“You can look forward to automation as a similar set of local and national tensions and developments and opportunities,” said Bryant Walker Smith. Smith was comparing the early days of broadband and its organic development to what we are seeing with vehicle automation. He brings a unique perspective on this topic, as he is a former transportation engineer, turned law professor who is a current Fellow, Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School and Center for Automotive Research at Stanford, as well as an Assistant Professor of the School of Law and Assistant Professor (by courtesy) of the School of Engineering for the University of South Carolina.
He suggests that, although local communities aren’t going to determine national policy, it is important for them to begin laying the foundation for the various levels of autonomous vehicles in their communities. There are use-cases that may already be economic, including introducing automation into applications such as fleets, downtowns, business campuses and retirement homes (think Villages in San Jose). He suggests that city planners and officials need to be preparing for and asking the questions of what happens as these use-cases become viable.
Many of the important questions that need to be asked are in Smith’s 2012 Santa Clara Law Review white paper. As he points out, the implications of automating vehicles may not always be so obvious (for instance, decrease the cost of travel might mean more vehicle miles traveled). His important point is that now is the time for cooperation among various disciplines to get the full benefit of vehicle automation.
Lastly, given that we seem to be on precipice of some major changes in the way we transport goods and people, what question regarding transportation would you ask someone running for mayor of an urban area (yes, I am trying to crowd-source some intelligent questions for a potential debate)? Let us know by completing the comment field below.
It is nice when someone is listening. That’s the feeling I had last Friday while reading Congresswoman Anna Eshoo’s (D-Ca) letter. Her letter was in response to my suggestion that Senator Rockefeller’s bill, S1680, provides an opportunity to reconsider the best way to serve the public interest with spectrum now used for broadcast television. She indicated she would consider my suggestion and reminded me of her discussion draft, the Video CHOICE Act, which was released on September 9th and is intended to update legislation to reflect today’s video market place realities.
With the turmoil, rancor and election year politics in Washington, the odds are extremely low that there will be any updates in 2014 to last century telecommunications’ laws. Still, could there be enough common ground for Congress to find a solution that advances the legal framework to match today’s video marketplace, which has shifted to broadband as the delivery vehicle of choice?
“We have got to do everything possible to get the regulatory dog back on the Congressional leash,” said Congressman John Barrow (D-Ga). In this video, he suggests that too much power has been delegated to regulatory agencies. While Congress is infighting, they are not providing the oversight necessary to keep regulatory agencies in check. He points out that unless both sides of the aisle have a shared view of how a law is supposed to be implemented, it is going to be difficult to provide this oversight. Barrow’s comments were made prior to the arrival of new FCC Chairman, Tom Wheeler.
Click here to view the interview with Congressman Barrow.
The location of FCC Chairman’s first public comments may be as important as the content of the comments, as he made them outside Washington D.C., in Columbus, Ohio. Speaking to Ohio State University students, he points out that the purpose of the FCC is to serve the people. Suggesting that we are in the transition to a fourth network revolution (Guttenberg press, railroads and telegraph being the first three, as he suggests), he indicates that, “’Regulating the Internet’ is a non-starter.”
He does suggest some level of FCC oversight is necessary to ensure competition and he likens the need for oversight to a see-saw, whereby more competition means less regulatory oversight. He also suggests a “Network Compact”, which provides for basic rights of consumers and basic responsibilities of network operators. There are three key elements of the Network Compact – accessibility, interconnection, and public safety and security.
“The thing that really pleased me is that those two mayors were willing to put aside their geographic boundaries their voting constituent boundaries and to say, ‘if we collaborate, then this entire area will benefit,’” said Hilda Legg Vice Chair of the 2013 Broadband Communities Summit and former Administrator of the Rural Utilities Service. Legg was referencing the work of the mayors of Kansas City, Kansas and Missouri in working together to facilitate the rollout of Google Fiber in the Kansas City region.
Hurricanes, tornadoes and flooding are some of the concerns for businesses in a low-lying tropical climate. A disaster recovery plan for mitigating the loss caused by one of these inevitable natural disasters is mandatory. ITS Fiber, with its roots as the local telephone provider in rural Indiantown, Florida, saw its location as a key asset in helping businesses integrate disaster recovery into their standard operating processes, such that disaster recovery becomes a strategic advantage.
