TMCnews Featured Article

November 17, 2009

Interview: Community Mobile Project as Broadband Stimulus Template

By Michael Dinan, TMCnet Editor

We’ve spoken to dozens of broadband stimulus applicants on this site, and many of them make a great case for their grant requests.
The Dixie Technology Funding Agency – through consulting attorney James L. Driessen – is no exception. The agency is seeking three separate grants for about $1.7 million, $1.2 million and $8.8 million, to support its proposed “Community Mobile” project.
As Driessen explains in an interview with TMCnet, printed in full below, the project is designed to bring comprehensive connectivity to mobile devices and screens in Utah.
Driessen also goes into interesting detail about the prospects of mobile communications and the technologies that work in the background of a larger movement.
Our exchange follows.
TMCnet: We’ve read the Executive Summary of your application, and clearly the organization feels there’s a strong need for funding. Take us a little bit beyond the numbers. How will U.S. citizens, consumers and businesses benefit if you’re awarded this grant money?
James L. Driessen (pictured left): When it comes real purpose, few applicants hit the nail right on the head the way the Dixie Technology Funding Agency economic development agency has with its “Community Mobile” project.
We can sum it up with a few short words: “Ubiquitous Converged Local Access” – meaning, we enable a single wireless device to interact seamlessly over multiple communications networks whether wired, wireless, satellite, or fiber. When passing from one network to the other, not only is you call not dropped, but any data transfers are also “off-loaded.”
Now more than ever within the telecommunications industry we must begin to understand that “local access broadband” in conjunction with “Internet based” broadband creates that perfect vehicle to close the gap on convergence. A local access services wireless network can actually stimulate many more “new jobs” as compared with Internet based jobs alone.
The “Local access” services we are promoting could create as many as 2,000 entirely new jobs in each and every County which installs a Community Mobile network – for example, like wireless based DTV (as opposed to signal based), media, distance learning, security and surveillance, mobile health monitoring, public safety, public information, commerce, mobile maintenance, finance, banking, and literally hundreds of other industries. With over 3,000 Counties in the US that could mean up to 6 million new and sustainable jobs!
TMCnet: How did you find the application process? What would you recommend the U.S. government tweak in the process, if anything?
JD: Apparently, other than some of the shortened submission times, the application process was very similar to past RUS broadband applications (we wouldn’t know for sure since this was our first application).
While the first round was more about searching out those truly innovative applicants, perhaps the second and or third rounds could be more directed to a particular strategy – for example, focusing only on Local Access Community Mobile networks like ours. We are not shy in saying that we believe ours is the truly elegant solution and the NTIA/RUS ARRA policy-makers should not be shy about focusing on this exclusively in the future rounds.
The Internet will always be the important connection vehicle for transaction authorizations, but as to the actual delivery vehicle, it is only one possible service. Once we realize that emerging “head-end” technologies of the local access networks will streamline the large file data “off-load” capabilities needed for the new high definition media, those convergent off-load data capabilities become the essential ingredient to new job creation – not to mention the real national security advantages of having a local communications system that can activate public information and support in the event of a real national emergency. With local access networks, instead of finding a hotspot connection, you find a whole new “local access” network complete with high definition local access TV, community information, and a wide variety of premium service offerings from high speed Internet, to cable TV channels, to e-commerce portals.
If you like just the local access services, you continue to have them for free and unlimited. If you need connection, however, to the world-wide-Web you might consider subscribing to a premium Internet connection service package through local “fiberless” connection or maybe even a TV channel package or two – all on a completely open competition model. There are any number of other media or service packages you can choose from. This Community Mobile business architecture actually creates the sandbox in which many new industries can play and develop and grow – and at fiber like speeds without lacking the mobility, the consumer has a real quality of service experience without limitations. (Well 300 Mbps on an access point, but even that is getting faster every day.)
What the Community Mobile business architecture allows for is that both the technologically sophisticated and unsophisticated consumers have each just as much to gain as the other from adopting onto the Community Mobile “cloud” computing. Home residential users or Small Office/Home Office  users alike need not have to buy any other services. With Community Mobile end-users already have a connection to their home of office, which in turn means they already have a connection to the Internet. Again, the multiple carrier approach to ubiquitous converged local access allows for people to choose only the services they need – if and when they need them. But ubiquitous connectivity also allows for service providers to market even more services to those same consumers without limitations.
TMCnet: What would you tell reviewers at NTIA about your organization if you could have one minute to talk to them moments before they looked at your application?
JD: Understanding innovation means that we must instill in our telecommunications policy makers a desire lose the old and limited definition for term “broadband” meaning simply “high speed Internet” and instead adopt the more accurate and innovative definition meaning “providing large bit-rate two-way data transmissions.”
A key example of broadband development that does not involve the Internet directly, but can affect government or community life is something we call “local access” digital television or DTV. Previously digital TV stations have all been either “signal” based TV such as your local ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox affiliates – or they have been using the Internet for “IPTV (News - Alert)” to deliver only limited and low quality access. But with the advent of local “fiberless” broadband and the new segmented capacities, we see real opportunities and capability for local wireless digital-TV access to operate either independently or along side of the local digital “signal” based TV stations. Local “wireless” digital-TV will provide a much higher level of consumer interaction than what was possible with only “signal” based TV stations.
TMCnet: Tell us in plain terms how important it is for your organization to receive this grant money. If you do not receive government funding, what will you do to improve services in the way you’re seeking?
JD: Initial capital injections like those from federal grants and other resources can serve as the springboard. With subscribers, all future revenue securities instruments with inter-city and inter-State agreements can follow with oversight resting at the community level, but policy making at the federal level.
What the DTFA presents here should be of extreme importance to Federal Government because if you are not analyzing government collaboration in telecommunications with private companies with the same vigor as the potential plaintiffs in an antitrust lawsuit, the affect of legal battles could nullify any progress that might be had in developing technologies. Legal battles will destroy wireless projects and no amount of spectrum control can possibly turn around years of litigation over telecommunications and government backed monopolies.
Government Collaboration in Telecommunications has been perhaps the most frequently litigated topic since the Bell System Divestiture of 1982. The Dixie Technology Funding Agency is an example of a Local Government Agency that should be duplicated in other States and cities across the country. In Utah, the entity was formed under Utah (U.C.A. 1953 § 17C-3-1 et seq.) and since its inception has been dedicated to understanding and solving this very legal issue of government collaboration in telecommunications infrastructure. A 600 page thesis on this topic would only begin to scratch the surface of the history and legal precedence in this determination, but under this limited response to your questions, we simply introduce the DTFA capabilities and persuade the reviewers to truly consider whether the FCC and FTC (News - Alert) under their umbrella Department of Commerce organization has thoroughly thought through these legal matters.
Walking headlong into litigation is something that the Federal Government must avoid at all costs. Ironically, Federal preemption is a main topic of the legal debate since 1982; any public/private strategic alliances in telecommunications would by definition be bound by any constitutionally correct State telecommunications laws which have been consistently free from Federal Preemption – for example, Nixon v. Missouri Municipal League, 541 U.S.125 (2004).
In actuality, we are not making any plans for not receiving this grant money. This is too important for our future as a community, as a state, and as a nation.

Michael Dinan is a group managing editor for TMCnet, overseeing TMCnet's Web editorial team and covering news in the IP communications, CRM and VoIP industries. He also oversees production of e-Newsletters in the areas of 4G wireless technology and smart products. To read more of Michael's articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Michael Dinan