Tech Policy Summit 2008

The Tech Policy Summit 2008 was held March 26-28 in Hollywood. I wasn’t there but I thought I’d virtually lurk by checking out the Summit site, blogs and news articles on the event – but then I found the Tech Policy Central site that has done the job for me.
Here are quickie highlights taken from there or from resources cited there:

  1. The theme this year was Markets in Transition: Collaborating to Drive Technology Innovation and Adoption.
    Tech Talent Drain One Of The ‘Scariest’ Trends In US, Says Qualcomm Chief – I thought this was interesting as I just listened to a radio program in Ireland about incentives they are creating to encourage more students to study math. The point here was a little different and focused on students from abroad who are educated in the US and then can’t (or don’t) get work here. But building a homegrown interest in math wouldn’t hurt. (Here’s another related article – Congress is holding H-1B boost ‘hostage,’ says Oracle lobbyist.)

    It makes about as much sense as Minnesota feeding and training the farm team for the Yankees.

  1. Comcast & BitTorrent are friends. I reported on this earlier – but the timing of the announcement coincided with the conference; c|net posted a nice Q&A with Comcast on the new partnership. (Here’s FCC Commissioner McDowell’s take on it.)
  2. I’ve seen the most coverage on a panel session that included Ambassador Richard Russell, the associate director of the White House’s Office on Science and Technology Policy who thinks the US rocks for broadband and Yale Law School’s Susan Crawford doesn’t agree. My favorite reading of the session comes from Slashdot – and as is often the case, it’s the comments that I most enjoy.

Blandin on Broadband shows up in the darnedest places

Yesterday I attended a technology and communications conference sponsored by the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits and MAP for Nonprofits. Throughout the day, “Digital Immigrants” (a term used by keynote presenter Beth Kanter for folks who didn’t grow up with technology) were exposed to examples of how Web 2.0 tools such as Flickr and Tweeter, You Tube and Facebook and blogs and wikis could support our work.

Mary Turck of Twin Cities Daily Planet fame and Jeremy Iggers, executive director of the Twin Cities Media Alliance, presented an information-rich session titled “Media Relations in the Age of New Media”. Theirs was a message of change and opportunity – change brought about by the dramatic decline in print media readership (resulting in sharp cuts in news rooms across the country and their ability to cover the news) and opportunity enabled by technologies that put powerful tools in the hands of ordinary citizens. This repositions a growing segment of the population formerly known as “the audience” to partners in a multi-directional communication network.

The take-home message behind all of this is that the stories we tell must remain the constant and the driving force behind the mediums we choose to deliver them. I was jotting this note while Mary was bringing up an example of a blog that, in her opinion, does just that. When I looked back up, I was both surprised and delighted to see the Blandin on Broadband blog projected – bigger than life – on the screen. I shared with the group that the success of the BoB blog (as we affectionately call it) rests squarely on the shoulders of Ann Treacy, our blogger rock star. Thank you Ann, for jumping in with both feet to the age of new media!

Minnesota State Video Franchising Impact Study

And speaking of statewide studies, thanks to Ann Higgins at the League of Minnesota Cities for sending me a heads up on HF2351.

The plan is to study the impact of state cable franchising laws that have been implemented in at least three states with a report to the 2009 legislature next January. The bill was amended again earlier this week when it was included in state budget recommendations from the House Energy Finance Division. The study would be funded at $85,000, with the funding for the study to be transferred to the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota in order to have a study conducted through the U of M.

The bill is now set to be included in the House supplemental budget legislation to be passed out of the House Finance Committee today. The Senate took no similar action on the companion to HF 2351 (SF 2216 – Sparks), which was not heard in committee once Qwest announced that it would no longer be taking the lead to urge passage of the bill. It remains to be seen if the study will be in the final supplemental budget legislation that emerges from the 2008 session.

Minnesota Senate Broadband Inventory Project

Thanks to Christopher Mitchell of ILSR for sending me the final link to SF 2866 – the Minnesota Senate Broadband Inventory Project. The plan is to move ahead with broadband mapping. They want to track (by November 1, 2008):

  1. minimum and maximum upload and download speeds at a local government unit or level.

And produce maps that clearly convey:

  1. areas unserved by any broadband provider;
  2. areas served by a single broadband provider;
  3. areas served by multiple broadband providers;
  4. available upstream and downstream transmission speeds at the county level of detail
  5. the types of technology used to provide broadband service.

Broadband providers must provide info requested. I won’t say much more. I have posted thoughts on the mapping in earlier posts.

Comcast Opens Lanes for All Traffic

Thanks to Ann Higgins to sending me the heads up on shift of winds at Comcast (Comcast to stop hampering file-sharing). Comcast got into trouble for throttling customer traffic based on usage. One of the big examples was cutting off BitTorrent users.

Well, faster than prom dates are made and broken at this time of year – Comcast and BitTorrent are friends. They are going to work together to find a better way to manage the traffic so that all users get the bandwidth they need.

It sounds as if they are hoping to have some solutions in place by the end of the year. It will be interesting to see how if this has any effect on the FCC meetings. I think that the fact that the vendors have worked on a solution together will demonstrate that a light touch in regulation can work. (That’s not a vote one way or another from me – just an observation.)

Free Seminar on Community Broadband in Mpls on May 14

Alcatel-Lucent is offering a free, one-day seminar to encourage community leaders to network with peers and learn how to bring broadband to the community.

The will Answer your questions on:

  1. How to overcome regulatory and legal issues?
  2. How to develop and present your business case?
  3. What funding sources are available?
  4. What fiber technology to deploy?

The conference will be on May 14, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Learn more

NY Gives Out Broadband Grants

Thanks to Ann Higgins for sending me the article (Universal Broadband Grants for New York Announced) on the grant program in NY for public/private sector partnerships.

It’s a nice example of a state that is getting involved with broadband on a statewide level by supporting local governments to create solutions that work. (Sadly, I don’t think they’re accept an application from Minnesota – though maybe New York Mills could give it a shot.)