WiFi sensors are tracking where you go

Submitted by acohill on Tue, 01/14/2014 - 08:35

An article in the Wall Street Journal details a new business in Toronto that has placed WiFi sensors in major shopping and nightlife districts of the city. The sensors grab WiFi data from passing smartphones and builds profiles of what people are doing and where they are going. The data is sold to local businesses, who also allow the sensors to be placed inside their businesses. It is an interesting innovation, but has some troubling prospects for privacy. As we carry around our smartphones, tablets, and laptops, the MAC addresses in each of them provide a unique identifier for this kind of data collection. Once this kind of data is known to exist, it can be subpoenaed for civil and criminal investigations. And the government could use it as part of an investigation into your habits and whereabouts.

Maybe an Indiegogo-funded Faraday cage wallet for smartphones would be a good idea.

The Internet is making us anxious

Submitted by acohill on Tue, 12/17/2013 - 10:40

A new study suggests that being "connected" all the time takes a toll on our psyche. An experiment with hundreds of college students suggests that some cellphone users experience high levels of anxiety and lower academic performance because they cannot put the phone down.

I see this in some meetings, where younger people are obsessively playing with their phones while most folks over forty are more engaged in the meeting and paying more attention to what is actually happening in the room.

Palm Coast FiberNET providing big benefits

Submitted by acohill on Tue, 12/10/2013 - 13:48

MuniNetworks reports on the success of the City of Palm Coast's FiberNET project. The all fiber City-owned network is operated as a multi-service, multi-provider open network, and is delivering substantial savings to both public and private entities and businesses connected to the network. The project is in the black, and FiberNET is expected to pay back all of the initial City investment in less than six years. Design Nine provided the network design, the financial planning, and the project management for the City of Palm Coast.

Microsoft moving agressively to encrypt customer data

Submitted by acohill on Fri, 12/06/2013 - 10:18

My hat is off to Microsoft for their extremely aggressive efforts to encrypt customer data. In the wake of the Snowden leaks that revealed NSA collecting data from companies like Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Yahoo!, and others, Microsoft has correctly recognized the serious impact that data collection could have on the company's bottom line, both in the U.S. and abroad.

Like most companies providing Internet-based services, the marketplace is global, and international customers are not going to be particularly happy that the NSA is collecting their email, text messages, and documents. Here is a snippet of what is being done, directly from Microsoft:

In light of these allegations, we’ve decided to take immediate and coordinated action in three areas:

I never bought into the idea that these companies were actively cooperating with the NSA. It's just too easy to capture data streams from, say, a Microsoft data center somewhere else in the network.

There was a time when heavy encryption was processor-intensive and therefore expensive to do, but processing power is so cheap now it can be added without much cost or effort, and in the future, we will see nearly every personal and business communication that traverses the public Internet will be encrypted. It's just good business.

nDanville has a waiting list for fiber connections

Submitted by acohill on Tue, 11/26/2013 - 13:58

nDanville, the first muni multi-service open network in the U.S., has waiting list for fiber connections, and a growing list of new jobs and businesses that are being drawn to the community because of the low cost, high performance fiber infrastructure. Design Nine helped the City plan and design the network, and the investment is beginning to pay off as manufacturers keep moving to the fiber-connected business parks.

New Hampshire FastRoads adding customers

Submitted by acohill on Tue, 11/26/2013 - 13:51

FastRoads is a Gigabit network designed and built by Design Nine for New Hampshire FastRoads LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Monadnock Economic Development Corporation. One of the surprises, as we add more customers, is the unexpected demand for the 50 Meg Internet service, which is turning out to be higher than expected. On the FastRoads network, every connection is a Gigabit circuit capable of delivering multiple services from several different providers.

The empire strikes back

Submitted by acohill on Fri, 11/15/2013 - 10:55

The big players on the Internet--Google, Facebook, Yahoo!, Microsoft, and others--are making changes in the way they push their data and services around the Internet. Stung by revelations that the NSA has been vacuuming up their customer data, these firms are adding new encryption to their data streams between data centers and between their data centers and customers. As they should. Communications on the Internet has been too open to snooping for a long time, and this is overdue.

Death of TV: Part LXII: Video uses half of Internet bandwidth

Submitted by acohill on Wed, 11/13/2013 - 08:29

A new report illustrates just how dire the situation is for the cable companies; Netflix and YouTube use half of all the bandwidth on the Internet. Cable TV is brain dead, but the body is still on life support. There is no future in cable, and satellite will be the next to go as more fiber is deployed into areas unserved by cable. This is not a matter of "if" anymore, it's all about the "when." I think it is safe to say that most of the country will have fiber connections by 2025.

