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Recently, the National Telecommunications and Information Association (NTIA) released its annual report, “Exploring the Digital Nation: Embracing the Mobile Internet.” Detailing the state of connectivity in the US, the report featured a few statistics in particular that jumped out at us:Blog-Connectivity Relevance.jpg

  • Those 65 and over continued to lag behind other age brackets, with only 57 percent reporting home Internet use (as compared to 82 percent of those age 25-44 and 79 percent of 45-64-year-olds)

  • Disabled householders were 27 percentage points less likely to have the Internet at home than their non-disabled counterparts at 52 percent and 79 percent, respectively

Put simply, people go online if they know they’ll find something relevant to their lives and based on these statistics, relevance for seniors and the disabled is still lagging. When an unconnected community becomes connected, that relevance must exist to a great degree in order for Internet access to take root and make a difference. However, this seeming lack of relevance may be due to underexposure to pertinent online applications, as noted in the National Broadband Plan’s chapter on adoption and utilization: “Experience has shown that older Americans will adopt broadband at home when exposed to its immediate, practical benefits and after receiving focused, hands-on training.”

The statistics above reminded me of an “immediate, practical benefit” I previously blogged about: iCanConnect, a pilot program that “provides low-income deaf-blind individuals with the most up-to-date telecommunications devices for free and special training to use them,” according to the Associated Press. iCanConnect is just one of a few applications geared toward disabled individuals and seniors developing age-related sensory or physical impairments:

  • BIG Launcher: Replaces the interface of any Android device with a simpler, enlarged design to increase readability. The app includes a prominent SOS button to alert a loved one by SMS or phone that help is needed.

  • Proloquo2Go: For those who cannot speak, this symbol-supported communication app provides a grid of icons– a stop sign for “stop”, an X for “not” – to help the verbally impaired communicate. There are a number of accent options, both male and female, such that users can choose the voice that most suits their natural tone.

  • MedCoach: Reminds people to take their vitamins and medications as prescribed by their doctors, and can even connect to users’ pharmacies for refills – something 68 percent of US seniors online consider important, according to an Accenture Research study covered in MobiHealthNews.

And there’s more good news for American seniors seeking improved access to healthcare: members of Congress, medical research institutions and others are all actively pursuing measures to further telemedicine’s reach and capabilities. This application has the power to equalize access to quality healthcare, and we look forward to continuing to enable it through our technology.

These are just a few of the apps and stories we found; there are scores more. As long as companies keep innovating for new core audiences, the gap in connectivity relevance among communities with low Internet adoption rates should decrease, fresh voices and perspectives will make their way online and the experience of using the Internet will be richer for all the connected. In future blog posts, we’ll highlight this collective enrichment through some of our favorite stories of connecting the unconnected.

The one-room schoolhouse. The barber shop doubling as a healthcare clinic. These images of small town living tend to stand as notions of how things “used to be.” This is not to say that pared down public facilities have ceased to exist, or that all communities require or could support a sprawling institution of higher learning or a top-notch research hospital. However, what is working to bridge the resource gap in education and healthcare between cities and rural areas is fixed wireless broadband:

Medicine:  At MetLife Stadium earlier this year, a medical trailer parked in the lot became a world-class emergency room through wireless broadband. This rapid-response trailer was outfitted with point-to-point technology, connecting the medical personnel in the trailer to their counterparts at Hackensack University Medical Center, a 900-bed teaching and research hospital in Hackensack, NJ. 

Education: Similarly, distance learning via wireless broadband connection spreads high-quality education farther from its source. With an enhanced Internet connection enabling swift transfer of large files, video communication and multi-campus collaboration, students in disparate communities can learn from one another, and educators can swap best practices and further their training and attain new credentials.undefined

To the latter application, wireless broadband provides connectivity from the University of Belize in the capital, Belmopan, to six primary schools. This high-bandwidth connectivity allows for widespread access to learning modules offered by the Caribbean Centre of Excellence for Teacher Training.

Wireless broadband’s prowess over water and other challenging environments also makes it ideal for cost effectively connecting buildings and campuses over varied terrain, in addition to long distances. At Weymouth College, a 160-year-old institution of more than 7,000 students in the UK, wireless broadband is cost effectively providing carrier-grade connectivity between the main campus and four satellite campuses, one connection stretching across Weymouth Bay.

These applications show how wireless broadband can extend the reach of smart city smarts to communities near and far, but certainly it’s just the tip of the iceberg in truly proliferating equal access to world-class healthcare and education. If you have witnessed a unique application of wireless broadband in healthcare or education, let us know in the comments below.

