Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Google testing white spaces cloud in South Africa

Memeburn has the story here involving the test involving the Tertiary Education and Research Network of South Africa (TENET).

The test is delivering connectivity comparable to basic Wi-Fi (2.5Mbps) to 10 schools, according to the story.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Google to Offer Internet Service in Olathe, Kansas - WSJ.com

Google to Offer Internet Service in Olathe, Kansas - WSJ.com: Google hopes its fiber initiative can put pressure on cable and phone companies to improve their networks as Americans use more bandwidth for online-video services such as Google's YouTube, among other sites.

Nonsense. Even assuming the truth of this purported rationale, Google can apply pressure all it wants, but for these publicly traded, investor owned Internet service providers -- Google included -- the real pressure is the pressure to produce quarterly earnings plus in the case of the incumbent telcos and cablecos, generous dividends.  And that imperative will always win out over CAPex to improve and build out network infrastructure.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Broadband 'black spots' across UK - Yahoo! News UK

Broadband 'black spots' across UK - Yahoo! News UK: Britons living in rural areas are stuck in "digital ghettos", an expert has warned as figures showed average broadband speeds have more than trebled in the UK.

These now reach 12 megabits per second (Mbps) - around three times the speeds recorded in 2008 and up by a third in the six months from May to November.

But "black spots" still exist across the country and users face a "postcode lottery" in terms of the service they receive, it was claimed.

More than three years ago, Prince Charles warned of the emergence of UK "broadband deserts."  Apparently he was right. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

IP may be in the "telephone" system, but many premises still only served by POTS

How the Humble Telephone Is About to Bring Internet to the Masses (Again) - NationalJournal.com: You aren’t going to wake up one morning and find every home connected to Verizon FiOS. In fact, even after the IP transition, many houses are still going to be connected to their local switch by copper.

Indeed they are.  The last mile (or more properly the first mile) often lacks the infrastructure to deliver IP-based services, leaving many American homes to Plain Old Telephone Services (POTS) that has been around for decades.  And two percent/6 million Americans involuntarily left off the Internet grid?  That seems an awfully low number given a 2012 U.S. Federal Communications Commission estimate putting the number at nearly 20 million Americans.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Online-Only TV Shows Join Fight for Attention - NYTimes.com

Online-Only TV Shows Join Fight for Attention - NYTimes.com: The companies are, in effect, creating new networks for television through broadband pipes and also giving rise to new rivalries — among one another, as between Amazon and Netflix, and with the big but vulnerable broadcast networks as well.

As Marshall McLuhan famously said, "the medium is the message."  And the medium is fiber to the premise.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Australians Without Broadband Call For Changes To NBN | Internet

Australians Without Broadband Call For Changes To NBN | Internet: Experts have blamed Telstra for failing to upgrade creaking infrastructure because the NBN will limit the return it can get on its investment. Meanwhile many of those without broadband face over three years on dialup or expensive and patchy wireless plans as they are not part of the early NBN rollout.
At least the Aussies can claim they have active construction underway to build fiber to the premise infrastructure -- albeit not fast enough for areas that must still rely on early 1990s era dial up over twisted copper pair and data capped mobile wireless service.  The United States does not: only the travesty of a "national broadband plan" that exists on paper only.  There, the wait to get off dial up may take even longer than for the folks down under unless American communities take the initiative to build their own community fiber networks.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Robust fiber to the premise telecom infrastructure can help stem falling rural school enrollment


The Sacramento Bee reports today on rapidly falling enrollment in rural school districts in the Sacramento, California metro region.  I personally think we need help," Fred Adam, superintendent of Placer Hills Union and an executive committee member with the state’s Small School Districts' Association, told newspaper, adding, "I truly worry about the future.”

Behind the drop in enrollment, according to the Bee article, are an aging population and a declining birth rate. In rural areas, the article continues, these trends are magnified by a small employment base that has been further eroded by years of recession. With few jobs and fewer options, many families have moved to the suburbs or out of state to find work. "It's a pretty consistent story throughout California in rural communities," Adam is quoted as saying. "You can't compete with time and distance."

Yes we can.  It can be bridged by robust, Internet-based telecommunications services that can enable rural school districts to rely less on classrooms and the need to bus students to and from them, thereby reducing operating expenses.

How?  By facilitating what educators are calling blended learning.  Jeremy Meyers, deputy superintendent of the El Dorado County Office of Education (quoted in the Sacramento Bee story), recently wrote about the emerging educational method in which pupils do much of their learning and class projects outside of the classroom via the Internet – arguably the world’s biggest and best stocked library.  Back in the classroom, their teachers review their projects, answer questions and lead discussions. Authors William A. Draves and Julie Coates describe Web-based education as one of the nine defining trends of the 21st century in the 2004 book Nine Shift: Work, Life, and Education in the 21st Century.
 
Just as workshifting allows their parents to work part of the work week at the office, might someday soon students report to class on fewer days that the Industrial Age Monday through Friday schedule of the 20th Century?  This is not to say the classroom is facing obsolescence, particularly for primary students where the classroom plays an important role in the development of social skills.  But for older kids who grew up in the connected world, blended learning makes lots of sense.

Key to making this possible is fiber to the premise telecommunications infrastructure that has the capacity to deliver information in all forms as well as enable video conferencing between students, parents and educators.  In order for that critical infrastructure to be put in place, communities must come together and find ways to finance its planning, construction and operation since the business models of existing telephone and cable companies cannot accommodate the telecommunications needs of less populous areas. 
 
A virtuous bonus of more robust telecommunications infrastructure is it would also better enable parents of school age children to work remotely and run home-based businesses.  That in turn would help keep them and their kids in the community and curb declining school enrollment.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

California legislation would expand Internet infrastructure subsidy fund

Introduced February 22, California Senate Bill 740 boosts the size of the California Public Utility Commission's California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) infrastructure subsidy fund from $125 million to a maximum of $325 million and extends its life from 2015 to 2020.

Now if only the PUC would only make the CASF funding freely available to community fiber projects, it might actually achieve some real benefit for Californians, particularly those residing in areas lacking wireline Internet connections from incumbent telcos and cable companies.
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