Viodi View – 03/27/15

The Minnesota telecom industry is a family, stated Brent Christensen in his opening comments at the MTA’s annual meeting this week in Minneapolis. Extending his analogy, the annual Convention and Tradeshow is a family reunion of sorts. And it was sad news to hear the passing of family member, Gene South.

An image of Gene South.
Gene South, 1947-2015

As many readers of the Viodi View know, Gene had an illustrious career in the telecommunications industry with multiple independent operating companies. His good work extended beyond his customers and employees and extended to his peers. He was a leader in helping make the case in Washington for the importance of having robust telecom and broadband in rural America. What I didn’t realize is this humble servant was a two-time Purple Heart award recipient.

Click here to read more about Gene, as well as the details for the celebration of his life that will be held this Saturday in Annadale, MN. Condolences to Gene’s family.

[It was an honor to publish Gene’s two-part article on the importance of broadband to rural America.]

Updating Regulations & Laws to Facilitate Broadband Deployment

Brent Christensen speaking at the 2015 Annual Meeting
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Updating regulations and laws are important steps governments can take to facilitate broadband rollout and lower-end costs. At the 2015 Annual Meeting, and in the above interview, MTA President and CEO, Brent Christensen outlined three bills in the Minnesota legislature that the MTA is championing that would further these goals.

Click here to read more and view.

Pulling the Plug on ISPs

Donnie Miller talking about the extra work and turmoil created by Google's decision to change its ISP program.
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“Overall, it’s been a very good experience on the platform. We would prefer to stay on it,” said Donnie Miller in the above video interview. Miller was referring to Google’s upcoming discontinuance of its Google Apps Partners Edition™ program offering. He points out that this is adding to his small staff’s workload, as it is a significant project to migrate end-customers to a new system; and there really isn’t a system out there that duplicates all that Google Apps Partners Edition™ program offered.

Click here to view.

Talking About the Rising Costs of Cable Programming

A summary of how one operator informed their customers about the source of rising cable prices.
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The link between rising programming costs and the source of those costs aren’t obvious to many consumers. Because of that indirect connection, the last-mile provider is the one that takes the brunt of the consumer backlash to programming prices that typically outpace inflation. Shentel’s Vice President of Cable, Tom Whitaker, talks about the campaign to educate and raise attention to this issue of continually increasing programming costs.

Click here to read more and watch the interview.

2015 RTIME Round-Up – Cautious Optimism

Some highlights from the 2015 RTIME conference in Phoenix.
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“Economic development is at the heart of what we do,” said Dave Osborne of VTX, a rural broadband operator serving a large swath of south Texas. Osborne was part of a panel at NTCA’s 2015 RTIME that focused on how operators are using their broadband networks as a basis for new applications that are helping their communities compete.

Click here to read more.

Advantages and Challenges of Working from Home – Part 3

Dave Fridley suggests taking a shower.
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Low overhead, employee empowerment and more personal time for employees are some of the advantages of working from home. There are challenges as well. Dave Fridley talks about some of the benefits and challenges managing a virtual business that has “24 offices”. He discusses how they overcome those challenges. His best advice may be, “Take a shower.”

Click here to view.

From Mobility to Mobility Services

A couple of images from the SV Prospect Forum on the future of automobiles.
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BMW is known for its high-end premium cars and associated premium brand. Through the BMW i Ventures investment vehicle, BMW is exploring how it will transition from mobility to mobility services. Silicon Valley-based Mark Platshon, Senior Advisor to BMW i Ventures, explains how this could mean venturing into areas as far afield as products and services like home solar, electric car charging and home electric grid management. Of course, a little closer to their core product, autonomous vehicles and their ramifications are top of mind within BMW i Ventures.

Click here to view.

Some Tweets and Short Thoughts

Tell Us a Story – Another Example of Creativity in Rural America

Jack Johnson, Jr. discusses the children's books he recently wrote.
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One of the intangible benefits of trade shows like the ACA Summit, MTA Annual Convention & Tradeshow and RTIME, are the in-person connections that are made. The above video is a result of a chance connection in the hotel elevator at the RTIME 2015 conference.

Jack Jones, Jr. is the typical low-key and humble person one would expect to meet at an event like RTIME. Just like so many of his rural brethren, peel back a layer and there is a level of creativity and cleverness this author wishes he had.

Jones’ creativity is on display in the two children’s books he recently authored. Rusty’s Life gives the perspective of his dog to true-life events. His second book, Marriah’s Easter Egg Hunt was penned for his grand-daughter and explains the meaning of Easter in words she can understand.

Click here to read more and to view.

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