“The road to failure is often paved with good intentions,” famed writer Samuel Johnson might have said.
Just ask Riverside, California. Back in 2006, the city set out to build a municipal Wi-Fi network for its citizens. But a severe lack of interest from customers prompted the city’s original communications partner to pull away from the project. The city scrambled to find resources to build and maintain the network, ultimately costing residents more than $700,000 per year for a network to live up to the hype. the Wi-Fi network never even reached two-thirds of the population and has been described as obsolete.
In other words, the good intentions from Riverside officials have resulted in a costly, and failed, experiment on the taxpayer’s dime.
Read the full article on Tech Zulu
AT&T announced its intentions to conduct beta tests to transition consumers to Internet Protocol networks (aka the IP Transition) in Alabama and Florida. We are thrilled for Carbon Hill, Alabama and West Delray Beach, Florida as the potential first two all-IP test cities in America. Perhaps in a few years we may refer to Carbon Hill as Silicon Hill, the next new hotbed of digital innovation.
As you know, CALinnovates has long been a strong proponent of a modernization of our nation’s communications infrastructure, and today marks another important step down this critical path. Earlier this year, I called the transition “the beginning of the next great digital transformation in our nation’s history.” Well, these beta tests are the next phase of the transition, as it’s important to make the transition in a smart way that protects key core values such as universal connectivity, consumer protection, network reliability and public safety.
I had a chance to talk to a few of our members about today’s news, and I think you’ll find their insights illuminating.
Jack Crawford, general partner at Velocity Venture Capital, told me that this announcement gives him great hope for the future of his industry and the nation as a whole. He believes IP connectivity will give his portfolio companies even greater reach, while helping consumers thrive.
“The dream of universal connectivity through next-gen networks will prove to be a huge boon for the economy. I’ve long said private investment in infrastructure will drive the next great wave of economic prosperity in our nation. Startups will have access to more customers with high-speed connections. Consumers will have increased and faster access to the world around them. This movement will create increased opportunities in education, job creation and personal enjoyment for the masses.”
Lloyd Marino, an IT and cloud expert and the founder of Avetta Global, says the transition to IP networks will effectively shrink the world, creating opportunities for people no matter where they live or work that don’t currently exist today to the extent they could:
“The networks of the future will make the world a smaller place, allowing people to be anywhere in the world instantaneously, in high-definition, transacting business, telecommuting, and taking advantage of high-speed connectivity no matter where they live, whether rural or urban. These test trials will deliver findings that will benefit everyone in every industry. I’m thrilled.”
Daniel Brusilovsky, an executive at Ribbon, shares his entrepreneurial perspective:
“It’s incredibly important to do beta tests to really learn what these networks can do and what they can handle. As more and more consumers are getting smartphones and using applications like Skype, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and more, we need our networks to be able to support the technology community’s growing demand for data.”
As FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel commented just a few months ago, “To get outside the box, government needs to do more work in the sandbox.” These beta tests in Alabama and Florida represent the sandbox in which the IP transition will carefully and progressively occur using real world conditions, but under the FCC’s watchful eye to ensure a smooth and efficient consumer transition. It’s the same sort of thinking that the tech industry has long embraced, and it’s about time we brought this tech-driven approach to upgrading our nation’s network infrastructure.
I’m looking forward to working hand-in-hand with the FCC, the business community and consumers to make sure we get the opportunity to experience and enjoy a connected future.
CALinnovates will continue to track this item and keep you informed along the way.
Here’s a bit of trivia from the dusty archives of communication: The first high-definition television broadcast in America wasn’t from New York or Los Angeles, it was from a CBS affiliate in Raleigh, North Carolina.
The date was July 23, 1996, and the station was WRAL-TV. On hand to witness the event were some 200 invited guests, according to the station’s history page, who watched a broadcast operating at 100 kilowatts from a tower 1,736 feet above the ground. The high-definition age had arrived.
What does this history lesson have to do with the topic of this essay, which is the transition from copper wire telephone lines to next-generation, Internet-enabled communications networks? The answer will be music to your ears.
