GeoLinks Installs 88 High-Tech Cameras in Southern and Northern California to Provide Critical Insight in High Risk Fire Areas

In collaboration with ALERTWildfire, UC San Diego, University of Nevada Reno, CENIC, SCE and PG&E, in three months GeoLinks has installed 88 cameras to improve confirmation and response efforts in combatting California wildfires.

CAMARILLO, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–GeoLinks, a California-based telecommunications provider and competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC) public utility, has successfully installed and provided high speed, low latency, symmetrical data connections to 88 high-definition, pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras throughout Southern and Northern California to provide critical situational awareness during wildfire events. In collaboration with ALERTWildfire, University of California San Diego, University of Nevada, Reno, CENIC, Southern California Edison (SCE), and Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), the multi-hazard camera technology provides data related to fire ignition points critical in informing situational awareness and wildfire response.

This state-of-the-art camera network, developed and managed by UC San Diego and the University of Nevada, Reno, connects firefighting agencies with real-time imagery and environmental data enabling first responders to allocate and scale resources appropriately. Situated on GeoLinks’ vertical solar and wind-powered assets, the collected data is transmitted via GeoLinks’ ClearFiber™ network then handed off via a strategic partnership to CENIC’s private research and educational network to reach the universities, fire officials, utilities, and other users. This vital information allows involved parties to confirm ignition locations, verify 911 reports, image fire behavior, and ultimately deploy informed response and public warning.

“To give a little more context on GeoLinks involvement, we really dove head first in state disaster recovery efforts when hundreds of our clients, neighboring anchor institutions, and team members became displaced during the 2017 wildfires,” said GeoLinks Co-Founder and CEO Skyler Ditchfield. “When vital communications towers were destroyed by the fast-moving wildfire, our team worked around the clock to restore critical connectivity throughout affected counties. The same responsiveness transpired during 2018’s wildfire season; this included providing the same-day installation of a high capacity circuit for key Red Cross shelters free of charge. I realized what a difference we could make in this space with our unique capabilities of building rural and urban networks in off-the-grid locations where these are needed. Our dedication, passion, agility, and unique capabilities in supporting disaster recovery, initiated our involvement with our university collaborators.”

State, private, public and first-responder support for the expansion of this camera system is persistent and irrefutable. “The safety of my firefighters and the communities they protect is my priority, so having more information about a fire before we encounter it is an added safety measure that benefits our first responders,” said former San Diego Fire-Rescue Chief Brian Fennessy. “Having access to a live view of our highest fire risk areas will greatly improve situational awareness and our coordination with CAL FIRE. In turn, that allows for quicker response times, better response strategies and faster evacuation orders to ensure our communities are better prepared in the face of a wildfire. During the ignition of the Church Fire, I could watch the smoke on my iPhone, the color, the direction, and immediately knew the resources that I needed to deploy and the time they would be engaged. Furthermore, the crews could watch how the fire progressed on their iPads as they approached the fire, real-time situational awareness — these fire cameras are a game changer.”

The 88 new cameras are located throughout high fire-risk areas throughout California. SCE and PG&E, along with public agencies and the general public, have access to the camera feeds around-the-clock through the www.alertwildfire.org website to monitor wildfire activity. Up to 160 cameras are expected to be installed by GeoLinks throughout SCE’s service area by 2020, which will allow approximately 90 percent coverage in high fire-risk areas. Similar efforts are underway at PG&E to cover their service area.

“I see this project as more of a mission than just a new line of business. None of this would be possible without the amazing work of Dr. Neal Driscoll of UC San Diego and Dr. Graham Kent of UNR who have been the pioneers of this work,” continued Ditchfield. “Our collaboration is now to super charge their founding efforts. Also, big kudos to the utilities for getting this underway; it truly shows their dedication to making a difference in future fire mitigation. The effects of this work will be nothing short of lifesaving.”

For media inquiries contact Lexie Smith, GeoLinks’ VP of Business Development, at [email protected].

About GeoLinks

GeoLinks, a Southern California based telecommunications provider and competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC) public utility, is recognized on both a state and national level for its unparalleled capabilities in supporting disaster recovery. Named “Most Disruptive Technology” in the 2018 Central Coast Innovation Awards, GeoLinks’ innovative proprietary network, ClearFiber™, utilizes a combination of terrestrial fiber optic backhaul, carrier-grade full-duplex fixed wireless equipment, and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) licensed spectrum, to deliver ultra-reliable high-speed broadband Internet access to businesses and anchor institutions throughout California. With the unique ability to build solar and wind-powered redundant telecommunications facilities “off the grid,” GeoLinks is able to deploy broadband to remote and unserved communities in a fraction of the time and for a fraction of the cost of fiber. Consequently, the company is recognized as a leader in closing the digital divide and proudly sits on an array of national boards, coalitions, and working groups, including: the Schools, Healthcare & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition; the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA); the Broadband Consortium of the Pacific Coast (BCPC); and the FCC’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee. Recently the Company received the Christina Haska Distinguished Service Award from CENIC for GeoLinks’ pro-bono services providing critical data circuits to institutions during California’s recent natural disasters.

About CENIC • www.cenic.org

CENIC connects California to the world — advancing education and research statewide by providing the world-class network essential for innovation, collaboration, and economic growth. This nonprofit organization operates the California Research and Education Network (CalREN), a high-capacity network designed to meet the unique requirements of over 20 million users, including the vast majority of K-20 students together with educators, researchers, and others at vital public-serving institutions. CENIC’s Charter Associates are part of the world’s largest education system; they include the California K-12 system, California Community Colleges, the California State University system, California’s Public Libraries, the University of California system, Stanford, Caltech, USC, and the Naval Postgraduate School. CENIC also provides connectivity to leading-edge institutions and industry research organizations around the world, serving the public as a catalyst for a vibrant California. For more information, visit www.cenic.org.

CENIC Honors GeoLinks for Outstanding California Wildfire Response

CENIC Honors AT&T, GeoLinks, and CENIC NOC for Outstanding California Wildfire Response

 · RENS & NRENS

CENIC announces recipients of 2019 Christine Haska Distinguished Service Award

Read the full release here:https://cenic.org/news/item/cenic-honors-att-geolinks-and-cenic-noc

La Mirada, CA & Berkeley, CA — February 28, 2019 —  In recognition of their immediate and effective response to ensure emergency connectivity to communities and organizations affected by catastrophic wildfires, AT&T, GeoLinks, and CENIC’s Network Operations Center are being recognized with CENIC’s 2019 Christine Haska Distinguished Service Award, which honors individuals who have provided extraordinary leadership and service to the CENIC community.

Project leaders being recognized are: Ryan Adams, GeoLinks; Skyler Ditchfield, GeoLinks; Rhonda Lutz, AT&T; Cheryl Santiel, AT&T; and Stanley Han, CENIC.

