New Ulm E-Commerce Training

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about visiting New Ulm to talk about some training that we were doing as part of their Get Broadband project. Well, I’m now on my third trip to New Ulm – we have one week of training done and two more to go. I thought I’d send a quick update.

First – New Ulm is the best. The people have been great, the town is friendly, and they always put me up at this amazing bed and breakfast.

Second – the training is going really well. New Ulm Telecom is graciously hosting a make shift computer lab. Skillings, another local web development firm, has also donated some computers to the lab.

So although created out of great generosity – the lab is not exactly cutting edge – but that’s been OK. We have been doing 3 classes:

Build a Web Site

Market Your Web

Sell Online

My favorite question so far has been – where is the “at sign”. But everyone has been really open to learn – and quite a few web sites were published. I got an email over the weekend from one participant with a link to her finished site.

I have been very impressed. The classes sold out in record time, so we’ve added more and really I think people are picking up practical e-commerce skills that they are using right away.

Is Video a Killer App?

I’m always on the hunt for the new killer app – an application that will become (or is) as ubiquitous as email. Well it looks as if that might be video…

According to a recent survey by Pew Internet & American Life, 57% of internet users have watched videos online and most of them share what they find with others, 19% do so on a typical day. Access to broadband and a push by content providers are credited with increasing the number of online video viewers as well as number of viewers who share video with others. Three-quarters of broadband users (74%) who enjoy high-speed connections at both home and work watch or download video online.

I must admit, I probably watch 3-5 videos a week. My kids probably watch 3-5 a day – I know they would if I let them.

Is there a Broadband problem?

According to FCC Chairman Robert M. McDowell, there isn’t a broadband problem. He wrote an editorial in the Wall Street Journal this week (available without subscription at Free Press) saying that in the US, all of our problems soon will be solved and our broadband dreams will come true. Just so long as we don’t create policy that micromanages the process.

The reports that have come up (such as the OECD report ranking the US at 15th in the world for broadband deployment) are “alarmist”.

McDowell maintains that if you look at sheer numbers – not percentages – the US is still rocking. (OK, rocking is my word.)

It’s interesting reading.

I also think some of the blog counter points are interesting too, such as Broadband Reports’ FCC: What Broadband Problem?

Chime in on Community Broadband Act

I’m in New Ulm doing some very fun training for retailers on using the Internet. It’s a Get Broadband project. It started with 3 days of training and it has been expanded to 6! The folks in New Ulm are great and once again I am enjoying the gracious hospitality of Bingham Hall Bed & Breakfast. (I love their Wifi!)

Anyways, I got an email from Speed Matters that I wanted to share. It relates to the recent Community Broadband Act:

Apparently Senator Dick Durbin is hosting a series of online discussions to get input from regular Americans on his upcoming universal broadband bill.

I have only had time to peruse it – but it looks interesting.

Community Broadband Act of 2007

Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) today introduced legislation to help make broadband access universal and affordable across the country. (Read the full press release.)

Here are the big points as quoted from the press release:

  1. Sets forth that no state regulation or requirement shall prevent a public provider from offering broadband services;
  2. Prohibits a municipality from discriminating against competing private providers;
  3. Requires a municipality offering high-speed Internet services to comply with Federal telecommunications law or regulation that applies to all such providers;
  4. Encourages public-private partnerships and;
    Provides the public with notice and an opportunity to be heard before a municipality provides broadband to the public.

The good news is that I think this opens the door for open networks. I’m not sure what this will mean for statewide franchising legislation – it seems to emphasize local government, rather than statewide initiatives.

Also I don’t see a direct relationship with the spectrum auction – except that the Google letter I blogged about earlier today promotes open networks (and platforms) and as I said this seems to open that door wider (no pun intended).

Google on the Spectrum Auction

Google letter to FCCOn Friday Google posted their “commitment to open broadband platforms” on the official blog which talks about the upcoming Spectrum Auction (we blogged about that earlier).

Google has apparently urged the FCC to consider four types of “open” platforms as part of the auction:

  1. Open applications: consumers should be able to download and utilize any software applications, content, or services they desire;
  2. Open devices: consumers should be able to utilize their handheld communications device with whatever wireless network they prefer;
  3. Open services: third parties (resellers) should be able to acquire wireless services from a 700 MHz licensee on a wholesale basis, based on reasonably nondiscriminatory commercial terms; and
  4. Open networks: third parties (like Internet service providers) should be able to interconnect at any technically feasible point in a 700 MHz licensee’s wireless network.

Hmmm – kinda interesting. Google has blogged about open networks and the spectrum auction. (The comments are particularly interesting in that post!) But I think this is the first time they have promised/threatened to put their money where their mouth is. On July 20, 2007, Google CEO Eric Schmidt sent a letter to FCC Chair Kevin Martin saying that should the “Commission expressly adopt the four license conditions requested in our July 9th letter – with specific, enforceable, and enduring rules – Google intends to commit a minimum of $4.6 billion to bidding in the upcoming auction.”