Click hereto read more and view about this unique local datacenter that Viodi documented earlier this year.
“It has to go beyond, what we call, phone therapy,” said James Morehead. Morehead, VP of Product Management for Support.com explains the importance of being able to provide fast and efficient support to meet the demands of consumers. He explains that being able to embed software hooks to enable remote the monitoring of devices within the home is a critical element for providing efficient and invisible support.
Similarly, in comments to the FCC, “Sennheiser argues that the winners of the spectrum auction should compensate owners of wireless microphone equipment that will be rendered obsolete as a direct result of the planned spectrum repacking.” Ouch, my favorite microphone uses frequencies in the 600 Mhz band.
An exhibit booth has to have something unique to catch the eye of this grizzled veteran of the trade show floor. To stand out among hundreds of competitors is always the challenge for the person responsible for a trade show booth. What really makes for a successful display is the integration of the conference theme into the booth, while providing visitors with something memorable and doing so without spending a fortune. Of course, all the aforementioned must be accomplished while imparting a desired message to the attendees.
Pinnacle’s exhibit at the Minnesota Telecom Association’s Annual Convention stood out above and beyond any of the thousands of booths I saw this year. As seen in the following video, they incorporated the theme of the conference into an interactive booth that told the message of how their business has transformed from analog to digital. As such, they were awarded with the MTA 2013 Best Booth Design!
Who is your mentor? This question was posed the other day to a cable luminary and got me thinking of my many influences; Don, Aloha, Sue, Terri, Bruce, Mr. Bremmer, Tom, John, Daryl, Jerry, Gilles, Norman, Dutch, Roger, Mark; way too many to mention. But the one who is top of mind and the inspiration for this publication is none other than my friend and Viodi co-founder Paul McKellips. Go to the Korner to read more about this amazing guy.
I was able to pose the question of who is your mentor to cable luminary, Paul Maxwell of MediaBiz, at the America Cable Association’s 20th Anniversary Summit in Washington D.C. last week. In our video interview, Maxwell also suggests that, 20+ years after the cable act, a two-tier regulatory environment would be more appropriate to deal with the challenges of big and small operators. Click here to read more and view our video interview.
“Do our rules help or hurt innovation,” said FCC Commissioner, Ajit Pai at the 2013 ACA Summit. Pai was talking about the dynamic nature of the telecommunications and video industry and how it is important that regulations stay current. He has a number of ideas the FCC can implement without Congressional action, including setting and sticking to deadlines, establishing sunset clauses to prevent the lingering of outdated rules and setting up an online dashboard to show FCC progress to its goals. Click here to read more and view the video interview.
In this second article on the IDC Directions 2013 Conference (March 5th in Santa Clara, CA), we cover the two sessions that addressed the changing dynamics of the new Data Center (DC). We examine the many challenges and requirements new DCs must address, especially for geographically distributed sites. Next we look at current trends, projected growth rates and emerging technologies, such as Software Defined Networking (SDN), and the role they might play in the DC of the future. Finally, we look at why converged DC infrastructure will be a huge growth opportunity till at least 2016. Click here to read more.
We are online all the time and, yet, when we are away from home we don’t know what is going on with our largest investment is how David Bercovich of AlertMe characterizes the problem that his company is trying to solve. AlertMe is managing the metadata generated within the home from various services, such as home security and energy management services. Click here to view.
Using the cloud to connect clients with attorneys is what Rocket Lawyer enables. Rocket Lawyer was referenced last week in a Wall Street article about the rise of mobile apps that help clients find attorneys. ViodiTV caught up with Rocket Lawyer at the Eureka Innovation area of International CES, where they demonstrated the future of lawyer-client interaction. Their app, which is part of their subscription model, allows two-way video interaction with an attorney for those times when face-to-face is needed.Click here to view the video and see how this app illustrates the ever-changing face of content.
Paul McKellips is living his destiny to help defend his country. Like the asymmetric enemies we face, Paul’s weapons are unconventional and leverage his strength in telling a story. Knowing Paul, his motivation for what he is doing is love; love of his fellow-man, love of his family and love of his country.
