My colleague Wally Swain posts this morning about an interesting if somewhat fallacious experiment undergone by a disgruntled business customer of Telkom in South Africa. His piece called Carrier Pigeon vs. Carrier High Speed Internet tells the story of a company who was so frustrated with its data services that it sent the same data from Johannesburgg to Durban over pigeon and over the data network and found out that by the time the pigeon got there only 4% of the data file had been transferred.
Wally righttly points out that it's not an apt comparison, however it does raise an issue I think which he doesn't address and is the following: shouldn't it be possible for businesses to transfer large data files? These days I regularly hear about businesses that want to put data in the cloud or transfer data through the cloud and realise that they can't. Either because it will take so long that their business processes cannot bear that or because the costs are simply outrageously prohibitive. And sometimes, simply because it's not possible.
Uploading multiple gig files should be nothing to write home about. What's a gig? It's about a fourth of a DVD quality movie. In other words, around 25 minutes of video on average. In other words, nothing on the skill of a business' operation. At the rates Wally calculates in his article, the upload of a Gb/s in this instance would have taken 3mn. That sounds not too bad except that it supposes that nothing else is happening on the network, and that again, today already and more importantly tomorrow, companies will routinely be uploading much bigger files routinely. Or at least will want to. Will need to.
How do telcos serve these? Today, they either do best effort over copper, and businesses are frustrated, or they pull dedicated fiber which has insane associated costs. A 10/10 fiber to the business routinely costs 2000+ EUR/month with no services associated (no VPN, no internet, etc.) Outrageous as this sounds, some large businesses by such services. What about smaller businesses? They're frustrated.
My point is this: businesses of all sides need fiber for their daily operations. Sure, some businessess need it more than others, but sorting the problem of terrible upload performance (and by the way, 5.5Mb/s upload is not something you can get over a copper line by an order of magnitude of 10 or 20.) is crucial to business viability (and incidentally, to the very business proposition of cloud computing).
Something needs to happen.