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US DTV transition shifting into high gear

The US transition to all-digital television broadcasting is ramping up quickly. For consumers, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration has launched its program to hand out coupons for the purchase of set top converter boxes. Some 30 boxes have been certificated under the program, and will be appearing on store shelves soon -- over the next 4-6 weeks. Consumer education programs are also shifting in to high gear as well, beginning February 17, 2008 — one year ahead of the DTV transition date of February 17, 2009. Soon, consumers will see public service announcements about the transition, as well as a host of materials in newspapers and magazines. Read More »

CES: Viewed From DC

This year, I missed the annual pilgrimage to Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show due to a cold. For those who have never attended CES, it is the electronics industry’s largest trade show where all the new and interesting products are dangled in public. Having missed the show itself, I have only been able to watch the product announcements from afar. In some sense, this is actually a better way to judge the show than being there in the midst of all the glitz and excitement.So what was this year’s CES all about? Video, video, and more video. Whether it was bigger, smaller, thinner, lighter, or cheaper, flat panel HDTVs were all the rage in CES announcement, as they have been for years. But video is bleeding far beyond just the living room, with cellphones with video, wireless video networking, and video Internet connections being added to TVs. Consumers want their video from any source on any device at any place. And increasingly, that video is going to be delivered across a broadband network. This is a trend that will accelerate over time.Now the flood of demand for video brings up two questions to me. The first is why can’t the industry make these devices compatible and easily interoperable with each other? As I am not a software architect, I have no idea how to solve this problem.The second question is how will the broadband networks handle the increased traffic coming from video? I am a telecom policy geek and have some insight into this question. Video presents new demands on the broadband access networks. It is partly a question the huge volume of data that video requires (several orders of magnitude greater than browsing or audio), but also the need to maintain a quality of service for the video stream itself. Without quality of service, the video packets will not arrive on time when the network is congested and the user will not have a good experience. The flood of video traffic means that service providers will need to increase overall capacity on their networks and also manage the traffic to provide quality of service. These increasing demands make it ever more important the regulators continue a deregulatory approach to broadband that encourages investment in infrastructure and the use of important network management technologies.So what did I learn from CES while stuck in my sickbed in DC? That onerous Net Neutrality regulations are a threat to our great video future.

Cozy Up With Some Year-End Reading on Security

As we approach the end of 2007, lots of folks and entities are putting out security reports. I’d like to add one that I think should go on the top of your list. Cisco has just issued its first of what will be an Annual Security Report, and even though I’m at Cisco-and because of that you might discount the source-I still commend it to you. Read More »

The Power of Web 2.0 on Government Legislation

Recently, the power of Web 2.0 came to the fore front on influencing copyright legislation in Canada. The story wasn’t about individuals on Facebook, MySpace, or in blogs influencing the drafting of legislation, but rather how they were able to prevent it from being introduced. Prior to this chapter of Canada’s ongoing copyright protection saga, government officials had signalled they were about to introduce legislation, rumoured to be ratifying specific WIPO treaties. However the bill’s specifics were not shared with those concerned and naturally, the lack of information lead stakeholders to draw their own conclusions on what it would or wouldn’t entail. Through a number of social media outlets, the ringleaders against potential copyright measures were able to quickly generate a flood of negative press and even mobilize a protest at the office of the government Minister who is responsible for copyright. The coverage forced the government to withhold the tabling of legislation and rethink its strategy.No matter what side of this issue you fall on, the reaction demonstrates the power of Web 2.0 to disseminate information and mobilize support or opposition to an idea. It certainly bodes well for the evolution of e-government and participatory democracy. Gauging reaction to the potential bill, it was obvious that views of all stakeholders had not been properly presented to the Minister. In addition to formal hearings and written submissions, elected officials and government bureaucrats need to put resources into more collaborate consultations. Future generations will demand government use these types of tools.Here are links to some of the coverage the issue garnered:Globe & MailNational Post CBC itWorld Canada

Verizon Wireless changes the spectrum game

With just days left before “short form” applications to be filed in the high-profile US 700 MHz spectrum auction, Verizon Wireless has made a bold move — announcing Nov. 27 a new open applications, open software, and open handset policy for its existing network effective next year. Wow… this from the company that at first filed an appeal of the FCC’s decision imposing those conditions on the 700 MHz “C-block”. Verizon has since withdrawn that appeal. This is a game-changing moment for the US mobility industry. Text of the press release below. Read More »