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Transoceanic Fiber Cable: a Luminary Discovery

By Steven Shepard, Contributing Columnist

This story is a bit more technical that what I’ve previously shared. That said, I’ll link to some definitions for you non-technical readers — I promise, this one is going to be worth the extra effort. However, a bit of technology is required in the telling — so please bear with me.

Let’s step back in time. The first transoceanic cables used copper wire as the conductor that carried signals between continents. Unfortunately, the technology at the time was such that the cables were extremely bandwidth-limited and could therefore support a very small number of simultaneous conversations.

Furthermore, the physics of metallic transmission dictated that the transmitted signals would decay over distance, making it necessary to amplify and/or regenerate the transmitted signal periodically. This was costly, and required additional circuitry to filter electromagnetic interference and increase the signal level every few thousand feet.

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Broadband Enables Radical New Efficiencies

By Howard Baldwin, Contributing Columnist

How many problems can broadband Internet access solve?

U.S. television news commentator Tom Brokaw, a native of South Dakota, wrote a compelling essay in the New York Times several years ago, asking why his home state and North Dakota, with a population of 1.5 million, maintained some 17 institutes of higher education. He noted that it was “a carry-over from the early 20th century when travel was more difficult and farm families wanted their children close by during harvest season.”

He posed a very rational question: “Couldn’t the two states get a bigger bang for their higher education buck if they consolidated their smaller institutions into, say, the Dakota Territory College System, with satellite campuses but a common administration and shared standards?”

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Developing Talent for a Global Networked Economy

Cisco recently announced that the Cisco Networking Academy has enrolled its 1 millionth concurrent student for the first time. An example of cloud-based education delivery, the Networking Academy teaches students how to design, build, troubleshoot, and secure computer networks for increased access to career and economic opportunities — in communities all around the world.

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Broadband Leadership: the Quantum Leap Method

By Howard Baldwin, Contributing Columnist

There is a country whose east and west coasts border on major oceans. Its major cities dot its coastline, while its internal areas, while populated, could accurately be described as “flyover” zones. It takes about six hours to fly coast-to-coast.

Its government is making the single largest infrastructure investment in the country’s history, investing $43 billion over eight years in order to connect 90+ percent of all its homes, schools and workplaces with broadband services over fiber-optic cable with speeds up to 100 megabits per second, 100 times faster than those currently used by many households and businesses.

Which forward-looking nation committed to this bold goal?

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From Telco Tragedy to Recovery in 28 Days

By Steven Shepard, Contributing Columnist

As companies grow large, we have a natural human tendency to declare them incapable of getting out of their own way. We see them as slow, inefficient and plodding dinosaurs surrounded by fleet-of-foot small companies that are so much more capable of getting things done — because of their apparent smallness.

And while there are certainly large companies that suffer from bigness, there are also quite a few that demonstrate amazingness, if you’ll allow me to make up a word (for agility, beyond compare). One of them? The mighty, much criticized Bell System, created in the transition zone between the 19th and 20th centuries.

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