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Broadband Roundup: House Democrats Release Infrastructure Framework, T-Mobile’s Pink, 5G’s Specialness

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Photo of House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal

The chairs of three House committees on Wednesday released a framework for a five-year, $760 billion investment in infrastructure that would address some of the country’s most urgent infrastructure needs, including broadband infrastructure.

The framework put forth by Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Peter DeFazio, D-Oregon, Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Frank Pallone, D-N.J., and Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal, D-Mass., would bolster the federal government in helping communities make investments that it described as “smarter, safer, and made to last.”

The framework sets a path toward zero carbon pollution, ensures so-called “green” transportation system, modernizes 911 networks, and expands broadband internet access, adoption for unserved and underserved rural, suburban, and urban communities. The framework also imposes Davis-Bacon requirements and “buy America” provisions.

“It’s past time to for transformational investments to make our infrastructure smarter, safer, and resilient to climate change,” said DeFazio.

“The deficiencies of our roads, bridges, transit, water systems, broadband, and electrical grids hold our nation’s economy back,” said Neal. “When we invest in infrastructure, it results in a significant economic multiplier – with each dollar spent, our nation becomes more competitive and prosperous.”

Although most of the major communications industry trade groups did not release comments, the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association said that they applauded the proposal. “If enacted into law, it will go far in bridging the debilitating digital divide.  The challenge of eradicating the digital divide is particularly acute in rural areas, where nearly 20 million Americans lack adequate access to essential broadband, hampering widespread prosperity in the heartland,” WISPA said in a statement.

“Though the infrastructure plan does not lay out any specifics, we hope leadership recognizes that spectrum is infrastructure – just like new roads, bridges and public utilities – and focuses on encouraging federal officials to unleash more of it for consumers,” said WISPA.

The text of the framework is here; a Factsheet is here.

T-Mobile corporate parent seeks to trademark the color pink

A blog post by Michael Rosen of the American Enterprise Institute noted how Deutsche Telekom, parent company of T-Mobile, has sued an insurance company called Lemonade for using a “confusingly similar” shade of magenta.

DT asserts that its shade of magenta is so evocative of its brand that Lemonade’s use of it, even in a different market, could confuse a consumer into calling upon the associations it has with T-Mobile (whether good or bad) to sell Lemonade’s product.

Lemonade’s CEO Daniel Schreiber called the injunction DT has obtained against Lemonade from a German court as “corporate bully tactics.”

Proponents of trademark freedom on social media arranged the panel highlighting the breadth of color range to which DT believes it is legally entitled.

The author of the blog post then drew a comparison to the case in which British Startup Surrey Nanonsystems engineered the blackest black ever perceived (it absorbs 99.96 percent of all light) and licensed it as the exclusive property of famous artist Anish Kapoor.

Lower latency and higher capacity combines to make the 5G special

The wireless standard 5G’s most overlooked advantage is its “much lower latency” and its “much greater capacity,” according to a blog post of ETI Software Solutions.

The enhanced capacity will help give rise to the internet of things through a “massive uptick in devices and sensors connected to the network,” writes the author, citing wireless and near-instantaneous connection between streetlight to parking spaces to even livestock as a result of these overshadowed benefits.

These connections could provide the path to the future, serving as the bedrock for technologies like autonomous drones and automated factories.

The author also made a point to outline hope for rural areas, highlighting a deal between Parallel Wireless and the Competitive Carriers Association to offer new strategies for bringing 5G to the sparsely populated.

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David Flower: 5G and Hyper-Personalization: Too Much of a Good Thing?

5G, IoT and edge computing are giving companies the opportunity to make hyper-personalization even more ‘hyper’.

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The author of this Expert Opinion is David Flower, CEO of Volt Active Data

It’s very easy for personalization to backfire and subtract value instead of add it.

Consider the troubling fact that we may be arriving at a moment in hyper-personalization’s journey where the most hyper-personalized offer is no offer at all. Nobody likes to be constantly bombarded by content, personalized or not.

And that’s the paradox of hyper-personalization: if everyone’s doing it, then, in a sense, nobody is.

5G and related technologies such as IoT and edge computing are giving companies the opportunity to make hyper-personalization even more “hyper” via broader bandwidths and the faster processing of higher volumes of data.

This means we’re at a very interesting inflection point: where do we stop? If the promise of 5G is more data, better data, and faster data, and the result is knowing our customers even better to bug them even more, albeit in a “personal” way, when, where, and why do we say, “hold on—maybe this is going too far.”?

How do you do hyper-personalization well in a world where everyone else is doing it and where customers are becoming increasingly jaded about it and worried about how companies are using their data?

Let’s first look at what’s going wrong.

Hyper-personalization and bad data

Hyper-personalization is very easy to mess up, and when you do mess it up it has the exact opposite of its intended effect: it drives customers away instead of keeping them there.

Consider an online ad for a product that pops up for you on a website a couple days after you already bought the thing being advertised for. This is what I call “noise”. It’s simply a nuisance, and the company placing that ad—or rather, the data platform they’re using to generate the algorithms for the ads—should already know that the person has already bought this item and hence present not a “repeat offer” but an upsell or cross-sell offer.

This sounds rudimentary in the year 2022 but it’s still all too common, and you’re probably nodding your head right now because you’ve experienced this issue.