When wildfires struck, AT&T, GeoLinks, and CENIC quickly engaged with affected communities to troubleshoot circuit failures, deploy equipment, repair network sites, and provide connectivity for essential emergency services. As a result, anchor institutions, which often serve as communication hubs for first responders and meeting places for area residents during a disaster, were able to maintain Internet connectivity. Evacuated residents were able to contact loved ones and let them know they were safe. People were able to send and receive critical emergency alerts, access email and the Internet, and get vital information immediately…..

…In nearby Oxnard, GeoLinks deployed free temporary microwave circuits to provide Internet access to the main library and two branch sites. Statewide, AT&T’s Network and Disaster Recovery team also deployed portable cell sites and recovery equipment. Meanwhile, CENIC offered to leverage its relationships with ISPs, provide temporary communications links, and donate decommissioned hardware.

“The commitment shown by these organizations and their talented staff was integral to providing critical Internet access that helped affected communities respond and recover during this catastrophic emergency,” said CENIC President and CEO Louis Fox. “We thank them for their dedication to this important work at such a critical moment for these individuals and institutions.”

Established in 2018, the CENIC Christine Haska Distinguished Service Award honors individuals who have provided extraordinary leadership and service to the CENIC community and its partners. The award is named in honor of Dr. Christine Haska (1951-2017), a treasured member of the CENIC community with an exuberant personality, boundless energy, and wide-ranging interests. She brought foresight, grace, and an innovative spirit to all her work, and remains an inspiration to colleagues working in research and education institutions across the nation. Haska had a long career in higher education and in 2002 joined the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) in Monterey, California, where she served as vice president of information resources and chief information officer. She played a vital role in establishing both NPS and the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center as CENIC members. Retiring from NPS in 2013, Haska went on to successfully lead an initiative to connect the major health care institutions in Monterey to the CENIC network.

The CENIC Innovations in Networking Awards are presented each year at CENIC’s annual conference to highlight exemplary people, projects, and organizations that leverage high-bandwidth networking. The CENIC conference will be held March 18 – 20, 2019, in San Diego, California. Learn more and register to attend.

Is 5G Worth All the Hype?

Industry experts weigh in on the global telecom debate

The telecom industry kicked 2019 off by continuing the highly publicized debate over the opportunities, or lack thereof, that 5G presents modern day society. The technology’s promise to deliver higher bandwidth, lower latency, reduced packet loss, and overall increased system capacity than its 4G and 3G predecessors, is still generating both high expectations and severe skepticism.

With the gradual emergence of autonomous vehicles, smart cities, and all things IoT, advocates and hopeful early adopters believe that 5G technology will support innovation and transform the world as we know it. Conversely, critics attest that the so called “next generation” is overly-hyped and still faces a magnitude of serious hurdles before it can prove revolutionary.

To weigh in on the debate, I asked a panel of diverse industry experts to comment on the following question:

What do you think of 5G, is it worth all the hype?

___________________

Catherine McNally

Internet Specialist, HighSpeedInternet.com

In 2016, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) found that 92.3% of Americans have access to speeds of 25 Mbps or more—but more than 24 million Americans don’t have access to internet speeds that meet 25 Mbps. Because 5G nodes don’t necessarily require as much infrastructure as a cell tower, they can be used in areas lacking wireless coverage. This will extend wireless speeds of at least 10 Mbps (the FCC’s current definition of mobile LTE broadband) to rural areas lacking in Internet options. If done right, 5G will help level the current rural-urban divide when it comes to Internet speeds, so I think the hype is warranted.

James Graham

CEO and Co-Founder, Community Phone

@wittedhaddock@communityphone

[5G is] definitely not worth the hype for any end-user or individual human. Certain IoT or self-driving car applications are different. Notwithstanding all of the industry claims and promises for how 5G will fix all woes, the one piece that is never considered is how app developers consistently re-write apps to utilize all available bandwidth. So even should all the tenuous bandwidth promises of 5G [be real], app developers — if history is any guide — will stuff themselves with 3rd party frameworks and services that consume your newfound 5G connection. So, while one might be able to theoretically receive twice as much data per second, what matters way more is how your app is developed. Two years ago, websites became the size of DOOM. That’s only increasing.

Jim Poole

Vice President of Business Development, Equinix

The real value of 5G and the reason we’re seeing such heavy investments in building these networks is to help businesses and consumers unlock new, currently unattainable capabilities. 5G networks are expected to far surpass 4G networks in optimizing applications such as IoT, AI, next-generation high definition video and fixed wireless access. 5G’s extremely fast bandwidth and ultra-low latency makes mission-critical control possible, opening the door for new applications that demand absolute reliability, such as health care, energy or autonomous transportations.

Vassilis Seferidis

CEO, Zeetta Networks

@ZeettaNetworks

As a society we tend to over-hype technology. For the person-in-the-street 5G brings you little new functionality compared to a well-designed, uncongested 4G network. It will still let you watch Netflix. What 5G will also do is let you watch Netflix in high-definition, on a crowded train, moving at speed where everyone else on the train is also watching Netflix. Nothing new, but certainly a better experience.

Beyond the day-to-day changes, 5G is a network of networks and has the ability to bridge the digital divide by connecting the unconnected. If all you want to do is watch more box-sets 5G isn’t worth the hype. If you want to make the world a better place 5G may be the technology to help you do it.

Amy Smith

Technology Analyst, FitSmallBusiness.com

@FitSmallBiz

As giddy as I always get for new tech, I also remind myself that first-generation anything should be met with skepticism. The 5G jump promises faster download speeds, lower latency, and all-around better experiences with our smartphones; basically, it’s a bigger pipe for data transfer. However, coverage won’t be widespread initially, and depending on where you are, you might not be able to take full advantage of the network or that expensive new phone. Plus, I’d expect the data caps by wireless services to be prohibitive. The next generation in wireless phone tech is exciting, but I’ll wait a year before I personally invest in anything to make sure the networks are stable (and in my area), the bugs and glitches in new phones (and batteries) are worked out, and that there’s proof that 5G really will be faster than 4G LTE.

Zouhair Sebati

Lead Account Partner, IBM Global Business Services

While attracting a lot of hype about how it will disrupt everything — much like most emerging technologies—5G is different. The predicted transformational benefits are real, but it is still an uncharted landscape. Businesses need to prepare for plenty of first-generation challenges.

A recent report indicates that 60% of organizations surveyed plan to deploy 5G by 2020, with clear expectations for 5G use cases, but this demand is far ahead of what communication service providers (CSPs) can deliver. CSPs are initially focused on consumer broadband services. To businesses, 5G is more than just a better mobile network – it will improve the networks of companies in every industry, allowing them to take greater advantage of transformative technologies, such as AI, IoT, and machine-to-machine communication. From autonomous vehicles to smart cities and healthcare, companies expect 5G to improve how they collect, manage and use data, enabling better customer service, increased operational efficiency, and greater employee productivity. How well an organization plans for and implements 5G will determine the level of transformational impact on its business. This means preparing now to implement this next wave.

