Cisco Blogs


Cisco Blog > Connected Life Exchange

Connect Africa: Approaching the Halfway Point

By Howard Baldwin, Contributing Columnist

A century ago, Africa was looked upon as a continent with great resources. All the great European powers cast imperialistic eyes across its vast landscape.

Today, the story has shifted. Africa still has vast resources and potential, but efforts to capture these capabilities and resources are primarily in the hands of Africans themselves, and they are working to “mobilize the human, financial and technical resources required to bridge major gaps in information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure across the region.”

Read More »

Tags: , , , , , ,

How Leading Nations Reach ICT Supremacy

What separates the technology-advanced nations from all others, and how is that supremacy being applied most effectively for social and economic advantage? This is a question that I’ve asked myself repeatedly over the last decade.

Clearly, I’m not alone in my quest for insights that help our understanding of why some nations have excelled at enacting meaningful Information and Communication Technology (ICT) market development.

What I’ve learned to date: the nations that were able to make a quantum leap in progress did so only after they completed a candid assessment of their current status – essentially, a detailed situation analysis that ranked their relative position in the global networked economy.

Read More »

Tags: , , , , ,

The Evolution of Communication Networks

By Steven Shepard, Contributing Columnist

When the telephone network became a commercial offering in the waning years of the 19th century, its architecture was quite different than the switch-centric, hub-and-spoke system that we have today. In that first iteration there was no concept of switching, the mechanical or electrical process of setting up a temporary connection between two parties for the duration of the call.

To talk with David on the telephone in those days, I would have had to have a dedicated circuit installed between my house and his. If I also wanted to be able to call my son or daughter, I would have to have additional circuits installed from my house to theirs.

This leads to what is known in the world of network topology as the “n times n minus one over two problem.” N is the number of people who want to be able to communicate with each other, and the little equation yields the number of circuits that must be installed to allow n people to talk with each other. Five people require ten circuits, but beyond that the number goes exponential. For a small city of 35,000 people like Burlington, Vermont, where I live, the number of circuits required to connect the city this way would be somewhere north of 600 million.

Read More »

Tags: , , ,

The Future of Higher Learning: Classrooms Optional

By Jason Kohn, Contributing Columnist

Reading David’s post on “TEDTalks” got me thinking about how we conceive of the classroom and what the future holds for higher learning. How important is the traditional college experience in a world where ubiquitous broadband networks let us see and interact with teachers virtually, from anywhere in the world?

In his 1854 essay “The Idea of a University,” John Henry Newman argued why, even in an age when knowledge was widely accessible in books, the college experience was still vital:

“The general principles of any study you may learn by books at home; but the detail, the colour, the tone, the air, the life which makes it live in us, you must catch all these from those in whom it lives already. You must imitate the student in French or German, who is not content with his grammar, but goes to Paris or Dresden: you must take example from the young artist, who aspires to visit the great Masters in Florence and in Rome. …we must come to the teachers of wisdom to learn wisdom.”

Read More »

Tags: , , , , , ,

Broadband and the Global Networked Economy

Ongoing investment in essential telecommunications infrastructure matters to everyone, whether they know it or not. This fundamental assertion will be a reoccurring theme in my commentary. My belief is deep-rooted, and it goes back to the beginning of my work experience. As a young man, my first job in the telecom industry was at The Commercial Cable Company, a subsidiary of ITT Worldcom in London, England.

Back in the 1970s, I had the opportunity to join what was then a leading international record carrier, that was also an early pioneer of unique data services. I was schooled in the application of electronic teleprinters, private line services and store-and-forward message switching systems. I quickly learned about the socioeconomic benefits gained from deploying telecom facilities, while assigned to support the communication needs of numerous private and public institutions.

Read More »

Tags: , , , , ,