Brough Turner

Brough Turner

Founder & CTO at netBlazr
Joined on April 25, 2007 – United States
Total Post Views: 232,027


Brough Turner is a well established communications industry engineer and entrepreneur.  He founded netBlazr to dramatically change the landscape for broadband Internet access in the US.  Previously Brough was founder and CTO of Natural MicroSystems (IPO 1994) and NMS Communications, building several successful businesses in fixed and mobile communications equipment.  He is an electrical engineering graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

While his leading interests are technology and innovation, his career has included roles in engineering, operations, finance, marketing and customer support.  He writes and is quoted widely on telecommunications topics in trade and general business publications and he is a frequent speaker at telecom industry events around the world.  From 2001-2008, Brough focused on wireless infrastructure and mobile applications.  His 3G and 4G tutorials are widely popular (Google ‘3G Tutorial’ for more info).  Brough blogs at on the technology, economic and social issues of communications at the intersection of telecom, mobility and the Internet.

Except where otherwise noted, all postings by Brough Turner on CircleID are licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Featured Blogs

100 Years of Monopoly Phone Service

Today is the 100th anniversary of the Kingsbury Commitment which effectively established AT&T, a.k.a. The Bell System, as a government sanctioned monopoly. It was on December 19, 1913 that AT&T agreed to an out-of-court settlement of a US Government's anti-trust challenge. In return for the government agreeing not to pursue its case, AT&T agreed to sell its controlling interest in Western Union telegraph company... more»

So, How Big Is the Internet?

The results of an excellent study made, for reasons that will become clear, by an anonymous author reaches this conclusion... The problem is, to make the study, the author created a botnet - that is he wrote a small program that took advantage of insecure devices to enlist additional machines to help in the study. more»

No Spectrum Shortage, Just an Allocation Problem

As a new study from Citi Investment Research & Analysis make clear, the US does not have a spectrum shortage. We've just allowed a relatively small number of carriers to control the spectrum. ... Perhaps if we had an effective "use it or lose it" policy in place, or a heavy tax on unused spectrum a more vibrant market for this spectrum would emerge. more»

Limitations of Carrier Grade NAT, and Some Workarounds

Qtel, the largest carrier in Qatar (and nearly the only Internet provider) appears to connect all their users (~600K) to the Internet through just one or a very few public IPv4 addresses. was their single public address in 2006-2007. How can network address translation (NAT) put all those users through just one IP address? more»

Comparative Broadband Speeds - US Loses Again

Recently Google Labs added the Ookla Speedtest data set to their wonderful Public Data Explorer so I just had to try it out. These are not bogus statistics. These graphs show the average of all the millions of actual speedtests run in the respective countries over the past 4 months. more»

Paid Peering: Issues and Misunderstandings

Recently I was asked for my opinion on Google paying France Telecom (FT) to deliver traffic into FT's network, i.e. Google paying to peer with FT. I wasn't aware Google pays FT. I don't even know if it's true. But I do know this is a topic fraught with misunderstandings. Also, if there is a "problem" here, the problem is one of competition (or lack thereof) in portions of the French broadband access market. It is not a problem that can be or should be fixed by "network neutrality" regulations or legislation. more»

Cable Trounces the Telcos

Yesterday, Netflix posted graphs of how well various ISPs deal with Netflix video streams. The results are striking. All the cable companies easily beat all the phone companies with the exception of Verizon where we're seeing a mix of DSL and FiOS results. more»

Singapore's Fiber Infrastructure Beginning to Pay Off

It's still early days, but Singapore's approach to fiber deployment is beginning to pay off. In December 2007, Singapore announced a major program to get fiber deployed throughout their city state. A critical advantage of their approach was government mandated structural separation between the dark fiber layer deployed in the public right-of-way (a natural monopoly) and higher layer services (where competition is possible and highly desirable. more»

Universal White Spaces: Moving Beyond the TV Bands

The FCC's recent decision allowing license-exempt access to TV White Spaces, i.e. unused TV channels, is a small but very important step in spectrum policy. But, more important than the TV bands, is the policy approach and the fact that it was adopted in the face of extreme lobbying by well established vested interests. more»

Network Neutrality is the Wrong Fight!