Skyler Ditchfield

Co-Founder and CEO, GeoLinks

@GeoLinks_USA | @SkylerJesseD

As it currently stands, 5G is not worth the hype at all. There are still countless issues with the technology, such as your hand or body blocking the signal, and deployment timeframes continue to be pushed further out. In reality, 4G provides us with enough speed and low latency to support all of today’s modern applications. Unless an area is overly saturated, such as urban markets, the general Public will virtually notice no difference between 4G and 5G. Moreover, 5G has a strong potential to hinder progress in connecting rural America. Why? Expansion dollars will likely be focused on building out new 5G infrastructure causing less and less capital being dedicated to closing the 4G gaps in rural and suburban America. I can tell you personally in my town of around 110k (Ventura) there are countless 4G dead spots. In fact, I even run into dead zones throughout Los Angeles and Beverly hills on Verizon. All in all, instead of focusing on the overly-hyped marketing of 5G, our energy and dollars should instead focus on densifying 4G networks and adopting a hybrid-network approach to closing the digital divide.

Chris Nicoll

Principal Analyst Wireless, ACG Research

@CANicoll

Despite promises and early launches by Verizon and T-Mobile in the US, and other operators around the world, the main differing features of 5G – namely very low latency in support of VR-type applications and remote robotic control and ‘network slicing’ to allow networks to be virtually separated into virtual private networks – will not come for at least another 2 to 4 years.

[Furthermore,] the much-touted use of ‘sub-6GHz’ and mmWave spectrum requires 2 to 5x the densification of today’s existing mobile networks. There are some technologies that can mitigate this densification, but as the FCC in the US is pursuing, this requires massive numbers of small cells, and current zoning rules are localized which slows down deployment. This argument also misses the high costs of running fiber to all of these small cells and the only solution is wireless backhaul which requires more spectrum. [So,] 5G will eventually live up to the hype, but for now, consumers should be patient and not fall for the shiny object dangling in front of them.

Michael Bancroft

Co-host, Globalive Media’s “Beyond Innovation”

There’s plenty of hype about incoming 5G networks, and they are definitely worth getting excited about – not only because it will deliver dramatically faster speeds to your smartphone (though that is a nice bonus!), but also because it will unleash the potential of the Internet-of-Things. 5G delivers gigabit speeds at very low latency, making it possible to connect millions of devices simultaneously and constantly, without interruption. Exciting new technologies, such as augmented reality experiences and autonomous vehicles, [will] become possible by laying the 5G groundwork. In the bigger picture, by hooking up IoT sensors to everything from traffic lights, to factory robots, to vending machines, we can gather incredibly granular data on nearly every interaction that occurs, and all of this data can be processed and analyzed by AI algorithms to identify ways to make services vastly more efficient and cost-effective.

However, where the 5G hype gets a little outlandish is in how quickly we’ll see the improved capabilities of 5G come to market. It will take some time to scale these networks and develop the IoT applications that will run on them, and that’s something consumers need to keep in mind.

So as articulated in the above comments, the 5G debate continues with a split verdict. Now, what do you think of 5G, is it worth all the hype?

Entrepreneur mag honors Camarillo firm

Read Full Article Online Here

Entrepreneur mag honors GeoLinks - skyler ditchfieldGeoLinks was honored in December as one of the best small businesses in the United States by Entrepreneur magazine.

The Camarillo-based telecommunications company, which built its business on bringing high-speed internet access to remote areas using radio waves and wires to get to people traditional cables alone can’t reach, was named to the Entrepreneur 360 list of small businesses “that are mastering the art and science of growing a business,” the magazine said.

Honorees were judged on five metrics: impact, innovation, growth, leadership and business valuation. To view the full list, visit entrepreneur.com/360.

Skyler Ditchfield, cofounder and CEO of GeoLinks, said in a statement he was thrilled by the selection and hopes his company can continue to grow and expand its philanthropic efforts, which include providing internet access to Red Cross shelters in disaster areas and helping implement wildfire detection and prevention systems across the state.

“I am humbled and honored that Entrepreneur recognizes GeoLinks as a well-rounded, innovative company that truly is making an impact,” he said.

GeoLinks was the only Ventura County business to make the list. To learn more about the company, visit geolinks.com.

—Cameron Kiszla

Round Up – Industry Experts share their 2019 Telecom Predictions

From the emergence of fixed wireless and hybrid networks, to the predictive realities of 5G, telecom experts share their 2019 industry forecasts.

Please note that the views and opinions expressed in this article do not represent nor do they imply endorsement of my personal views or my employer’s views and opinions. They are unique and independent to the individual contributors listed as the statement’s source.

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From the roll out of new Artificial Intelligence (AI) integrations, to the highly anticipated future of 5G, in 2018 we saw the telecommunications industry generate some pretty innovative trends and thought-provoking headlines. With the new year just around the corner, I thought I’d turn to a variety of diverse industry experts to learn about their 2019 telecom predictions. Here is what they had to say:

There will be a lot of providers deploying 5G, but monetization will prove a challenge

Nathan Rader, Director of NFV Strategy, Canonical

There will be a race to see who can market 5G the quickest and who will have it as standard first. We’re already seeing tests from multiple providers across the world in isolated areas, and the speed and size of rollouts will only increase as providers look to gain the upper hand.

However, this race could be a costly one. Consumer need for 5G isn’t as great as it was for previous generations. 4G can handle most consumer use cases (such as streaming, gaming, browsing etc.) fairly comfortably with reasonable speed.

5G’s main benefit is providing increased capacity, not speed and latency, making it more of a technical development. Being the first 5G standard network will be a marketing coup, but may not come with the consumer kudos and demand it once did.

Further widespread adoption of Fixed Wireless

Phillip Deneef, Chief Strategy Officer, GeoLinks

We’ve seen fixed wireless technology evolve and improve drastically over the last decade, concurrently beginning to debunk “wireless anxiety”. During the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) CAF II Auction in 2018, we saw federal acceptance and adoption through the distribution of significant funding to WISPs, such as GeoLinks. This culminates to my prediction that in 2019 I believe we will see a drastic spike in both businesses and community anchors being connected via fixed wireless. While I do think fiber will still remain top of mind for many key stakeholders, I foresee anchors, rural health care facilities as a specific example, better understanding that EoFW is the most cost effective and time efficient way to get these critical care facilities the speeds they need. Taking guidance from both the FCC and overall industry adoption, on a state level I predict that those governing RFP fund distributions will also be more open to fixed wireless solutions. This will directly result in the United States making substantial strides in closing the digital divide.

Competition in Hosted VoIP market will heat up

Marc Enzor, VoIP Consultant & President, Geeks 2 You

Hosted VoIP phone systems are the hottest thing right now in telecom. Even the SMB and Medium size businesses are starting to become aware of what it is, and to gravitate towards it. In years past, we would spend most of our sales pitch educating customers as to what it is, how it works, and why they should use it. In recent months, customers already are aware and ready to purchase immediately. The sales cycle went from multiple meetings to single meetings now. It has become one of the hottest products we sell.

Going into 2019, it’ll only become even more “standard knowledge”, which means the competition in the hosted VoIP market will heat up. I predict several of the biggest names will start to buy the competition out and a true industry leader will emerge. This will have to happen as the top companies now will start to rely on their current growth models and will need to find ways to replace the lost growth as competition gets bigger.