Fiber makes neighborhoods business districts

Submitted by acohill on Mon, 11/11/2013 - 11:01

I've been talking about this for fifteen years. New data, from an article at Forbes, suggests that demand for office space may have peaked in the U.S, and that what may be the trend in the future is work from home and business from home activities. According to the article, the number of people working from home as self-employed has risen 14% in the past decade.

Neighborhoods are business districts, and need to be treated as such by economic developers.

This means that you want to be able to deliver business class high performance affordable broadband into your neighborhoods, and that generally means you want fiber, with business class symmetric service available. Places like FastRoads in rural New Hampshire are already doing this (a Design Nine project), and not surprisingly, a lot of homes (er, business locations) are signing up for 50 meg service--well beyond what cable and DSL is able to offer in most places.

It's not that communities should stop paying attention to downtowns and business parks....just the opposite. But if your community's economic development strategy does not have goals and objectives focused on supporting neighborhoods as business districts, you are missing some business attraction and job creation opportunities.

The Internet regards censorship (or snooping) as damage and routes around it

Submitted by acohill on Fri, 11/08/2013 - 10:19

I'm not even going to try to link to them, but a flood of privacy-enabled apps and services are already beginning to appear.....heavily encrypted email apps, encrypted VPN apps, Web browsers that automatically route queries through proxy services that mask your IP address....the Internet was designed to survive a nuclear holocaust. Snooping by the NSA....anything the NSA can do, geeks can probably route around without a whole lot of effort.

...because who needs fiber when wireless will handle everything?

Submitted by acohill on Fri, 11/08/2013 - 09:07

The Wall Street Journal has a article on the shortage of wireless spectrum and the problems it is going to create. It's short--just click over and read it.

Who needs a Gig at home? Half of U.S. businesses

Submitted by acohill on Fri, 10/25/2013 - 07:47

This is 2007 data from the U.S. Census Bureau, which reported that half of U.S. businesses are located in the home. Half, as in 50%. Which validates what I began saying ten years ago: Neighborhoods are business districts.

Communities that ignore this data and continue to hope that marginal DSL, asymmetric cable, and too-expensive cellular data services are "good enough" are closing off their own economic future.

The incumbents have cleverly turned broadband into an entirely pointless and futile debate about speed, when speed really has very little to do with it. Here's why:

The incumbents have been hugely successful with these two strategies of diverting the discussion to stuff that does not really matter. Instead of talking about the real issue, everyone ends up confused and frustrated with the misinformation.

I am reminded of a household study done in a rural county in the northeast about seven years ago. This was a very large, relatively isolated area, and it was the first time economic developers had ever polled households to see if there was any business activity in the home. They were shocked to discover more than 400 businesses that had never appeared on their radar. And I continue to see that today, with a continued over-emphasis on industrial parks, retail, and other traditional lines of business. It's not that those should be neglected, but with small and start-up businesses adding most new jobs.....neighborhoods and rural roads are business districts that need time, attention, and support from economic developers and community leaders.

Who cares about bandwidth?

Submitted by acohill on Mon, 10/21/2013 - 07:47

On LinkedIn, the question was raised (yet again): "Does anyone really need a Gig of bandwidth?" Someone wrote, "Just remember, services have to be available to be adopted." Now we get to the meat of the issue. It's not about the number....i.e. 100 meg, 1 Gig, etc. The real question is, "Do you have enough bandwidth to do what you want to do?"

From an economic development perspective, the question is critical: "Does your community have the bandwidth needed to support your existing businesses and to attract new businesses?"

For a community, you want the answer to that question to be, "Yes!" Arguing that some number (some amount) of bandwidth is "good enough," as the incumbents do, is to put the community's future in the hands of a third party. It is extremely risky.

The availability of services also reaches deep into the argument about "broadband adoption." The push for "broadband adoption" by the incumbents is a thinly veiled statement that says, "We think our customers are too stupid to use the bandwidth we have, so we want taxpayers to fund training at the local library." It cleverly shifts responsibility for durable, high performance networks from the incumbents to the taxpayers..."....if only those pesky taxpayers would fund lots of training, everything would be fine."

I started doing "broadband adoption" in 1993, when the number of connected households in the country was zero, as in 0% had Internet access. I never observed a problem getting anyone to use as much bandwidth as they could afford if the content and services they were interested in was available.

So as we keep peeling away a few layers of this onion, we get to the problem of the current incumbent "walled garden" business model. While some of the incumbents are now realizing triple play is dead, they are grudgingly moving toward the multi-service model, but still want to retain the walled garden..."No one gets to our customers without our say-so." So the walled garden has a few more services, but they are all branded and re-sold by the incumbent...meaning no competition, and limited choice of pricing and services.

