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Collaboration: Face-to-Face, Computer-to-Computer

By Shirley Bloomfield, Guest Columnist

In this day and age, there’s no reason that we can’t be face-to-face all of the time.  In the rural telecom business, we are all about using the newest technology to facilitate our meetings, discussions and outreach.  Video conferencing capabilities make it possible to communicate computer-to-computer bringing you face-to-face.  For our organization, what started as an experiment for communicating with members has blossomed into using video technology for so much more.

Our live Web events have become a popular way for us to reach members with critical policy information in a format that enables them to see us and ask questions.  We are able to actually participate in a dialogue using technology—in real time—with our member telecom companies all across the country.  It creates an important connection and delivers on our promise of innovating to support our mission.

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Developing Commerce in Africa: Phone Company in a Box

I never thought of paint as being an important part of the engine of commerce.

That is, until I met Ueli Frei, who heads FUNDES International, an NGO that fosters economic growth among micro-businesses in Latin America. His team helped a group of independent “mom and pop” drug stores band together and operate, in many ways, as a single retailer.

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Online Streaming: Beyond The Radio Dial

By Kayvon Siadat, Guest Columnist

The addition of online streaming content has helped KSCU 103.3, Santa Clara University’s non-profit, volunteer run radio station, tremendously.  Before the radio station had this technology our listenership was limited to however far our radio signal would go, which is, give or take 30 miles in any direction.

Now with advances in technology we are able to deliver our content to anyone in the world at any time.  Currently, a big portion of our listeners use our online audio stream (computer, smart phone, etc.) and because of that we are able to bring local content to a much bigger scale now.

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The Chappe Network: Enabling the Kilobyte Era in France

By Greg Smith, Service Provider Marketing Manager, Cisco

Chappe communications tower showing semaphore arms (near Saverne, France)

Today we take instant communications for granted and our latest Cisco Visual Networking Index predicts that we’ll soon reach the “Zettabyte Era” for global IP traffic (a zettabyte being 10^21 bytes). Recently I had an opportunity to see a bit of telecommunications history from what I’ll call the “Kilobyte Era”. While visiting a family I knew in Saverne, a small town outside of Strasbourg, France we toured a local castle (Castle Haut-Barr) with a view of the countryside. Besides the 12th century castle there was a (restored) tower from the original Paris-Strasbourg optical semaphore system, one of the first communications networks in the world. I’d read about this system but never actually seen it and my hosts were gracious enough to let me “geek out” on this bit of networking history.

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Mobile Internet Applications in Rural Africa

By Molly Mattessich, Guest Columnist

In some ways, rural countries, including those in Africa, are ahead of the United States on technology. Without the infrastructure — offices, network lines, etc. — to use the Internet in more traditional ways, they have relied on cell phones to exchange information.

According to Cisco’s recent VNI Service Adoption Forecast (VNI-SA) research, mobile commerce ranks as the second-fastest-growing consumer mobile service, increasing at a 42.7 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) globally from 2011 to 2016. The Middle East and Africa will have the second-highest number of users in 2016, reaching 424 million.

Rural farmers in Africa, for example, now often use their cell phones to check commodity prices before heading to market, helping them improve their bottom line at times when a few cents can make a huge difference. Read More »

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