Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Massachusetts Broadband Institute Announces Grant Awards

The Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI) announced $335,000 in competitive grant awards todayThese grants are part of  MBI's Last-Mile Broadband Solutions Program to advance last-mile solutions and expand broadband connectivity in underserved areas of Massachusetts - specifically in western and north-central parts of the state. Providers will use a combination of new technology and existing infrastructure to eventually tap into MassBroadband 123, the MBI's 1,338 mile Internet backbone network that will extend broadband access to over 120 communities in western and north central Massachusetts.

Here's more detail from the MBI website:

  • The broadband planning grants were designed to fund the development of market studies, business plans, network engineering and designs, and other actions needed to develop and implement last-mile broadband solutions.
  • Grant recipients were selected through an open, rigorous and highly-competitive process. 
  • MBI funded broadband planning and deployment grants up to a maximum of $50,000 per provider and project, supported by a 25% funding match from the grant recipient. 
Here's details on the municipalities, broadband service providers and organizations that received grants today;

Broadband Planning Grants
  • The town of Leverett, in collaboration with Crocker Communications, will receive $40,000 to plan a Fiber to the Curb network, serving all 640 homes in the community.
  • The town of Royalston will receive $11,250 to design a wireless network to serve the community.
  • The organization WiredWest will receive $50,000 to further develop their broadband network design and business model that will serve 47 communities in western Massachusetts.
Broadband Deployment Grants
  • Mid-Hudson Cable, an Internet service provider, will receive $44,000 to deploy a wireless network to provide access to approximately 185 homes in the town of Tyringham.
  • GAW High-Speed Internet will receive $40,000 to deploy a wireless network in the town of Ashfield to provide access to approximately 200 customers.
  • AccessPlus will receive $50,000 to deploy a new wireless network to service 170 homes in Savoy and surrounding communities. 
  • The town of Warwick will receive $50,000 to expand and upgrade its wireless network to reach 400 more unserved homes in town. 
  • The town of Princeton, in collaboration with Ayatch Wireless, will receive $50,000 to expand its wireless network to reach 100 more customers.
Watch for more information.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Google+ Project Takes on Facebook

Today, Google unveiled the Google+ project. It's similar to Facebook in some ways with some nice additional enhancements. One of the nicest features (which technically you can do with Facebook but it's not as easy to do) is Google+ allows users to create "circles" which are separate groups of people. Users can then post circle updates that members of that circle can see.

Another nice feature called "Hangouts," allows users to connect with friends using multiperson video.

Google+ can also be setup to automatically upload mobile photos into the cloud so you can easily move them from device to device.

Here's a short introductory video from Google on the project demo'ing some of the features.

Google+ is in limited Field Trial right now and is being tested with a small number of people. You can leave your email address here and they'll make sure you're the first to know when they're ready to invite more people. Get more information on the Official Google Blog and take a tour
I like what I see so far.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Have an iPhone and Kids? Then You’re Probably An iParent!

I’ve written here in the past about helicopter parents who are in almost constant contact with their older children using mobile devices but iParents seem to be taking things to a whole new level., the consumer electronics shopping and review site, is running an ongoing study of people and electronics and then using this information to publish the something called the Retrevo Gadgetology Report. The most recent study,  involved over 1,000 online individuals in June 2011 and takes a close look at the use of social media by parents. Here’s some of the study highlights:

  • 18% of parents say they feel like they couldn't stop using Facebook/Twitter even if they wanted to.
  • 47% of parents of kids under 19 say they've used Facebook to learn more about their kid's friends.
  • iPhone owning parents (iParents) are twice as likely (28%)  to get anxious when they don't check Facebook/Twitter as most parents (14%).
  • Dads are more likely (13%) to use Facebook to learn about their kid's dates than moms (10%).
  • iParents are twice as likely to use Facebook to learn about their kid's dates than Droid owning parents.
  • Phone owning parents are four times LESS likely to have under 50 Facebook friends.
  • 32% of iParents have over 250 friends (compared with 23% of other parents).
  • Up to 34% of parents admit to using Facebook to check on their kid's friend's parents, by the time their children are between ages 13 and 19 years old.
  • 12% of all parents feel they could not stop using Facebook and Twitter. This number more than doubles when looking at iPhone owning parents (19%).
  • 11% of parents said they've given up activities they used to enjoy because they spend time on Facebook or Twitter. 18% of iPhone owning parents feel the same way (compared to only 12% of Droid owning parents).
  • iPhone owning parents are twice as likely to get nervous or anxious if they don't check Facebook/Twitter (28%).
Pretty interesting stuff. Check out the June 2011 Gadgetology Report along with earlier reports linked here.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

