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Poet turns Plumber PDF Print E-mail
Written by David Brunnen   
Sunday, 03 June 2012 07:18

Head of CommunicationsWith a global shortage of digital plumbers – the technicians and engineers building the essential infrastructure for everyone’s connectedness– it seemed only reasonable to abandon words for a day of plumbing practice.

But this was no attempt to redress the balance between plumbers and poets. The real and urgent need was the restoration of a half-decent broadband service to our ‘international HQ’.

At the far end of the garden, seventy metres from the home-based hub, the Groupe Intellex office had been served by an Ethernet-over-power link. It had worked well enough whilst our main broadband connection was ‘up to’ 50% of what was promised. But when that flaky performance dropped ‘down to’ just 10% the office computers were effectively disconnected.

Persuading the main provider to deliver an acceptable service would be a battle needing all reserves of creativity energy but it was also clear that the sun had set for the last time on what had once seemed a convenient but very last-generation fix.

Well beyond the reach of Wi-Fi and with, after weeks of digital disruption, a desire not to lose any performance along this link, the obvious solution was optical fibre. But how practical would that be for a DIY solution?

POF kit from FirecommsWell the answer was fibre but not as you might imagine. This poet had stopped being a plumber way back in the early days of a career in telecommunications. Forty-five years ago many said that swapping roles simply reflected his technical incompetence!

But, thankfully, no great skill was needed to install POF – plastic optical fibre.

The European scientific renaissance of the past decade has delivered countless benefits, even if Chinese investors snap up leading innovators as soon as global success seems likely.

POF plumbingWith seventy metres of POF and a couple of media converters from Firecomms based in Cork the hardest part of the job was threading the fibre through a protective hose-pipe – bought for the purpose online from Amazon.

With the ends pushed into the media converters and these in turn plugged into Ethernet sockets the red laser lights glowed.

Two hundred and eighty three pent up emails traversed the garden, poured into the Mac at the speed of light, and this editor’s temporary reversion to digital plumber was over just as fast as it had begun.

If only, if only, the main copper-constrained broadband connection to the property worked in the same way.


The editorial was writen for members of the UK's Communications Management Association (CMA) - a part of the BCS, the Chartered society for Information and Communications Technology professionals.

Many thanks to Firecomms Ltd based at Cork, Ireland - a subsidiary of ZJF Group, China.

Thanks also to the advice of Networx3 - an exhibitor at NextGen Roadshows.   NextGen Scotland is in Edinburgh on 7th June and NextGen West Country will be in Bristol on 17th July.

The 2-day conference, NextGen12, wll be held in Westminster on 8th & 9th October.  

Last Updated on Sunday, 03 June 2012 08:23

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