Telecommunications: Page 9 of 12

Wed, 2015-10-28 22:51 -- Jon DeKeles
PDF version

Interoperability

Telecommunications networks are major expenditures that cities must get right. These interoperability targets ensure that the systems you use will not strand you with a dead-end system, or tie you to a single vendor.

Adhere to open standards. By insisting on open standards, cities increase choice and decrease cost, as products can be mixed and matched from different vendors. Telecommunications has dozens of relevant standards, but the most important is IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6), since IPv6 has the huge address space required to accommodate the millions of devices that will ultimately connect to the network. In addition to building the core architecture around IPv6, cities should adhere to published standards from accredited groups such IEEE, WiFi Alliance, IEC, 3GPP and the ITU. Cities can get ahead by leveraging standards that have global scale and interoperability, with strong vendor base and widespread demand. If the standards don’t meet cities’ requirements, city telecommunications experts can join standards organizations to ensure their particular requirements help shape the standards development.

Prioritize the use of legacy investments. Every city wants to wring maximum value out of its technology investments. If there are ways to use existing assets in the build out of a telecommunications network, it will save money for other purposes and reduce the number of stranded assets. During the dot-com bubble, many different companies built optical fiber networks, each hoping to corner the market. However, the advent of a technique called “wavelength-division multiplexing” increased the capacity of a single fiber by a factor of 100. As a result, the value of those networks collapsed. The misfortune of those companies means that many cities have miles of “dark fiber” under their streets – fiber that can be repurposed at a fraction of its original cost.

Longmont, Colorado, for example, located and repurposed an 18-mile fiber optic loop that was installed in 1997 for $1.1 million by a local power company. It was abandoned after an early partner in the broadband venture went bankrupt. Finding and repurposing fiber can save cities millions in installation costs while re-invigorating the local economy.

Privacy and security

For all of the benefits that broadband and wireless technologies provide, there are important privacy and security considerations that need to be addressed. In particular:

Create a security framework. This universal target is especially important to telecommunications, since the telecommunications network is one of the “access points” for cyber criminals. There is no point in hardening the rest of the city if the telecommunications system has its door unlocked. Your citywide security framework should explicitly lay out minimum security standards for any telecommunications network it employs.

Implement cybersecurity. The same is true for this universal target. The more telecommunications, the more vulnerability to cyber attack. Insisting on cybersecurity measures early on maximizes protection while minimizing costs.