FCC Ups Caller ID Spoofing Penalties

I've written here in the past about caller ID spoofing - faking a voice caller ID to trick the receiver into thinking someone else is calling. Most recently last winter there was a rumor going around that Wisconsin Governor Scoot Walker's called ID was spoofed for a prank radio DJ call. In a post back in February, I said it was in fact illegal. Today, the FCC just upped the penalties for spoofing caller ID's. Here's some details from a post over at
  • Caller ID "spoofing," can still be used for legal purposes such as safeguarding the privacy of individuals. But the commission argues spoofing is increasingly used for malicious purposes such as identity theft or placing false emergency calls to police.
  • In compliance with the Truth in Caller ID Act signed into law by President Obama last year, the FCC rules would fine violators up to $10,000 every time they change their caller ID information with the intent to commit harm. The fine increases every day the violation continues up to a limit of $1 million.
You can get more information on the Official FCC Blog.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Comcast Deploying Upstream Channel Bonding

The  DOCSIS 3.0 cable broadband standard allows channels to be bonded (or combined) for higher data (Internet) bandwidth. Cable providers like Comcast have been testing upstream channel bonding for a while now with upstream speeds up to 75Mbps demonstrated in labs.

Looking at the DSL Reports Forum, it appears there has been some deployment randomly by Comcast in California, Florida and Indiana. I'll be watching for this at my home in Massachusetts!

Very nice!!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Google Chromebook Coming Wednesday, June 15

On Wednesday, Google Chrome netbooks will start shipping. You can currently pre-order a Chrome netbook (Chromebook) at Amazon and Best Buy. The Chromebook concept was first described by Google a couple of years ago - before the iPad explosion. Here's some details on the Chromebooks shipping in the United States on June 15, 2011:
  • Most have 11-12" screens and weigh a little over 3 pounds.
  • They boot in 8 seconds and wake instantly from sleep mode.
  • There is no license fee to the manufacturer for the operating system. In contrast, Microsoft charges $73 to a manufacturer for a Windows license.
  • The devices have removable storage - Chrome supports USB memory and SD cards.
  • Many of the devices will have high-definition webcams (e.g. Samsung and Acer models)
  • Most manufactures are spec'ing a battery life of over 8 hours.
  • Flash is supported (iPads and iPhones do not run flash).
  • Wi-Fi only devices are selling for approximately $430 while Verizon 3G/Wi-Fi models are selling for $500.
  • Google has created an online app store for Chrome. The store includes apps for Chromebooks and the Chrome browser (very nice - my default browser now) many of us are running on our regular computers.
Initially, running apps on a Chromebook will require online connectivity. Google says this summer they will be releasing versions of Gmail and Google Calendar that will run on the Chromebook while off-line. They are also offering app developers support to modify apps to run off-line.

The competition is heating up in the cloud space with the Apple's Lion OS X being released for $29 in July. Lion will more tightly integrate Apple PC's, iPads and iPhones using cloud based services.

Microsoft's Windows 8 is also looking interesting. It's scheduled to come out next year (2012) and has a completely new user interface, built around what we're seeing on the Windows phone now.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Valencia College Homeland Security Forum 2011

On May 8, 2011 John Reynolds and I went to Valencia College in Orlando, FL to interview participants at a Homeland Security Forum. The forum was built around a partnership between the local Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Valencia College and the Department of Homeland Security. The program has been setup  to provide TSA employees with college level classes about homeland security.

It was an incredibly fascinating day - we got to interview about 30 people, all with different roles in homeland security. Here's a short 5 minute and 54 second video that includes some of those interviews.

Thanks Valencia College for an excellent forum!