Read the full article on Huffington Post – Tech
SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 30, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — CALinnovates today issued the following statement regarding the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) decision to approve test trials of the transition to all-Internet networks.
Executive Director Mike Montgomery said:
Today’s FCC vote will go down in history as the beginning of the next great digital transformation in our nation’s history. Technology companies of all sizes as well as consumers will benefit greatly from Internet Protocol networks.
While the FCC’s unanimous 5-0 vote is just the beginning of a longer process to upgrade our nation’s networks, the bipartisan decision proves just how vital this transformation is for the country. The California technology community – which paved the way with its forward-looking IP legislation in 2012 – will be observing the trials closely, looking forward to the opportunity to build upon the networks of the future.
As the country’s economy increasingly relies upon the technology industry, this transition will benefit not just Californians, but the entire nation. The transition to IP networks is a great bet on the future of American innovation and connectedness.
To learn more about CALinnovates, visit www.calinnovates.org.
As featured in The Sacramento Bee
By: Mike Montgomery
Can Merced be the next Silicon Valley?
According to a recent study from the Pew Research Center, 70 percent of Americans now subscribe to broadband Internet service at home, and an additional 10 percent of Americans have broadband access at home via a smartphone.
While that’s the good news, there are still some communities in America that lack some kind of broadband or Internet access at home. About 7 percent of Americans say they lack Internet access altogether.
By: Mike Montgomery
As featured on The Huffington Post
There have been many-storied rivalries in American history. In the 1800s, the bitter political rivalry between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton was settled with a famous duel. Later that century, the Hatfields started warring with the McCoys, leaving behind epic tales still told today. Two-hundred years later, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird staged heated battles on the basketball court, and actors Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie remain bitter rivals in the battle over Brad Pitt’s heart. Despite the intensity, the rivalries were all ultimately settled. Burr shot Hamilton dead, the Hatfields and McCoys hugged it out, Magic and Larry became friends, and Brangelina became the “it” couple while Aniston is engaged to be married, hopefully putting an end to the tabloid-style coverage of the matter.
Rivalries exist everywhere in life, even in the exciting world of communications policy. Communications and technology company AT&T and public interest group Public Knowledge are widely known to lock horns on matters of public policy, often bitterly. But it seems this rivalry may have a little more Magic-and-Bird vibe to it than Hamilton-and-Burr. Of late, the communications company and the advocacy group seem to have put aside their differences and locked arms in solidarity over the vision for the future of next generation communications infrastructure. Perhaps this doesn’t have the drama of some of the other famous feuds, but in the communications policy world, when something like this happens, it’s worth paying attention to because it must be important.
Specifically, AT&T found common ground with a white paper Public Knowledge released about the transition from antiquated telephone networks to the advanced high-speed broadband networks of the future. In this paper, Public Knowledge articulated five principles to govern the transition:
1) Service to all Americans
2) Interconnection and Competition
3) Consumer Protection
4) Network Reliability
5) Public Safety
For those not regularly knee deep in matters of communications policy, these five principles are basically a distillation of the ideas that have always guided communications in America, which is undoubtedly why AT&T agrees with them. As a recent post on the company’s Public Policy Blog states:
There were several points in Public Knowledge’s white paper that we could have written ourselves at AT&T. First, the transition has to occur. Our old reliable TDM technology is obsolete and defined by two words: “Manufacturer discontinued.” Second, the fundamental principles of universal connectivity, consumer protection, reliability and public safety — all hallmarks of our Nation’s centuries old commitment to communications — should not be lost in this transition.
Indeed, it appears maintaining this central principle — that everyone should remain connected — was the goal of AT&T’s petition with the Federal Communications Commission to conduct regulatory “beta trials” in select markets as the outdated copper networks are upgraded and modernized. The idea behind these trials is that by ironing out potential issues in its micro stages, the transition will go much more smoothly when taken macro.