Only edge computing / edge networking and AI will show true growth

Alan J Weissberger, ScD EE, IEEE Communications Society, techblog.comsoc.org

Only two areas in the telecom/networking space deserve the attention they are getting: 1] edge computing/edge networking and 2] Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Edge computing/edge networking is needed to off load the processing that takes place in cloud resident data center computers and also to reduce latency for critical real time control applications (especially for IoT).

AI and deep learning will be embedded into software-defined architectures in telco networks and the cloud to do analytics, predict failures, and move a lot of the human manual processes into automated operations. The long-term goal is to move from automated elements to closed loop automation and finally to autonomous control of networks.  I believe AI will be critically important to progress emerging telecom services and enabling new ones.  Examples include: 5G, Industrial IoT, autonomous vehicles, Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality, etc.  It will be also very useful for more mundane things, like keeping up with WAN and Internet bandwidth demands due to increased video streaming by cord cutters and pay TV customers (like this author) that increasingly stream sporting events (e.g. MLB TV, NBA League Pass, NHL Center Ice, boxing, etc).

All the other new technologies are hyped to the infinity power and headed for a train wreck.  That’s especially true of 5G, but also includes “Software Defined” networks (SDN and SD-WAN), Network Function Virtualization (NFV), and LPWANs for the Internet of Things (IoT).  All those suffer from the lack of inter-operability which is due to either the lack of standards, too many specs/standards (LPWANs) or proprietary implementations (e.g. SDN from AT&T, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, etc are not interoperable with each other. They each use different specs, with many being proprietary while others are based on open source software).  None of them will make much money for any company in the coming year.  Perhaps a few SD-WAN start-ups will be acquired and investors in those companies will profit, but that’s about it.

Enterprises cut the cord with LTE

Hansang Bae, CTO, Riverbed

For enterprises, 2019 isn’t a forecast of all doom and gloom. The year will also bring freedom from the persistent “last-mile” telecommunications problem. With the advancements in LTE, the technology will finally reach a point where the physical cables that connect end-users to their Internet Service Providers will no longer be a necessity — or a handcuff to a particular ISP.

The “last-mile” problem has long been the most critical and most costly component of an ISP’s network, as well a speed bottleneck. But now, on the heels of widespread adoption, LTE will allow enterprises to forego the last mile of physical cable for a reliable and robust connection.

Purpose-built Security Software will emerge

Don Boxley, Co-Founder and CEO, DH2i

Making smart products, IoT devices, is the new product differentiator — today, even ovens have IP addresses. Companies that have been investing in IoT initiatives understand that the IoT gateway layer is the key that unlocks a high return on those IoT investments. IoT gateways manage device connectivity, protocol translation, updating, management, predictive and streaming data analytics, and data flow between devices and the cloud. Improving the security of that high data flow with a Zero Trust security model will drive enterprises to replace VPNs with micro-perimeters. Micro-perimeters remove an IoT device’s network presence eliminating any potential attack surfaces created by using a VPN.

Likewise, many organizations are pursuing a hybrid strategy involving integrated on-premises systems and off-premises cloud/hosted resources. But traditional VPN software solutions are obsolete for the new IT reality of hybrid and multi-cloud. They weren’t designed for them. They’re complex to configure, and they give users a “slice of the network,” creating a lateral network attack surface. A new class of purpose-built security software will emerge to eliminate these issues and disrupt the cloud VPN market. This new security software will enable organizations to build lightweight dynamic micro-perimeters to secure application- and workload-centric connections between on-premises and cloud/hosted environments, with virtually no attack surface.

Hybrid Networks become more common

Louis Fox, CEO & President, CENIC

In terms of widespread internet connectivity, the low-hanging fruit has long been picked. To achieve a complete mesh across the state, and thereby to include all of our communities and lift all boats, private-sector technology companies will need to work more collaboratively with government and nonprofit community organizations to approach an underserved geographic region with a comprehensive strategy that stitches together fiber, fixed wireless, unlicensed spectrum, TV whitespace, and more. We can no longer deploy in a series of one-offs if we are ever to serve some of the hardest to reach places.

More Internet Networks deploying IPv6

John Curran, President and CEO, ARIN

The Internet has grown remarkably over the past few years and as a result we now have over four billion people online. The Internet will continue to grow at a remarkable pace to meet the requirements of broadband, mobile, and Internet-of-Things (IoT) growth, and this will only increase pressure on Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to deploy the next version of the Internet Protocol (IP version 6, or IPv6) — just as many broadband and mobile providers have already done today. The good news is that the IPv6 transition happens in the “lower layers” of the Internet, so this behind-the-scenes upgrade to the Internet will continue to happen without any noticeable change for Internet users.

Public and Private Clouds will be much more accommodating of each other

Jai Menon, Chief Scientist and IBM Fellow, Cloudistics

[In 2019] only about 5 viable general-purpose public cloud vendors will survive. This is because successful public cloud vendors will need to spend a lot of money, and few can afford to spend as much as the Top 2 — AWS and Microsoft Azure. [Furthermore] Public and private clouds will be much more accommodating of each other. More and more of the services provided by a public cloud vendor, such as their AI services, will become accessible to apps running elsewhere, including on private clouds. At the same time, there will be more and more examples of private cloud capabilities extended to the public cloud — such as VMware Cloud on AWS. Finally, federated orchestration and management of workloads across private and public clouds, all from a single, easy to use, portal will be commonplace.

Political turbulence and possible decrease in network investment

John Windhausen, Executive Director, Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition

2019 could be a turbulent year in the telecom/broadband space. If the FCC approves the proposed Sprint/T-Mobile merger, and if the court allows the AT&T-Time Warner merger, that could encourage even more consolidation in the marketplace. Of course, more consolidation among big players also opens up more opportunities for smaller, more nimble players to increase their market share. But there are increasing signals of an economic slow-down in 2019, which could mean belt-tightening and reduced investment by all players. The tariffs on Chinese-made equipment could mean increased prices for telecom gear, which could also lead to a pause in network investment. These trends may give a boost to the idea of a grand broadband infrastructure spending bill that both the President and Hill Democrats are trying to get in front of (assuming the government shutdown does not ruin the chances of bipartisan agreement forever.) Such legislation would only have a 30% chance of enactment but could be exciting to watch, as there are so many industry players that could benefit from government funding, especially in rural markets. I expect net neutrality to continue to percolate because the court is likely to remand the case to give the FCC another chance to justify its decision. Congress could and should step in, but there is no sign of compromise on the issue and likely will remain gridlocked. For anchor institutions, work will continue to get the E-rate and Rural Health Care programs running smoothly, but I do not anticipate major structural changes.

Do you agree or disagree with any of the above predictions? If so, feel free to visit the original article here, and leave a comment.

California’s Research Network Connects Science and Community

Louis Fox, CENIC CEO

By Susan Rambo. CENIC — the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California — wants to connect the state of California into one giant wireless mesh network. With 20 million users, non-profit network operator CENIC (pronounced “scenic”) may be in a good position to build that network. But they aren’t doing it on their own. Far from it.

