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The Case for Cable in the Tablet Era

By Roland Klemann, Director of Service Provider Practice, Western Europe, Internet Business Solutions Group

Although the coaxial cable may have been born in 1929, predictions of its death have been greatly exaggerated.

While traditional models for consuming television are indeed under siege—from time-shift TV, over-the-top video, and an ever-expanding array of new devices—cable remains highly relevant, even in an age of exploding data traffic. In fact, with savvy deployment of Wi-Fi services, cable providers can seize an opportunity—not in spite of the mobile data deluge, but because of it.

After all, that sleek new iPad—introduced last week while I was attending the Cable Congress in Brussels—boasts dazzling video resolution. But for network operators, it only adds to a growing problem. They are already reeling under the burden of a massive upsurge in traffic, from tablets and IP-enabled devices of all kinds. What’s worse, they are still at the low end of an ongoing mobile data explosion. Cisco’s Virtual Networking Index predicts an eighteen-fold increase in mobile traffic from 2011 to 2016.

As a result, two things are breaking down: 1) the physical capacity of the networks, and 2) their economics. Theoretically, mobile carriers can build enough macro cells to carry all the traffic in the world, but in reality, that gets prohibitively expensive—fast. No wonder some are feeling an encroaching sense of doom.

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Will Wi-Fi Begin a New Chapter for Mobile?

In 97 countries around the world, there are now more mobile devices than people. No wonder mobile networks are clogged with massive amounts of new traffic! Mobile operators are struggling with how to provide the mobile broadband experience customers expect, in a cost-effective, scalable, and profitable manner. I believe that Wi-Fi, the “silent sleeper” of wireless access networks, may hold the answer.

The mobile industry is on the brink of a fundamental change. Just think of some recent key developments:

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Telegraph vs. Internet: Which Had Greater Impact?

2012 is the bicentennial of the War of 1812.  You may remember just two things about this period from your high school history class.  First, in an act of ignominy for the Americans, the British burned down the capital.  Second, the war ended with the resounding defeat of the British by the heroic General Andrew Jackson in January 1815, in what was the war’s only set-piece battle between the opposing sides.  Jackson eventually rode this victory into the Presidency.

There is only one problem with this battle.  It took place after the war was over.  The previous month, in Europe, the two sides had agreed to peace.  But in those days, communications was so slow that word of the peace didn’t reach New Orleans until February 1815.

Fast forward, approximately forty-eight years later, to the Civil War.  In the period between these two wars, in 1831, Morse thought up the idea for the electronic telegraph.  The Union Army had mastered its quick deployment, so that in 1863 while sitting in Washington, President Lincoln could read almost real time reports from the battlefields many miles away.

book cover

This was a dramatic increase in the speed of communications.  Not all that many decades later, telegraph lines and cables would unite the world.  Yet this did not fundamentally change the way people worked or lived or governed themselves.

So consider 2011, when the US Navy Seals got Osama Bin Laden.  There was a tweet about helicopters within several minutes, but the author didn’t know why the helicopters were nearby.  The first tweet with some confirmation came about forty-five minutes before President Obama made his announcement.

Now think back about forty-eight years before to November 22, 1963 and the assassination of President John Kennedy.  The news was out quickly all over television and radio and newspapers.  Walter Cronkite famously told the viewers of CBS News that the President had died thirty-eight minutes before.

Unlike the 19th century examples, there was no dramatic speed up in the reporting of these two more recent events separated by roughly forty-eight years.  While we may have more sources of information in more places now than in 1963, word doesn’t get out all that much faster.  You could argue that the Telegraph had a greater impact on communications than the Internet.

Yet many of us have the feeling that our world has been changed by this communications.  Why is that?

I think it has to do with the changing nature of the work we do.  In the mid-19th century, more than three quarters of Americans made things or grew food.  In 2011, less than a quarter do so and the rest of us provide services — and increasingly intangible services, including ideas, knowledge, entertainment and the like which is delivered digitally.  Because better digital communications directly speeds up the delivery of these services, we see the impact more.  It’s the increasing availability of high quality communications, in conjunction with these significant socio-economic trends, which will continue to change our lives.

Please share with us how you’ve seen the confluence of these two trends? Reply here and visit the Cisco Public Sector Customer Connection Community.

[picture credit for Battle of New Orleans http://www.frenchcreoles.com/battnozz.jpg]

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Arkansas to Enhance Government Function with Adoption of Mobile Video

February 8, 2012 at 4:59 am PST

When it comes to using cutting-edge mobile video technology, Arkansas is blazing the trail for state and local governments.

In the process of developing a network to support data, voice, and video communication services, the state plans to integrate mobile devices into this system beginning this month (February, 2012). According to Government Technology, Arkansas state leaders want to improve public service by embracing what they see as a shift to “a more mobile environment.” Read More »

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Bringing Wired and Wireless Broadband Together

By Howard Baldwin, Contributing Columnist

Wireless bandwidth has been on my mind a lot recently. Computerworld recently published my article, Wireless Bandwidth: Are We Running Out of Room?, which led to a stint on NPR’s “To The Point” on the topic. But until I tuned into one of the latest Broadband Breakfast presentations, The Wired Home and Wireless Policy – Convergence Legislation and Consumer Adoption, I didn’t realize that I’d been thinking about wireless in a way that technology people are supposed to avoid: in a silo.

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