From education to employment

Reporter Daniel Wallis

H2O Networks has unveiled a new development in communication links that promises a fast and cheap way to allow education establishments to “set up their own IT and telecom networks with unlimited bandwidth” and link up any location without high costs and disruption.

The method involves feeding cables through existing sewer systems to link destinations together, allowing them to develop their own, quite probably untouched networks. Bypassing the obvious comment that this is not the first time education establishments have been fed a line of”¦dubious information, shall we say, the proposal is a sensible idea, almost to the extent that it seems strange that it has not already been tried.

Swift and Sure?

The cables can be laid “up to 80% faster than traditional methods” (i.e. a pneumatic drill and coarse language) and are operational in “weeks rather than months”. As sewer systems are, quite sensibly, placed far deeper in the ground than conventional cables the method offers the added bonus of being disaster proof; exactly what disasters education establishments should be arming themselves against is not specified.

In a country relatively disaster-free, the system is perhaps a little ambitious in its sales pitch; it would certainly work in countries that do have disaster problems, or are easily scared into accepting over-extensive security measures. Such as America, perhaps. The main attraction, as always, seems to be the cost savings the system offers; after taking this into consideration the actual technology usually becomes irrelevant.

The H2O cable “offers a fixed term cost rather than bandwidth tariffs”, and “offers no uplift charges”. Even more attractive is the prospect of successfully bypassing the negotiations and permissions required to dig up streets and lay cables in the conventional manner. It offers no restriction on bandwidth and “gives the ability to upgrade at any time without additional cost”.

Horses” Mouths

Without wishing to look a gift horse in the mouth, as the system is still a good idea, it is still sobering that technology’s triumph in this instance has been muted by the fact that no great physical or engineering problems have been overcome; the great advance is in gaining efficiency by bypassing bureaucracy. It seems that engineering is now used as extensively to solve red-tape problems as actual technological ones.

Scientists must wonder at how a technological advancement is only measured due to its cost savings and “bargain offers”; there is, of course, no such tangible thing as a tariff, and no reason why uplift charges are free for one cable and not for another, they are merely man-made barriers that science has to overcome. Perhaps this new science, “bureaucrionics”, is why there are no union jacks in space”¦

Daniel Wallis

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