Simen Frostad: I love IP as a general technology

Simen K. Frostad, Chairman, and Co-Founder of Bridge Technologies, kindly told us about his first encounters with technology back when he was a student and how he got involved with IP technology.


With 35 years of industry experience, Simen co-founded Bridge Technologies in 2004, after creating the world’s first IP/MPLS contribution network for Scandinavian sports coverage. Simen had previously built the first multi-camera hard disk recording system for episodic drama production in 1998, and the first nonlinear sports editing facility during the 1994 Winter Olympics.


Here are the highlights of our great conversation:


When did you start working and where?

That’s a long long time ago…. I guess the very first one was around 1982 when I was recruited as a volunteer into the Oslo Student Radio Club. The student body had this radio station called Radio Nova, run by very eager and motivated students. I was one of the technical crew members that basically produced and engineered radio broadcast. That gave me my first taste for the media business and the understanding of how important and how fun this business could be. It really was a fantastic time, both on a personal and professional level, and I’ve been in the media business pretty much ever since.

Check out this great conversation with @skfrostad chairman of Bridge Technologies about his love of #IP #technology Click To Tweet


What did you study?

Would you believe that I studied lithography! In fact, I was part of the last class of lithography in Norway! This form of education doesn’t exist anymore which is very sad as it got me in touch with so many of the humanistic trades such as typography and general design. In fact, all these elements have contributed greatly to what I do today. I have been very lucky with that educational background, even though it is as far from media as you could typically get it in people’s minds… but of course, it all hangs together very well in the end. In retrospect, it’s easy now to look back and connect the dots seeing how all the disparate pieces actually fit together.


Which knowledge gaps did you experience back then and how did you fill them?

I would say looking back, and I haven’t done this for a long time, I believe that back then everybody was slightly more apt in utilising simplistic osmosis as a way of simulating knowledge. So, a lot of it was actually learned by doing, and that is something that today’s professionals don’t have the time, or the precision needed to accommodate. Today’s college-based media workers have, of course, a ton more practical information going into the business than we had three decades ago.

From my perspective, I believe that it boils down to the ability to very rapidly assimilate important information and then utilise that information for the best possible outcome. It’s also important not to be afraid. I believe that back then we were just as afraid as today’s generation, but maybe we survived failures better.


So, how did you get into IP then?

Well, that is a funny story! We decided that transporting media in so many ways on physical devices was not the best means of doing things. We began experimenting with very advanced and high-speed networking a long time ago when the prevalent format was a TDM-based ATM network standard. Back then, we were utilising super high speeds 155 and 622 Megabits networks, which today sounds ridiculous compared to the speeds we now have. Through our experimentation, we found out very soon that this very good, but very old and sturdy network format (ATM) had a huge problem with interconnect. For example, interconnecting different forms of vendors and stuff just wasn’t possible in a practical sense. So, we started experimenting with different technologies that were then IP-based.


Through our experimentation, we found out very soon that this very good, but very old and sturdy network format (ATM) had a huge problem with interconnect. Click To Tweet


We then looked at the biggest routers we could find, which at that time came pretty much from Cisco. We found that yes, we can utilise this router for our purpose, but it demands a completely new type of knowledge and an understanding of how packets actually behave, more than measuring interface aliveness and other such measurements that our industry was used to.

With that we accumulated a huge deal of expertise – I contributed largely in initiating the World’s First IP Contribution Network which was run over a huge MPLS-based network that did sports in Scandinavia. The key thing there was that you had to have a different form of understanding than before… that was the ignitor much later in 2004 when we started Bridge Technologies to create instruments and devices that could make sense of packet behaviours.


Bridge Technologies: complexity is simple

It can be pretty spectacular when you look at something from a different perspective – you get a much larger and a much better understanding of how this thing is valuable by actually doing it!



What was your first technical challenge?

I guess that the real first challenge I encountered was rebuilding the radio studio that we had as a student organisation. We started out with basically a studio that was built by the members of the Oslo Student Radio Club, together with an eclectic collection of old equipment from NRK, the state broadcaster, donated record players, very old tape decks, and an extremely nice but weird mixer that was built by the club. That’s how we started. After some years on the air, we managed to get a huge grant from the student body to modernise the studio and buy “real” equipment, or at least new equipment. I was in charge of that project: to build a new studio with completely modern equipment. So, that was my first tech challenge if you like and, in all honesty, it was a huge learning experience for me and awakened my interest for the techy stuff.


Share your passion for technology

I’ve always been very vocal about IP-ification and the real reason is not the technology itself… it is that it lies within the realm of what I call ultra-high-speed, or basically ultra-low latency, high-speed IP-based packet switching. It enables so many revolutions, so many extremely exciting ways of doing things,  many more interesting technologies and a better architecture. You know, its potential is incredible when you sit back and think, and that’s why I love IP as a general technology because of its ability to change pretty much anything and everything. I’ve never seen anything like that.  This is actually a generalistic technology that will enable the change of everything, and that’s very powerful. In all honesty, I’ve never seen anything like it in my 35 years around technology.

I love #IP as a general #technology because of its ability to change pretty much anything and everything. #broadcast Click To Tweet

Share your vision about any tech enhancement, future revolution.

I believe that it’s about being unafraid. There is a reason why we fear change, and sometimes change brings with it a lot of unknowns. Any form of unknown is not a good thing, so we must make sure that we can turn any form of unknown into a known. If we don’t know it, well we can learn it! But if you don’t have the means, or the ability, to turn unknowns into knowns then change can only be for the worse and won’t be very simple.

So, that’s where I believe for an especially successful IP-ification of both the media technology industry and every other industry, you would need to have a much better overview of the known. Which means different types of measurement and analytics equipment that can enable this transition to be filled with a few more knowns rather than, as today, filled with a lot of unknowns…


I believe for an especially successful IP-ification of both the #media #technology industry and every other industry, you would need to have a much better overview of the known.., #IP. Click To Tweet


Without those enablers, it’s scary to envision a future we pretty much can’t understand. I have no doubt that without those kinds of helpers there would be no future of this sort as nobody in his right mind would head for something he doesn’t understand.  In short, we need the knowns more than the unknowns.


So, it’s all about data, gathering, measuring and learning from those data?

Absolutely! It’s not bad to be slightly uncomfortable as it hones your skills and puts you a little on the edge which is good! But, uncomfortable in its broad sense is not good at all and that’s not a good driver for the industry.

So, what I see in the future is that everybody pretty much agrees to where the future is going and in all honesty Bridge Technologies has been a big driver in the industry for many years on a lot of this IP-ification. But, we also see that without being able to go back to factual observations as to how things work, it will happen much, much slower and painfully than otherwise.

It all boils down to learning from the past.


Is there a personal motto you abide by?

I have a few that apply to different contexts, but I guess if I was to pick one it would be – nothing is wasteful, absolutely nothing that is done well is wasteful, so do anything well and it becomes useful.


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