AT&T notes that some 70 percent of households in the company’s wireline footprint have already ditched their traditional landline. It is precisely the inevitability of this transition to next generation high-speed broadband networks that makes the AT&T and Public Knowledge accord less surprising. It is obvious technology is evolving and it is equally as obvious that people are choosing to communicate in new, innovative ways. The five principles represent the shared universal goals to pursue as policy and regulation try to modernize to keep up with the speed of technological innovation.
The idea of modernizing our infrastructure with next generation broadband networks isn’t at all new or controversial; consumers, consumer groups, and corporate America have spoken, and they’re all saying the same thing. The only question is whether government agencies can work with the various stakeholders to make such a monumental upgrade to our nation’s communications infrastructure quickly enough, while ensuring sufficient consumer protection. If the AT&T/Public Knowledge cease-fire teaches us anything, feuds and rivalries come and go. When common sense prevails, progress is a certainty.
By Mike Montgomery
As seen in SF Examiner
At this very moment, somewhere in San Francisco, an innovative new product is being tested and refined. This product harnesses the power of smartphones, mobile broadband and mobile apps to … well … offer women around the world and their partners a new way to (ahem) connect.
The product is a smartphone app called Vibease (no, really), and it’s being billed as the world’s first “smart vibrator” (no, really). Rather than fumble through my own explanation of how Vibease works, I’ll just crib liberally from the company’s CrunchBase profile: Vibease is a private social network for couples with massager integration. Couples can use Vibease for chatting and share their moments. The best part is the woman’s partner can control her massager using an iPhone or Android phone even though they are separated by distance.
So there’s that.
But here’s the thing: Even if an app-driven vibrator doesn’t tickle your fancy, there does appear to be a market for it. Or at the very least, there are investors who believe there’s a market. Vibease is already $40,000 above its crowdsourced fundraising target on Indiegogo. It has also received seed funding from angel investors and $25,000 in venture funds. With that kind of startup capital, Vibease has to be taken seriously even if its product tends to incite giggles.
It also … and you better hang on to something, because I might lose you with my upcoming segue … it also highlights the need for smart spectrum policies from the Federal Communications Commission.
You see, while masturbazione (as the Italians call it) has been around since we were scribbling in caves, the widespread consumer adoption of mobile broadband is a relatively recent development. But much like the act of shôuyín (as it’s called in China), relying on our mobile devices to get online anytime and anywhere has become a major part of our daily lives. Some of us do it several times a day.
But the unprecedented popularity of mobile broadband faces, well, some obstruction. As Vibease has made clear, there seems to be no limit to what app developers will imagine, nor to what wireless customers will find helpful. This incredible demand for more mobile devices and more applications is where the problem emerges. It’s one thing when consumers have the power to check email and visit their favorite websites wirelessly. It rises to another level when consumers need to also power more data-intensive apps like streaming video (and … well, anything else you might want to stream) that require higher-spectrum resources.
The point of all this (and thank you for staying with me this far) is that when it comes to products and services powered by mobile broadband, we’re only beginning to scratch the surface. Ten years ago, smartphones did not yet exist as we know them, and the idea of a smart vibrator probably had never come up. The fact that smartphones are now everywhere and apps like Vibease are drawing serious interest from investors should be enough to tell us that truly anything is possible with mobile broadband. Whatever innovative ideas arise next, our wireless networks must be equipped with ample spectrum in order to be ready.
This means we cannot afford to impose artificial constraints on the opportunity for providers to obtain more spectrum. When designing its upcoming 2014 spectrum auction, the FCC needs to keep in mind that every wireless provider, both big and small, needs more spectrum capacity on their networks. If the spectrum auctions are encumbered with restrictions on eligible bidders, and all providers are not allowed to bid equally, then the FCC risks leaving millions of consumers … well, unsatisfied.
Mike Montgomery is the executive director of CALinnovates, which works as a bridge between technology communities in California and the public policy communities in Sacramento and Washington, D.C.