CENIC is part of a large community of public and private entities working to improve connectivity throughout California, an effort that has links to national and international projects. It all started with — and is grounded in — researchers. CENIC is governed by its charter members, California’s research institutions.

Since 1997, CENIC has provided networks for those researchers. Now with over 8,000 miles of optical fiber, the nonprofit operates the high-capacity network fabric for California research institutions, California Research and Education Network (CalREN). The fabric consists of broadband connections, upon which last-mile wireless can be added if needed. Eventually that last mile may include 5G wireless technologies.

CalREN offers 100 gigabit Ethernet (GbE), mostly via dark fiber, to researchers in California public and private research institutions (Stanford, California Institute of Technology, University of Southern California, University of California). State universities, community colleges, K–12 were added to the network in the early 2000s, followed by public libraries and cultural assets. CENIC aims for a minimum of 1 Gbps symmetrical regardless of fiber or wireless on any connection it provides

The high bandwidth is important to researchers who need to move data — lots of data.

“An awful lot of data is being collected by sensor nets and other kinds of data-intensive scientific tools. Historically [researchers] had to use sneakernet to get at the data,” CENIC’s President and CEO Louis Fox told RCR Wireless News. Now researchers have CalREN, which provides high-bandwidth connections.

“Where possible we’ve made fiber connections and in other cases we have worked with wireless providers to get fixed wireless and high-bandwidth fixed wireless to the sites,” said Fox. “We try and get as much bandwidth as possible.”  

CENIC typically asks for symmetrical bandwidth.

“Where possible a minimum of one gig symmetrical is our goal. It isn’t always possible in some of these sites because they’re rural and remote and we’ve worked in particular with GeoLinks — a very innovative private sector fixed wireless provider,” said Fox. 

The research platforms extend beyond California’s borders. The National Science Foundation recently funded Science DMZs — networks for Big Data transfers from supercomputers. The NSF is funding Pacific Research Platform (PRP), through UC San Diego and UC Berkeley.  Fox agrees that CENIC’s PRP is a testbed for other Science DMZs throughout the country.  

“We’re part of a conversation that involves other regions of the country that are beginning to roll out what was done here in California,” said Fox.  

CENIC also collaborates with the Energy Sciences Network (ESnet), run from LBNL (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory), which connects to 40 Department of Energy sites. On a larger scale, CalREN is part of Pacific Wave — an international collaboration to connect researchers around the Pacific Rim. CENIC’s CalREN networks also work with Internet2 (which runs the national backbone network) and Pacific Northwest Gigapop, nonprofits that both serve networks of researchers and educators. CENIC also supports California Telehealth Network and fire and safety initiatives and research throughout the state. 

CENIC also supports the efforts of California Cities Data-Sharing Project, and the Big Data, Big Cities Initiative, for connecting California cities.

Rural, farming communities 

Bringing more people access to the network, including rural communities, is a goal for CENIC, although not an official mandate. The nonprofit helps bring better internet access to rural and remote parts of California.

“There are these tremendous opportunities for being part of this new economy regardless of where you are. When we’re talking about the rising generation, the goal is to ensure that all Californians have access an opportunity,” said Fox, adding, ”we work with our carriers both wireless and terrestrial to do last mile connections to schools, to libraries and to community colleges.”

Proving the demand in rural areas starved of wireless Internet access, Fox and U.S. Department of Agriculture’s broadband analyst Robert Tse, who spoke with RCR Wireless News recently, report seeing people in rural areas outside public libraries in lawn chairs, on the library steps or in their cars after the libraries were closed, accessing the library’s wireless broadband connections.

“It’s such a critical resource for communities,” said Fox.

Connecting farmers and rural underserved populations may go hand in hand. CENIC is working with UC ANR (University of California’s Agriculture and Natural Resources division) to improve the abysmal connections at the nine UC ANR extension centers where field research is done on crops. A recent boost of the fiber capacity and a low-cost addition of a wireless network in a field at UC ANR’s Kearney research area near Fresno has Kearney researchers thinking they could use the connected field as demonstration for a nearby rural town to get it connected at low cost.

“We’ve moved into this whole arena of wireless extensions of the backbone network for three main areas,” said Fox. Connecting the community through libraries and schools is one. Second is helping researchers work on emergency systems such as fire and earthquake warnings. Third is precision agriculture. “That’s where UC ANR comes in,” he said.

For farmers, all the sensors and data need to be collected and processed.

“Those sensors need direct access to a network so that both researchers and farmers can have immediate access to the data and then subsequently to the analytic tools which make sense of that data,” said Fox.

Right now CENIC is mostly broadband, using fiber.

“Historically, we have focused on terrestrial infrastructure. We run a pretty significant broadband backbone with multiple hundred gigs connecting roughly 12,000 institutions in California,” said Fox. With the help of GeoLinks, a private company and like-minded partner, CENIC is adding wireless to the last mile of their fiber networks. “GeoLinks is a very innovative private sector fixed wireless provider,” said Fox.

Fox hesitates to embrace the hype around 5G.

“I don’t really know about the applicability of 5G for these at least initial precision agriculture applications. … As for technology, we only want the one that works best for the occasion. Right now, for us it’s been a big step to get into fixed wireless and again we don’t we run a fiber network. We work with either the researchers or with the private sector to connect them via fixed wireless. They connect to the nearest point of presence on our network.”

How it started 

“We wanted to smash distance and we wanted to smash time,” said Stuart Lynn, the CIO for the UC system in the 1990s, in a video (see below). “We wanted to break those barriers down to facilitate really effective research and educational collaboration.” 20 years ago, Lynn wanted to tie all the California university networks together in a high-quality, private network.

The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) originally funded the networks for California universities Caltech, Stanford, University of Southern California, and the University of California in 1996-1997. NSF continued to fund a network through CSU that eventually because the CalREN NOC in 1999.  “What’s great about [CalREN] is you’re connected to a regional national and international fabric of research networks,” said Fox. “That allows access to data for scientific instruments and to scientific and agricultural collaborations across that fabric and it’s a dedicated fabric for research. So that means that your data doesn’t have to transit the commercial Internet. You’re able to use this regional, national, and global fabric.”

On-fire examples of network use 

CENIC recognizes accomplishments from the projects and systems researchers and government officials devised using the network.

Fire-related works using the CENIC network are HPWREN, an effort of UC San Diego and Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

”They have really created a wireless mesh in San Diego County that is absolutely critical for those communities, particularly around wildland fire and especially to give first responders situational awareness of what’s going on with the fires,” said Fox.

Alert Tahoe is a similar effort in Northern California led by University of Nevada Reno, which puts sensors, high-def cameras and instruments around Lake Tahoe.

“They have dealt with literally hundreds of fires,” said Fox.

Project Wifire, run by U.C. San Diego, uses San Diego’s supercomputing center to collect data on what wildfires do, using ground telemetry, weather data and satellite data the system collects. The supercomputer produces predictive analytics about how newly started fires will spread, which can help with evacuation and firefighting.

“It is increasingly a critical tool because when you understand that for your first responders, for instance, the tool is surprisingly accurate,” said Fox.