We shouldn't settle for network neutrality. It's a poor substitute for what we had and much less than what we need. Let me explain. There are two topics to discuss. The first is "common carriage," a centuries old legal concept that applied to the US telecom industry throughout most of the 20th century. The second involves communications protocols. Both topics are complex, so I will cover only what's needed to understand why we shouldn't accept network neutrality and why, at a minimum, we should fight for enforcement of existing common carriage rules. more»

LTE and Spectrum Stupidity

Mobile operators are counting on Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology to handle surging demand for mobile data access. But LTE developers made some poor choices, cutting spectral efficiency and thus driving up operator costs. LTE was envisioned as an all IP system, but the RF allocations follow the voice-centric approach of earlier generations. While LTE standards allow for either Frequency Division Duplexing (FDD) or Time Division Duplexing (TDD), all initial LTE equipment uses FDD. FDD requires two separate blocks of spectrum... more»

Wi-Fi Offload, Not Femtocells

Mobile operators face soaring data demand. The natural evolution of 2G/3G/4G infrastructure delivers about 2X additional capacity every 24 months. That's a major disconnect! (At least) two solutions are on the table, Femtocells and Wi-Fi offload. Both approaches solve the backhaul issue by using customer or 3rd party links (DSL, DOCSIS, T1/E1, WISP or otherwise)... As a solution for mobile data capacity, Wi-Fi wins, for many reasons. more»

White Spaces Could Be the Broadcasters Best Hope

For years, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) fought the White Spaces Coalition and others interested in making US "TV white spaces" available for broadband, Wi-Fi or indeed, any new purpose. When the FCC voted 5-0 to permit license exempt use of TV White Spaces, the industry brought suit in Federal court. And they did this, despite rules in the FCC's decision that are so restrictive that, for now, white spaces devices are doomed to commercial failure. more»

Download Speeds of GSM and 3GSM Networks

ARCchart is selling a new report entitled Mobile Broadband Performance of Carrier Networks. I can't personally justify the purchase, but I notice this wonderful graph in their sample. ARCchart gave mobile users free speed test applications... more»

LTE: Another Way to Estimate when It Will Be Real

Hardly a week goes by without a press release touting how soon we'll be using a Long Term Evolution (LTE) wireless network. Verizon has promised a major commercial launch in 2010 and a two-city trial before the end of 2009. Let me show you a little chart I put together for my 3G Tutorial and have repeatedly updated... more»

YouTube's Fine - Analysts Don't Understand Internet Peering

As widely reported, Credit Suisse analysts have estimated Google's YouTube may lose $470M in 2009 and more in the future. However, their estimates say Google will pay $360M for bandwidth in 2009. I don't know how Google figures their cost of bandwidth, but anyone who understands anything about Internet transit/peering knows Credit is way off base. more»

TV White Spaces Just the Beginning: Secondary Use of the Spectrum

Yesterday, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to allow qualified devices to operate on a license-exempt basis in unused portions of TV channels 2-51, spectrum commonly referred to as "TV white spaces." A lot has already been written about this move... But what is missing in these discussions is the bigger picture. more»

WiMAX Will Be Successful, as a Fringe Technology

A recent Infonetics press release says "WiMAX has gained such momentum across so many regions that it is no longer sensible to suggest that WiMAX growth will be flattened by the emergence of LTE [Long Term Evolution] in the next few years." Probably true, but it's also clear WiMAX will never reach the scale of either mainstream wireless family, i.e., WiFi or GSM/3GSM. By comparison with these giants, WiMAX will be a fringe operation. The critical issue is volume, and what counts is the wireless technology brand, not the technology itself. more»

Customer Owned Fiber in Ottawa

Arstechnica had a nice article yesterday by Timothy Lee entitled 'The really long tail' following up on Derek Slater's article last week on the Google Public Policy Blog entitled 'What if you could own your Internet connection?' Both articles are about a pilot project in Ottawa.The "tail" in Timothy's article is the "last mile" (or as I prefer, "first mile") fiber connection from individual homes to a network peering point or other aggregation point where individuals can then choose from among multiple competing ISPs. The importance is, as Timothy Lee puts it... more»

The Patent That Justifies Microsoft's Interest in Yahoo!

