Sunday, December 27, 2009

Joe Biden On "Middle Mile" Investment In GA to NC Fiber Ring

I can accept that these "rural broadband" investments are like "rural electrification".  Private investments could not find a cost justification so the government stepped in to do it.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Rural Utility Construction - Natural Gas Distribution Network vs Broadband

Ideology and economic theory is present in nearly every facet of our lives.   I have noted in the past how some people have applied a "Social Justice" meme upon the area of technological development and access to such innovation.

As a technologist I agree that technology is trans-formative.  A child that has access to the information that today's technology allows easy access to definitely has the advantage over others who have no such access.

At the same time some people are dismissive of the economic reality that remains in regards to the business case for a network build out for a sparsely populated area, for example and the role of government supplanting corporate service providers when there is no such justification.  Furthermore I have a raw nerve for people who attempt to make the case that the United States is "behind" other nations in the world in regards to the quality, pervasiveness and speed of our networks.  If not bold face lies these are a molestation of the facts as they don't make an "apples to apples" comparison.

Such was the case with a recent edition of "On The Media" heard on NPR.  (Please note - as I type this the "onthemedia.org" web site is down and thus I am not able to post a link to their audio report.  I will come back and update this blog entry later.)

The hosts from "On The Media" do a rather poor job in hiding their hand with respect to their progressive-leaning bias.   The interviewer in the story tried as she could to play "Devil's Advocate" against the "Telecommunications Activist" firm representative that she was interviewing.  The show host took her framework for evaluating health care and used Canada as the reference point for good as she asked how the USA compared with Canada.  If she knew any better she would have known that this was the wrong nation to choose.  Canada is expansive and sparsely populated and thus these dynamics undercut the case for an expansive wired broadband system throughout the nation.

Instead the telecom activist took the question and shifted the focus.  He rattled off some tired claims about the days of dial up in which multiple ISPs competed over the telecom service provider's physical network.  This was a preposterous comparison.  This was the VOICE network and our analog dial modems were merely an overlay on top of it, accessed by dialing a number.  An IP broadband network is fundamentally different.

If we focused upon "value add" with regard to forcing fixed line carriers to share their networks with their competitors his argument falls on its face.  Today's notion of an ISP has fundamentally changed.  Today there is competition on the medium of access (DSL, DOCSIS, Fiber, Satellite, Cellular, WiMax).  I can choose to obtain my e-mail services and/or my web site hosting from a myriad of competitors while riding over these access provider's networks.  I would like for the telecom activist to tell me the value add of a Covad - which merely did billing services using the LEC's facilities for their access.  This man in the middle added more provisioning headaches than benefits.

I won't go into detail in this post but if someone seeks to press my button they only need to make the claim that Norway, South Korea and Japan have better Internet access than does America.  The truth is there is no other nation in the world which has the matrix of Speed, Geographic Expanse and Population that comes close to the United States' Internet infrastructure.   There are more than 90 million broadband users in the USA.    China, which has 4 times the people and a far larger land mass has about 50 million.   You can look at various other posts on this blog in which this claim is thoroughly refuted.

RURAL NATURAL GAS vs BROADBAND

This past week Vice-President Joe Biden traveled to North Georgia to tell of a federal sponsorship of a 260+ mile fiber ring from North Carolina into northern Georgia.  Its purpose is to provide high speed Internet access into the sparsely populated areas in this mountainous region which is presently undeserved.


Biden appeared with Gov. Sonny Perdue in Dawsonville to announce a $33 million federal stimulus grant for the network. The money is coming from a federal program that seeks to spread broadband technology.

Officials from the North Georgia Network Cooperative say their new fiber-optic system will tie into existing networks in Atlanta and North Carolina and make high-speed Internet access available in Dawson, Forsyth, Habersham, Lumpkin, Rabun, Towns, Union and White counties.

As envisioned, the network will reach 42,000 households and 9,209 businesses and connect 245 community institutions, including public schools, universities, hospitals, and government facilities. Businesses and schools in North Georgia have long complained about the lack of high-speed Internet services, according to the cooperative. The cooperative, meanwhile, is projecting the work will create 837 “direct” jobs and almost 21,000 “indirect” jobs during the construction.

I have to admit that I am torn on the issue.  In a previous job in which I was on a bid team which sought the technology services contract for the government of Georgia I saw the impact of the limited high speed facilities had on Southwest Georgia.  These sparsely populated rural towns can't justify the investment by corporations on high speed trunk lines.   Thus the existing facilities used to link their voice traffic and which have been upgraded over time, trunk segment by trunk segment had to do.  There is no question about it that this fiber ring between NC and GA would assist in putting more aggregate capacity in.

At the same time look at the numbers.  From the article there will be a total of  51,454 potential nodes on this new network.  ( I read this as the final count of drops upon the yet to be defined access network.  This fiber is a trunk line.  It will not have 51,454 nodes directly attached to it. For the sake of argument let's assume that the $33 million includes both the fiber trunk and the access network.).

Thus the average cost per node will be $651 in network build out costs alone.  This does not include the electronic switching equipment or the salaries for the telco employees that will operate the network and perform customer service and billing.   I won't bother to make an encompassing cost model for this but if the price point for entry-level DSL is $14.99 today - there will be an extended amount of time to recoupe the build out costs and operating costs. 

Some people don't understand the difference between a "trunk circuit" which is a core network component and "DSL" which is merely access.   The bulk of the network investment resides in the access network.  Just as your own body has far more capillaries in total length than it does veins and arteries - so is the case with a telecom infrastructure.  I support the $33 million investment in the 260 mile trunk line.  I saw with my own eyes how various Caribbean nations have benefited from the multi-million investment from "Columbus Communications" in which their billionaire owner laid a trans-Caribbean fiber cable which linked a large portion of the islands into the United States for Internet access.  I get it.