“California stands as a test effort for a civic research platform and the testbed for a lot of the other community efforts that CENIC and others are involved in,” said Fox. “There’s an incredible collegial and collaborative spirit between and among groups focused on broadband access… there’s a real esprit — a desire to figure out how to solve these problems, which are not easy ones for a lot of these communities because they have small populations, they are dispersed and investments in infrastructure are pretty complex.”

Despite being the 6th largest economy of the world, in California “it’s not easy for a commercial entity to see a return on investment that requires pooling resources. Pooling subsidies are very community-specific kinds of solutions and projects for addressing these disparities across California,” said Fox. “There’s a sort of can do attitude here that I think sets the stage for what’s possible elsewhere in the U.S.  I’ve done this kind of work in a lot of other states and other countries but there is this indomitable spirit here. And collectively we will figure this out.”

“I encourage continued work [on] this idea of just making the entire state of California one gigantic wireless mesh,” said Vint Cerf, Internet pioneer, at CENIC’s conference in March.

This article originally appeared in the RCR Wireless News, July 10, 2018, and is re-posted with permission in the UC IT Blog.

GeoLinks Named One of the “Best Entrepreneurial Companies in America” by Entrepreneur Magazine’s Entrepreneur 360™ List

GeoLinks Named One of the “Best Entrepreneurial Companies in America” by Entrepreneur Magazine’s Entrepreneur 360™ List

Press Release distributed on Businesswire.com 

Dec. 19, 2018 – Camarillo, California – GeoLinks has been recognized as one of the “Best Entrepreneurial Companies in America” by Entrepreneur magazine’s Entrepreneur 360™ List, a premier study delivering the most comprehensive analysis of private companies in America. Based on this study forged by Entrepreneur, GeoLinks is recognized as a well-rounded company that has mastered a balance of impact, innovation, growth leadership, and value.

GeoLinks, an award-winning telecommunications company, was founded with a mission to close the U.S. Digital Divide. Nationally recognized for its innovative Internet and Digital Voice solutions, GeoLinks’ flagship product, ClearFiber™, delivers cost effective symmetrical Internet access to anchor institutions and businesses across the state of California and beyond. Created by GeoLinks Co-Founders Skyler Ditchfield and Ryan Hauf, ClearFiber™ is a hybrid fixed wireless network that utilizes renewable energy to generate telecom-grade broadband. By building state-of-the-art solar and wind powered telecommunications facilities, GeoLinks is able to build off the grid in a fraction of the time and at a fraction of the cost of fiber. With typical permitting and infrastructure boundaries eliminated, ClearFiber™ is an innovative, green, and economical way to connect both urban markets and rural communities alike.

“Our annual evaluation of vetted data offers a 360-degree analysis of top privately-held companies across a multitude of industries,” explains Jason Feifer, editor in chief of Entrepreneur Magazine. “They are deemed successful not only by revenue numbers, but by how well-rounded they are. The companies that make the list have pushed boundaries with their innovative ideas, fostered strong company cultures, impacted their communities for the better, and increased their brand awareness.”

“I speak on behalf of the entire GeoLinks’ team when I say we are thrilled to be recognized on such an esteemed list,” said GeoLinks’ Co-Founder and CEO Skyler Ditchfield. “From helping to close the U.S. digital divide, to deploying wildfire detection, prevention, and situational awareness systems, to offering pro-bono circuits to Red Cross shelters during times of disaster, to creating an exceptional company culture ,  everything GeoLinks sets out to do is ultimately aimed at making both our community and the world a better place. Yes, we are a business, so we must earn capital, but the way I see it, the more we grow, the more resources we have to help and give back. I am humbled and honored that Entrepreneur recognizes GeoLinks as a well-rounded, innovative company that truly is making an impact.”

Honorees were identified based on the results from a comprehensive study of independently owned companies, using a proprietary algorithm and other advanced analytics. The algorithm was built on a balanced scorecard designed to measure five metrics reflecting major pillars of entrepreneurship—innovation, growth, leadership, impact, and business valuation.

To learn more about GeoLinks, visit GeoLinks.com

For additional details on the E360 List and the companies recognized, visit: entrepreneur.com/360

Visit GeoLinks’ Entrepreneur.com profile at: www.entrepreneur.com/company/geolinks

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About GeoLinks

Headquartered in Southern California, GeoLinks is a leading telecommunications company and competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC) public utility, nationally recognized for its innovative Internet and Digital Voice solutions. Ranked first in category on Inc. Magazine’s Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Companies in America in both 2017 and 2018, GeoLinks delivers Enterprise-Grade Internet, Digital Voice, SD-WANCloud On-ramping, Layer 2 Transport, and both Public and Private Turnkey Network Construction expertly tailored for businesses and Anchor Institutions nationwide.

Recognized as a thought-leader in closing the digital divide, GeoLinks proudly sits on an array of national boards, coalitions, and working groups including the Schools, Healthcare & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition’s Board of Directors, the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA), the Broadband Consortium of the Pacific Coast (BCPC), and the FCC’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee’s (BDAC) Streamlining Federal Siting Working Group, and Disaster Response and Recovery Working Group.

About Entrepreneur Media Inc.

For 41 years, Entrepreneur Media Inc. has been serving the entrepreneurial community by providing comprehensive coverage of business and personal success through original content and events. Entrepreneur magazine, Entrepreneur.com, GreenEntrepreneur.com and publishing imprint Entrepreneur Press provide solutions, information, inspiration and education read by millions of entrepreneurs and small business owners worldwide.

To learn more, visit entrepreneur.com.

Follow us on Twitter or Instagram at @Entrepreneur and like us on Facebook at facebook.com/entmagazine.

 

Grit, The Most Overlooked Ingredient of Success – Skyler Ditchfield

Grit, The Most Overlooked Ingredient of Success: “Lead by example” With Skyler Ditchfield CEO of GeoLinks and Phil Laboon

It’s imperative to never forget that you’re only as great as the team you’re surrounded by. Thus, lead by example. Meet with your team as much as you can and tailor how you communicate to each person individually. Become a leader they can believe in, and always make them feel valued.


I had the pleasure of interviewing Skyler Ditchfield. Skyler Ditchfield, Co-Founder and CEO of GeoLinks, the Fastest Growing Internet and Phone Provider in America. Within his company, Ditchfield is passionate about cultivating the best company culture around — one that combines respect, collaboration and a “best idea wins mantra.” His dedication and work ethic have earned him various accolades in including “Top Innovator in Diversity and Inclusion”, “World’s Top 5 Best Businessmen of 2017”, and 2018 “Entrepreneur of the Year”.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what events have drawn you to this specific career path

My“entrepreneurial roots” began at the age of six selling food, video games, lemonade, and basically anything else I thought people might buy, door-to-door and on the side of the road. One of my favorite stories to look back on was when I was about 7 or 8 and my elementary school decided to band candy. While other kids at school complained, I looked at this as an opportunity. I proceeded to buy candy off premise and sell it to my fellow students at a 1000% markup — I ended up bringing in about $30 a day, which in the early 90s was a lot! The school did eventually catch me, and I had to stop.

