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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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How to Solve the Wireless Spectrum Puzzle

By Howard Baldwin, Contributing Columnist

An interesting battle over unlicensed wireless communication spectrum has been brewing in the U.S. over the last few weeks, one that pits advocates of open public access against advocates of licensing and private control.

Here are the highlights of the ongoing debate. In September, the FCC approved a spectrum test that could ultimately promulgate access using the white space between television channels. This method, known as “super Wi-Fi,” is said to allow the signal to travel further and still accommodate structural barriers. The test ran in Lake Mary, Fla., and concluded early in November. However, the FCC has not yet released results.

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A Vision of Interconnected Knowledge Societies

If you want to motivate people to break free from the current status-quo, then raising the bar of expectations — with a compelling vision, plus some bold goals and objectives — is certainly one approach to consider. The Broadband Commission for Digital Development has issued a challenge to world leaders, their top policymakers and other key stakeholders.

The following is their list of raised expectations:

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Securing the Mobile Experience Made Simpler

It is no longer a question of “if” your organization will face the new reality of mobile device proliferation, just an ever closer “how soon.” Users expect the network to enable trends like Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), and they aren’t just using smartphones and tablets to be more productive, they are falling in love with them. For businesses, simply allowing access isn’t the answer. It’s a question of relevant, secure access across the entire network, while protecting corporate assets and delivering an optimal user experience. Cisco focuses on exactly that -- how to enable a simple and secure mobility experience, with a consistent end-to-end architecture across wired, wireless and VPN access.

As a cornerstone of this wired-wireless access architecture, the Cisco Identity Services Engine (ISE) has already been helping customers like Whittier Union High School, San Antonio Water System and BlueWater Communications Group apply consistent security across the entire network through a centralized, single policy source.

Whittier Union High School District, a California high school district serving more than 13,600 students, was facing the challenge of mobile devices. Both faculty and students were bringing their personal devices on campus, many for educational apps and tools.

“It’s becoming increasingly critical to provide employees, students, and visitors access to our network and extensive educational resources given the growing expectations of our tech-savvy population,” stated Karen Yeh, Director of Information Technology, Whittier Union High School District.

Whittier needed a way to apply differentiated policy across their student and staff populations, somehow managing access for both personal and corporate devices, all without increasing IT resources. Karen called Cisco, and two weeks later her team was deploying the Cisco ISE, implementing a single point of security policy for their networks across wired, wireless and VPN. Considering that Richard Nixon, the 37th president of the US went to Whittier High School, the flexible network access enabled by Cisco ISE may be empowering the next generation of leaders, scientist or artists. But, mobile devices aren’t confined to education. San Antonio Water System, a public utility owned by the city of San Antonio, is seeing surprisingly similar issues.

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Global Broadband: Success through Collaboration

By Howard Baldwin, Contributing Columnist

Late in September, the International Telecommunications Union, the United Nations agency responsible for information and communication technologies (ICT), wrapped up its 11th Global Symposium for Regulators in Armenia City, Colombia. The meeting is a periodic forum designed to help national regulatory authorities exchange information about deploying broadband technology within their own countries and internationally.

The topics discussed among the more than 500 participants went beyond broadband services, however, touching upon other regulatory issues such as mobile payments and e-waste. Many of the presenters’ conclusions correlate to the conclusions reached in other Connected Life Exchange posts — that is, that for international broadband deployment to succeed, there needs to be a concerted effort on multiple fronts, including governments, service providers, vendors, and local business leaders.

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