The most important thing, to me, about delivering a Gig of bandwidth to every customer is that you can then stop worrying about bandwidth, because you have plenty. You know that you can deliver any service, at any level of priority and support, to any customer. And that lets the marketplace determine what is popular and what pays the bills. If you have a network where bandwidth is a scarce commodity (i.e. DSL and cable networks), then you have to punish your customers if they use too much bandwidth.

I prefer the Doritos model: "Use all the bandwidth you want....we'll make more"

Real estate market impacted by poor Internet access

Submitted by acohill on Mon, 10/14/2013 - 10:18

Via Eldo Telecom, news that in England, people are moving from the country to larger towns because of bad Internet access. As Fred Pilot of Eldo points out (correctly, I believe), rural communities in the U.S. are also at risk. It's hard to imagine how anybody can manage with a dial up connection at home, which of course leads to people parking in the McDonald's parking lot so they can retrieve their email or so their kids can do their homework. Fred also points to a 2009 study showing that home buyers in the U.S. rank fiber broadband service as the number one amenity they look for in a property.

Death of TV: Part LXI: Some interesting data about IPTV

Submitted by acohill on Mon, 09/30/2013 - 13:32

This new study shows Internet use has entered most households in the U.S., with 78% online. And 92% of those households have some kind of broadband...typically "little broadband" from DSL or cable providers. The most interesting statistic is that growth in households dropping traditional TV has increased about 13% in the past two years, from 8% of household to 9% of households. If that percentage does not increase (which seems unlikely), in ten years, OTT and other IP-TV services will have about half the market. If the rate of change increases to around 20% or 25% per year, the draws near much more quickly for the cable TV companies.

Who will win the OTT battle?

Submitted by acohill on Mon, 09/30/2013 - 07:44

Apple and Roku are dominating the IP set top box market, with Apple owning 56% of this still small market segment. I'm not convinced that Apple or Roku will ultimately end up with a major portion of this market, as the total number of households that have converted to OTT is still very small. Rapid market growth in the next several years could let a yet unidentified firm capture a big portion of this. As Blackberry has demonstrated so aptly, having a big marketshare early does not automatically lead to market dominance.

But I've been saying for years that traditional cable TV, and to a lesser extent, satellite TV, is dead, dead, dead. It is an antiquated business model predicated on sixty year old coax technology. And satellite TV uses the same business model over a similarly bandwidth-constrained medium.

But Apple certainly has an early lead, and Google's Chromecast seems to be off to a slow start, but Google can play the long game. And startups like SimulTV may tear off an interesting piece of the market because they have changed the interaction model completely. If companies like SimulTV can master the content license problems, a lot of people will use their services.

The myth of the twenty-something entrepreneur

Submitted by acohill on Fri, 09/27/2013 - 13:10

This article in readwrite confirms something I have suspected for a long time: that most successful entrepreneurs are not twenty-three and worth a billion dollars. In fact, according to the article, "...twice as many successful entrepreneurs are over 50 as under 25. A whopping 75% have more than six years of industry experience and 50% have more than 10 years when they create their startup."

And get this datum: "...the highest rate of entrepreneurship in America has shifted to the 55–64 age group, with people over 55 almost twice as likely to found successful companies than those between 20 and 34. Indeed, Kauffman highlights that the 20-34 age bracket has the lowest rate of entrepreneurial activity."

What does this mean for broadband? I see a lot of communities trying to leverage broadband with an economic development strategy of trying to attract twenty-something entrepreneurs. And it turns out, according to the data above, that this is not likely to turn out well.

Design Nine helping with regional DWDM network

Submitted by acohill on Fri, 09/27/2013 - 09:06

For a client located in Canada, we're assisting with the design, specification, and procurement of a very large regional DWDM backbone network that will bring Gigabit services to more than twenty rural and remote communities.

Design Nine brings up 10Gig backbone network in six weeks

Submitted by acohill on Fri, 09/27/2013 - 09:04

For one of our clients located in the Caribbean, we designed, engineered, built, configured, and lit a 10Gig backbone network in just six weeks. Working under a very tight deadline to get the first customer on the network, Design Nine staff developed the network architecture, coordinated the fiber construction, ordered and shipped equipment, procured pre-fab shelters, had the shelters shipped by boat, got all the network equipment shipped, racked and configured the equipment, and brought the network up in time to meet the customer deadline.

When you need a network designed and built on time and within budget, give us a call.

FAA says smartphones and tablets won't crash the plane

Submitted by acohill on Fri, 09/27/2013 - 08:38

An FAA advisory committee has said it is safe to use smaller electronic devices during taxiing, takeoff, and landing. It is about time, since flight crews have been using iPads in the cockpit for years. Larger items like laptops will have to remain stowed because in the event of sudden stops or change in direction, a laptop could become a missile in cabin because of its heavier weight. The FAA still has to issue a formal ruling before I'll be able to use my Kindle during takeoff.

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