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We Could End Up Striking Out On Spectrum

There’s no doubt fall is a great season for sports fans.  With the MLB playoffs and football season around the corner, fantasy drafts, trash-talking and tailgate recipe research is in full swing online.  Thanks to technological advances, sports and sports fans have gone mobile as sports enthusiasts, like other consumers, embrace connected devices in just about every aspect of their lives.

Online video sites such as MLB.TV allow fans to stream every game online.  A recent MLB Advanced Media chart shows that from the 2011 to 2012 baseball seasons, online viewership on only desktops fell by almost half, and viewership via a combination of desktops, smartphones, Xboxes and other connected devices nearly doubled.  And for many fans that only stream NFL games online, providers now offer online viewing packages, sending streaming videos of games to mobile devices.

TV ads illustrate the opportunities of wireless technology – sneak a peek at the score while you’re waiting to order dinner, watch your favorite team while you’re on a trip away from home – but as we embrace how technology supports greater connectivity in every aspect of our lives, there is another question at hand:  How do all the possibilities in online technology impact the consumer experience?

People are streaming video at an unprecedented rate on an array of devices, creating a surge in wireless data traffic.  All indications are that investment in network infrastructure is strong as providers strive to give customers more of what they want.  But in order for consumers to enjoy high-quality video without loading bars and interruptions, we need wireless spectrum, the airwaves that carry data over wireless networks.  The problem is only a small percentage of available spectrum has been allocated for commercial wireless use.

With skyrocketing consumer demand, the current spectrum supply just won’t meet consumer needs.  Spectrum is projected to be maxed out by 2013.

This isn’t an issue that can be allowed to languish in the off-season.  The federal government must take immediate steps to release more spectrum for consumer use to better meet their needs.  In areas of health care and education, the consequences of not doing so are more serious than a Facebook post touting the winning field goal.  21st century policies must encourage innovation and private investment in our network infrastructure so that consumers can continue to enjoy all of technology’s possibilities today and in the future.

Startup Fundraising Bootcamp: You’re doing it all wrong!

CALinnovates member Shervin Talieh (Founder and CEO of Drumbi) is a resource to the Southern California startup world.  He holds office hours for founders and advises droves of fledgling companies all while running his own, disruptive force in the tech community.  His OC Tech Startup group is hosting an event on startup fundraising, an important element to everyone in the startup game.  Don’t miss it!

The tentative agenda for this no-bullshit, 2-hour session is as follows:

  1. Why you shouldn’t raise money – The value in bootstrapping, and the realities of fundraising.
  2. Fundraising strategy – What is it, and do you have one?
  3. The games we play – Real world games, tactics, traps and counter-moves for successful fundraising

The panel will include Sean Ellis, Alex Banayan, and Eric Jackson; three guys who are no stranger to the fundraising hustle, representing the perspectives of founders (Sean and Eric), VC’s (Alex), and those who are disrupting the VC game (Eric).

Please join Shervin on Wednesday, September 19th if you’re anywhere within a 100 mile radius of Chapman University!

International regulation menaces Internet freedom

Mike Montgomery

Silicon Valley is the king of Internet innovation. But that doesn’t mean the valley can ignore sovereign powers — particularly when their actions could threaten its lifeblood: global Internet freedom.

In December, the innocuous-sounding World Conference on International Telecommunications will be held in Dubai. Its stated purpose is to update the international telecom ground rules for things like global interoperability of networks and exchanges of telecom traffic between countries.

But concern is growing that a number of governments intend to exploit the Dubai meeting to change the rules governing the Internet. These changes would position the United Nations, via the International Telecommunication Union, as the global Internet regulator. They could also give individual governments much more power over the role of the Internet in their respective countries.

Already, proposals are floating back and forth among government officials around the world. The process has been criticized for its lack of transparency — so much so that at least one website has popped up, taking a page from the WikiLeaks playbook and publishing discussion drafts of confidential governmental proposals.

In the United States, recent congressional hearings were eye-opening. Robert McDowell, a member of the Federal Communications Commission, testified that some governments want to use international mandates to charge certain Web destinations on a per-click basis, ostensibly to fund the build-out of broadband across the globe. “Google, iTunes, Facebook, and Netflix are mentioned most often as prime sources of funding,” McDowell added.

Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, noted that many countries “don’t share our view of the Internet and how it operates.” That’s putting it politely.

Vint Cerf is Google’s “Internet evangelist,” often referred to as the father of the Internet for helping create the TCP/IP protocol. He said the Dubai meeting could lead to “top-down control dictated by governments,” potentially affecting free expression and strengthening authoritarian regimes. “The open Internet has never been at a higher risk than it is now,” he said.

In this country, fortunately, the Obama administration, Congress, the business community and public interest groups appear to be united in opposition to significant changes to Internet governance. A resolution supporting existing policies, introduced by Rep. Mary Bono-Mack, a California Republican, passed unanimously earlier this month. A counterpart has been introduced in the Senate.

But that doesn’t mean the Internet and Silicon Valley are out of the woods. Although the United States appears to be of one mind, Cerf noted in the Congressional hearing that we can’t meet this challenge alone. We’re going to need the support of other countries. And we have to practice what we preach.

Abroad, we need to encourage like-minded governments, nongovernmental organizations and civil society groups to speak up. Silicon Valley can be a game-changer by talking about the benefits of a free and open Internet with foreign business partners, vendors, subsidiaries and affiliates, and encouraging their governments to resist proposals that could undermine a free and open Internet.