I've watched coverage of Microsoft's bid for Yahoo! and the related maneuvering between Google and Yahoo!. The explanations are not very convincing. Microsoft doesn't need Yahoo's search technology or their morale-impacted work force. Yahoo's search market share continues to decline and there's little of strategic relevance in the rest of their business. What's the attraction? more»

SIP Revolution, Massively Delayed - But There's Hope

The SIP Center asked for an article which I finally wrote the weekend before last. My article was actually rather negative, but they published it anyway. Now I'm feeling a little guilty as there is an optimistic note I could have used as my conclusion. So let me try again... First let me summarize my problem. When SIP emerged in 1996, it's support for direct connections from one user to another was extremely compelling. This was the VoIP protocol which would lead to a complete revolution in communications... more»

Telecom in China: After the Dust Settles

The long rumored reorganization of the telecommunications sector in China has begun. Now China will have three major companies, each with both mobile and fixed networks. The focus for fixed network growth is broadband Internet access. The focus for mobile will be continued growth in mobile subscribers and the launch of 3G services, with the three companies using three different 3G technologies. more»

Google Surpasses Supercomputer Community, Unnoticed?

This week's issue of EE Times carries a story Pflops here; now what? about IBM's new 1 petaFLOPS supercomputer, the Roadrunner, and how its designers are scrambling to run benchmarks in advance of the annual International Supercomputing Conference (ISC) being held June 17th-20th. It's an article (dare I say, a puff piece?) about IBM, but it does mention competing supercomputers by Japanese vendors. However, it makes no mention of distributed computing projects like SETI@Home or, more importantly, of the Google computing cluster. more»

NGN is Not the Internet, and Never Will

I see and hear a lot of confusion about next generation networks (NGN). In most cases people are using the term roughly as the ITU-T defines it: "A Next Generation Network (NGN) is a packet-based network able to provide services including Telecommunication Services and able to make use of multiple broadband, QoS-enabled transport technologies and in which service-related functions are independent from underlying transport-related technologies." but many people don't realize how little this has to do with the Internet... more»

China's 3G License Delay is a Smoke Screen

Last week there was a flurry of stories about China's 3G plans after Jonathan Dharmapalan of Ernest & Young was quoted as saying he expected it to take 12 to 24 months from the start of China's commercial TD-SCDMA trials, i.e. from now, until 3G licenses were issued. But there was little analysis or comment on what's really happening. 3G licenses are a formality. They delay the deployment of 3GSM & CDMA 2000 which could otherwise happen rapidly -- just plug new cards into existing radios and offer established handsets (already being manufactured, in China, for the world market). more»

Models for Muni WiFi Completely Neglect Technology Evolution

Modern travel means interminable waits, but it's a good time for reading. I finally read Wireless Pittsburgh: Sustainability of Possible Models for a Wireless Metropolitan-Area Network by Jon M. Peha, published in February as a working paper of the New America Foundation. The good news: it's full of interesting cost estimates and projected subscriber take rates based on specific demographics in Pittsburgh, Minneapolis and Philadelphia... The flaws in this study...

NY Times Grossly Misreads WEF Report

Today's New York Times includes an article by John Markoff entitled "Study Gives High Marks to US Internet." But either John Markoff is fuzzy about exactly what the Internet is or he didn't actually read the report. His title is way off base. He did interview a few people who are quoted in the latter part of the article, so there is some information in the article. But he's done a major disservice for the many who read only the title or perhaps first paragraph... more»

Gaping Hole in Models for Using Spectrum Efficiently

In February, the FCC's Office of Strategic Planning and Policy Analysis published three studies (1, 2, 3) on spectrum licensing and spectrum utilization. Thanks to Nick Ruark for pointing them out... Reading on I was struck by a gaping hole in their assumptions. more»

Broadband Access: What Should We Regulate?

Network Neutrality is a hot topic in the US. The FCC held hearings in my neighborhood recently (while I was in Asia). Now I see Professor Susan Crawford will be testifying next Tuesday at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on "Net Neutrality and the First Amendment." I look forward to her remarks, but I worry that the whole discussion will be focused on "IP Pipes," that is connectivity at network layer 3. This distracts us from the fundamental problem... more»

The Perfect Phone

Lee Dryburgh initiated a great thread in the Emerging Communications public group entitled What would your perfect phone be? There are 14 messages there at this moment with a lot of good ideas, but my first thought was the term "phone" is too limiting. Indeed, some of the correspondents' ideas also go far beyond the idea of a telephone. Here's what I want and fully expect to see, eventually. more»

iPhone, Android, 700 MHz: What Maximizes Wireless Innovation?

