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Competition, China and Stock Options

March 25, 2005 at 12:00 pm PST

Some people love Thomas Friedman of The New York Times…others hate him. I’m not going to make a judgment either way, but I thought that a recent column of his is worth pointing out. Especially a key paragraph about competition and the treatment of stock options.

The pertinent paragraph:”… at a time when China is encouraging its new companies to offer employees stock options to get Chinese innovators to stay at home and start new firms, the Bush team has been mutely going along with a change in accounting standards that will force U.S. companies to expense stock options by June 2005. This is likely to dampen the growth of our own high-tech companies and encourage U.S.-educated Indian and Chinese techies to go back home.”

Full Op-Ed can be read here. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/17/opinion/17friedman.html (Free registration required)

For me to offer commentary on this would be pointless, but I thought this particular paragraph was worth pointing out.

One More Broadband Household…

March 24, 2005 at 12:00 pm PST

My parents live in the mountains of North Carolina. My mom is an avid e-mailer, but does not really utilize the Internet. This is because until today she was on dial-up. That’s right. My 71-year-old mom got broadband today for the first time (DSL from BellSouth). She doesn’t do too much more other than send e-mail because it takes way too long to download anything. She was a victim of the world wide wait. I’ve been insisting that she get broadband for awhile and that her life would change because of this. I think that she will appreciate having it on all the time as much as the speed. “Don’t use the phone, I’m going to send some e-mails” was a common phrase during my visits. No more.

She doesn’t have a choice of who she can get broadband FROM, however. There is no cable service and satellite broadband is not really an option. I hope that her DSL provider stays true to its pricing, but one of the main reason she is moving to broadband is because her dial-up costs were running $30 a month above her ISP cost because she is out of the service area for the AOL number she can call-in to.

I hope that my dad learns that he can check his stocks rather than waiting for the next day’s Wall Street Journal, among many other things he can do online. He is a bargain hound and with broadband perhaps he will be unleashed on the worldwide bargain market. He’s always trying to push off old books or vintage magazines or furniture or, or, or, etc. on my brothers and me -- perhaps he will discover e-Bay and find a market outside of the Earnhardt boys.

I also hope that their DSL speeds are such that they can truly see a difference -- let’s hope that they are in the 1Mbps range. The FCC’s definition of broadband of 256k is not much more than fast dial-up and might not make a demonstrable difference to them other than a steady price to point to each month.

So, let’s all pause as we chalk up one more household to the broadband universe.

Stock Options Petition to President Bush

March 23, 2005 at 12:00 pm PST

A petition is now being circulated by the International Employee Stock Options Coalition urging President Bush and his administration to help protect broad-based employee stock options.

The petition begins: “Dear Mr. President: You have spent a good part of your presidency focusing on the importance of an ownership society. As you said at the 2004 White House Economic Conference: “I believe our country can and must become an ownership society. When you own something, you care about it. When you own something, you have a vital stake in the future of your country.” We could not agree more.

Check out the petition here. If you are agree with the stance of the coalition, please sign the petition and let your voice be heard.

New technology uses human body for broadband networking

March 21, 2005 at 12:00 pm PST

In the “what will they think of next?” category comes this item that I came across while looking at papers yesterday. According to The Guardian of London, “NTT, the Japanese communications company, has developed a technology called RedTacton, which it claims can send data over the surface of the skin at speeds of up to 2Mbps — equivalent to a fast broadband data connection.” You could trasmit your business card with a handshake, share music with a cheek to cheek dance or, presumably one day, surf someone’s personal intranet while tandem surfing. Next thing you know, we’ll be reading about technology that will “beam us up.” Check out the article here.

While props should definitely go to NTT, the article also notes that similar technology, albeit at slower speeds, for using the human body for data transfer was previously created by IBM (back in the last century -- 1996) and is currently being tinkered with at Microsoft.

Kevin Martin Named FCC Chairman and NCAA Tournament

March 16, 2005 at 12:00 pm PST

Today, the White House issued a press release naming Kevin Martin as the next Chairman of the FCC. See White House release here. In the release it mentions that Martin is from North Carolina (as am I) and that he attended UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke (Harvard Law as well, but for the purposes of this blog, that school does not fit.)

I graduated from Wake Forest University, so I thought it would be pertinent to point out that all of these North Carolina ACC schools are now competing in the NCAA Men’s basketball tournament and many have opined that UNC, Duke AND Wake Forest could all get to the Final Four in St. Louis. (NC State and Charlotte are NCAA teams from NC as well, but for the purposes of this blog, those schools do not fit.)

Parenthetically, Cisco’s CEO attended Duke before transferring back to his home state of West Virginia (also in the NCAA’s and a potential second round match-up with Wake Forest) to finish undergrad and then law. (See John Chambers statement on Kevin Martin here.) He also got his MBA from Indiana -- (sorry, but not represented in the NCAA’s this year).

What has this blog got to do with telecom policy, you might ask. Nothing. It is all about the Men’s NCAA tournament. I would hazard a guess that Chairman Martin will be watching the tournament and be pulling for his two NC schools, although my guess is that he is really a Carolina fan -- it is nearly impossible to be a North Carolinian and be a fan of both Carolina AND Duke -- he may be able to straddle that line, but deep-down he would state that his blood in Carolina blue (with respect for Coach K and what the Duke program has accomplished). If he could hang out somewhere on Franklin Street and watch the games, all the better. After all, as the former student body president at UNC, he could be excommunicated from Carolina if rumored to be rooting for Duke.

In conclusion…congratulations to Chairman Martin. I will, of course, be pulling for Wake Forest to FINALLY play some defense in the tournament and hopefully live up to their potential (read: hype). Should Wake meet either Carolina or Duke in the final (hey, a kid can dream), here’s hoping that Wake hits 32 or 32 free throws (again) and JJ Redick doesn’t score 40 points.

P.S. For those of you filling out your NCAA brackets (for entertainment purposes only), remember that Wake is the #1 seed of the #2 seeds. Please, Wake, play some defense.