I first really dove into the world of technology at the age of 13 when I set up a bulletin board system (BBS) with my cousin, and no co-founder and CTO Ryan Hauf, to service 200 members of our local community with dial-up Internet. Throughout my childhood, I became increasingly fascinated with long-distance communications and computer networking. Directly after high school, I accepted a Network Engineer II job at the Private Network Management Center (PNMC) of MCI Worldcom in Silicon Valley servicing high-level clients such as JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Quotron, Reuters, and more. Although I was the youngest technician at the maximum-security PNMC, I was quickly promoted to Network Engineer III after exceeding the entire staff in router reprogramming. When the company relocated to the East Coast, I was one of two employees offered a transfer. Ultimately, I declined the offer and returned to Ojai where I proceeded to build a network business from scratch with $550 in startup capital.

While there were bumps along the road, my path was a natural progression to eventually starting my own ISP.

Can you share your story of Grit and Success? First can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?

Hard times have occurred all along the way, both personally and professionally. From a professional standpoint, when you first start a company, money is one of your biggest problems. You have to be able to have enough money to get your company off the ground while simultaneously supporting your family. As you get bigger, so do your challenges. Every time you hit new benchmarks, you have to reinvent yourself. This can be painful at times, such as outgrowing certain team members, completely overhauling a system or process, changing your direction etc. Some people have a hard time keeping up with that.

Luckily life experiences have enabled me to adapt quickly to change. From surviving multiple business failures that left me facing massive debt and ruined credit, to battling severe life-long health issues, each chapter in my life has taught me how to fight back harder and ultimately have the confidence to overcome anything. Being an entrepreneur undoubtedly requires grit — but if you can learn to own that, you will become successful.

Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

I have always believed in myself and listened to my intuition. For example, we reached a point about two years after starting our company, where we were literally just weeks away from being completely out of money. In my gut, however, I knew that there had to be a game-changing deal coming through any day; mind you, until you have a signed document in your hand, nothing’s real. Thus, I decided to follow my intuition and push the business ahead as usual, so we wouldn’t kill our fast-growing momentum. It turned out my gut was right, and we had a massive business-saving deal come through just days before we would have completely been out of all cash. When I find my back is against the wall, I feel empowered, because I know I have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

So how did Grit lead to your eventual success? How did Grit turn things around?

In addition to everything I’ve mentioned thus far, to be successful you have to be willing to do anything and everything to get your company off the ground. For example, when GeoLinks first started, I did everything from sales, to technical support, to helping built the network, to physically deploying installs. I was never afraid of the number of hours or work it took to accomplish something. Nonetheless, there are certain things you have to sacrifice that can be tough to stomach, such as time away from family. There has to be grit and determination in you to overcome that, or you’re not going to make it. There will always be challenges in businesses. Successful people fail many times over– those failures, however, become part of the growth of your business. You have to have grit to stomach those many storms and weather them.

So, how are things going today? 🙂

Busy! But everything I’m working on is very exciting.

Based on your experience, can you share 5 pieces of advice about how one can develop Grit? (Please share a story or example for each)

  1. Look at Past Successes — Look back on a time, no matter how small, where you thought things looked bleak and grim, yet you found your way out of it. Then build upon that as you embark on bigger challenges moving forward. For example, if I’m sitting here and looking at a 2 million budget shortfall with only a week to figure it out, I could view it as incredibly daunting. However, if I reflect back to when I was in a similar position but with only $200,000, and I remember how I overcame that challenge, I can use that to give me the confidence I need to solve this new problem.
  2. Do Research — The Internet is an amazing resource; read articles; search for case studies; see how people before you overcame challenges. Knowledge is power.
  3. Get Outside Opinions – This is something I consistently do, even if I don’t ultimately agree, other’s opinions can give you new perspective. I like to gather as much knowledge and feedback as I possibly can to ultimately shape and form my own stance — then, I make a decision, and own it.
  4. Get Physical — Not with others, but with yourself. When I push myself physically in the gym, for example, I mean truly wear myself down, I am forced to clear my mind and find a way to push through. This is a great reminder of the power of the mind, and that with enough concentration and grit, I am capable of pushing through anything.
  5. Own Your Mindset — Take a position that you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Own that mindset, and you will find a path out or way to success.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped you when things were tough? Can you share a story about that?

Our first investor that came in, Tom Krause, built a very successful company from scratch. While I believe I could have gotten here on my own eventually, his expertise and guidance have greatly accelerated my success. His innate ability to mentor objectively allowed me to bypass most entrepreneur’s steep learning curves. I am incredibly grateful for that.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Absolutely! GeoLinks has officially partnered with CENIC, AlertWildfire, WIFIRE, and others to deploy wildfire detection, prevention and situational awareness systems across California. Statewide expansion of this proven system would offer strategic advantages for early fire detection, situational awareness for first responders, fire mapping, predictive simulations, and evacuation planning. Rapid investment in this shovel-ready system would soon save lives, property, habitat, and infrastructure across California, and the state would see an almost immediate return on its investment. Additional partners that would benefit from this effort and so might be approached for financial support are the insurance industry, technology accelerators, and local community organizations. While we are deploying this system as we speak, we need further investment to take it state wide as quickly as possible.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Everything GeoLinks sets out to do — from closing the digital divide, to helping deploy wildfire detection, prevention ,and situational awareness systems, to offering pro-bono circuits to Red Cross shelters during times of disaster — is aimed at ultimately bringing goodness to the world. Yes, we are a business, so we must earn capital, but the way I see it, the more we grow, the more resources we have to help and give back.

What advice would you give to other executives or founders to help their employees to thrive?

In today’s modern workplace, culture is paramount in attracting and retaining top talent, thus it’s imperative to never forget that you’re only as great as the team you’re surrounded by. Thus, lead by example. Meet with your team as much as you can and tailor how you communicate to each person individually. Become a leader they can believe in, and always make them feel valued.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I founded GeoLinks with the mission to close the U.S. Digital Divide. I am determined to bring connectivity to every unconnected Anchor Institution in America over the next 7 years. To accomplish this goal, I am aggressively looking to change the landscape of Internet across America by influencing the reform of broadband funding and spectrum policy on both a state and federal level.

Outside of work, I would say help people better understand one another. I find that whenever it comes to politically charged debates, from republicans vs democrats, to gun control, to immigration, many times if you get the rhetoric and anger out of the way, people want the same thing, just want to go about it in different ways. Today’s media and climate has created such a charged environment, that we either shy away from topics or come across in an aggressive manner. Both of these are unproductive, and create a continuing divide among people. We need to come together, open our minds, and get a better understanding of one another.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Appreciate your mistakes for what they are: precious life lessons that can only be learned the hard way. Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s lifeLife is inherently risky. There is only one big risk you should avoid at all costs, and that is the risk of doing nothing.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

On twitter at @SkylerJesseD — or follow GeoLinks @GeoLinks_USA.

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

The future has arrived; it’s Smart, and we’re not ready for it. Here’s why.

