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Why Public Policy is Critical to the Communications Revolution

In Silicon Valley local issues and global issues are often closely linked. It’s inevitable in a region where home grown high-tech is creating groundbreaking changes across the globe and supporting an entire region’s economic growth and job market.

With the introduction of the iPhone right here in the Valley and advent of mobile apps, the so-called “App Economy” is a huge local issue for Silicon Valley and the rest of California.  It contributes $8.2 billion a year and supports 152,000 jobs in California, according to CTIA and the Application Developers Alliance.

But, the most forceful demonstration of the global impact is the communications revolution taking place today.  “Smart networks,” such as wireless and wireline IP (Internet Protocol)-based networks, allow consumers to tap into super-fast Internet speeds so that they can better access video, voice and data services over the Internet.  With communications technology playing a leading role in daily life, it’s no surprise high-tech honchos are holding the Silicon Valley Wireless Symposium on November 2nd at Marvell headquarters in Santa Clara to discuss public policy that ensures a sound path forward for 21st Century communications infrastructure.

Read the Full post at The Daily Kos

Transformational Transportation – The Rideshare Revolution

Yesterday, I joined the rideshare revolution. Today I’m writing about it. I downloaded this app on my iPhone and took three short car trips yesterday courtesy of SideCar, a San Francisco-based ridesharing company that connects people who need a ride with drivers already on the road. Simply put, it’s a reinvention of carpooling through smartphone technology.

SideCar, founded by visionary cleanweb venture capitalist Sunil Paul, is only available in San Francisco at this time.

Read the Full Article

Transformational Transportation — The Rise of Uber

On my penultimate trip to D.C., it took far longer to find a cab to Dulles than I anticipated. Once I flagged one down, I thought the stress of the mad dash was essentially over. I was wrong. About a mile away from the airport, I asked my driver if he accepted credit cards, as I couldn’t cover the fee in cash. Much to the surprise of few in Washington, the gruff cabbie said “no,” that he did not take credit cards. He did, however, offer me one option, which felt more like an ultimatum. I could get out of the taxi, shuffle down a flight of stairs, bank left and use an inconveniently-placed ATM. After withdrawing my cash, I could sprint back to the car and exchange my money for my luggage. What a deal.

On my last trip to Washington, I had learned my lesson. Two lessons, actually. The first was to carve out time for an anticipatory trip to the ATM. The second lesson was to download the Uber app on my smartphone.

Read the Full Article on Huffington Post

DEMO 2012 Demonstrates Value of Keeping California High Tech Free to Innovate

Anyone needing reassurance that California hasn’t lost any of its high tech luster should have stopped by the DEMO Fall 2012 conference last week in Santa Clara. DEMO attracted 77 ambitious tech start-ups from around the country, competing with six-minute pitches for their apps, services and products. Just the fact that this event takes place in Santa Clara reinforces the reality that California is still the epicenter of America’s high-tech Internet economy. We’re still the place where budding tech stars come to be discovered. And we have a huge stake in seeing that our innovative technology isn’t smothered by unnecessary regulation.

Of the top start-ups selected at DEMO 2012, the number one spot went to RentLingo, a startup just up the road in Palo Alto, founded by Stanford graduate students Dan Laufer and Byron Singh. Their winning product is a social networking approach to finding an apartment. But RentLingo wasn’t the only California start-up in the top echelon. They were joined by Birdeez. From its humble beginnings as a student project at UC Santa Barbara, this central coast-based startup launched a smartphone app called Bird Alerts. Amateur Ornithologists can give Bird Alerts a list of the birds you most want to see and the app will send you an alert every time one has been spotted within 30 miles of your location.

Read the Full Article on Daily Kos.

Statement from Executive Director Mike Montgomery on New California Tech Laws

“I am pleased that Governor Jerry Brown has signed a multitude of forward-thinking tech bills into law.   In particular, SB 1161 is an important law that will provide regulatory certainty in California for Internet-based services.  California has once again reassured high-tech innovators, investors and consumers that our state remains globally competitive by promoting  investment, innovation, and continued economic growth in our critically important high-tech sector.

Also signed into law was SB 1298, a bill that allows for the testing of self-driving cars on our streets as well as an initiative to make California a leader in making digital college textbooks available to students.  Another new law created privacy safeguards that  prohibit colleges and employers from demanding access to student and employee social media accounts.

I applaud Governor Brown and the state legislature for recognizing that California’s laws must continue to evolve with the pace of change in technology.

Consumers deserve greater choice and access to new communications technologies, and innovators should be provided the freedom to innovate.  CALinnovates opposes unnecessary regulations on Internet-based services that would undermine investment and job creation in our state.

Laws such as SB 1161 show that California is serious about preserving a free and open Internet.  Policy makers across the nation would be wise to take a similar approach.”

Why the iPhone Economy Is Drawing Silicon Valley Deeper Into Washington Politics

Anyone looking for evidence that the esoteric and wonky is becoming increasingly important in mainstream politics need look no further than the theatrical launch of the iPhone 5.

Preorders for the latest magical device from Apple have sold out. Numbers released by the Pew Internet & American Life Foundation earlier this week say that 66 percent of younger Americans already own an iPhone or some other smartphone. By some estimates, more than 50 billion devices will wirelessly connect to each other by 2020 – that’s more than seven times the number of human beings on the planet. Wireless technology already also connect our cars, our utility meters, and even devices implanted in our bodies.

Read the Full Article.

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.

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