have such a person, you might want to think about hiring a nurse to help you out.  More important than a good doctor (a nice to have) is an administratively efficient medical team since even with a good doctor a small mistake by anyone on the team could kill you. Remember, they are human too and not infallible.

Ensure to follow-up with your doctor on all test results.  Never accept “we’ll contact you if there is anything to discuss once we get the results back.” That means getting the exact test results paperwork from a patient portal or a photocopy from your doctor (which means a follow-up visit). Consumer Reports on Health reported in their March 2018 issue “Test information sometimes slips through the cracks. Some offices receive tests results on paper, which can get lost, misfiled, or overlooked. And even electronic results may not always be followed up on appropriately. … [Test results themselves] can be hard to read or interpret correctly – even for healthcare professionals at times. … The bottom line: You should know and understand your results, and never take anything for granted.” Once you have those test results in your hands, try to make sense of what they say by doing your own research. It can generate good questions for discussion with your doctor.

Finally, make an attempt at asking your doctor and clinic to adopt a patient portal to open up access to your doctors notes., an international movement, has a canned email letter to send them: is referenced by the Canadian Medical Association Journal:

The Oil & Gas industry needs to embrace new IP-based infrastructure for its fields

Brad Bechtold (@bradbechtold2) of Cisco via @CiscoCanada explains why the Oil & Gas industry needs to embrace new IP-based infrastructure not currently in oilfields. The concept he references is a “connected field” in which multiple IP communications technologies work together as a system. These technologies include UHF, VHF, LMRS, microwave, WiFi, fiber and satellite which are all today hotly debated as to “what works best” (answer: none, it depends on what you need to do).

Speaking in Calgary April 23, 2015 at the ISA Show

I am very excited to be speaking locally in Calgary at the Instrumentation, Systems & Automation (ISA) Calgary Show April 22-23, 2015. The presentation is entitled “Understanding the Remote Field Data Communications Challenge” and it scheduled for Thursday, April 23 @ 9:30am.

Hope to see folks there!


Conference Schedule:

Session information:

Remote field data communications is challenging. There are often multiple teams and vendors involved and no-one seems to have the big picture! Automation systems require different wireless systems than traditional broadband internet systems further confusing what should be used. This talk by Trevor Textor will help unravel the complexities and highlight:

  • The differences between automation traffic and traditional broadband traffic and how that might change the radios installed based on the circumstances.
  • Understanding wireless frequencies and the reasons different wireless frequencies are not better/worse than the other.
  • How video changes traditional approaches to communications (telecom as a utility).
  • How traditional IT merging into the automation world necessitates a different model between IT and engineering.
  • Financial impacts of a digital oilfield and how a “connected field” can deliver the dream of “just turn it on anywhere”.
  • What is telecom passive infrastructure? Why should we care?
    • How telecom passive infrastructure engineering determines your bandwidth availability.
    • When should a business think about passive telecom infrastructure?
  • How much does rural data communications outages actually cost?

Trevor Textor is a rural data communications expert with over a decade of experience. Trevor has participated in wireless system design, control system segregation projects, radio equipment evaluations and facility drawing reviews (to name just a few).

Please note: Trevor adheres to the CTCA code of ethics, has no agency relationships with equipment vendors and will attempt to provide fact and generic experience based advice.

Library Rethink!

Lots of things are online now. At the Calgary Public Library (and probably most libraries in North America), you can get movies (hoopla), books (OverDrive) and music (Freegal), all without ever visiting a library. And now, a library card is free! (really, was $12/year such a burden? You park downtown once and you’ve paid for a library card 3 times over) My family loves our library!