CALinnovates and California-Based Tech Groups Ask FCC to Speed Modernization of Nation’s Communications NetworksComment supports petition seeking national conversation on speeding up transition to all-IP based networks with beta trials to measure consumer benefits
SAN FRANCISCO – CALinnovates, a tech advocacy organization, along with eight other California-based tech groups-Alphabird, Appallicious,At The Pool, Avetta, ,iSideWith, Lex Machina, MySocialCloud, and the Silicon Valley Italian Executive Council–have jointly filed comments with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) expressing support for a petition currently pending at the Commission.The petition, submitted last year by AT&T, asks the FCC to work with the private sector to begin geographically-limited beta tests to examine the complex technical and policy issues associated with the transition away from existing legacy voice networks to modern IP-based networks. The guidelines provided in the petition propose a framework that will allow the private sector and the government to address the operational, technical and policy issues related to the transition to new IP-based networks in an open and transparent process.“Startups in-and-around Silicon Valley need reliable, forward-looking high-speed networks to deliver for our customers,” said Chase Norlin, CEO of Alphabird. “Supporting the rapid development of communications infrastructure will allow us to maintain a free and open Internet, encourage private investment, and support innovation and free flowing ideas.”“Existing regulations mandate continued investment in outdated, 20th century networks that consumers are using less and less,” said CALinnovates Executive Director Mike Montgomery. “Old school networks can’t offer the infrastructure needed for seamless communication of voice, data, video, and Internet applications among various devices.”Montgomery continued, “This petition is a first step in determining how the FCC and the private sector can work together to upgrade the country’s communications infrastructure beyond the limited capabilities of networks designed for voice-only communication. The new communications ecosystem no longer operates solely through telephone companies. This filing is about updating a regulatory environment that promotes access to new technologies, protects consumers, and enhances our economic productivity.”“The beta trials deploying IP-enabled networks will help accelerate the evolution of technology and drive increased connectivity and innovation, while fostering immense capital investment,” said Montgomery. “Investing in stronger and faster IP networks will provide substantial benefits to consumers and businesses nationwide ranging from job creation to greater access to education, healthcare, training, and public safety.”
|For Immediate Release
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
|Contact: Mike Montgomery
|For Immediate Release
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
|Contact: Mike Montgomery
$14 Billion Additional Investment in Broadband Networks Means Big Things for Consumers and Innovators
CALinnovates’ new infographic says evolving consumer behavior demands private sector investment to expand communications infrastructure and support tech innovation
SAN FRANCISCO – California’s economic recovery will be bolstered by a recent announcement that AT&T plans to invest an additional $14 billion to expand and enhance its wired and wireless Internet Protocol (IP) broadband networks. For Californians looking for expanded access to the benefits of the Internet, this development signals great optimism for the future of communications, according to CALinnovates, a San Francisco-based high-tech advocacy group.
According to their 3-year investment plan, 300 million people will be covered by AT&T 4G LTE by the end of 2014, and millions more will have access to next-generation wireline IP broadband networks. CALinnovates Executive Director Mike Montgomery stated, “Connecting virtually everyone in the U.S. with high-speed Internet is a long stride in the right direction toward meeting the goal of President Obama’s National Broadband Plan. And we know that high-speed Internet connections, both wired and wireless, create the kind of jobs we urgently need right now.”
“Consumers, entrepreneurs and people everywhere are clamoring for more connectivity and faster speeds. It takes this kind of multi-billion dollar private sector investment to give people the high-speed connections they want and need,” said Montgomery. “Investment is the linchpin to staying ahead of the massive growth in consumer demand for speed, data capacity and devices and apps that are now central to our lives.”
A new CALinnovates infographic on its website documents how consumers are driving the market that is revolutionizing communications and creating skyrocketing demand for new technology that can handle more data than ever before. In describing the infographic, Montgomery said, “Consumers today want to be connected everywhere in every way possible. But, we can’t take for granted the robust high-speed networks that are necessary to carry the innovations that are driving the economy and improving our lives. Those networks require mega investments to keep them growing and improving.”
“Continued investment to build the communications infrastructure of the future is what will keep the U.S. and Silicon Valley ahead of the innovation curve,” he said.