Smart City Technology- Lexie Smith - GeoLinks

Read the original article on Medium.com

From Washington D.C., to the coast of California, “Smart City” is, and was, perhaps 2018’s most prominent buzzword, aside from “5G”, circulating nearly all tech, economic, and broadband related conferences and forums. While the exact definition of what really is a “Smart City” varies by person and party, the concept itself is based on the integration of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and the Internet of things or (IoT), to optimize city-wide operations, services, and ultimately connect to citizens.

While some of the general public still think of this concept as far off, the reality is that “Smart Cities” have already began materializing across the country. Thus, this glorified digital future is here, and guess what America, we’re not ready.

Why Not?

Well, it’s simple really. Cities and its citizens can have all the ICT or IoT devices they want, but in order to make a city smart, these systems and gadgets have to physically work. That’s where connectivity comes into play. To fuel a Smart City, you need to have broadband Internet access with enough bandwidth to support electronic data collection and transfers. According to the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) 2018 Broadband Deployment Report, upwards of 24 million Americans still lack access to high speed broadband. Furthermore, the report states that approximately 14 million rural Americans and 1.2 million Americans living on Tribal lands still lack mobile LTE broadband at speeds of 10 Mbps/3 Mbps. Finally, only 88% of American schools were reported to meet the FCC’s short-term connectivity goal of 100 Mbps per 1,000 users, and only 22% of school districts met its long-term connectivity goal of 1 Gbps per 1,000 users.

On December 4th, the New York Times released an article titled, “Digital Divide Is Wider Than We Think, Study Says” that refuted the FCC’s published report. Based on a study conducted by Microsoft, the article summarizes that researchers concluded “162.8 million people do not use the internet at broadband speeds… In Ferry County, for example, Microsoft estimates that only 2 percent of people use broadband service, versus the 100 percent the federal government says have access to the service.”

So, regardless of which multi-million statistic we conclude is more legitimate, while many metro areas may have the bandwidth needed to at least partially move forward into the next digital revolution, there are still millions of Americans who would, as it stands, be left behind. This reality, coined the digital divide, is the ultimate Smart City roadblock.

Why being hyper fiber-minded is our fatal flaw:

States and communities across the country advocate that pervasive fiber network expansion is the solution to closing the divide. And yes, fiber networks can be great. The reality is, however, that building out fiber infrastructure to every location in America is time-consuming, tedious, and prohibitively expensive. Therefore, deploying fiber does not make economic sense in many rural and urban areas of the country. The Google Fiber project serves as a prime example of this.

To summarize, Google officially launched its Google Fiber project in 2010 with more than 1,100 cities applying to be the “First Fiber City.” By 2011, Google announced it selected Kansas City, Kansas as its target pilot. Fast-forward to 2014, and Google missed its projected city-wide connection deadline in Kansas claiming delays. By 2016, Google publicly commented that all-fiber build outs are proving infeasible due to costs and varying restrictive topologies, consequently filing with the FCC to begin testing wireless broadband internet in 24 cities. Within a few months, they officially acquired a wireless broadband provider and formally announced fixed wireless as part of their Google Fiber network moving forward.

All in all, this case study demonstrates first-hand that to actually close the U.S. digital divide our country must adapt a technology-agnostic mind-set and implement a hybrid-network approach that utilizes whatever technology or technologies makes the most sense for a particular region. Technologies like Fixed Wireless, TV Whitespace, 4G, and Fixed 5G, all have their place, alongside Fiber, in closing the divide. Unfortunately, until those in positions of influence are able to open their minds to these alternative methods, America will remain unconnected.

Who are people in positions of influence?

Luckily, our current FCC administration seems at least semi-understanding that fiber isn’t a “one-size fits all solution”; demonstrated in the recent distribution of funding to WISPs in the CAF II Auction. However, many state and local governments remain less progressive. At a recent California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF) meeting in Sacramento, for example, a large majority of key broadband stakeholders and municipalities advocated that the California Department of Transportation’s (CALTRANS) future infrastructure plans should be wholly fiber-based to support the future of Smart Cities and Autonomous Cars. Whether it be from a lack of education, poor past experiences, or simply riding the buzzword bandwagon, until government organizations can push past common misconceptions that fiber is the only answer, community businesses and residents will be left in the divide.

So, what’s the “Smart” thing to do now?

For those cities in America already connected with reliable multi-gig Internet, go ahead, smart things up! Just keep in mind, to remain a Smart City, even fiber-rich metros will eventually need to extend current network infrastructure to new end points such as light poles, unconnected buildings, and future city expansions.

Ultimately, if we want to collectively prepare for this new revolution, we need to first focus on closing the digital divide. First comes broadband, then comes innovation, then comes the utopian idea of not only Smart Cities, but a smart country.

Smart City - Lexie Smith - GeoLinks

Related Suggested Articles:

Five Crucial Steps Needed To Close The U.S. Digital Divide

Grow Food, Grow Jobs: How Broadband Can Boost Farming in California’s Central Valley

Digital Divide Is Wider Than We Think, Study Says

How Community Anchor Institutions Can Help Close the Digital Divide

Rural service is key to bridging the digital divide

Camarillo-based GeoLinks joins universities on wildfire project

Firefighters battle the Woolsey Fire as it burns a home in Malibu in this file photo. (Photo: AP PHOTO)

Original Article: https://www.vcstar.com/story/money/business/2018/12/06/camarillo-based-geolinks-joins-universities-wildfire-project/2212376002/

ALERTWildfire, a consortium of the University of Nevada Reno, UC San Diego and the University of Oregon has officially partnered with Camarillo-based telecom GeoLinks to deploy wildfire detection, prevention and situational awareness systems across California.

Demand for the expansion was inspired by a new wildfire camera pan-tilt-zoom technology developed by Graham Kent, director of the Nevada Seismological Lab at the University of Nevada Reno, that became instrumental in both the response and containment of the 2017 Lilac Fires in San Diego County.

GeoLinks plans to deploy 28 additional such cameras by year’s end.

“ALERTWildfire is excited to work with GeoLinks as their resilient communications network throughout California enables a rapid deployment of fire cameras in critical regions of the state,” said Kent. “No other service provider is able to scale to this urgent task.”

Located on GeoLinks’ vertical assets in Southern California including Ventura County, the cameras will send data over GeoLinks’ network to UC San Diego. There, WIFIRE, an integrated system for wildfire analysis, will analyze the data to create real-time simulations, wildfire path predictions and visualizations of wildfire behavior. The system ultimately will provide strategic advantages for early fire detection, situational awareness for first responders, fire mapping, predictive simulations and evacuation planning, GeoLinks said in a news release.

“The fact remains that California is now faced with wildfires year-round,” said Skyler Ditchfield, co-founder and CEO of GeoLinks. “Wildfire detection, prevention, and situational awareness systems provide a solution that could make an immediate, lasting, and radical impact on the spread of fires and associated costs, damages and casualties. … If we had assets installed prior to the Camp Fire’s ignition, for example, we could have saved countless lives. This is really the future and next step in advanced firefighting and suppression.”