The conflict over the strategic direction resides in the access network.
Yesterday as I was driving my children home from a birthday party I decided to take the backroads in order to avoid the crushing Christmas traffic on the main road from my town to the place where the party was held.   I ended up taking a joy ride through Merriwether County Georgia.  Ironically my fast 3G signal switched to the slower 2.5G signal and thus my smartphone based GPS began painting the screens slower.   I decided to ignore the voice commands that the GPS was giving me as it constantly told me to take a u-turn.  The trail that I had originally used to get to the place was indeed the quicker route.   I had to use my own navigation regarding how to find GA Hwy 16.   It turned out that I was further south on Hwy 79 than I had figured.

As I drove down a sparsely populated state highway my son asked "Daddy what are those 'submarine looking things' next to everyone's house?"



As I looked around I did notice that every single house that we had passed did in fact have a propane tank outside of it.
I told him that those were "gas tanks" that the people used for heating and cooking.  I then went into the explanation that we have gas coming into our house as well except that there is a network of pipes buried under the ground that carry our natural gas into the house.   There are not enough people living around here to justify the pipes.  Thus a truck with a big tank on the back of it comes and fills up their tanks when it is empty.

At that point the comparison hit me.   Why isn't a Natural Gas Pipeline any more of a "right" than is High Speed Broadband?

The reason why these sparsely populated areas do not have a natural gas pipeline "access network" is because it is not cost justifiable to build such an array of connections per the people who are nodes on this network.  Sure the need for a "truck roll" to refill your gas is less of a convenience than having a virtual unlimited supply via a pipeline.  The costs of the infrastructure as applied to any rational return on investment does not compute.

Fear not though - I am not arguing that these rural towns should be mired in the stone age and have analog dial up or even satellite based broadband.  What I am arguing is that these new high speed fiber trunks should have a 4G wireless connection such as WiMax or LTE to provide services to these sparsely populated places.  It would be a mistake to upgrade the present analog twisted pair facilities.  Wireless Broadband provides the right mix of limited infrastructure costs per the need to construct a tower rather than a granular distribution grid.  And the high speed IP network that is demanded - including support for VoIP.



Saturday, December 19, 2009

Comcast To Fund African-American Broadband Initiative

Partners With The NBCSL To Push Broadband Adoption Among African Americans



The Comcast Foundation said it will make a $50,000 grant to the National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL) in an effort to foster greater adoption of broadband Internet services within African American homes.

The NBCSL/Comcast Broadband Legislative Fellowship will help spearhead efforts to reverse what is a a disproportionate rate of broadband accessibility and adoption among African American communities. According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project's 2009 "Home Broadband Adoption" study and the "Broadband Imperatives for African Americans" report spearheaded by NBCSL and the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, only 46% of African-American homes had a broadband Internet connection in the home in 2009, a slight gain over 2008 numbers but below the 63% of all adult Americans that have broadband connections.

The recommendations developed by the Fellowship will further direct the efforts of NBCSL in authoring recommendations to Congress and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as they develop national and local solutions to alleviate disparities in broadband access, adoption, and use.

"There's no reason why America can't become the most connected nation on earth, but to do so it will take hard work and leadership," said Comcast Executive Vice President David L. Cohen in a statement. "Comcast is proud to partner with NBCSL to continue progress toward a connected America that includes all of its communities."

Friday, December 11, 2009

Test Video


You probably do not have the Flash Player (Get Adobe Flash Player Here) installed for your browser or the video files are misplaced on your server!


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Google Wave



Real Time Language Translation via Chat - Cool

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Telecommunications Carrier Costs That The Consumers Rarely See

Will 4G Networks Break The Bank?

This article does an excellent job pointing out some of the fixed costs that a telecommunications carrier faces while attempting to keep up with the "need for speed" that their customer base demands of them.

That $59 per month for 5Gb of traffic might seem expensive. Increased competition will likely drive this price lower.

With mobile traffic more than doubling each year due to the rapid adoption of wireless broadband and data-hungry smart phones and laptop data cards, operators face a dilemma—build out existing mobile networks or upgrade to new, faster technology. In mid-2007, data surpassed voice traffic, with traditional time-domain multiplexing (TDM) traffic expected to level out by the close of 2009 as the move to Internet Protocol (IP) packet data transport continues.

This shift to IP has left carriers with no choice but to foot the bill for additional equipment to upgrade their backhaul network to accommodate the increased traffic. To ease costs associated with network buildouts, carriers turned to end users by raising the price on data plans, but have come up short. Current unlimited data plans have set end-user service expectations high and the idea of data caps has already attracted media backlash, forcing mobile operators and carriers to evaluate options for cutting costs associated with upgrading network infrastructure.

Studies show backhaul accounts for approximately 50% of mobile networks’ operational costs. As wireless networks evolve from voice-only services to broadband data services, there is an increasing need for high-capacity transport between cell sites. Future backhaul expenses such as these have become the cost-cutting target of mobile operators.

Presently, operators seeing a tenfold increase in data capacity may only see a corresponding 20% to 30% increase in data service revenue. This decoupling of revenues from traffic capacity requires any increases in the cost of backhaul to parallel modest revenue growth, rather than the higher traffic growth. To be profitable, carriers must weigh their options carefully.

Technologies selected for future backhaul deployments must deliver substantial economies of scale as backhaul capacities grow from tens of megabits per second to gigabits per second. Copper circuits clearly fail to deliver such economies of scale, with costs rising linearly with capacity beyond T3/E3 data rates.

Cost considerations greatly influence the choice of backhaul technology, with the relatively low cost of T1 lines driving the much higher use of copper backhaul in North America. Carriers have a few options for fattening backhaul pipes, the most popular and costly being fiber. Subsequently, wireless options have to provide fiber-equivalent bandwidth and performance for a lower price tag.