Whenever, wherever a free and open Internet is threatened, Silicon Valley’s prosperity is potential collateral damage. To resist these threats, Silicon Valley needs to stay informed and vigilant — and be ready to act.

*A version of this article appeared in the August 13, 2012 issue of the San Jose Mercury News.

New FCC Commissioners a Breath of Fresh Air

Mike Montgomery

It usually takes fresh thinking to bring about positive changes in government, and sometimes it takes fresh faces.  We had a great example of that in Silicon Valley last week as Jessica Rosenworcel and Ajit Pai, the two new Commissioners at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), visited with a coalition of technology business leaders to discuss ways to foster innovation and economic growth in tech industries, particularly telecommunications.

What made this visit so refreshing is that it involved two senior regulators going to Silicon Valley to listen to entrepreneurs and innovators and better understand the needs of the high-tech community. To make business work and to keep entrepreneurs innovating, the right business environment must be in place – an environment that promotes and accelerates the invention and application of new devices and technologies.  The FCC is key to helping establish an environment that promotes regulatory certainty to enable growth and innovation throughout the entire telecom ecosystem.

In recent speeches and statements, both of these Commissioners have addressed the need for quicker decision making by the FCC and leadership to advance infrastructure investment throughout the industry.  For example, Commissioner Pai recently stated that “the FCC should be as nimble as the industry we oversee”, he said the FCC should ensure that it isn’t a barrier to investment and innovation – by making well thought out but quicker decisions in order to spur broadband investment, facilitate growth and create jobs in telecom.

Commissioner Rosenworcel acknowledged during her visit, how the high tech sector promotes innovation with speed and alacrity.  After meeting with industry leaders, Commissioner Rosenworcel noted that “[t]he digital economy is growing fast and there are lessons to learn from its energy.”  Technology changes rapidly – new devices are invented, new applications are created, new services are brought online and new opportunities enrich consumers’ lives.

To keep our high tech sector growing and innovating, the nation’s policymakers should ensure that we eliminate unnecessary and burdensome barriers that innovators and entrepreneurs face when deciding to invest and deploy in the next generation of facilities, services and applications.  In order to continue our leadership role in the deployment of advanced broadband services, the high tech sector needs regulatory certainty, and quick FCC decision making.  A strong, bipartisan approach will be needed to set the right policies for our high tech economy to thrive.  Fortunately for the FCC, two Commissioners last week took the time to witness what is needed first hand and to listen to the experts — and who came back to DC showing that they understand the needs of our Nation’s high tech community.

We look forward to new and exciting prospects for consumers in technology, and we look forward to the continued great work of Commissioners Pai and Rosenworcel.

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.

CALinnovates Applauds Congressional Vote for Bono Mack Resoultion

For Immediate Release:
Thursday, June 21, 2012
Mike Montgomery
[email protected]
(415) 494-8626

CALinnovates Applauds Congressional Vote for Bono Mack Resolution Opposing International Governance of the Internet

Coalition says Bono Mack’s warning to UN on Internet regulation has parallel in California

SAN FRANCISCO—Today, CALinnovates commends California Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack’s leadership and Congress’s action to support a hands-off-the-Internet resolution. The House Energy and Commerce Committee passed H. Con. Res. 127, introduced by Bono Mack, by bipartisan, unanimous vote on June 20.Bono Mack’s resolution is aimed at the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the telecom regulatory entity of the United Nations. CALinnovates observed that the resolution is in the same spirit of California’s SB 1161, which aims to keep the Internet free of regulation. The California State Senate passed SB 1161 and the legislation is now before the State Assembly. In a statement released today, CALinnovates Executive Director Mike Montgomery said:

“International entities are ready to take a run at imposing control over worldwide Internet services and infrastructure. Allowing this overreach would blunt the innovative freedom that has been central to the Internet industry’s evolution. Freedom and online innovation have led to tremendous consumer benefits, job creation and economic growth.”

Montgomery added, “CALinnovates supports policies that ensure the full benefits of the high-tech sector are realized in California and we believe that policies that encourage growth, investment, and competition are just as critical in the international arena as they are in California. In California and worldwide, consumers deserve the opportunities for more choices and access to the benefits of new technology and innovators need the freedom to innovate. That is why here in California we oppose policies that impose unnecessary regulations on Internet-based services that would undermine investment and job creation in our state.”

“We continue to support SB 1161 that reassures high-tech innovators, consumers, and investors that California’s government will preserve a free and open Internet. By the same measure, we join Rep. Bono Mack in support of keeping international government entities out of the business of the Internet and continuing to encourage the investment and innovation that benefits all worldwide.”


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

Staying Connected: A Runner’s Perspective

If you run or bike while listening to music and want to keep your eyes on the road, the smartphone is your friend.  An iPod is great, but it doesn’t give you the variety a smartphone offers.  Today, we don’t really need to carry multiple single-use devices.  Today’s smartphones incorporate many of the following standard-use items:

  • Phones
  • Music Players
  • Televisions
  • Computers
  • Flashlights
  • Cameras
  • Phone Books
  • Maps
  • Newspapers

Of course, not every item is necessary if you’re training for a marathon like our interviewee is here, but why carry more than one device if you’ve got to carry anything at all?

See our interview with Lauren, a marathon runner who uses her iPhone during long practice runs.

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