Noise usually comes from what’s known as bad data, or dirty data. Whatever you want to call it—it pretty much ruins the customer experience.

Hyper-personalization and slow data

The second major issue is slow data, which is any data being used way too slowly to be valuable, which usually includes data that has to the trip to the data warehouse before it can be incorporated into any decisions.

Slow data is one of the main reasons edge computing was invented: to be able to process data as closely to where it’s ingested as possible in order to use it before it loses any value.

Slow data produces not-so-fun customer experiences such as walking half a mile to your departure gate at the airport, only to find that the gate has been changed, and then, after you’ve walked the half mile back to where you came from, getting a text message on your phone from the airline saying your gate has been changed.

Again, whatever you want to call it—latency, slow data, annoying—the end result is a bad customer experience.

How to fix the hyper-personalization paradox

I have no doubt that the people who invented hyper-personalization had great intentions: make things as personal as possible so that your customers pay attention, stay happy, and stay loyal.

And for a lot of companies, for a long time, it worked. Then came the data deluge. And the regulations. And the jaded customers. We’re now at a stage where we need to rethink how we do personalization because the old ways are no longer effective.

It’s easy—and correct—to blame legacy technology for all of this. But the solution goes deeper than just ripping and replacing. Companies need to think holistically about all sides of their tech stacks to figure out the simplest way to get as much data as possible from A to B.

The faster you can process your data the better. But it’s not all just about speed. You also need to be able to provide quick contextual intelligence to your data so that every packet is informed by all of the packets that came before it. In this sense, your tech stack should be a little like a great storyteller: someone who knows what the customer needs and is feeling at any given moment, because it knows what’s happened up to this point and how it will affect customer decisions moving forward.

Let’s start thinking of our customer experiences as stories and our tech stacks as the storytellers—or maybe, story generators. Maybe then our personalization efforts will become truly ‘hyper-personal’— i.e., relevant, in-the-moment experiences that are a source of delight instead of annoyance.

David Flower brings more than 28 years of experience within the IT industry to the role of CEO of Volt Active Data. Flower has a track record of building significant shareholder value across multiple software sectors on a global scale through the development and execution of focused strategic plans, organizational development and product leadership. 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.

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Optional Security Features for 5G Technology Poses Risks

The next generation wireless technology is being touted as the most secure yet.

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Photo of Dan Elmore of the Idaho National Labratory

WASHINGTON, July 28, 2022 – 5G technology can still present security concerns despite being touted as the most secure of the cellular generations, said Dan Elmore of the Idaho National Laboratory at a 5G Future event Thursday.

In response to the emerging challenge of validating 5G security protocols and data protection technologies, the Idaho National Laboratory established its Wireless Security Institute in 2019 to coordinate government, academic, and private industry research efforts to foster more secure and reliable 5G technology.

While 5G network offers a “rich suite” of security features in the standards, most of it is optional for manufacturers and developers to choose to implement in their system or device, said Elmore, who is the director for critical infrastructure security at the INL. This poses a significant challenge for 5G, particularly for critical infrastructure applications, as consumers may not know how standards are implemented, Elmore said.

Elmore urged consumers, especially federal agencies, to ask the hard questions and consider “what vulnerabilities might be present in how they [manufacturers and developers] employ those standards that could be exploited.”

5G is designed to allow cellular devices to connect at higher speeds with lower latency, the delay in loading requests, than previous generations. Already, wireless carriers are incorporating it into devices and working on national 5G networks.

Because of its facilitation of real-time monitoring, 5G technology is expected to help tackle critical issues like climate change and environmental sustainability.

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5G Will Help Enhance Environment Protection and Sustainability, Conference Hears

The technology has already been used by companies to monitor and make more efficient systems to reduce emissions.

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Photo of Bourhan Yassin, CEO of Rainforest Connection

WASHINGTON, June 28, 2022 – Because of its facilitation of real-time monitoring and more efficient use of systems, 5G technology will help tackle climate change and beef up environmental sustainability, an Information Technology and Innovation Foundation event heard Tuesday.

5G technology’s ubiquitous connectivity and lower latency enables climate technology that decarbonizes manufacturing plants, enables rainforest monitoring, and limits greenhouse gas emissions from transportation.

5G also enables real-time traffic control and monitoring that can help minimize carbon footprint, said John Hunter from T-Mobile, which has a large 5G network thanks in part to its merger with Sprint.

Finnish 5G equipment supplier Nokia has invested in smart manufacturing relying on the speed of 5G in its plants, which it said has resulted in a 10 to 20 percent carbon dioxide reduction and a 30 percent productivity improvement with 50 percent reduction in product defects.

Non-profit tech startup Rainforest Connection has used 5G technology to implant sensitive microphones into endangered rainforests in over 22 countries around the world. These microphones pick up on sounds in the forest and transmit them in real time to personnel on the ground.

These highly sensitive machines are camouflaged in trees and can pick up sounds of gunfire from poaching and chainsaws from illegal logging activity from miles away. The technology has proven to be significant in rainforest conservation and will enable researchers and scientists to find innovative solutions to help endangered species as they study the audio.

“By being able to integrate technologies such as 5G, we can accelerate that process… to achieve the mission [of mitigating climate change effects] sooner than we expected,” said Rainforest Connection CEO Bourhan Yassin.

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