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Role of Broadband Upon Climate Change Discussed at Freedom to Connect

in Broadband's Impact by

SILVER SPRING, Md., April 1, 2009 - The interaction between climate change and broadband took center-stage in the third session of the Freedom to Connect conference here on Tuesday. Panelists called for a cost-benefit analysis.

Billy Ray of Glasgow, Ky., detailed his personal experience in attempting to run a profitable start-up seeking to bridge the profitability and operational gap between what he described as “infotricity” and competitive cable television.

Infotricity, he said, grew from a desire to combine the best from both information and electricity.

“I was constantly mocked by skeptics who would ask why I had not left the job to professionals,” he said.

But his subsequent success, he said, prompted cable operators to follow in his steps, drastically lowering costs for his consumers.

“Right now, we need someone to write software that will meet new realities,” he said.

“It's a struggle, but I will continue with the struggle,” he said.

Bill St. Arnaud, director of network projects for CANARIE Inc., an industry-government consortium to promote and develop information highway technologies in Canada, described how the United States could be a world leader in the business opportunities of reducing greenhouse gas emissions:

  • $500 billion would be the value of low-carbon energy market by 2050.
  • $100 billion would be the demand for projects generating greenhouse gas emissions credits by 2030.
  • The global carbon market, which is expected to grow by 58% in 2008 to $92 billion.
  • President Barack Obama's cap and trade estimate, which is expected to produce $645 billion through carbon trading.

Carbon neutrality, he said, may be imposed by law, but added that a more apt way forward might lie in carbon credits as opposed to carbon taxes.

Success in the foregoing, he said, would prepare the U.S. to be a leader in “virtualization” and “de-materialization.”

He said the U.S. would beat the competition in such “virtual products” as:

  • Hollywood (for content);
  • Silicon Valley (for applications);
  • Universities (as a system for innovations);
  • Emergence of an internet “culture” and early adoption, best exemplified, he said, by Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sixth Sense;
  • Consumers, he said, would then control or influence 60% of the emissions.

He hailed free Wi-Fi in school buses in Birmingham, Britain, as a model for a technology that could help point to new possibilities in the nexus between the climate and the Internet.

“We need a carbon reward strategy for last-mile infrastructure,” he said, adding that a zero carbon strategy was not working.

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