Connect with us

Expert Opinion

Connecting Broadband Networks and Applications in NTIA Proposals

LAKE FOREST, Ill., July 19, 2009 – The NTIA’s BTOP program tracks the old NTIA Technology Opportunities Program. There are going to be maximum awards for those applications which attempt to solve multiple policy objectives, on the “biggest bang for the stimulus buck” theory. And states are going to be influential in the evaluation system, to the extent that their prioritization efforts are transparent and fair.

Published

on

Editor’s Note: The following guest commentary appears by special invitation of BroadbandCensus.com. BroadbandCensus.com does not necessary endorse the views in the commentary, but invites officials, experts and individuals interested in the state of broadband to offer commentaries of their own. To offer a commentary, please e-mail commentary@broadbandcensus.com. Not all commentaries may be published.

By Don Samuelson, Guest Commentary, BroadbandCensus.com

LAKE FOREST, Ill., July 19, 2009 – There were three major messages from the TV Worldwide-BroadbandCensus.com webcast and discussion with NTIA Deputy Associate Administrator Anthony (“Tony”) Wilhelm on Thursday, July 9, 2009.

First, the overall design of the grant program seems to track the design of the old NTIA Technology Opportunities Program, which is not surprising given the able involvement of Tony Wilhelm in both.

Second, there is going to be maximum awards for those applications which attempt to solve multiple policy objectives, on the “biggest bang for the stimulus buck” theory.

Third, the states are going to be influential in the evaluation system, to the extent that their prioritization efforts are transparent and fair.

It would be useful for the folks who have been tracking the NTIA and Rural Utilities Service stimulus efforts as “network-promoting” funding programs to put real energy into populating the network applications with practical application and adoption strategies. Exactly what is the real-world payoff that is going to come from the network deployment?

I don’t sense that the “build it and they will come” argument is going to pass muster. The identification of the “positive externalities” of the network deployment are going to have to be addressed upfront in a clear and logical manner. And that will not be easy.

Broadband and Public Housing

But let me suggest a couple of examples on how this might work, starting with the technology-starved industry of public housing. Most public housing developments spend tremendous amounts of money – inefficiently – on security and energy.

Money spent on “more guards” and “more armed guards” could achieve much better security results at much less cost with tenant recognition and electronic surveillance systems. Energy control and systems monitoring efforts could be more efficient through the “sensing” and control devices made possible by broadband. Work orders could be filled faster and with better quality control through interactive systems.

While there are tremendous cost savings achievable in public housing through the creative uses of broadband, the bigger payback will come from converting “warehouses for the poor” to self-sufficiency-oriented support systems.

The same broadband network that creates savings in the operating costs of a building can connect all of the units – and low income families – to the benefits of the Internet. This can take place through the development of on-site computer learning centers for technology skills assessment and training, refurbished computers or thin clients in the individual unit and a concentrated effort to promote internet adoption and use.

There are thousands of public housing authorities in the United States, in big urban cities and in relatively small rural towns. While the program problems in big cities and rural towns are different, they share a common deficiency in their use of technology and the Internet.

There is relatively little in internet training for seniors or for workforce development, self-sufficiency and remedial education programs for very low income families. NTIA applications demonstrating collaboration between the local housing authority and the network to develop and maintain practical adoption programs would warrant extra credit in the competition, particularly if the application could show how the proposed collaboration could be replicated in housing authorities across the country.

Broadband and Education

The connection of network applications to public education should be a clear winning strategy. It’s clear that the use of technology platforms in education can generate significant improvements in student engagement and performance. It seems self-evident but hard to quantify. In large part, the evaluation difficulty relates to the problem of the identification and quantification of dependent and independent variables.

Exactly what is the cause of the troubling educational outcomes: too little time spent in the classroom, the lack of parent involvement, insufficient effort by students, the lack of teacher skills with computer-aided education, the general problems of distressed communities leaking into the classroom? It is clearly all of these.

