Politics hinder WiFi in San Francisco?

While preparing for Blandin’s March eNews, I ran across an editorial at Local Tech Wire on San Francisco’s city-wide WiFi plans. The author, Greg Richardson, works for Civitium, a consultant that “finds itself in the middle of a growing debate about how the City of San Francisco should proceed”. The editorial comes in two parts:

While the immediate focus of the article is local to San Francisco, the items addressed are interesting to any municipality looking at WiFi – and very often his point is that issues that are being taken to task in San Francisco really belong to a national discussion. He does this by striking out against views that he labels as extreme – especially the left leaning views.

While the author clearly states his agenda, repeatedly – I think it’s interesting reading especially for anyone who might agree with him or for anyone who might want to prepare to debate anyone who aggress with Richardson.

Many Farmers Still Use Dialup

My cousin and buddy Rick Birmingham (Tech Circuit Rider for MAP for Nonprofits) sent me a fun article last week from CNN.com (Web forums replacing coffee shops for farmers). The article reported:

“Fifty-one percent of U.S. farms have Internet access, according to a July 2005 report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, up from 48 percent in 2003. More than two-thirds of them, however, still use dial-up modems to connect.”

We both found this to be surprisingly low. When I get some time I’m going to try to research more current number and/or statistics on Minnesota farmers.

Baller Herbst LawRick read about the article in an email newsletter published by The Baller Herbst Law Group. I’m pleased to announce that I have just joined the email list myself. I have heard wonderful things about it – and have had several people forward interesting issues to me in the past.

You can join the list by sending an email to the list owner info (at) baller.com. (Replace (at) with @ – I just didn’t want to subject them to unwanted spam by posting the full email address here.)

WiFi at the DQ in Pine River MN

Walker MN in snowI spent the weekend in Walker MN at the Adventure North Resort. I loved it – but I was off line all weekend. (My kids loved that part!)

I drove home after the big snowfall. (It seemed as though a foot or so fell everywhere between Walker and St. Paul.) I saw a sign in Pine River that warmed me up – Free Wi Fi at the DQ.

I didn’t stop as we have already spent more than an hour and had only gone 30 miles – but I have it in my mind’s map for the next time I travel up that way. Soft serve and Internet access is tough to beat on a summer day. I thought it was such a good idea to attract travelers.

Light Speed Program Concept Paper – take a look

I’ve been noodling around with Bill Coleman and others on the Blandin Foundation’s Broadband Project team to put the finishing details on the design for a modest new grant program we’d like to launch to help spur the implementation of broadband-intensive applications. (See the Light Speed Program Concept paper.) Light Speed Program Concept PaperOur goal is to demonstrate the value of robust ultra-high speed networks for increasing community competitiveness and quality of life. As a foundation that cares about vital rural communities, Blandin thinks we might have a unique role to play in helping to reduce barriers to advanced application deployment. And we think that it would help strengthen the case for why Minnesota needs to plan for truly “big broadband” if we could point to some real life examples on the ground.

We want to work with networks that are capable of 10 Mbps symmetrical communications. This will be challenging, as there aren’t that many of those kind of networks operating yet in our state. Another challenge is to find institution-to-resident or resident-to-resident applications that demand that much broadband.

So I was thrilled to learn from our trusty librarian-cum-weblogger-master Ann Treacy that she has snagged some free conference passes to the Killer App conference in Fort Wayne, IN at the end of April. I’ve decided that might well be a good place to look for bandhog applications. And I’ve never been to Indiana. So I’m going to take Ann up on her offer. Anyone else planning to attend?

FTTH Council Webinar With Masha Zager – Today!

Kill AppsSorry for the late notice – but I just got an email invitation to an online event that I thought looked interesting. Marsha Zager, editor of Broadband Properties’ applications section, Killer App will be speaking at noon today (CST) via webinar.

You can get more information and join the session on the Fiber to the Home Council web site. (I’ll try to follow up with a link to the archived session if one is available.)

Open Networks in Sweden (but not yet in Wikipedia)

To help myself get ready for the February 28th TISP forum on Open Networks that Ann Treacy recently blogged about, I thought it would be fun to browse over to Wikipedia and check out their entry for Open Networks. Though my search results read “No page with that title exists,” I did turn up a helpful list of related topics. For starters, I clicked on Open Access Network and found a short entry prefaced by a discouraging notice that the article provided “insufficient context for those unfamiliar with the subject matter,” and a plea to help improve it. … Perhaps that’s illustrative of the daunting task of beginning a conversation about Open Networks in the United States, where the concept is still so new.

In Europe, however, Open Networks are hot. Especially in Sweden, Open Networks are being embraced as a “future-proof” broadband solution with a proven ability to stimulate local entrepreneurship, increase the diversity of market players and products, and lower consumer costs. (For compelling details, see a report to the Federation of Swedish County Councils by ICT strategist Brorn Bjork. ) Just last week, the Swedish telecom regulator (PTS), outlining a strategy to meet the target of “broadband for all by 2010,” commented that open fiber networks will play an important role in meeting the objective. Sweden is also the corporate home of PacketFront,  from whence hails Matt Wenger – the presenter at Blandin’s Get Broadband February 20th video conference. (Once his presentation is available online we’ll add a link.)

Matt WengerI first found out about Matt last fall in Little Rock, AK while attending the Rural Telecommunications Congress, a national membership organization dedicated to advancing community, research, healthcare and economic development in rural areas through the application of technology. Matt’s Open Network message really caught my attention because of his focus on helping maximize the role broadband networks can play in stimulating innovation and local entrepreneurship.

Anyway, back to my Wikipedia search. Wiki says the term Open Access Network, coined in 2003 by Roberto Battiti, refers to a “horizontally layered network architecture and business model that separates physical access to the network from service provisioning. The same OAN is used by a number of different providers that share the investments and maintenance cost.”

This is the approach being taken by the fledgling Iron Range Community Fiber Network, an ambitious collaboration to bring FTTH to 13 towns and two tribes on the Iron Range. Dick Nordvold will have more details about the project at the February 28th TISP forum. I am looking forward to a lively discussion of this approach to helping Minnesota achieve the Broadband Vision Blandin Foundation is promoting.

Blandin Videoconference tomorrow with Matt Wenger

Get BroadbandHere’s a last minute reminder for anyone with a little time tomorrow. Matt Wenger of PacketFront will be speaking via videoconference to the Get Broadband Community. Read the full story for details on times and places for video spots around Minnesota.

We’ll try to report back with notes from Matt’s presentation.

Continue reading