I would love to say that, true to my profession, this lawyer left London for Paris recently to see Bluwan's fibre-through-the-air (FTTA) technology full of cynicism.
However, the prospect of technology that transmits at fibre optic speeds through the air was enthralling and the reality did nothing to disappoint.
This is a short tale of how Twitter introduced me to new people and new technology in the space of 12 hours.
I arrived at St Pancras at 7.30am to meet my travelling companions. I didn't know any of them. I had met only one, virtually, 12 hours before via Twitter. We met, introduced ourselves and checked in. It was time to leave and a few hours later we saw FTTA in action.
Bluwan through FTTA could offer broadband speeds of up to 100Mbit/s. This speed, by this methodology, could dramatically reduce the cost of broadband rollout not only in the UK but throughout the world.
The solution is to be formally unveiled this month during Mobile World Congress. Bluwan's chief marketing officer, Shayan Sanyal, believes that FTTA has several advantages over other technologies, such as satellites, for delivering broadband to the final mile – not least the cost.
"Fibre deployments can cost £70 per metre, which makes returns on investment highly dependent on subscriber numbers. But with FTTA you can deliver services between 2km and 12km up to 50 times cheaper," he said.
Besides the ability to deliver fibre-speed broadband to remote or expensive-to-roll-out locations, FTTA is an alternative back-haul solution for carriers to consider.
Having started life as a military system, FTTA technology is only now, six years later, being commercialised for civilian telecommunications.
The solution began life just after the first Gulf War. The then allied forces relied on military systems that were linked by fibre optic cables. These cables were fragile and easily damaged and resulted in unfortunate errors and casualties. François Magne, who was then employed by French defence contractor Thales, devised a solution so that fibre optic cable speeds could be achieved through radio telecommunications.
During the Bluwan FTTA presentation I was also following tweets by a fellow lawyer, Rob Bratby, who was hosting a mobile data event in the UK at the same time.
Bratby's tweets suggested that mobile carriers face a big challenge from the proliferation of mobile content which is consuming more and more bandwidth, but without usage-based pricing is not increasing revenue. As I read those tweets I wondered if Bluwan's FTTA could be an answer to part of that challenge.
I asked Sanyal how Bluwan was dealing with the spectrum licensing issues in the UK. Apparently, the 40GHZ spectrum required for FTTA to work is owned in the UK by Mobile Broadband Network Ltd, which has yet to make use of it.
Radio equipment in this spectrum is only just becoming available, so at this point, it's about trials. Ofcom does not particularly like purchased spectrum being unused and it is possible that there is a deal to be done.
The spectrum is tradable and can be relicensed to other users that might be more focused on the access part of the equation. Whether the licence holders are going to do that is something that only they can answer.
It would require the carriers to see this as an opportunity instead of a threat and it remains to be seen whether or not they can do so. In terms of last-mile broadband rollout, FTTA will save an incredible amount of money and be technically easier to implement. Sanyal added that Bluwan has been in discussions with UK government bodies on this issue.
"We have been talking to Broadband Delivery UK and having conversations at a ministerial level with [culture secretary] Ed Vaizey and his team about what we can deliver. They are very interested in the technology," he said.
Sanyal will now need to turn his attentions to Jeremy Hunt, given the government's recent portfolio restructure.
The FTTA technology is due to launch at Mobile World Conference in February 2011 and, if adopted in the UK, the real winner and likely beneficiary is the UK taxpayer. If Hunt and Broadband UK compared the cost of the final-mile rollout of FTTA and fibre, the appeal would be self-evident. Not only is FTTA a viable option, it is also extremely attractive and would save the UK billions.
Brett Farrell is an associate at law firm Barlow Robbins LLP and also writes for the technology press.