The video cameras, lighting and novels strewn about his office illustrate his latest work as Executive Vice President/Media Producer for the Foundation for Biomedical Research. In that role, he is responsible for getting the message out about the work of his organization and its members. As would be expected of Paul, he uses multiple media to tell his story.
Click here to read the mini-review of his novel, Uncaged. Uncaged is a must-read for anyone involved in designing and maintaining critical infrastructure, such as telecom or data centers, as the picture it paints is much more gripping and memorable than what might be found in a white paper or a conference about such topics.
Will Google Hangouts and other virtual get together’s replace the advantages of face-to-face communications one sees at a trade show or conference? Sure, the immediacy and the zero travel cost of an online conversation plays well in a world that changes ever faster and needs an instant response. Still, being able to see people in all of their 3D glory and being able to take advantage of serendipitous introductions and meetings that occur in a crowded venue is invaluable. And sometimes, it is good just to get away to be able to focus on industry issues.
One of the problems of a local trade show is that it is hard to get away. There were a number of excellent panels at OTTCON in Santa Clara. Being in my turf, it was particularly difficult to break out of normal routines, as is possible when traveling. I didn’t catch enough of the panels to determine an overall theme, but a thought from Martez R. Moore EVP of Digital Media for BET echoed what Viodi has argued in its local content workshops for years.
He suggested they are aggregating and monetizing eyeballs across TV, mobile, VOD, online, social media and trying to create shared companion experiences across their platform. Moore said that BET is, “Creating value across an aggregated base of viewers.” He revealed that part of their competitive advantage is that they have one sales team representing all of their media (TV, VOD, mobile, etc).
To have one sales team, requires a back-end that deals with multiple end-user screens and allows the operator to set business rules and serve advertising that is appropriate for a given device. Part of the solution to that problem, may lie with a company called TelVue. Using the cloud to deliver local, linear and on-demand content is what Jesse Lerman of TelVue demonstrates in this brief video interview at the 2012 OTTCON (Over the Top Conference) in Santa Clara, CA. Click here to view and read more.
Over-the-top progressed faster than I thought and gave more options than I thought, but now I think OTT has done better than VOD because it offers more options, probably did a better job marketing, and will likely dominate in the future because of its options. To me OTT movies are simply VOD out of someone else’s garden but I have a vehicle driving me to many more gardens to pick from. Click here to read more.
Content is the challenge in this world where technology destroys (and creates) business models. Retransmission consent, developed at a time when technology had different limitations, was top of mind at the 2012 ACA Summit in Washington D.C., as ViodiTV captured various operator perspectives on this controversial topic. We also heard from the folks from the U.S. and Canada who aggregate content for smaller, rural operators. Click here to view this brief video that provides highlights of those topics and provides a glimpse of the 11+ interviews we will be showing on ViodiTV.
Retransmission consent, programming costs and the terms and conditions under which his company must operate were among the biggest concerns of Robert Gessner of Massillon Cable TV at last week’s 2012 ACA Summit. In this video interview, he explains the importance of independents working together to negotiate with the large media suppliers. He points out that the biggest challenge his company (and other independents) face is scale. Despite its relatively small size, Massillon Cable TV has retained customers through innovation and being close to the customer. Click here to view.
In this video interview, filmed as he was leaving the 2012 ACA Summit and rushing to a vote, Senator Mark Pryor [D-AR] briefly explains a bipartisan, bicameral piece of legislation introduced by Senators Pryor and Portman [R-OH] and Representatives Coble [R-NC] and Peterson [D-MN] intended to reduce the cost of regulation and, by extension, help improve job creation.
The bill promises to bring those who are being regulated into the discussion before the regulations are passed. The regulators must also show that a particular rule is the “least costly way” to meet the objective. Similarly, under this proposed legislation, the regulators must do a cost/benefit analysis; which is currently not allowed by some statutes. Click here to view.
“Lite sleep” and “Deep Sleep” are two of the power-reduction initiatives that Cable Labs is actively pursuing to reduce the power consumption, explains Ralph Brown, CTO of Cable Labs. Being more efficient, without sacrificing performance and not sacrificing user-experience is their goal.