 

This article is abridged from A Wireless Broadband Gateway to Smarter Schools & Hospitals, which ran in Future Cities on September 30, 2014.

It’s impossible to miss the proliferation of screens in our society. Take a look around the next time you’re on public transit, at a café or on a plane: The vast majority of people you’ll see are surfing the web, tapping out an email, playing mobile games or watching Game of Thrones on tablets and smartphones. Content creators are banking on the public’s continued desire to be able to access anything, from books to movies, while mobile.  So much so, that the big trends at CES 2015 this week are 4K televisions, ultra-light notebooks and the smartphone as the centerpiece of our digital life.

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As such, it was hardly surprising that Dish Network launched Sling TV, a $20/month service that allows sports fans to watch ESPN (and CNN, the Food Network and the Cartoon Network) without a cable or satellite subscription. Earlier, HBO and CBS announced that beginning this year, they will offer on-demand streaming services. They’re hedging that people who don’t currently subscribe to cable packages will spring for à-la-carte service, and that those who do have cable will want to cheer on the Warriors and catch up on Westeros whenever they are away from their televisions. DirectTV, for one, has already determined to punish HBO if either scenario occurs to the detriment of its market share. So where do either of these realities leave network operators?

Firstly, there’s no need to stress as we’ve already been streaming for ages!  Our network operators tell us the biggest single change to their networks was when Netflix began streaming video services back in 2007.  In the average home, every woman, man and child will stream a variety of services whether it be by the television, computer or tablet. (The latter device being favored by the little people for clandestine television viewing.)

Of all consumers, cord cutters constitute just a low single-digit percentage, according to a study from eMarketer. However, it certainly appears that the “big bang” of à-la-carte streaming, something consumers have been clamoring for, has finally happened. While cord cutting is hype for now, a significant increase over time is inevitable, and this is something network operators need to plan for.

Diversifying access and backhaul technologies is your best bet for future proofing your network. As one of our customers, a premier European network operator, discovered, co-mingling technologies allowed it to provide an array of services at various price points to virtually every residential and enterprise address within its geographic operating area. If consumers want à-la-carte TV then they should also be offered à-la-carte subscription options.  Network operators are familiar with customer complaints about bandwidth bottlenecks – running three live video streams simultaneously in the home might do that.  We all need to get ready for smarter use of bandwidth with allowance for traffic symmetry, and more bandwidth overall.

To find out more about how fixed wireless can complement your network infrastructure, watch this video on our customer, MHO Broadband, who operates an all-wireless network in Denver serving video and VoIP needs of its enterprise customers.

What would you do with a 100-gigabit connection? This is what Clevelanders are thinking about now with the news that the “Rock and Roll Capital of the World” will begin building the nation’s fastest commercial Internet connectioniStock_000017628316Large.jpg this January.

Those who helped bring about this project have said "This will set the gold standard for connectivity” and "The commercial Internet is being reinvented in Cleveland.” Local business leaders have big plans to go along with those high hopes. John Foley, chief information officer, University Hospitals, told Cleveland.com that this supercharged connectivity will change the patient-doctor relationship as doctors will be able to easily access electronic health records, high-resolution images and vast libraries of medical data. Manuel Mencia, president, ByteGrid, told the same publication about his company’s new data center in Cleveland and the “unexpected windfall” to ByteGrid’s customers that the 100-gigabit connectivity will bring about. While Cleveland residents will have to wait five to seven years to subscribe to this future network’s service, undoubtedly what they can eventually do with this blisteringly fast connectivity – even many enterprises do not yet require 100-gigabit – will herald a new era in Internet communications technology.

Networks are the Atlas of our digital world, shouldering the burden of information exchange. I was CEO of Ixia in 2010 when we introduced the first 100-gigabit Ethernet connection, a 100,000x improvement in speed from the 1-megabit Ethernet connection I worked on at the beginning of my career at Tektronix. Since the advent of 100-gigabit connectivity, we’ve witnessed a rise in bandwidth-intensive applications such as telemedicine, distance learning, not to mention the support of explosive sharing of rich media over social networks.  Net effects spread far beyond the operating room and class room. Employees can opt for a virtual doctor visit instead of taking time off for an appointment, which is playing a part in disrupting the economics of employer-paid healthcare. By 2019, education experts predict that 50 percent of U.S. high school curriculums will be delivered via distance learning, a shift to blended learning aimed at filling budgetary gaps and teacher shortages.