So what are the contributions broadband can make to these seemingly intractable difficulties? Project RED is a research effort funded by Intel and Apple to assess the impact of technology investments in 3,000 technology rich United States school districts. E-mail info@projectRED.org for more information. It will involve interviews with 3,000 schools with rich technology available to all students.

The report on these interviews will involve: (1) the actual uses of technology for administrative and educational purposes; (2) the uses of technology by type of application; and (3) the cost savings attributable to technology.

These research efforts are intended to document and to promote understanding of the practical benefits of “21st Century Schools” and “21st Century Classrooms.” The basic components of these 21st Century Classrooms will involve: (1) portable furniture; (2) internet-access devices on every learning surface; (3) a central information control system available to the teacher (i.e. facilitator of learning); (4) an internet-connected large screen “white board” with multi-media capacities; (5) on-line curriculum; (6) technology-fluent teachers – general contractor facilitators of learning; (7) simple-to-use and maintenance free equipment.

There were 500 exhibitors at the recent National Education Computing Conference in Washington, from June 28 – July 1, 2009, discussing these very topics.

New efforts are beginning to extend the time and place of public education to community learning centers (libraries and computer technology centers) and the home. If the key technology components of the 21st Century Classrooms become “thin clients” (essentially terminals with Internet connections) and “cloud computing,” all parts of the system connected via the Internet, it’s an easy jump to add the home and the parents to the local learning network.

This can be a very inexpensive way to extend the school day and school year by integrating the use of existing capital assets into the system. A student can log off at the end of a class, and reconnect immediately to all of the previously school-centric resources at the library, a church or the “Home Learning Zone” in the apartment or house. It’s likely that Project RED will describe the few school districts and rich communities with such a system already in place, although perhaps without cloud computing. The goal is to make this “local learning network” sufficiently clear, affordable and effective to be replicated in all of the nation’s schools and classrooms.

Adding Home Learning Zones and Public Housing to the Local Learning Network

With the technology-leveraging capacities of the Internet, thin clients and cloud computing, it is possible – through institutional collaboration – to create Neighborhood Learning Networks, the objective of which is to prepare all students for higher education, the modern workplace and motivation for lifelong learning.

Once the local network is in place, it should be relatively easy to add “employment” and “business incubation” to the objectives of the Neighborhood Network, in effect creating a “Neighborhood Learning, Employment and Business Incubation Network.” These are the types of collaboration that need to be planned and implemented to create winning NTIA BTOP proposals.

Donald S. Samuelson has more than 30 years of experience in government-assisted housing and real estate development. He has a passion for applying broadband to provide solutions in the fields of education and training. E-mail him at DSSA310@aol.com, or contact him by phone at 847-420-1732.

Expert Opinion

Leo Matysine: The Impact of C-Band on Advancements in Mobile and Fixed Broadband

As technology is more advanced and connected to everything, the need for higher capacity networks will continue to grow exponentially.

Published

on

The Author of this Expert Opinion is Leo Matysine, Co-Founder of MatSing

When consumers think of 5G, often their minds automatically think mobile connectivity. The official C-Band launch this past January brought the idea of increased spectrum connectivity into the limelight. While this had been something anticipated by the telecommunications industry for years, finally seeing it come to fruition allowed the mainstream media to become invested in the benefits this 5G spectrum could offer.

When 5G was first introduced five years ago, it caught the attention of many who soon learned the challenge in speedy implementation due to strict infrastructure requirements. The introduction of C-Band provides a solution, enabling 5G upgrades while simultaneously addressing the coverage and capacity needs.

This heightened implementation will allow users to start seeing improvements across the board, but not just in the form of mobile connection. Outside of the benefits for mobile carriers, the advancements C-Band provides will enter in a new era for fixed broadband access especially in rural communities.

The need for fixed broadband was magnified during the pandemic as users need for internet access from home drastically increased. This exposed the digital divide rural communities are facing, causing it to gain traction with the White House. As a result, a new infrastructure bill aimed at improving the underlying network infrastructures was developed as fiber-to-the-home and fiber-to-the-premise in rural settings have proven to be too expensive and impractical for wide implementation.