Fiber As The Preferred Solution

All things being equal, most operators would choose fiber as their preferred backhaul solution. It is perceived as a well-proven technology, as it has been deployed in core networks for decades, with nearly limitless scalability. Unfortunately, most of the time operators do not already happen to own fiber running directly to a basestation site and therefore must either pay to install a new fiber run or pay installation and recurring costs to another operator to provide fiber-based services to the site.

When the costs of installing fiber are low and the time to complete the installation is acceptable, fiber usually becomes the preferred solution. Yet fiber installation is expensive in most developed countries, ranging from $250,000 to $1 million per mile in dense urban areas. So, running anything more than a short fiber lateral to a nearby ring is typically prohibitive except in extremely dense subscriber areas. Also, lengthy construction and permitting delays often make fiber installation unacceptable.

Leasing high-capacity data services from another operator is almost always unacceptable from a cost perspective. Even without upfront installation charges, the lowest-cost short-range Gigabit Ethernet or SONET/SDH services typically range from $5000 to $15,000 per month and can run much higher based on the recovery of any required fiber construction costs. These costs run far higher than what operators pay to lease four T1/E1 circuits for backhaul today, typically under $1000/month in the U.S. and higher in Europe.

Wireless Backhaul Alternatives

Single-channel 6- to 38-GHz microwave links top out at around 350 Mbits/s due to the limited RF channel bandwidth they’re permitted to use. Maximum allowed channel bandwidths are normally no more than 56 MHz, and even using high-order modulation (256-QAM), these links are limited to transmitting around 350 Mbits/s per channel. To scale beyond this data rate in the traditional microwave bands, it is necessary to transmit multiple signals using multiple RF channels.

Each channel used requires an additional set of radio electronics and an additional spectrum license, further increasing the total cost of ownership for a particular link. When carriers seek capacities beyond 350 Mbits/s, higher-capacity alternatives tend to offer cost-effective performance, particularly when transitioning backhaul applications to the new 80-GHz millimeter-wave spectrum, where radios are permitted to use up to 5-GHz channels to deliver multi-gigabit data rates using cost-effective single RF channel designs.

Given their multi-gigabit potential, 80-GHz radios can provide cost advantages over 6- to 38-GHz links for data rates exceeding 350 Mbits/s. They also enable operators looking to scale their backhaul capacities beyond the limits of 6- to 38-GHz technology to do so. Capacity advantages such as this enable the use of ring and mesh topologies to increase service availability and offer the potential to simultaneously carry high-capacity TDM and IP traffic to ease migration between the circuit-switched and packet worlds.

For urban backhaul scenarios, 80-GHz links are most appropriate as gigabit capacities are most needed. Urban scenarios also require backhaul distances consistent with highly available 80-GHz link deployments of 99.999% or better. Additionally, 80 GHz brings to dense urban scenarios the ability to deploy a very large number of high-capacity links within a given geographic area due to the very narrow beamwidths of their antennas.

The ultimate goal is a scalable, cost-effective backhaul strategy that does not forsake carriers’ legacy TDM investments while accounting for the stress that bandwidth-hungry IP-based 4G applications will place on networks. Mobile operators must consider future bandwidth needs and the network traffic flexibility necessary to minimize network build-out costs and investments, resulting in more profitable mobile data services.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Technology Has Impacted Migration Patterns In The USA And The World - Air Conditioning & Science

Wikipedia Imposes New Regulatory Controls Meant To Improve Veracity Of Content


Wikipedia: No longer the Wild West?


Wikipedia is a brilliant idea. An open source encyclopedia, if you will.
Though some frown upon it as a serious research tool, I find it to be a good starting point for research on various subjects. I then cross reference it with other sources and thus allow the preponderance of evidence to allow me to assess the likely truth and accuracy.

The days of mom and dad having to purchase a set of books from the door to door salesman is over. The printed book is obsolete once it goes to press. Electronic information offers the most broad reach in the exchange of information.

Nokia Brings Mobile Financial Serices To Millions (Billions)


Nokia brings mobile financial services to millions

Nokia today introduced Nokia Money, a new mobile
financial service offering consumers with mobile device access to
basic financial services. For many consumers, this will be the first
time they have had any access to such financial services.

Nokia Money has been designed to be as simple and convenient as
making a voice call or sending an SMS. It will enable consumers to
send money to another person just by using the person's mobile phone
number, as well as to pay merchants for goods and services, pay their
utility bills, or recharge their prepaid SIM cards (SIM top-up). The
services can be accessed 24 hours a day from anywhere, meaning
savings in travel costs and time. Nokia is building a wide network of
Nokia Money agents, where consumers can deposit money in or withdraw
cash from their accounts.

4 billion mobile phones but only 1.6 billion bank accounts
"We believe mobile financial services offer a market opportunity with
long term growth potential. In many countries, mobile phone ownership
significantly exceeds bank account usage, suggesting that many mobile
phone users have very limited or no access to basic financial
services. With more than 4 billion mobile phone users and only 1.6
billion bank accounts, global demand for access to financial services
presents a strong opportunity to combine mobile devices with simple
but powerful financial services such as Nokia Money", said Mary
McDowell, EVP and Chief Development Officer, Nokia.

Mobile payments will be the next step for delivering financial
services to hundreds of millions of people, both urban and rural, who
are underserved by existing payment means, especially in emerging
economies.

"Rural consumers will particularly benefit from money transfers and,
for urban consumers used to online services, we are enabling services
such as payment of utility bills, purchase of train and movie
tickets, top-ups, all through their mobile phones. Nokia Money is
simple to use, secure and available across different operator
networks and on virtually any mobile phone. This means millions of
new consumers will soon be able to manage all their financial needs
from their mobile phone", said Teppo Paavola, VP and Head of
Corporate Business Development, Nokia.

Building a new ecosystem for mobile payments
The Nokia Money service will be operated in cooperation with Obopay,
a leader in developing global mobile payment solutions, which Nokia
invested in earlier this year. The service is based on Obopay's
mobile payment platform, with unique and newly developed mobile
elements. Nokia intends the service to be open and interoperable with
other payment services as well.

