International

Intelligent Community Forum announces 2015 Smart21 candidates

Submitted by acohill on Wed, 10/22/2014 - 07:35

The Intelligent Community Forum has announced the twenty-one community candidates for 2015. This year's submissions come from diverse locations ranging from Kazakhstan to Kenya and Taiwan to the United States. The Smart21 represent a cross section of the world with five communities from the United States, four from Australia and four from Taiwan as well as three Canadian cities. Plus one each from Kazakhstan, Brazil, Japan, Kenya and New Zealand. More than 300 communities submitted nominations.

I have been a juror for the final seven for several years now, and it has been interesting to read about these communities, as they validate what I have observed in my own work reaching back into the early nineties.

The communities that are successful with their broadband initiatives are almost always the ones that have taken the time to answer the question, "What do we want to be in ten years?" "What do we want to offer as a community to keep people here and to attract families and businesses?"

Answering these questions is hard work, takes time, and requires developing a consensus in the community about where to invest time and energy. But it pays off with often dramatic results. Another thing I have observed about the top ICF candidates is that they plan and execute for the long haul--that is, they don't think that there are silver bullets out there that will solve all their problems magically. ICF communities succeed because they work at being successful.

Brain Gain: Worth a read

Submitted by acohill on Mon, 10/20/2014 - 14:48

I was fortunate enough to read an advance copy of Brain Gain: How Innovative cities create job growth in an age of disruption. The book does something which is too often overlooked: Making the case that broadband investments have to be thoughtfully linked to broader community and economic development goals. The book is written by the founders of the Intelligent Community Forum, Robert Bell, Louis Zacharilla, and John Jung. I have known these guys for years, and have served as a juror for the annual ICF "Intelligent Community" awards (Note: I don't get paid for that work).

In my experience, the communities that take the time to set a vision for the community are much more likely to see their broadband investments have a long term impact. If a community cannot answer the question, "What do we want the community to look like in ten or fifteen years?" then throwing some fiber in the ground is not likely to help much.

The book provides an insightful analysis of eighteen communities that have taken the time to ask the right questions about the future, have allocated the right funding and human resources to put the right infrastructure in place, and have given their efforts time to mature. There are a lot of good ideas and concepts in this book.

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.

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.

Uh oh...attracting entrepreneurs just got real

Submitted by acohill on Thu, 09/05/2013 - 16:13

If you think you are going to attract those young, business-hungry entrepreneurs types with some mediocre broadband, a couple of bike paths, and a Starbucks, think again. A start up company called Happy Hubs has just ratcheted the whole entrepreneurial attraction game up several notches. Happy Hubs is renting out luxury workspaces in Costa Rica, and is offering five star amenities like massage therapy, gourmet food service, maid service, and access to a beach. Oh, and of course, lots of broadband. And the whole package compares favorably to what someone might spend in the U.S. on a lackluster place to live, food, and Internet--without all the amenities.

Economic development is global. And broadband is enabling the portable business. If your community can't deliver affordable, high performance broadband services, nothing else really matters.

Stockholm's open fiber generates billions in economic benefits

Submitted by acohill on Tue, 08/13/2013 - 07:45

Stockholm's Stokab may be the oldest open fiber system in the world, and a recent study covering nearly twenty years of operations shows that the network has delivered over two billion dollars in economic benefit.

U.S. Broadband: Almost as good as Russia!

Submitted by acohill on Thu, 06/27/2013 - 11:02

Long time readers will recognize a running joke in the title of this post. Here is a very brief note indicating that fiber is being aggressively deployed in Russia. Meanwhile, in the U.S., we're being told:

So take your choice, and if you need more bandwidth, maybe moving to Russia could be just the ticket.

U.S. Broadband: Someday it will be as good as China is now....

Submitted by acohill on Fri, 01/11/2013 - 14:44

The China Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has said that all new residences will be connected to fiber if an existing network is available, starting this spring, and the fiber will be operated on an open access basis, with residents able to choose from several providers.

A woodstove that charges phones

Submitted by acohill on Tue, 09/04/2012 - 13:16

Sometimes little things can have big impacts. The BioLite HomeStove has the ability to make a lot of lives better while reducing tree loss in many parts of the world. The innovative cooking device is a highly efficient "jet" or "rocket" stove that burns small amounts of wood while generating a lot of heat. There are many similar jet stoves, and because they are so good at creating lots of heat quickly, in many impoverished areas, the stoves can dramatically reduce the amount of wood needed to cook food, and make it possible to sterilize water much more easily. The stoves also reduce the amount of work needed to collect wood, which, if you are cooking for a family over an open fire, can be very significant.

But the real innovation of this device is the integrated thermocouple that powers a small fan (to make the stove more efficient) and powers a USB port that can charge small portable devices like LED flashlights and cell phones. It is an amazing innovation that has the potential make millions of lives better.

Intelligent Community Foundation announces 2013 award program

Submitted by acohill on Fri, 07/20/2012 - 08:56

The Intelligent Community Foundation has just opened its 2013 Intelligent Community Awards for nominations. This is the first step toward the Intelligent Community of the Year award, to be presented on June 7, 2013.

The awards program salutes the accomplishments of communities in developing inclusive prosperity on a foundation of information and communications technology. Nominations are encouraged from communities large and small, urban and rural, in developing and industrialized nations. The evaluation system compensates for population-related factors and lets the ICF compare large, midsize and small communities worldwide on a level playing field.

The 2013 theme is "Innovation and Employment." A special section of the questionnaire will examine how Intelligent Communities balance the positive and negative impacts of innovation, which both creates new employment and destroys jobs as it makes old processes obsolete. Look for the announcement later this month on the publication of an ICF white paper on Innovation and Employment.