C-Band provides an alternative option allowing for wireless fixed broadband access through antennas. The mid-band frequency spectrum (1GHz to 6GHz) can provide rural users, both businesses and households, with options in providers and services they’ve been unable to experience previously.

C-Band also allows for higher speed and capacity

On top of the fixed broadband perspective where C-Band frequency spectrums are enabling rural connectivity, it allows for higher speed and capacity. The spectrums being utilized in the past while generating mobile coverage, had disadvantages in capacity and experience.

The mmWave spectrum (24GHz +) can transmit data at hyper speeds but only from limited distances, requiring line-of-site installations, whereas sub-1GHz offers the opposite. The mid-band spectrum C-Band falls under acts as a perfect balance, transmitting data at high speeds and capacities while providing the coverage needed to cover vast areas. Deployed with lens antenna technology, the additional capacity can be enabled with fewer antenna locations as compared to other antenna types, leading to financial advantages.

From a more localized vantage point, C-Band is now being integrated into marquee venues and stadiums. Within these smaller spaces, improved bandwidth and superior performance is essential given the concentrated number of users seeking connection and the inherent need for more content sharing. In order to support the mobile experience fans now expect from these venues, carriers and venue owners have turned to C-Band deployments.

Deployed atop the 4G/LTE foundation, the C-Band antenna builds off this functionality while adding the increased speed and capacity accustomed to the mid-band spectrum. Several venues will see increased results with these implementations allowing fans to experience a more reliable and overall better experience at their game days or concerts in the upcoming months.

Looking ahead, these milestones only mark the beginning of where C-Band implementation will take the telecommunications industry. As technology continues to become more advanced and connected to everyone and everything, the need for higher capacity networks will continue to grow exponentially.

Leo Matysine is the Co-Founder and Executive Vice President of company MatSing, the worlds leading manufacturer of large size, light weight RF lenses. MatSing introduces a new age of antenna design for the Telecommunications industry. This piece is exclusive to Broadband Breakfast.

Broadband Breakfast accepts commentary from informed observers of the broadband scene. Please send pieces to commentary@breakfast.media. The views expressed in Expert Opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Broadband Breakfast and Breakfast Media LLC.

Continue Reading

Expert Opinion

Patrice Williams: Reimagining the Future of Work With Digital Plus Human Efforts

‘Digital workers can help in the end-to-end automation of business processes by mimicking human behavior.’

Published

on

The Author of this Expert Opinion is Patrice Williams, Business Development Representative at Vuram.

Organizations across geographies are fast-embracing the hybrid and remote working models as they are embracing their digital transformation journeys to navigate the new normal. Adopting a digital workforce is essential to overcome a series of challenges, while it cannot replace humans. The future of work will witness humans operating side-by-side with software robots to pursue business goals and tackle future challenges.

The inclusion of a digital workforce allows organizations to function seamlessly around the clock while addressing labor shortages, learning gaps, upskilling requirements, workforce flexibility, effective crisis management, and profitability.

Who are digital workers?

The digital workforce is a variety of robotic and automated solutions that work in tandem with humans to accomplish tasks that are complex, time-consuming, repetitive, and mundane. They perform complex tasks end to end so that humans can focus on creative, critical, and high-value-added activities. The digital workforce comprises technologies like robotic process automation, cognitive computing, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and more.

Adopting digital workforce

Globally, when businesses started operating remotely, adopting digital workforce technologies helped organizations to continue operations uninterrupted by functioning seamlessly round the clock and achieving speed and efficiency.

Aided by hyperautomation technologies, the digital workers can help in the end-to-end automation of business processes by mimicking human behavior to perform actions that were previously, typically done only by humans. Following are some of the use cases:

Chatbots are increasingly being used across industries, including healthcare and banking. They can streamline customer support by handling volumes of simple customer queries around the clock, bringing down the costs, and adding efficiency. Interestingly, chatbots are predicted to save $8 billion by 2022 and save 2.5 billion hours by 2023, according to a study by Juniper Research.