"Obopay shares Nokia's vision for bringing mobile financial services
to millions of people worldwide. We're excited that Nokia has chosen
Obopay's platform. Nokia's leading market position, strong brand
recognition and global distribution channel, using the Obopay
platform with uniquely developed mobile elements, means the Nokia
Money service is well positioned to bring the next generation of
mobile payment services to the world," said Carol Realini, Founder
and CEO of Obopay.

Nokia Money is the result of a powerful collaboration Nokia is
forging between different partners in different markets around the
world. It is designed to work in partnership with mobile network
operators and financial institutions, involving distributors and
merchants in a dynamic ecosystem to seamlessly provide the new
services.

"As a result of the innovative partnerships and comprehensive
ecosystem we are forging with the banking and financial industry, as
well as leading network operators, we believe Nokia Money will bring
financial inclusion to many who currently have limited or no access
to financial services. Uniting the strengths of the mobile and
financial services industries will change the way people around the
world can manage their money in the future", added McDowell.

"Mobile financial services present a high growth sector for Nokia.
Nokia's asset strengths, including consumer brand awareness,
distribution capabilities and global relationships should serve as
logical and necessary extensions to drive innovation in the mobile
payments and banking sector. To be successful Nokia must provide a
legitimate bridge between operators, banks networks and security
infrastructure in order to unlock the broad uptake of mobile
financial services," said Bob Egan, Global Head of Research and Chief
Analyst, Towergroup.

The Nokia Money service will be shown for the first time at Nokia
World on the 2nd and 3rd of September 2009 in Stuttgart, Germany, and
it is planned to be rolled out gradually to selected markets,
beginning in early 2010.


Read more: http://www.fiercewireless.com/press-releases/nokia-brings-mobile-financial-services-millions#ixzz0PIkM97TF

The "Digital Divide" Is An Opportunity For Those With VIsion




WIKIPEDIA: THE DIGITAL DIVIDE DEFINED

LinK To Article In VON: Another Broadband Divide?

By Luc Ceuppens, Juniper Networks

The application period for the first round of applicants for the National Broadband Stimulus funds ended on Aug. 14. And while it likely won’t be known for a while who will receive funding and how much, we can be sure of one thing: There will be a lot of controversy around these funds. The plan, originally proposed by Obama during his campaign for presidency, is intended to bring broadband to lesser-served portions of the country, such as rural areas and economically challenged neighborhoods. While the intent is lofty, there are many issues and concerns that need to be addressed.

While no one will argue that bringing broadband connections to new customers in the United States is not a positive development, the question is who is in the best position to do that. Under Obama’s original plan, there was little in the way of defining how recipients of the funds would be chosen. Only now is this coming to light. The Wall Street. Journal reported on Aug. 14 that officials from 38 states are requesting input into deciding where the funds go. Their argument is that each state knows best where they have the biggest need. My home state, California, already has mapped out broadband coverage areas, while South Carolina and Missouri are doing the same. The federal government actually has set aside $350 million for mapping out national broadband coverage. While this may sound like a good plan, this mapping isn’t expected to be complete until 2011 – long after the broadband funds will have been spent. GigaOm notes in a recent blog that besides being late, this mapping project comes at a ridiculous cost to taxpayers. Other bloggers have mentioned similar concerns.

To complicate things even more, the federal government has its own proposal – let volunteers make the choice. As you can imagine, this suggestion has been met with its share of ridicule, but there are potential benefits to this – free input from educated decision makers, a diverse background of reviewers and decision-makers who may be less politically motivated than a group of elected officials or employees of a government organization.

Assuming that the two agencies handing out the loans – the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service (RUS) – decide who gets them, the next challenge lies in the strings attached to the money, like net neutrality and “openness” of devices that can be allowed on networks built with the funds. This potentially eliminates many of the nation’s largest carriers from using the funds to expand their coverage into remote areas. Qwest is one of the first large carriers to pass on the program. In press reports, Steve Davis, Qwest’s senior vice president for public policy, said “...upon evaluation of the funding opportunity and the various requirements for participation, we were unable to make the business case for filing an application for more rural opportunities.”



The bright side to these restrictions is that they have the potential to open the market to several small players who can serve the niche rural markets. These smaller players may be able to bring new services that fit better for the special needs of the underserved markets. On the other hand, the reality is that running a telecom provider business is capital intensive and survival is often tied to economies of scale that can only be achieved by high numbers of subscribers, questioning whether the small providers who receive the federal funds may be the best candidates in the long run.

Assuming that the government can decide who gets the funds, and what restrictions will be placed on them, there is opportunity for growth in the U.S. broadband sector. I don’t anticipate that these problems will be resolved soon, or that there will be easy answers. Whenever there are large dollars at play, there are always many outstretched open hands, all with their own interpretations of the “best” way to divide it and spend it.

Luc Ceuppens is vice president of product marketing, High-End Systems Business unit at Juniper Networks (JNPR).


Monday, July 27, 2009

Kenyans Use Pedal Power To Recharge Their Cellphones


BBC: Pedal power for Kenya's mobiles

Two Kenyan students are hoping to market a device that allows bicycle riders to charge their mobile phones.
Jeremiah Murimi, 24, and Pascal Katana, 22, said they wanted their dynamo-powered "smart charger" to help people without electricity in rural areas.
"We both come from villages and we know the problems," Mr Murimi told the BBC.
People have to travel great distances to shops where they are charged $2 a time to power their phone, usually from a car battery or solar panel.
"The device is so small you can put it in your pocket with your phone while you are on your bike," said Mr Murimi.
It is estimated that some 17.5 million people out of Kenya's 38.5 million population own a mobile handset - up from 200,000 in 2000.


