Pass the Mashed Potatoes, Please...

New Edge  With the election season in our rear view mirror and the holiday season looming ever closer, it is once again time for Americans to celebrate that uniquely American holiday that combines food, football, and family: Thanksgiving. In her new book Thanksgiving: The Holiday at the Heart of the American Experience, Hudson Institute senior fellow Melanie Kirkpatrick details the history of the holiday, and how it came to be the occasion that we share today.

The first Thanksgiving in Plymouth, Massachusetts wasn’t exactly the inspiring celebration that latter day artists would come to depict. For one, only four of the eighteen women who had made the trip across the Atlantic had survived to see that day. In addition, the Pilgrims were likely outnumbered by the native Americans by a three-to-one ratio, and there was palpable tension between the two groups. Yet the holiday survived and was celebrated in various forms over the subsequent years, including what was known as “Forefather’s Day.”  And while President George Washington issued a Thanksgiving proclamation (despite considerable opposition from the states), his successor Thomas Jefferson steadfastly refused to do so, on religious freedom grounds.

Big Data, Big Lessons

  Late Tuesday night, a friend who is in the network security business (see his recent article rating the presidential candidates’ information security cred) posted, “I assume Monster.com is having a huge amount of pollsters uploading their resumes. As most of them will be out of work and looking for a new job by morning.”

Our Long National Nightmare is (Mostly) Over

New Edge  Today is Election Day across this great country, mercifully ending one of the most contentious and nasty campaigns since Abraham Lincoln disparaged Stephen A. Douglas’ diminutive stature a century and a half ago.

The eighteen month-long campaign leading up to today’s election undoubtedly impacted the way people interacted with each other—at cocktail parties, over the dinner table, and on social media.

According to a new study by the Pew Research Center, more than one-third—37%--of social media users surveyed are “worn out by how many political posts and discussions they see.” Twenty percent report that they “like seeing lots of political posts and discussions,” and 41% “don’t feel strongly one way or the other.”

Silver Bullets, Silver Buckshot

  Over the past several years, I have had the privilege and good fortune to work with and learn from several respected academics who study telecom and rural issues. If there is one idea that I draw from their inquiries and conclusions (and even their tentative conclusions), it is that there is no silver bullet to address rural America. There is, however, silver buckshot.

Looking Closer at 5G

Cisco recently released a white paper titled Cisco 5G Vision Series: Laying the Foundation for New Technologies, Use Cases, and Business Models that lays out their vision of how the cellular industry can migrate from 4G to 5G. It’s a highly technical read and provides insight on how 5G might work and when we might see it in use.

As the white paper points out, the specific goals of 5G are still in the process of being developed. Both 4G and 5G are basically a set of detailed standards used to make sure devices can work on any network meeting the standards. Something that very few people realize is that almost none of the supposed 4G networks in this country actually meet the 4G standards. We are just now seeing the deployment around the world of the first technologies – LTE-Advanced and WIMAX 16m – that meet the original 4G standards. It’s been typical for cellular providers to claim to have 4G when they’ve only met some tiny portion of the standard.

And so, long before we see an actual 5G deployment we are first going to see the deployment of LTE-Advanced followed by generations of improvements that are best described as pre-5G (just as most of what we have today is pre-4G). This evolution means that we should expect incremental improvements in the cellular networks, not a big swooping overhaul.

The Eyes Have It

New Edge  The key to the future of interacting with your computer may lie in something you’re using right this very second: your eyes.

At least, that’s what Google believes. Last week, the technology behemoth acquired eye interaction company Eyefluence. Terms of the deal were not announced.

 “Today, we are excited to announce that the Eyefluence team is joining Google,” read a message on the Eyefluence website. “With our forces combined, we will continue to advance eye-interaction technology to expand human potential and empathy on an even larger scale. We look forward to the life-changing innovations we’ll create together!”

Google Suspends New Fiber Builds, Leads to Escher Moment

  Earlier this week, Google announced that it would cut staff at its Fiber division by about nine percent and suspend adding any new cities to its 11-point constellation.

As if the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal were not enough, I was driven to Google Google Fiber's decision, which led to the Escher-type experience of inverted reality, namely, Googling Google (M.C. Escher (1898-1972) was a Dutch artist who created woodcuts that illustrated impossible constructions and confusion relativities. Escher's 1948 "Drawing Hands" is representative of many themes and techniques displayed in his works.)

Rural Broadband Providers Discuss Cybersecurity Issues

Ransomware, distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks, phishing campaigns – is your company prepared to address and mitigate current cyber threats? Within the last few years, cyberattacks have intensified in frequency, sophistication and severity. Corporations, networks and individuals are under constant attack from cyberthreats originating within the United States and abroad. Bad actors are targeting all organizations, regardless of their size or business mission. A cyberattack could adversely affect the continued viability of your company. 

Bad actors typically target credit card information, employee data, customer data, intellectual property—often information that is found on your “enterprise” or company network(s). Additionally, those that operate a telecom network may face broader exposure. A bad actor may desire to infiltrate a telecom voice and/or data network(s) to access and exploit networking gear, disrupt communications or reach the networks of your business customers. 

Want Happier Wireless Customers? Sign 'Em Up...

New Edge  A recent J.D. Power study found that customers who subscribe to wireless service on a contract basis have higher levels of satisfaction than those subscribing on a non-contract basis.

According to the market research firm’s “2016 U.S. Wireless Cell Phone Satisfaction Survey, Volume 2,” overall satisfaction among wireless carriers in the full-service carrier segment was 8.30 out of 10.00, compared to 7. 86 for customers purchasing service from non-contract carriers.

One possible explanation for the discrepancy is the fact that contract customers tend to have more up-to-date handsets, which allow them to do more with their service. Non-contract customers, on the other hand, generally have older and/or less sophisticated phones.

As the FCC Examines New Privacy Rules, My Dislike for Broccoli Could be Protected Information

  The FCC is currently weighing proposals to regulate the protection of broadband customers' information. The intent behind the proposals is simply an extension of customer proprietary network information (CPNI) requirements to broadband Internet access service (BIAS). ISPs were historically not subject to CPNI requirements, since BIAS was a non-regulated service. The reclassification last year of broadband, however, to a common carrier offering renders BIAS subject to Federal laws that govern telecommunications customer privacy.

To be sure, there has been a significant amount of debate surrounding the rules, with many of the arguments taking expected forms (private industry promoting greater flexibility, public interest groups advocating strict protections).