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The Origins and Development

Understanding the origins and development of cross-sector infrastructure sharing

From the inception of commercial telecommunications, network operators sought to partner with owners of existing or planned network corridors and infrastructure to reduce costs and accelerate network rollout.

The telegraph and railroads paved the way for infrastructure sharing beginning in the mid-Nineteenth Century. The telephone followed the telegraph’s example in sharing road corridors and utility poles. Then, from the growing introduction of wireless communications in the mid-Twentieth Century onward, the demand for new lateral infrastructure eroded.

The advent of fiber optic cables and surging demand for bandwidth have renewed the need for infrastructure sharing in a competitive landscape. Fiber optics has become the new primary medium for every element of fixed networks and all elements of mobile networks except the link from radio tower to end user. By the mid-1980’s fiber optic installations had expanded rapidly all over the globe.

Cross-sector sharing has become a component of many national and multinational broadband development policies. Policy-makers, law-makers, and regulators increasingly seek to require or encourage infrastructure sharing to accelerate deployment, decrease costs, and enhance competition.

 


 

References and Resources:

1. Standage, Tom. The Victorian Internet: The Remarkable Story of The Telegraph and the Nineteenth Century’s On-Line Pioneers. New York: Bloomsbury USA, 1998.

2. UniTech. “The Telegraph.” Connected Earth: Transforming Society. http://www.connected-earth.com/journeys/Firstgenerationtechnologies/Thetelegraph/Thetelegraphicagedawns/index.htm (last visited 13 Feb 2017).

3. Thompson, Robert Luther. Wiring a Continent: The History of the Telegraph Industry in the United States, 1832-1866. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1947.

4. “Telephone Transmission.” Engineering and Technology History Wiki. http://ethw.org/Telephone_Transmission (last visited 13 Feb 2017).

5. “History of Cable.” California Cable and Telecommunications Association. http://www.calcable.org/learn/history-of-cable/ (last visited 11 Feb 2017)

6. “The Foundations of Mobile and Cellular Technology.” Engineering and Technology History Wiki (updated Sep 2015).  http://ethw.org/The_Foundations_of_Mobile_and_Cellular_Telephony (last visited 7 Feb 2017)

7. “June 3 1880: First Transmission on Alexander Graham Bell’s Photophone (undated).” World History Project.  https://worldhistoryproject.org/1880/6/3/first-transmission-on-alexander-graham-bells-photophone (last visited 7 Feb 2017).

8. Vivek Alwayn, “Fiber-Optic Technologies”. Cisco Press, 2004.  http://www.ciscopress.com/articles/article.asp?p=170740 (last visited 11 Feb 2017).

9. Held, Gilbert. “Chapter 7: Fiber-Optic and Satellite Communications” in Understanding Data Communications (6th ed.), reprinted in Microsoft Tech-Net. https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb962026.aspx (last visited 7 Feb 2017).