We took most of [the] items from a junk yard
Pascal Katana

Young Malawian invents wind generator
Although similar devices already exist in other countries, they are not available in Kenya.
The two electrical engineering students from Nairobi University have been working on their own invention, which they are selling for 350 Kenyan shillings ($4.50) each, over the last few months during their university break.
In Kenya, bicycles are sold with a dynamo to be attached to the back wheel to power the lights.
The dynamo lead can be switched to plug into the charger instead, they explained.
Mr Katana explained it takes an hour of pedalling to fully charge a phone, about the same time it would if it were plugged into the mains electricity.
The BBC's Ruth Nesoba says after a short ride, the phone's battery display indicated that it was charging.
Guinea pigs
The cash-strapped students used old bits of electronic equipment for the project.
"We took most of [the] items from a junk yard - using bits from spoilt radios and spoilt televisions," said Mr Katana.

The dynamo is attached to the back wheel
Workers with bicycles at the campus were used as guinea pigs, including security guard David Nyangoro.
"I use a bicycle especially when I'm at home in the rural areas, where we travel a lot," he said.
"It's very expensive nowadays charging a phone. With the new charger I hope it will be more economical, as once you have bought it, things will be easier for you and no more expenses."
Mr Murimi says so far they have only made two chargers - but are making five more for people who have seen it demonstrated.
"And a non-government organisation in western Kenya wants 15 so they can test them out in rural areas to see how popular they prove," he said.
The two friends are about to start their fifth and final year at university in September.
"We are not planning to stop our studies," Mr Murimi said.
Kenya's National Council for Science and Technology has backed the project, and the students hope they will find a way of mass-producing the chargers.

Friday, July 24, 2009

African Americans Are Pace Setters In Wireless Internet Access

As an industry insider: "I am pleased with this news".

Compelling Applications + Wireless Communications + Location Based Services is where the vast amount of future activity and wealth creation will take place.


Pew: African Americans, Wireless Web's 'Pace Setters'

Posted by: Olga Kharif on July 22

African Americans’ use of mobile Web has more than doubled in the past several years, according to a Pew Research Center survey released on July 22. Not only are African Americans the most active users of the wireless Internet, but their use of the mobile Web is also growing the fastest.

While 32% of all Americans have accessed the Internet via a mobile device this year, African Americans’ mobile Web usage was far greater, reaching 48% of respondents, according to the study. That’s a huge, 141% jump from 2007, when only 12% of African Americans used the Internet on their mobiles on a given day. “Our data do show that African Americans are less likely to have laptop or desktop computers,” explains the study’s author, John Horrigan. “Given limited budgets, it seems that African Americans opt for cheaper devices, [such as cell phones] with a certain monthly fee, over items with large fixed outlays [such as PCs] that require a monthly outlay to an Internet Service Provider.”

While white Americans are still much more likely to go online using a computer, wireless connectivity clearly helps narrow the digital divide. On an average day, 61% of whites go online when mobile access is included, while 54% of African Americans do the same. A prior Pew study found that all Americans are becoming more interested in going online using their mobile devices.

The study found that wireless Internet use among the population as a whole has skyrocketed in the past two years. Laptops remain the most prevalent tool for accessing the mobile Web, but cell phones are quickly catching up. And people are starting to access the Web via new devices such as the Kindle e-book reader. The study is based on a survey of 2,253 adults.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Blogging From 35,000 Feet

I am right now sitting on an Airtran flight.

They handed out free samples of their GoGo Inflight Internet service.

I whipped out my laptop to test it out.

It works pretty good.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Please Airlines - Enough With The Fear Stories

On a flight this week the flight attendant stated that all electronic devices that transmit are banned from use throughout the flight INCLUDING GPS devices.

I understand their argument that some devices that transmit might jam the aircraft's radio signals even though this is unlikely.

I totally reject their claims that a GPS receiver has any chance of causing such interference.

The plane is banketed with the signals from the GPS satellites already. The GPS receiver does nothing to attract this electromagnetic energy toward the plane.

Friday, May 15, 2009

"Micro Loans" Meet "Micro Learning" - Video Training

PeepCode Screen Casts


What to learn Ruby On Rails Development as I am doing? What a great idea to pay $9 per hour-long video instruction.

They have something of value that I want and thus I am willing to pay for it.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

UK Pushes For 2Mb Internet Wireline Access For All - Wireless Is A Better Option

UK: would the Government mandate for “2Mbps broadband for all” be better served by an improved 3G/4G wireless infrastructure?

Big Media Angered At Google's Aggregation Abilities

The media mogul says Google is stealing from publishers. It could be the call to arms that newsrooms need.

Rupert Murdoch threw down the gauntlet to Google Thursday, accusing the search giant of poaching content it doesn't own and urging media outlets to fight back. "Should we be allowing Google to steal all our copyrights?" asked the News Corp. chief at a cable industry confab in Washington, D.C., Thursday. The answer, said Murdoch, should be, " 'Thanks, but no thanks.' "

Google ( GOOG - news - people ) sees it differently. They send more than 300 million clicks a month to newspaper Web sites, says a Google spokesperson. The search giant is in "full compliance" with copyright laws. "We show just enough information to make the user want to read a full story--the headlines, a line or two of text and links to the story's Web site. That's it." For most links, if a reader wants to peruse an entire article, they have to click through to the newspaper's Web site.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Jamaica's Norman Manley International Airport Selects Nortel for Network Upgrades

Jamaica's Norman Manley International Airport Selects Nortel for Network Upgrades

SUNRISE, FLORIDA - Norman Manley International Airport (NMIA) has selected Nortel(1) (TSX: NT)(OTCBB: NRTLQ) for network enhancements that will enable new operating efficiencies between airport staff, airlines, customs and immigration groups, as well as improve customer service for airport customers. This project supports the Airport Authority of Jamaica's drive to modernize the island's two international airports, including NMIA which serves the capital of Kingston.

Nortel's unified communications solution will enable new applications that increase productivity and generate cost efficiencies for airport operations. The system will also enhance processes for travelers, such as airline reservations and passport control, as well as utilize VOIP and video-on-demand to deliver multimedia content to flight information monitors and airport lounges. Most importantly, the upgrades ensure a highly-secure and reliable network.

The new system will allow NMIA to run operations from one centralized network, eliminating the costs of building and maintaining separate systems for data, video and voice. The system will also be centrally managed, which enables NMIA to respond faster to operational issues.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Revolutionary technology enables Highland Park student math scores to soar

Revolutionary technology enables Highland Park student math scores to soar

As one walks into this historic high school, it is clear to see that it is different. Lodged in the City of Highland Park, surrounded on all sides by the city of Detroit, Michigan, Highland Park Career Academy caters to 1,400 students, 16-19 years old. Many have left the traditional high school for a variety of reasons and see this as their “last stop” in the educational pipeline.
One would expect to find teachers struggling to get students excited about learning. One would expect to find students dreading going to class. But something is different about this school - at least in two specific classrooms.

Instead of trying to get students to come to class, these teachers are trying to get students to go home. Instead of finding students who are struggling to complete assignments and improve their achievement levels, these students are excelling. Instead of finding classrooms empty on days when students are not required to attend, these teachers find their classrooms bustling with students coming and going. Why?

“It is the technology. Jim and Chuck from QWK2LRN are our heroes,” said Ms. Ashford, who teaches English at the Academy. “When Jim approached us and asked if he could bring 30 computers into my room for me to use, I looked at him and thought this isn’t going to work - it is going to be more hassle than it is worth. But I relented and he brought them in,” she said with a smile on her face.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Africa Set For Mobile Phone and Broadband Growth

Cell phones power financial revolution in Africa

JOHANNESBURG: Africa is the fastest-growing telecommunications market in the world, but growth of broadband on the continent has been hamstrung by a patchy national network and costly connections to international systems. That may be about to change.

This year, the construction of new infrastructure could increase capacity and cut prices in Africa, unlocking the continent's high-speed Internet potential and creating growth opportunities for operators and equipment companies.

AfricaNext Investment Research, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, said it expected the African broadband market to grow more than fourfold in five years, to 12.7 million users from 2.7 million in 2007.

It said the growth will be made possible by new underwater cables and national networks scheduled to begin operation this year and next, and by the emergence of high-speed wireless technologies like EVDO and WiMax.

"There is a confluence of indicators that suggest that for the first time in more than a decade, broadband growth in the African continent may be on the verge of truly taking off," AfricaNext said.

As the rest of the world reels from the global economic slowdown, Africa would likely offer growth opportunities for equipment providers.

"I don't think equipment vendors like Ericsson and Huawei are going to shy away from opportunities in Africa," said Lindsey McDonald, ICT industry analyst at Frost & Sullivan McDonald.

While West Africa already has high-speed Internet through the SAT-3 cable that loops around the west of the continent, East Africa still relies on dial-up or expensive satellite connections.

But projects worth around $6 billion, including 10 undersea cables and several national networks, are planned or under construction in Africa, according to BMI TechKnowledge Group, a research firm based in South Africa.

One $650 million fiber-optic cable, scheduled to be ready in June, would link east and southern Africa to Europe and Asia.

Another network, owned by Telkom Kenya and Telkom South Africa, among other African operators, plans to also loop around east Africa, bringing fast and inexpensive bandwidth to at least 23 landlocked African countries.

It should be completed by 2010 and will cost $265 million. Alcatel-Lucent is working on the project.

Richard Hurst, a telecommunications analyst at the global telecommunications advisory firm IDC, said international bandwidth rates were expected to drop to a fifth or less of current rates of $3,000 a megabit after these two cables are in operation.

The cables "are a major positive step in a right direction," he said.

Investors and telecommunications companies with an eye on expansion are preparing to take advantage of the new capacity.

Safaricom, in which Vodafone of Britain has a 40 percent stake, said in September 2008 it was buying a 51 percent stake in the Kenyan IT firm Onecom to improve its product range and move into the data business.

McDonald, of Frost & Sullivan, said more such deals may follow in Kenya. She said Safaricom might also decide to lay its own fiber-optic cable to reduce its transmission costs within two to three years.

The full benefit of undersea cables would only be felt if national infrastructures in Africa are also improved, and progress is already being made in many countries.

Friday, February 6, 2009

RBS World Pay Heist Nets $9 Million - This Is High Tech Gangsta

Certainly I hope these guys get caught but you have got to give credit where credit is due. 



This attack was highly coordinated.   Someone hacked into RBS's computers and stole account numbers and removed the withdrawl limits from the accounts.  They created fake ATM cards with these account numbers.  And then at one, coordinated time - withdrew $9 million from ATMs around the world.  

These were no dummies.




Data Breach Led to Multi-Million Dollar ATM Heists
A nationwide ATM heist late last year netted thieves $9 million in cash in one day, according to published reports. The coordinated attack stemmed from a computer intrusion at payment processor RBS WorldPay.

Atlanta-based RBS WorldPay announced on Dec. 23 that hackers had broken into its database and made off with personal and financial data on 1.5 million customers of its payroll cards business. Some companies use payroll cards in lieu of paychecks by depositing employee salaries or hourly wages directly into payroll card accounts, which can then be used as debit cards at ATMs. RBS said that thieves also might also have accessed Social Security numbers of 1.1 million customers.

New York's Fox 5 cites FBI sources as saying that thieves used the stolen payroll cards recently to withdraw $9 million from ATMs from 49 cities, including Atlanta, Chicago, New York, Montreal, Moscow, and Hong Kong.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Mobile Development Fund To Benefit African Mobile Communications


GSM World - Development Fund




Working with mobile operators to accelerate mobile solutions for people living on under US$2 per day.

The GSMA Development Fund exists to accelerate economic, social and environmental development through the use of mobile technology. We believe that providing tangible, accessible mobile services to people in developing countries is invaluable to society and can help improve people’s lives.

The Development Fund leverages the industry expertise of the GSMA and its members, as well as the development expertise of international agencies and non-profit organisations to accelerate mobile services in three areas: Connectivity, Energy and mServices.

Together with our partners we incubate and replicate new mobile services in communities where they can make a positive difference.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Net Neutrality Provisions Inserted Into Democratic Broadband Stimulus Bill

Warning To Carriers: If You Are Dumb and Greedy Enough To Take The Money - YOU DESERVE TO BE CONTROLLED BY THE GOVERNMENT

The confluence between "technology" and "civil rights" is a strange orgy of ideas. The government seeks to expand the coverage of broadband in America while controlling the carriers as they make use of various bandwidth rationing schemes.

On the one side are the supposed consumer advocates who see traffic shaping as a violation of consumer rights. In their view - If a consumer was promised 6mb of throughput they should be free to make use of it as they please. On the other side is the operator. They know that if all of their customers made constant use of 6mb that their network infrastructure would crash.

Add a wireless access scheme which is by default a shared medium and you can double the assurance of catostrophy. Where as with a wire line access technology the carrier can add a better medium (ie fiber) or faster electronics - in the wireless world "God ain't making more spectrum" so the only way to go is to attempt to get better modulation schemes within the very same spectrum.

I assure you that the very same people resisting traffic shaping schemes by the carriers will be the first people suing the carriers if and when their individual performance suffers as a result of unmitigated use of the infrastructure ,that is by definition a shared one.

House Democrats are signaling support for network neutrality as the Energy and Commerce Committee attaches network neutrality and open access mandates to almost $3 billion in grants and loans for network build-outs to unserved and underserved areas of the country.


Democrats sent a strong signal Jan. 22 that network neutrality would play a starring role in the $6 billion broadband piece of the U.S. House's overall $825 billion economic stimulus package. In approving $2.9 billion for network build-outs in rural and underserved areas, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce insisted that network neutrality and open network mandates be attached to the funding.

"These are public dollars. Networks built with this funding should be open," Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) said. The mandates require the winners of the funding to allow any legal device to be connected to the new networks, and network operators are prohibited from discriminating in the handling of network traffic.

In a business meeting that extended late into the night, the House panel approved a grants program to be operated by the NTIA (National Telecommunications and Information Administration) that calls for 25 percent of the $2.9 billion to be spent on areas of the country with no broadband access with the remaining 75 percent poured into "underserved" areas.

The other half of the $6 billion dedicated to broadband build-out in the House stimulus package calls for $2.9 billion in grants and loans to administered by the Rural Utilities Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The program is not under the jurisdiction of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, but it is expected that the same network neutrality and open network mandates will be attached to the funding.

The overall stimulus bill may reach the floor of the House the week of Jan. 26. The Senate's version is currently being drafted.

The mandates represent a major shift in the policy battle over network neutrality. Under Republican control and the Bush administration, efforts to pass network neutrality laws faced opposition from telecommunications and cable companies, which adamantly objected to the idea of government control over their network management practices.

In the House, a network neutrality amendment to a telco reform bill failed in 2006. The Senate has never had a floor vote on network neutrality, but the Senate Commerce Committee voted against a network neutrality amendment to the 2006 telco reform bill.

Since then, the network neutrality debate has centered around the FCC's legal status and ability to enforce the agency's Internet principles. In August 2005, the FCC declared that consumers are entitled to access the lawful Internet content of their choice, run applications and services of their choice, and plug in and run legal devices of their choice. The FCC also said consumers have a right to competition among network providers, application and service providers, and content providers.

Monday, January 26, 2009

How Stuff Works Web Site

HowStuffWorks site growing, entering into TV realm

HowStuffWorks wasn’t Arnold’s idea. Credit a computer science professor appropriately named Marshall Brain. In 1998, Brain started the Web site as a hobby. His first article: “How Car Engines Work.” He even did his own primitive illustrations — “eventually expunged,” he noted.

When www.coolsiteoftheday.com deemed his site “cool,” Brain said traffic began to build. In 1999, he turned HowStuffWorks into a business.

Four years later, Brain sold the site to Arnold’s company for $2 million. Arnold built the company and in late 2007, sold it for $250 million to Discovery Communications, based in Silver Spring, Md. (Primary operations for HowStuffWorks remain in Buckhead.)

Arnold, who is still the company CEO, liked that the audience for the Discovery Channel is similar to that of HowStuffWorks. To spice up the site, it has added 35,000-plus videos from Discovery archival footage and purchased articles from the likes of World Book and Reader’s Digest.

Plus, in November, HowStuffWorks started a new TV show on Discovery Channel, beginning with basic commodities such as corn, wood and wheat.

The goal this year is to get up to 20 million unique visitors a month.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Cell Towers Translate Into Income For Schools


Cell Towers Placed On Campus Are A Boon For Schools



Not all the towers on 17 Cobb campuses are as decorative, but the financial incentives for renting space to cellphone companies outweigh the aesthetics at some schools.

Each tower yields an immediate $150,000, with 60 percent going to the school where the tower is built, said Dennis Campbell, planning director for Cobb schools. The remainder of the money goes into a fund for schools without towers that can be drawn from as needed.

And it gets better. The contracts with cellphone companies are 15-year deals, or three five-year contracts. Over the length of a lease, a school with a tower earns $270,000, or $90,000 every five years.

Most of the towers on Cobb campuses are owned by T-Mobile, but other cellphone providers can pay to add their antennas. Additional antennas can bring in at least $800 a month, Campbell said.


To me this appears to be one of those "You Are Not Gonna Put Your Tower In My Back Yard but YOUR COVERAGE SUCKS Improve It Or Im Gonna Switch To Someone Else" stories.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Teens "Sexting" Out Of Synch With The Law and Societal Standards


Sexting - the practice of taking nude picture with a cellphone camera and send it off to someone else as an act of flirting or invitation for more "hands on" contact.

