A letter from the CEO

Carsten Bormann cabo at tzi.org
Mon Nov 23 07:52:30 UTC 2020

On 2020-11-23, at 08:09, William Herrin <bill at herrin.us> wrote:
> On Sun, Nov 22, 2020 at 10:37 PM Carsten Bormann <cabo at tzi.org> wrote:
>> On 2020-11-20, at 23:18, 6x7 Networks - Lady Benjamin, CEO <ben at 6by7.net> wrote:
>>> 8tbps (8 terrabits per second).
>> I don’t expect the majority of nanog people to know the intended data rate would properly be notated as 8 Tbit/s, but a space after the number, an upper case T, and not confusing Tera (SI prefix for 1 Trillion) with Terra (earth), is about the minimum I would expect from a technical person.
> Hi Carsten,
> You must be talking the "new" comm-speak because "bps" has been the
> conventional abbreviation for "bits per second" since at least the
> modem days of the 1980s with the "thousands" modifier typically
> offered lower case so as not to distract from or be confused with the
> digits: kbps, mbps, gbps, tbps. The lack of a space between the digits
> and letters also follows convention.
> There's nothing wrong with saying "8 Tbit/s" instead. It's just as
> clear and no one sensible cares. But complaining about others using
> the normal convention frankly makes you look like a doofus.

Sure, and the speed of vehicles is measured in kph (and probably frequencies in cps, or in this space more likely kilomegacycles).

I didn’t complain about anything. 
I just noted the very low technical competence signaled by this usage in the press release (what pushed me over the edge was of course the “terra”).  Competence signaling is often inadvertent, and it can be very useful for the recipient of a message.

To keep with the side-track you opened:

I wouldn't complain about Tbps, because I know it’s the vernacular, and maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned the correct scientific notation, because even much of the science in this space is written up in vernacular.

I work with networks that offer a sustained data rate of 2-200 mbit/s (yes, millibit per seconds), so I really can’t find a lot of value in using the wrong case for the prefixes.  You don’t easily find a press release with “tbps” (well, maybe with tbsp, table spoons).  If it rocks your boat, nobody will stop you from writing that way, and the trade press in UK/AU really seems to like that (did I say anything about competence signaling yet?).

I know most people here don’t care (because they don’t have to(*), literally), but there are standards for these things, and there are reasons for the way that they have turned out to be.  If you want to taste a little treatise from engineers who do care (because their job is building things that measure), you can look up https://u.nu/correct-units .

Can we now return to spam-bashing?

Grüße, Carsten

(*) I apologize for this little pun.  Or, maybe we are the phone company now?

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