As with other leaps forward in speed, different industries will find an immediate use for this speed, while others will innovate to find future applications. In looking at a future that a 100-gigabit connection enables, we see that a rising tide lifts all boats. So the question becomes not what would we do at this speed, but where will it take us? If you are operating a 100-gigabit network and have any thoughts on applications not mentioned here, we’d love to hear your opinions in the comments below or on our new community forum.

On a recent trip to Marrakesh, Morocco, we drove by a small community and captured this shot:


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Homes built with clay bricks are very common in the area. What stood out in this neighborhood was the multitude of satellite TV dishes we saw sprouting like mushrooms on every home. As we kept driving, this sight was repeated time and time again.

It made me think about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs developed by Abraham Maslow in 1943.  His theories of developmental psychology specify that human growth has the following stages:

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It appears that the basic needs bracket at the base of the pyramid, which includes safety, security, food, water, warmth and rest, has now transcended to include satellite television and communications. What may seem far from basic is what these communities consider exactly so – a necessity to ensure they are connected with what is happening in their region, their country and the world. Ease of access to critical information such as weather forecasts or a new industry growing in another part of the country can contribute greatly to securing basic needs.

For the third of the world connected to the Internet, it wasn’t so long ago that getting the aforementioned information involved more than a Google search or tapping an app. The communications industry has evolved significantly over the years. In the 1990s we were focused on connecting places and deployed a lot of point-to-point communications equipment. With mass-market adoption of cellular technology in the late 90s and early 2000s, attention turned to connecting people.  Now we are looking toward connecting billions of devices as part of the Internet of Things (IoT). 

At Cambium Networks our goal is to deliver a complete end-to-end solution of fixed wireless solutions that allows network operators globally in under-connected and in connected communities to continue connecting places and people with highly reliable broadband, VoIP and video-based services that support OTT content and video surveillance.  As the industry evolves into IoT, we are well positioned to extend our scalable technology to connect the millions of devices and sensors soon to populate rooftops in Morocco and beyond, helping citizens live more comfortable, secure and fulfilling lives.

New Yorkers, rejoice! According this article in Crain’s New York Businessundefined, about 90 percent of commercial buildings are not wired with enterprise-class broadband, and “a technology known as fixed wireless broadband” is coming to their speedy-connectivity-deprived rescue. Reading this piece brought to light that there are still a lot of old fixed wireless myths floating out there, so we thought we’d take this opportunity to dispel them:

Myth #1 Wireless is useful for rural deployments, but not urban – If fixed wireless fits the bill for the Big Apple, than clearly it  has gone far beyond rural into the most urban of urban environments. 

Our CEO Atul Bhatnagar recently wrote about the many ways in which cities benefit from fixed wireless in UBM Future Cities, and we have scores of additional proof points from our installations for the police force in Green Bay, Wisconsin and traffic management in Dallas, Texas.

Myth #2 Wireless is less reliable than wirelineNaval officers and high-frequency traders alike rely on fixed wireless for their mission-critical data transactions and transmissions, so clearly it is no runner up to wireline in terms of reliability.

Myth #3 Wireless is slower – It was perhaps this line in the Crain’s article that pleased us the most: “Proponents say fixed wireless can give customers the same speeds as fiber without the cost and hassle of tearing up the street (once the connection to the building is made, customers can't tell the difference).”

All true. Fixed wireless can be rapidly installed to extend the reach of a fiber network core. This means that customers served by wireless can enjoy the same bandwidth-intensive services as their wireline counterparts.  

Myth #4 You need a “straight shot” with wireless – Long gone are the days when line-of-sight (LOS) was an imperative for wireless installations. We’ve deployed our technology in non-line-of-sight and near-line-of-sight environments for years: buildings, trees, mountains and water are no match for the technological strides we’ve made in ensuring that the communities served by our equipment can count on the connectivity it provides.  

Myth #5 Wireless antennas malfunction/are blown off rooftops in bad weather – If this were true, then there’d be a lot more antennas on the ground, and New Yorkers would have to add helmets to their winter wardrobes! Of course, they don’t have to because this is yet another fixed wireless myth.

Our equipment is hardened against the elements and we regularly hear of Cambium equipment staying strong in gale-force winds, extreme humidity and polar vortexes.

If you have an experience with fixed wireless and Cambium’s products that you’d like to share, feel free to tell us on our Community, and certainly let us know in the comments if we've missed any other myths.

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