As pointed out in this CED article, the conversation could quickly turn into a political one, as power consumption of a Network DVR (one copy stored remotely for multiple viewers) is approximately 1/60th of that of a network DVR-RS (Remote Storage, where it is one copy per viewer). Perhaps, this will drive some interesting political alliances between the cable industry and “green” groups, pressuring content owners to grant network DVR rights to their distribution partners. Click here to view the video interview and read the rest of the post.
At it’s annual Directions 2012 conference, market research firm IDC strongly stated that IT is on the cusp of a “Third Platform” that will dominate the landscape till 2020 and beyond. That 3rd platform consists of some mash up of: cloud computing, mobile broadband, mobile services/devices/platforms- OSs/apps, social networks, and big data/analytics. Many or all of those technologies will be integrated or combined to offer new types of services to both business and personal IT end users. IDC predicts a CAGR of 15% for Third Platform IT spending through 2010 with a cumulative growth rate of 70.4% (2013-’20). Click here to read the rest of the article.
The chance to see a community revival of sorts would have not been possible without the face-to-face interaction that one finds at a trade show. This story starts several years ago at the Badger Communications booth at the MTA show. Cliff Albertson kindly gave me a copy of a book written by an owner of an independent telecom company. I was thrilled to review the book and jumped at the chance to interview the author on camera to discuss his book.
Little did I know that I would get a bonus interview with Everett Christensen talking about his Economic Development Award. It was great to talk about it, but I really wanted to see why he won the award. I held out hope that someday I might get a chance to see the impact my new friend had made in his community. Fast-forward six months or so and another friend had figured out how Viodi could help his company tell their customers’ stories.
That was the ticket for me to take a detour on my route to North Dakota and see why Christensen Communications won the 2011 MTA Economic Development Award. We look forward to meeting old and new friends at next week’s MTA show, as well as the 2012 MTA Economic Development Award and hope to get to that winner’s community some day.
And if you don’t have time to watch the video online, don’t fret, as we will air it on the hotel channel at MTA next week. Thanks MTA!
Providers of video, voice and/or data services (and their vendors) should be tracking the FCC’s implementation of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (“Accessibility Act”). Congress passed this legislation to provide the disabled community (including those who are visually or hearing-impaired) with improved access to modern communications services and technologies.
The Accessibility Act directed the FCC to take a variety of actions over time, including reinstatement of its video description rules for television stations and providers of Multichannel Video Provider Distributors or “MVPDs.” Video description is “the insertion of audio narrated descriptions of a television program’s key visual elements into natural pauses in the program’s dialogue.” In effect, video description attempts to do for visually impaired subscribers what closed captioning does for those who are hearing-impaired.
There are, however, a few issues that still merit some attention. And, this is only the first chapter of the story – there is more to come.
From the perspective of smaller operators, the most significant rules are as follows:
Beginning July 1, 2012, all MVPDs (regardless of size or market) will be required to pass through any video description provided by any broadcast station or non-broadcast network, if they have the technical capability to do so on the channel over which they distribute the station or network in question, and if such technical capability is not being used for another purpose related to the programming (i.e. , the “other purpose” exception). Any programming aired with video description must continue to include video description if it is re-aired on the same channel.
Full-power broadcast television affiliates of the top four national networks (ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox) located in the top 25 television markets must provide 50 hours per calendar quarter of video-described prime time and/or children’s programming. Likewise, MVPDs that operate systems with 50,000 or more subscribers (regardless of market size) must provide 50 hours per calendar quarter of video-described prime time and/or children’s programming on each of the top five non-broadcast networks that they carry. The Commission has identified the following as the top five: USA, the Disney Channel, TNT, Nickelodeon, and TBS (the list will be updated every three years).
Any viewer may file a video description complaint with the FCC by “any reasonable means,” such as through the main FCC web portal, letter, facsimile transmission, telephone (voice/TRS/TTY), e-mail, audio-cassette recording, Braille, or some other method that would best accommodate the viewer.
For smaller operators, the most important issue may be how the FCC defines “technical capability” for purposes of the pass-through requirement. The FCC has stated that it will deem an MVPD to have the required technical capability if it has virtually all necessary equipment and infrastructure to comply with the rules, except for items that would be of minimal cost. By the same token, the FCC expects that “as equipment prices drop over time and older architectures are upgraded, this exception will apply to fewer and fewer stations and systems.” In other words, non-compliant systems should think carefully before relying on a “technical capability” argument before the FCC.