Chatbots add efficiency to the new normal set up when people are working in different locations and are reimagining roles focusing on quality and cognitive skills. When integrated with the IT helpdesk, the bots can empower employees to resolve simple issues on their own, thus removing the burden on human employees.

With AI and natural language processing capabilities, these bots can understand the simple language of the users and help them with the right answers. They can help a new joiner complete the onboarding formalities, like filling out forms and helping them with instant answers to common questions about company policies, roles, responsibilities, etc.

The process of onboarding customers is different across industries, be it retail, corporate, banking, or healthcare. Irrespective of the industry, it is one of the most important and complex tasks with compliance checks, stringent regulations, documentation, security, and much more.

For instance, let’s take the bank. It involves several key steps like evaluating the customer’s profiles, recording customer data, performing background checks, fulfilling legal obligations, opening the account, interacting with the customer for any support, and finally, the account becomes operational.

AI can transform business experiences in a post-COVID world

In a post-COVID world where social distancing and other hygienic protocols are at the forefront, AI can transform the banking experience for customers. Digital onboarding can reduce time and costs while addressing the prominent challenges and ensuring compliance. In a digital environment, form fillings can be done automatically with OCR, conversational AI and a virtual assistant can support customers at any time and machine learning can be used to verify customer data across all the documents.

Fighting fraud by detection across stages is a critical part of financial institutions that handle volumes of unstructured data. Manual efforts in identifying, analyzing data, user profiling involves more effort, time, and prone to errors. RPA bot infused with AI and machine learning capabilities can curb financial frauds by monitoring every activity in the process loop and immediately notifying any concerns.

For example, credit scoring can be monitored effectively in the insurance claims process with the bots reviewing customer claims, matching them with the existing data, and monitoring the customer behavior to raise any abnormal behavior patterns. When trained, the bot can prevent money laundering by raising alerts of potentially fraudulent transactions.

Intelligent document processing helps organizations that process or handles several types of documents daily to reap the benefits of intelligent document processing. The process automatically reads, extracts, and analyzes from structured and unstructured data like online forms, resumes, email messages, invoices, text files, audio files, video files, and a lot more.

Functions like opening emails, downloading and reading attachments, filling forms, copying/pasting documents, extracting data from social media channels or other forums, reading/writing databases, and collecting and recording data, can be carried out with the help of intelligent document processing. Organizations can effortlessly search, extract, and analyze data for decision-making.

As the future of work is exploring ways to support the human workforce to perform at their highest potential while creating a happy working environment, the digital workforce can benefit the process in numerous ways.

Contrary to the popular myth that robots will replace human roles, the technologies will complement human efforts by adding quality, efficiency, and job satisfaction to perform better in the new digital workplace. Further, technology will enable businesses to overcome human limitations to maximize human potential nurturing a supportive working environment with more inclusive work culture.

Patrice Williams is the Business Development Representative at Vuram, a hyperautomation services company. Vuram has received several prominent recognitions, including the Inc 5000 list of fastest-growing private companies in the United States, HFS hot vendor in 2020, and Rising Star- Product Challenger in Australia by ISG in ISG Provider Lens 2021 report. Williams has more than 20 years of experience as an operational manager and working in a multinational working environment, and has led Vuram’s hiring activities and people management. This piece is exclusive to Broadband Breakfast.

Broadband Breakfast accepts commentary from informed observers of the broadband scene. Please send pieces to commentary@breakfast.media. The views expressed in Expert Opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Broadband Breakfast and Breakfast Media LLC.

Continue Reading

Digital Inclusion

Samantha Schartman-Cycyk: Three Keys to Building Transformative Broadband Plans

‘While the federal government’s infrastructure funding creates unique opportunities, it also exposes challenges that states and tribes must get in front of to ensure that funding is sustainable and implementation is effective.’