The deadline for nominations is September 21, 2012. The award criteria and nomination form (consisting of just 6 questions) are available here. The ICF also invites communities to take our online self-test to get a feel for how they will be evaluated.

The ICF will announce the next Smart21 Communities of the Year in October at a ceremony in Riverside, California, USA, the 2012 Intelligent Community of the Year.

Disclaimer: I serve as a juror for the awards evaluation.

BT roles out open access

Submitted by acohill on Fri, 07/20/2012 - 07:27

British Telecom climbed aboard the clue train and has rolled out open access (they call it OpenReach) on their fiber network, inviting service providers to sell to BT-connected homes and businesses.

Don't take your laptop overseas

Submitted by acohill on Fri, 06/01/2012 - 07:28

The FBI says that you might want to leave your laptop home when traveling overseas. The latest scam is from criminals who set up bogus WiFi networks that look just like the real hotel network. When you fire up your laptop, you get what looks like the real hotel login page, but it is a fake one that immediately loads zombie malware onto your computer. Another trick they use is to have a fake "software update needed" window pop up. Everyone is now so used to getting these automatic software update notices that criminals are taking advantage of the fact that everyone automatically clicks "OK" for these upgrades. The same thing happens: instead of an upgrade, your laptop gets loaded with malware that starts capturing credit card numbers and login information.

Be careful out there.

U.S.Broadband: Almost as good as Northern Balochistan!

Submitted by acohill on Fri, 07/15/2011 - 10:47

Long time readers of this blog know that I have a running joke about comparing the state of U.S. broadband infrastructure to other countries. The latest insult is Northern Balochistan (part of Pakistan), which is getting a 1,100 kilometre fiber build. Meanwhile, our rather measly national goal is 4 meg down, 1 meg up, which won't support work and business from home applications and is barely adequate for Netflix.

U.S. Broadband Goal: 1/75 as good as Lithuania!

Submitted by acohill on Tue, 05/17/2011 - 11:14

Via Stop the Cap!, some Lithuanian broadband customers are getting bandwidth increases that can range has high as 300 megabits, up from the current 100/40 bandwidth for the Premium plan. There is no price increase for the improved performance.

Since the U.S. Broadband Plan targets 4 meg as entirely adequate, we can imagine a catchy slogan: American broadband! 1/75 as good as Lithuania!

Is the cloud a force for political empowerment

Submitted by acohill on Sun, 02/06/2011 - 11:45

SandMonkey, a prominent Egyptian blogger who was briefly detained by Egyptian security forces, advocates that opponents of repressive regimes should store all their documents, writing, and information (e.g. email addresses and data on compatriots) on a cloud-based service located in a different country. That way, if a laptop is confiscated, there are no incriminating documents on it.

It's a fascinating view of an emerging technology, and of course, terrorists can do the same thing. As always, technology is politically neutral. But there is no doubt that bloggers and the technology of the Internet is changing politics, mostly for the good, by making it harder to hide graft, corruption, nepotism, and incompetence.

Isle of Jersey to get Gigabit to the home

Submitted by acohill on Mon, 12/27/2010 - 11:23

The tiny Isle of Jersey will be getting Gigabit fiber to the home as part of an initiative by the incumbent Jersey Telecom to replace all copper-based services with fiber over the next five years. Maybe some U.S. incumbents should make a trip to Jersey (in the English Channel just off the coast of France) to learn how to construct a business case that allows dumping 100 year old copper technology for something a little newer.

Pigeon beats "little" broadband

Submitted by acohill on Mon, 09/20/2010 - 07:16

Many parts of rural England, like many rural areas of the U.S., have "little" broadband speeds of just a few hundred kilobits, as opposed to "big" broadband delivered via fiber with a capacity of a hundred megabits or more. A speed test was recently conducted in Yorkshire, England. The goal was to download a 300 megabtye file by a "little" broadband connection and see if that was faster than sending it 120 kilometers by pigeon.

The pigeon won. They strapped a USB thumb drive to the pigeon and it flew the 120 kilometers in one quarter of the time needed to download the file. Silly? Sure, sort of. But it really shows why little broadband is not enough for rural America.

U.S. Broadband: Still almost as good as Latvia

Submitted by acohill on Tue, 08/03/2010 - 09:58

Via an Akamai report (registration is required to get the report), Latvia has moved up to fifth place in the average bandwidth rankings worldwide. The U.S. is down at number 22, with a net negative drop of about 1% in bandwidth over the last quarter and 2.5% drop in bandwidth over the past year. According to Akamai, the average broadband connection in the U.S. is about 3.8 megabits/second, which would reflect the fact that the cable companies dominate the broadband marketplace in the U.S.

It is worth noting that the FCC just set a new standard for the definition of "broadband," which is 4 megabits down and 1 megabit up. This reflects the continuing focus on broadband as an "entertainment" service (that's what some cable companies call it) rather than a business service. With more people and businesses trying to work out of the home, symmetric bandwidth has become essential to economic development. The continuing acceptance of a bigger pipe into homes and businesses and a much smaller pipe upstream reflects a lack of understanding about business and job needs for broadband services, which need the symmetric bandwidth.

India's $35 computer

Submitted by acohill on Fri, 07/23/2010 - 12:28

India has announced a $35 computer for students. The Linux-based machine is intended to give Indian students at all levels, starting in grade school, access to an affordable computer. I proposed a $100 computer twelve years ago--at that time, no one took it seriously, but I'm glad India thinks it's a good idea.

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