Today’s Broadband Forum, the 3rd in a series, struck me as the end of the road for these events. For one, the morning session was devoted to revisiting the affects of the recent fiber outages that took place in December and January and dire warnings about the next time. I would be very surprised if anyone in the room was not aware of the consequences of relying on a single fiber line tenuously strung along the 101 corridor and the advantages of an alternate fiber line not owned by at&t. Maybe I’m jaded for talking about this stuff for years.
The afternoon events were a little more interesting. Sunne McPeake, President and CEO of the California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF) praised the region for its efforts and endurance. She made it clear that this will be rewarded by increased focus from her newly formed organization and from other state agencies. That was nice but her only concrete example was yet another report, a year away from completion that will justify this increased focus.
To be fair, some of the panel discussions had some merit, though the general message seemed to be that we need to work as a region to leverage our aggregate voice to get state and corporate bigwigs to hear us. That’s not a new thought and, I believe, this is already happening.
Maybe it was just me, but what I felt over all was that the theoretical discussion has been done over the last couple years and people who can actually make things happen are now doing so. This was the implicit message coming from the stage and from many people in the audience.
I am sure the networking that was happening in the interstices of the program was extremely valuable. And I am not saying we shouldn’t stage another Forum. But maybe the next one should have a different focus. Perhaps the next Forum should be called Future Forum. In this event the assumption will already be made that redundant and ubiquitous broadband (true broadband, not just 256k downstream) is, or will soon be, available to 90% of the region. The gritty details of how this is or will happen are being worked out by the politicians. investors and the engineers already.
If we can make that assumption then we can ask, what’s next? We already know the current demand for telemedicine, education, and commercial services. But what else will emerge or is already emerging? Where is the rest of the world headed and how can we collaborate with that world? What else can we offer the rest of the world to justify the attention and the money that are now focusing on getting the pipes built? This Forum would turn more of a focus on the collaboration between the engineers and artists, programmers and entrepreneurs, cultural visionaries and media producers the doctors and the systems administrators, the people that will fill those pipes. That would be fun.
Oh. And let’s use a building that doesn’t feel like a walk-in freezer. Maybe some of the speakers’ jokes will get laughs…