At the Emerging Communications Conference eComm 2008, I'm moderating a panel "Wireless Innovation, with or without operators." This will be a discussion -- smart people from differing camps responding to (hopefully) probing questions from yours truly, and the audience. Points of view represented include Google Android, J2ME/JavaFX Mobile,, Skype and Trolltech Qtopia (Nokia), plus Chris Sacca, formerly head of Google's wireless initiatives. I've been thinking about subjects and questions for the panel. As a start, I'll set down my current views, then seek others' views and questions. more»

How Tiered Internet Pricing Could Actually Facilitate P2P

Time Warner Cable's planned experiment with tiered charging for Internet access has generated a flurry of coverage in the blogsphere, but no new insights (at least that I've seen). The primary problem ISP's complain about is that 5% of their customers use 90% of the available bandwidth and when they examine this traffic, it's mostly peer-to-peer file sharing... more»

Google Playing to Win in the 700 MHz Auctions

Many say Google will bid to lose in the upcoming 700 MHz auctions and many more are equivocating. The idea is Google's entry alone will induce enough openness, and besides they couldn't afford to become an operator. This shows a total lack of understanding! more»

Congestion in the Backbone: Telecom and Internet Solutions

When a network is subject to a rapid increase in traffic perhaps combined with a rapid decrease in capacity (for example due to a fire or a natural disaster), there is a risk of congestion collapse. In a congestion collapse, the remaining capacity is so overloaded with access attempts that virtually no traffic gets through. In the case of telephony, everyone attempts to call their family and friends in a disaster area. The long standing telephony approach is to restrict new call attempts upstream of the congested area... This limits the amount of new traffic to that which the network can handle. Thus, if only 30% capacity is available, at least the network handles 30% of the calls, not 3% or zero... more»

Understanding the Skype Outage

Skype's official explanation. Phil Wolff has a good set of interpolated comments on the official explanation. There are two things to add... As the Register points out, last Tuesday was Microsoft's monthly patch day and those patches required a re-boot. If we believe Skype that their problem started with excessive login attempts, this is the only plausible explanation on the table... more»

VoIP: Beyond Digital POTS

I've been involved with VoIP technology since 1996. I've been a public advocate for wideband audio at least since 1997. And I've admired and supported a variety of companies using VoIP to provide innovative services and new user interfaces. But reflecting on the past decade, the only globally significant impact of VoIP has been on prices (by fostering arbitrage). Most VoIP telephony services are just digital POTS... more»

Telecom Impact on Per-Capita GDP

My presentation at VON was focused on availability (aka presence) and contextually-aware communications, but I did begin with a brief mention of subjects I'm passionate about and I ended with my typical closing comments about telecommunications... Apparently this struck a chord with several people who came up to me afterwards asking about how they could help the spread of telecom to developing countries and did I have references for my statements about telecom is good for mankind? more»

U.S. VoIP and Broadband Policy: Today's Debate is Off the Mark!

Despite rather rapid growth in broadband access, the U.S. is falling further and further behind other countries -- we're now ranked #16 in the world. What's slowing the U.S. down? Two threads dominate U.S. broadband policy debate today. The first focuses on traditional telecom regulation -- reciprocal compensation, universal service, e911, and CALEA (wiretap capabilities). The second focuses on "Internet freedoms," i.e., guarantees that your broadband access provider won't block or inhibit specific applications like VoIP. more»

Topic Interests

VoIPMobileTelecomBroadbandAccess ProvidersWirelessPolicy & RegulationP2PSecurityInternet ProtocolWhite SpaceDNSNet NeutralityICANNWebLawIPTVIP Addressing

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Popular Posts

YouTube's Fine - Analysts Don't Understand Internet Peering

Wi-Fi Offload, Not Femtocells

iPhone, Android, 700 MHz: What Maximizes Wireless Innovation?

WiMAX Will Be Successful, as a Fringe Technology

The Patent That Justifies Microsoft's Interest in Yahoo!