Hunter Newby on Communications in America – The Yin and Yang of Mobility
June 28, 2011 2 Comments
Most people today have a strong “sense of entitlement” towards telecommunications, Internet, and broadcast media. We really don’t care about the underlying infrastructure needed to deliver our communications tools, we simply expect access to YouTube where and when we choose.
Hunter Newby, Founder and CEO of Allied Fiber, lives in a different world. A world requiring right of ways, trenching, tower construction, a working knowledge in the science of photonics, and professional skills needed to translate his world into a form investors and the market can understand.
While Newby’s own company, Allied Fiber, focuses on building a high capacity national fiber optic backbone, he also accepts at a user or end-point level “wireless mobile will dominate.” Newby accepts that in the 21st century “we cannot live without mobility.” However he also is quick to point out communications mobility “cannot exist without fiber.”
The Yin and Yang of Mobility
The physical requirements for building high capacity mobile or wireless networks are constantly evolving. Today there may be an apparent glut of fiber optic capacity, tomorrow cable and wireless networks may have used up most available long haul capacity (needed to interconnect networks on a national or global level).
Thus, Newby explains “the requirements for wireless and fiber are a Yin and Yang. “
If you imagine a Yin and Yang image, it is clear neither side dominates the other. If one side expands in a direction, it must contract in another direction, as its available resources are focused on the expansion. And each side has a finite set of available resources. A simple way to describe the Yin and Yang is to consider how “opposites or seemingly contrary forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world, and how they give rise to each other in turn.”
Newby looks at the development of telecom infrastructure needed to support mobility and end points (including human “end users”) as interdependent. If you look at development of fiber optic infrastructure versus wireless, the development is not done in parallel. “Development (of infrastructure) is not done in a straight line, but rather it is a wavy line” comments Newby. “Requirements change, and the corresponding infrastructures must change to respond to shortfalls. And that is done by building excess infrastructure (in either fiber or wireless physical networks).”
And Then the Cycle Repeats
“Wireless will drive the need for more towers, fiber, and access capacity” advises Newby. End point requirements continue to expand, as applications and network-enabled utilities continue consuming more network resources. “Smart Grids,” intelligent homes, video, emerging 4G/LTE/MIMO/WiMAX delivery of everything from video to disaster recovery requires constant planning and upgrades of network infrastructure.
While it is natural to think on a local level, such as how many towers are needed to provide high performance access capacity for a single community, Newby is quick to remind us that single communities must be connected to the global community. To connect Montreal to New York requires long haul capacity supporting millions of end points. If we add Chicago, Toronto, St. Louis, Dallas, Vancouver, and Los Angeles end points to the community the requirement jumps up to potentially billions of end points.
Now add Asian cities, European cities, Africa, and Latin America to the global community and Newby admits it is easy to become overwhelmed with the scale of planning companies like Allied Fiber need to consider when designing backbone infrastructure needed to fulfill end point requirements. Just as the communications industry has done since Alexander Graham Bell made the first telephone call in 1875.
Hunter Newby, a 15-year veteran of the telecom networking industry, is the Founder and CEO of Allied Fiber.
Read other articles in this series, including: