Issues

If You Care About Our Wireless Future, Here’s A Recommendation for Summer Reading

It’s August, and much of official Washington soon will be heading to the beaches and mountains to get away from the heat and humidity here in town.  I hope that telecommunications and technology policy makers will take with them one suggested piece of excellent Summer reading.  The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) released a report last month that should be mandatory reading for anyone involved in helping to set the course of our nation’s technological future.  The report, “Powering the Mobile Revolution:  Principles of Spectrum Allocation” sounds like pretty dry reading, and, candidly, much of it is.  But it also is essential reading if you want a good understanding of what America needs to do to and, as importantly, must not do if we are secure our nation’s wireless future.

Here’s the deal.  We have known for years that continued innovation and investment in wireless technologies will require more spectrum.  The FCC’s National Broadband Plan released more than two years ago noted that the United States would confront a “looming spectrum crunch” unless 500 MHz of additional spectrum is found in the next ten years.  We also know that the most likely, in fact the only feasible, source of additional spectrum is from Federal licensees.  Over the past two plus years we have made virtually no progress in identifying Federal users who might be moved from the spectrum they occupy or bands that might be migrated to private sector commercial or non-commercial use.

Read the Full Article at TheDailyIrv.

Mike Montgomery: Your tacos depend on wireless access

There’s a basic recipe behind the rolling success of food trucks in California: hard times, hot food and a generous sprinkling of wireless technology.

Opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant has always been a high-risk, high-overhead venture. It became even more so as tough times and tight money followed the economic downturn. But with the low overhead and limited capital needed to operate a food truck, budding restaurateurs took a second look at mobile food operations. The recent booming success of food trucks is the latest prime example of how entrepreneurs and small businesses are using reliable wireless connectivity and the ever-growing menu of wireless gadgets to innovate and compete with their larger rivals. If you want a taste of the haute mobile cuisine scene, just hop in your car. You can’t miss it.

Read the Full Article.

Time to invest in much-needed mobile infrastructure

By Mike Montgomery

Isn’t life quite a bit easier with apps on your phone and fast Internet connections? Broadband-high-speed Internet-has become a crucial tool for rural and urban residents alike.

Turlock is no stranger to the benefits of increased access to high-speed Internet. In Stanislaus County, broadband lets people join meetings in Los Angeles, take online calculus classes through the University of California, and enables veterans to consult with specialists through telemedicine at the VA’s Modesto Clinic. Want to renew your library book at the Stanislaus County Library? No problem. There’s an app for that, too.

Seventy percent of Central Valley residents now report that they have broadband at home, compared to 53 percent in 2008, according to Public Policy Institute of California. While this percentage trails the rates of other metropolitan regions of the state such as San Francisco and San Diego, the Central Valley has made significant strides in broadband adoption.

Read the Full Article.

The Value of a College Degree in the Innovation Economy

By Elisa Stephens and Mike Montgomery

If you haven’t noticed, the tech sector is on fire. Venture funding has led to new rounds of hiring in California, while startups are maturing into established companies, with many eyeing IPOs.

Some of today’s successful tech industry executives have taken unorthodox paths to becoming tech leaders, including dropping out of high school or college. But dropouts make up a tiny percentage of the success stories in the high tech field and beyond. It is true that young people today are light years ahead of past generations in mastering new technologies and adopting innovation. But nothing changes the fact that a 21st century economy requires a 21st century education. Bypassing post-secondary education or training in favor of jumping into the workplace is a disservice to a global society in a competitive world.

It’s concerning then that some opinion leaders are encouraging entrepreneurs to bypass a college degree. In fact, 60 Minutes recently featured PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel promoting this path. These viewpoints serve to fuel speculation that the entirety our future workforce is better served taking their skills directly to the marketplace in lieu of a college degree.

Multiple studies show that those with college degrees earn roughly $1 million more than those with a high school education. A recent Georgetown University study found that people with bachelor’s degrees make 84 percent more over a lifetime than high school graduates. These studies suggest that, despite the cost of college, graduates will more than make up for the expense over the course of their careers.

Beyond earning potential, a college degree can be a leg up in landing a job in California in the aftermath of a painful economic downturn. Companies emerging from a hiring slow-down are seeking the most qualified, prepared workers they can find. Employers can be selective, which is all the more reason to get a high quality education enriched with relevant real-world experience.

Today, CALinnovates, an advocacy group for California’s high-tech consumers, released a survey of technology employers that is good news for the 2012 class of college graduates. According to the survey, the technology community in the Bay Area believes that the economy is slowly turning around and 86 percent of survey respondents plan to hire 2012 college graduates. Fifty-five percent plan to hire more graduates than they did last year and only six percent of companies believe that economic conditions in the Bay Area will be worse in six months.

The survey reinforces the fact that high quality higher education programs are a critical to help the Bay Area to continue to anchor the innovation economy. For businesses to stay here, we need to provide them with a well-trained workforce. Companies responding to the survey drilled down further to say they are looking for job candidates with exceptional creative skills, be it graphic design capabilities, mobile app development experience, or a demonstrated innovative spirit. According to the CALinnovates’ survey, 91 percent of businesses consider creative ability valuable when evaluating who to hire.

Students hoping to seize opportunities in the Bay Area should look for post-secondary education programs that include hands-on training and real-world experiences so that they can rise to the top and hit the ground running. These creators of the future, armed with education and experience relevant to the 21st century, will be central to keeping California’s innovation economy humming.

Reposted from the Huffington Post

The Internet of Things: How “Smart Home” Products Save Us Time, Energy

The Internet of everything is sweeping the nation.  Whether we’re talking about your home, your life, or the way lighting is controlled on your favorite TV show.

According to Paul Goldhammer, a dimmer board operator on a sitcom filming at CBS Studios, there’s an app that essentially allows him to be in two places at once.  iRFR, a product of Electronic Theatre Controls (“ETC”), gives lighting technicians like Goldhammer a tool to perform much of their work from a smartphone or tablet, taking them out of the control booth so they can remedy other challenges on the fly, saving in production time and multiple takes.

What makes iRFR even more impressive is that ETC gives proceeds from the purchase of the app to a healthcare nonprofit called Behind the Scenes, which provides financial support to entertainment technology industry professionals when they are ill or injured.

From our perspective, iRFR fits into the broad category of smart home (or smart life, more appropriately) products.  This was a red hot category at CES this year.  We learned a lot about the smart refrigerator at the show, and over the last number of months, we’ve seen a proliferation of exciting innovation in this space.  One particularly noteworthy technology I’ve recently heard about provides the ability to check into your hotel room and unlock the door without stopping at the front desk.  I’ve also seen a demo for a power management system that allows people to turn on or off their appliances and lights using a simple app in order to save time, energy, money and the environment.

Without further ado, let’s shine a light on Paul Goldhammer and his mobile app.

The Sharing Economy

The San Francisco Planning + Urban Research Association’s event called “The Sharing Economy” featured a keynote speech from San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee.  The sharing economy is a new twist on an old idea.  Sharing.  While sharing isn’t a novel idea, sharing plus technology is novel.  Companies engaging in this line of business, often called  Collaborative Consumption, refer to themselves as the new economy.

Whether we’re talking about car sharing, renting out your apartment, swapping books, bikes, or employing an errand runner, this phenomenon is sweeping its way across the state and beyond.  While the hundreds in attendance were excited about the potential of this emergent group of companies, they were equally as concerned about what ramifications the regulatory environment will have on these new businesses.  As the moderator of the panel said, “We can’t apply 20th Century regulations to 21st Century inventions.”

Enter San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, who has championed a new approach through a working group he has formed in order to “develop model policies” for these SF-based collaborative consumption companies.  If this working group is successful, their policies can and will encourage the growth of the tech sector in San Francisco and beyond in order to further support innovation and the economy.

 

Congress Crafts Compromise on Spectrum Auctions

As part of their work on the payroll tax extension legislation, Congressional leaders have included a very important provision that authorizes voluntary incentive auctions for wireless spectrum. We applaud Chairmen Upton and Walden as well as the FCC Chairman Genachowski for their leadership. Despite the politics, compromise ruled the day, demonstrating that Congress and the FCC understand that our spectrum crunch is a very real threat and not in any way theoretical.

If the promise of this compromise becomes reality, it will be a banner day for California’s technology and innovation community.  Given how instrumental the innovation economy is to our nation – and how desperately we need access to more spectrum – we are counting the days until we can say, “let the auctions begin.”

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