The “other purpose” exception, however, is worth noting. For example, when a secondary audio program (“SAP”) channel and associated equipment are being used to provide another program-related service, such as foreign language audio, an MVPD system may not have to discontinue that service to accommodate video description. The FCC indicated that it will revisit the “other purpose” exception at a later time, perhaps with a view towards eliminating it.
In addition, some MVPDs had been concerned that they may have difficulty identifying video-described programming provided by television stations that do not include the ISO-639 language descriptor (and are not required to do so). Nonetheless, the FCC refused to mandate that television stations use IS0-639, instead leaving it to each station’s discretion.
In summary, smaller MVPDs should be evaluating whether they will be in a position to comply with the pass-through requirement beginning July 1, 2012, and, if not, whether it would be economically burdensome to do so. The Commission will permit systems to petition for exemptions based on economic burden, although no one should assume that those exemptions will be easy to obtain.
Finally, as noted above, video description is just one portion of the larger menu of tasks the FCC must complete in order to implement the Accessibility Act. Per a Report issued July 13, 2011 by its Video Programming Accessibility Advisory Committee, the FCC is slated to adopt rules that will require closed captioning of online video programming. The Accessibility Act requires that those rules be in place within six months of the Report.
Also, the Accessibility Act requires that “advanced communications services” (“ACS”) be accessible to persons with disabilities, to the extent accessibility is “achievable.” In this context, ACS includes interconnected VoIP service; non-interconnected VoIP service; electronic messaging service; and interoperable video conferencing service. These rules must be in place by October 8, 2011.
The Viodi View will continue to monitor these items closely and report on new developments as they occur.
The FCC is considering rule changes that would make it easier for educational institutions, medical facilities, equipment manufacturers and others to research and test new wireless devices and services on existing spectrum. By reducing paperwork burdens, shortening overall application processing time and giving applicants greater testing flexibility, the FCC hopes to accelerate the wireless product development process and thus shorten time to market.
Comments on the FCC’s proposals are due March 10; reply comments are due April 11. The following is a broad overview of the FCC’s proposals; more specific information is available in the FCC’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.
Under the FCC’s current process for issuing “experimental” licenses, any entity seeking access to spectrum for research and testing normally must file a separate application for each project, specifying the exact frequencies and location it intends to use. The FCC is now proposing a new process that would eliminate the problem of multiple applications by permitting applicants to use a range of frequencies in a given geographic area under a single license, provided that they protect non-experimental license holders from interference.
At least three new types of experimental licenses are under consideration. First, the FCC proposes to create a “research program experimental radio” or “RPER” license that would be available to colleges, universities and non-profit research organizations. Under the FCC’s current thinking, eligibility would be limited to (1) Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) accredited institutions that have graduate research programs in place and (2) nationally recognized non-profit research laboratories. Operation would be permitted on any frequency except those listed in Section 15.205(a) of the FCC’s rules (available at http://tinyurl.com/45e3ss6) or footnote 246 of the FCC’s Table of Allocations (available at http://tinyurl.com/4o9w2e3).
In addition, operation would be limited to the grounds of the license holder’s campus.
To address the interference issue, the FCC is proposing to require that RPER license holders register certain technical information on an FCC-developed web site at least seven days before testing begins. That information would include:
Contact information for whomever the RPER license holder has designated to handle interference concerns raised by non-experimental licensees, and who is capable of stopping operations immediately where an unanticipated interference event has been reported;
the frequencies or frequency bands that will be tested;
the maximum effective isotropically radiated power (EIRP) or effective radiated power that will be utilized during testing; and
a description of the geographic area where the test will be conducted.
If after the seven-day period the RPER license holder has received no objections to its proposed testing parameters, testing would be allowed to begin immediately without further authority from the FCC. Where a properly submitted and documented objection is raised, testing would not be allowed to begin until the parties resolve the issue. Also, note that an RPER license holder would be required to prepare and register a specific plan for avoiding interference where it proposes to test on frequencies used for the provision of commercial mobile services, emergency notifications or public safety purposes on the license holder’s campus.