(Damn I wish I was younger and still single. Why weren't certain things available when I was in my early 20's?)

Hat tip to "3g 4g Blog". Where as I get frequent spam on my Skype client - I had no idea that teens were using technology in such a manner. Then again I am not surprised at all.

America! Please don't go so far as to make the Mullahs correct about our lascivious culture.

Greensburg People Want Students' 'Sexting' Charges Dropped

GREENSBURG, Pa. - Six teenagers have been charged with sex crimes for sending naked pictures on their cell phones, but the court of public opinion says this isn't a case for the legal system to worry about.

WTAE Channel 4's Jennifer Miele reported that Mayor Karl Eisaman and the Greensburg Police Department have received dozens of e-mails from people who think the kids' parents -- and not a judge -- should punish them.

"These are good kids that made mistakes ... What they did was wrong, but they are not sex offenders," one of the boys' mothers said in an e-mail to Channel 4 Action News on Monday.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Delaying The Digital TV Cut Over Has Some Consequences

I was going to write a blog entry with the very same argument.  No need to bother - this guy argues the very same thing:




In summary - the very same 700Mhz space that is now being used by many UHF stations that are not getting much play in the day of cable is slated to be used by the next generation of high speed wireless Internet networks.

It is quite ironic that the same people who claim that the USA has fallen behind on technology and broadband access are unwilling to pull the plug on analog TV on February 17th, effectively delaying the transition.


Obama's Broadband Challenge By Kevin Fitchard




Today we have a new president. While it’s probably unseemly to start taking shots at Barack Obama on the day of his inauguration, I believe it’s only fair to point out that our new president is starting his new administration’s broadband policy with a contradiction.

Obama wants to delay the Feb. 17 digital TV transition date in order to buy more time for millions of Americans who don’t yet have the conversion technology necessary to receive digital signals. Cutting off millions of constituents from their primary source of news and entertainment wouldn’t just be politically disastrous; it would be socially unconscionable, considering the majority of the people affected by the analog cutoff are those who can’t afford a fancy new digital TV, cable or satellite service.

But on the other hand, Obama has begun to promote a new broadband policy that emphasizes faster and better data connections to more Americans over a greater variety of platforms. The argument goes that broadband infrastructure is just as vital as the highways, bridges and electrical lines to achieving future prosperity.

The problem is that the 700 MHz spectrum at the center of the DTV transition debate is one of the keys to growth as a broadband nation. The long-term evolution (LTE) and other data networks that go up over those frequencies may not target rural areas, but they do plenty to realize other requirements of a broadband society. First, 4G technologies will be the first truly mobile means of broadband, expanding the narrow pipes currently available over 3G networks while eliminating the mobility barriers between Wi-Fi hotspots. Second, 4G technologies will drive down the cost of wireless broadband, taking advantage of a simplified network architecture and more efficient use of spectrum. 4G won’t revolutionize broadband overnight, but it’s a critical step in building an unfettered broadband lifestyle. For Obama’s new administration, delaying the deployment of these technologies by three months isn’t a good way to kick off its new broadband policy.

I realize that there are many factors that could delay deployment of these networks — vendor production delays, access to capital, carriers’ unrealistic timetables — some for far longer than 90 days. A new June 12 deadline probably won’t stop AT&T and Verizon’s LTE networks in their tracks. But Qualcomm has made it very clear it’s set to flip the switch on hundreds of transmitters the day after Feb. 17. After spending years working around broadcasters in hundreds of markets, it has been waiting for the day that channel 55 goes static across the country to finally complete its nationwide MediaFLO network. Now at the 11th hour it’s told it will probably have to wait.

Qualcomm rightly points out that it spent millions of dollars purchasing those licenses and millions more building out its TV networks with the expectation it would have unfettered access to them on a specific date. What’s probably most frustrating is the money to fund the DTV transition, education program and digital converter subsidization program came directly from the proceeds Qualcomm and other 700 MHz winners forked over at auction. The government had the money and it most certainly had the time, but it botched it just the same. It may not be Obama’s administration that did the botching, but he’s inherited the problem, and if he’s not careful he could make a miserable situation even worse. He and Congress probably have no choice but to extend the transition deadline — too many people would be left looking at dead air — but he can’t do it without consequence, nor without concession to the wireless industry. Some restitution needs to be made to Qualcomm and other operators that can prove they had immediate plans for the 700 MHz bands. If no concession is made, then Obama might find his broadband plan harder to implement. Telcos might not be so keen to accept one of Obama’s broadband grants or loans, bid in auction or even support a new initiative if they know the terms could change instantly and arbitrarily.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Scientists Learn How To Levitate Small Objects


Scientists discover way to levitate tiny objects

CHICAGO - U.S. scientists have found a way to levitate the very smallest objects using the strange forces of quantum mechanics, and said on Wednesday they might use it to help make tiny nanotechnology machines.

They said they had detected and measured a force that comes into play at the molecular level using certain combinations of molecules that repel one another.

The repulsion can be used to hold molecules aloft, in essence levitating them, creating virtually friction-free parts for tiny devices, the researchers said.



Quantum mechanical forces
The discovery arose from Capasso's prior work as vice president of physical research at Bell Labs, the research arm of telecoms gear marker Lucent Technologies, now Alcatel-Lucent.

"I started to think how can I use these exotic quantum mechanical forces for technology," he said in a telephone interview.

Bell had been working on new devices known as Micro Electromechanical Systems or MEMS, the technology used in air bag sensors to measure deceleration of cars. "We started to play with nanomechanics or micromechanics," Capasso said.

He knew that as devices became smaller and smaller, they would fall prey to what is known as the Casimir force, an attractive force that comes into play when two very tiny metallic surfaces make very close contact.

In very small objects, this force can cause moving parts to stick together, an effect known as stiction.