Published

on

The author of this Expert Opinion is Samantha Schartman-Cycyk, President of the Marconi Society

This week, I am thrilled to join state, local and tribal leaders from across the U.S. as we convene in Cleveland, Ohio, for the Broadband Access Summit. As a local and long-time advocate for digital inclusion, I am proud that the Pew Charitable Trusts and Next Century Cities selected Cleveland, one of the least connected cities in the country, as the site for a timely conversation about how we can effectively spend the unprecedented levels of federal funding for broadband infrastructure.

While the federal government’s infrastructure funding creates unique opportunities, it also exposes challenges that states and tribes must get in front of to ensure that funding is sustainable and implementation is effective.

The good news is that digital equity is finally front and center—where it belongs—and it has taken nearly twenty years of advocacy and practice to get us to this point.

Following are three key lessons I have learned to ensure efforts to expand connectivity are community oriented and sustainable.

1. Bring in local leadership—now

Across the country, areas that have a dedicated local leadership responsible solely for digital equity and inclusion are outpacing their counterparts. Someone, or ideally a team, needs to wake up every day thinking about what digital equity means in their community, how to make a reality in a way that supports key priorities, and where the true needs are. We have seen benefits in cities such as Detroit and Seattle, who have taken this approach.

We must support these leaders with accurate data. At the Marconi Society, a nonprofit that champions digital equity, I helped launch the National Broadband Mapping Coalition to help leaders from rural communities and urban ‘digital deserts’ identify broadband gaps. The NBMC has developed a no-cost mapping toolkit to help educate and guide communities.

2. Plan for sustainability while you have strong funding

We need to anchor digital inclusion efforts to long-term state programs to solidify funding and reinforce the intersectional impact of digital inclusion. Typically, digital inclusion programs blossom within the period of investment but falter when funding runs out, only to peak again when new grants or federal money become available.

This process wastes resources, relationships, and time, resulting in stop-and-start programs that aren’t able to address residents’ needs nor build momentum.

For example, a state like Maine with an older rural population is likely to prioritize services that allow for aging in place and telemedicine care for seniors. States like Utah or Texas, with relatively young populations, might place a higher priority on education and K–12 STEM pipelines. This alignment will allow state leaders to prioritize and bake sustainability into their broadband plans, create digital equity programs that support their priorities, and incorporate data collection into their work.

3. Create the workforce your state will need

In order to implement strong broadband plans that create true digital equity, state and local governments need a pipeline of people who understand the unique intersection of technology, policy, and grassroots digital inclusion work needed to bridge the digital divide. As of last year, nearly 20 states did not even have a dedicated broadband office to begin this work. With funding already being dispersed to states, we are at a critical moment.

To help create this workforce, the Marconi Society conceptualized and is developing the first-ever “Digital Inclusion Leadership” professional certificate with Arizona State University. The program will launch in Fall 2022 and will include top-ranked professors and leading industry experts as teachers and advisors.

I believe that this interdisciplinary workforce will continue to be in high demand as states integrate digital equity into their long-term priorities.

After years of helping to lay the groundwork for the current burst of funding and activity around digital equity, I can say that our work has only just begun. We have the gift of beginning with knowledge and funding that can be truly transformative. The digitally equitable future we are fighting for is closer than it has ever been before—let’s make sure we get this right.

Samantha Schartman-Cycyk is President of the Marconi Society, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing digitally equitable communities by empowering change agents across sectors. Over her 20-year career, she has built forward-thinking programs and tools to drive impact on digital inclusion at the local and national levels, through projects with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), community training, and data collecting efforts. The Marconi Society celebrates and supports visionaries building tomorrow’s technologies upon the foundation of a connected world we helped create. This piece is exclusive to Broadband Breakfast.

Broadband Breakfast accepts commentary from informed observers of the broadband scene. Please send pieces to commentary@breakfast.media. The views expressed in Expert Opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Broadband Breakfast and Breakfast Media LLC.

Continue Reading

Recent

Signup for Broadband Breakfast

Get twice-weekly Breakfast Media news alerts.
* = required field

Trending