The second type of experimental license under consideration would permit research and testing in larger, geographic “innovation zones” designated by the FCC, subject to roughly the same technical requirements as RPER licenses. It is envisioned that innovation zone licenses would be available to any entity or individual that holds “appropriate technical credentials demonstrating advanced technical competence in radio engineering” – association with a college, university or other entity eligible for an RPER license would be permitted but not required. Thus, an innovation zone license could permit, for example, off-campus testing that otherwise might not be permitted under an RPER license (but, by the same token, the expanded zone of testing may invite more interference concerns and thus could require greater oversight of those issues).
The third type of experimental license under review is a new medical program experimental radio (“MPER”) license that would be available to hospitals and other health care institutions. Again, the same general technical requirements that apply to RPER licenses would apply here. An MPER license would permit testing and operation of new medical devices that use wireless technology for therapeutic, monitoring, or diagnostic purposes, but have not yet been submitted to the FCC for equipment certification. It would also permit testing of devices that use RF for ablation, as long as the equipment is designed to meet the FCC’s technical rules. Interestingly, the FCC raises the possibility that it might permit innovators to test medical devices that might not completely conform to the FCC’s technical rules, if the testing entity has properly assessed the risk of potential interference.
The FCC is still wrestling with the issue of whether eligibility for an MPER license should be limited only to a certain class of medical facilities (e.g., those that have been accredited by a particular certification body). It does, however, propose to require that applicants for MPER licenses demonstrate some minimum level of expertise in radio management. Also, the FCC has tentatively concluded that an MPER license should be granted to the institution that creates and manages the test bed environment, not to the manufacturers or other third parties who may be actually conducting the tests.
Finally, the FCC is reevaluating a different set of rules that are specifically targeted at market studies and market trials. Those rules generally prohibit marketing or operation of wireless devices prior to receiving a grant of equipment authorization. Certain limited exemptions are available for conditional sales, advertising and display, and outright sales to third parties as long as the prospective buyer is advised that the equipment is not authorized.
Among other things, the FCC proposes various rule amendments to clarify when the exemptions apply, and how they interrelate with the experimental licensing rules. Some liberalization of the exemptions is also under consideration. For example, the FCC is proposing to eliminate or relax its rule that prohibits vendors from selling evaluation kits for equipment that has not yet been certified. Likewise, the FCC is exploring whether to raise its cap on the number of uncertified devices that may be imported for testing and evaluation purposes.
In sum, those interested in these items and related issues should consult the FCC’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to determine which of the many questions it raises might warrant comment. Those who wish to comment in support of the FCC’s proposals should be especially prepared to address the interference issues that will be front and center throughout the proceeding.
Yesterday's FCC meeting on Net Neutrality was entertaining, given it was truly one of the more partisan events at that agency in a long time. The key question at the end of the meeting was whether the new rules will lead to market stability or uncertainty and litigation. There are some hopeful signs, such as this post from the American Cable Association (ACA), praising the balance of the approach, while suggesting the open docket regarding Title II regulation of broadband providers be closed. On the other hand, Verizon believes that the FCC is overreaching in their statutory authority with regards to the proposed rules; .
Underpinning the FCC’s argument as to why they can regulate is section 706 of the 1996 Communications Act which, “directs the FCC to ‘encourage the deployment on a reasonable and timely basis’ of 'advanced telecommunications capability’ to all Americans.” They go on to say that in July 2010 the FCC concluded that the deployment of broadband is not reasonable and timely, triggering section 706(b); the basis for their ruling.
They rely on Title II for protecting VoIP services, Title III for ensuring open Internet in wireless and Title VI for promoting competition in video services. Title VI is the power Congress gave the FCC to regulate and ensure competition among cable television providers (now known as Multichannel Video Program Distributors – MVPDs). My question for the lawyers out there in the Viodi View audience is:
Could the justification of Title VI as a way to protect internet video providers from being discriminated against by MVPDs also be used as a basis for regulating those very same internet video providers?
That is, could the FCC use Title VI to mandate that internet video providers support things such as must-carry, closed captioning, obscenity, advertising limits, etc.?1 I may not be the only one thinking that this is a possibility, as I have noticed an uptick in views of an article, that I wrote a couple of years ago, on proposed legislation that would have had regulated Internet Video; of course the interest in my other article may have to do more with the image of Charlotte Ross.
If I am right, advocates for unregulated internet video may have gotten more than they wanted.