Own Your Own Tail


Intriguing idea of the day:

Last month, construction was completed on a pilot project that ran fiber optic cables to 400 homes in Ottawa. Stringing fiber optic cables isn't a big deal by itself—Verizon has been running fiber to millions of homes in the US—but the Ottawa project comes with a twist: rather than providing Internet access for a monthly fee, the company plans to sell the fiber strands outright to individual homeowners.

This isn't how we're used to doing telecommunications infrastructure. Traditionally, a "last mile" copper loop, coax cable, or fiber strand has been owned by an incumbent telephone or cable company, and the customer has paid a monthly fee for telecom services. But, if the Ottawa experiment is a success, that could change.

In the future, it could become commonplace for homes to come with "tails." These customer-owned, fiber-optic connections would link them to a network peering point. Without the expense of rolling out last mile infrastructure to every home, many more ISPs could afford to serve a given neighborhood by running wiring to the peering point, leading to more competition and lower prices. Perhaps best of all, the growth of customer-owned fiber could make debates over "open access" and network neutrality moot, as robust telecom competition should prevent the worst of the monopolistic behavior exhibited by telco and cable incumbents.

For more—including some of the practical barriers such projects will have to overcome—go here.