Articles

57 Cities Now Have Free Wi-Fi, But They’re Not Thinking Big Enough – Mic

In August, Los Angeles, began research on a program that would make it the largest city in the country to blanket the city in free Wi-Fi. Currently, over 57 U.S. cities are providing “muni Wi-Fi” on some level. These cities hope “muni-Wi-Fi” will provide job opportunities to their underserved populations, facilitate waves of innovation, and brand the city as tech-friendly.

But a single-minded focus on municipal Wi-Fi is misplaced. To maximize investments in digital infrastructure, local governments should look beyond cosmetic solutions such as municipal Wi-Fi, install a fiber-optic network, and implement a public-private model to finance the construction.

The actual benefits of municipal Wi-Fi are limited. First, a large majority of Americans already have access to the internet, creating a dynamic in which municipal Wi-Fi will only marginally expand the use of the internet. Right now, 85% of Americans over the age of 18 have access to the internet and 70% of adults have high-speed internet in their homes. Of the portion of the population that does not have internet in their home, nearly half claim that they simply don’t want or need it. Thus, for the vast majority of the population, municipal Wi-Fi plans will only provide a supplement to household connections, possibly explaining why established municipal Wi-Fi programs have generally targeted 10-25% of the population, but have only achieved a 1-2% signup rate.

Furthermore, Wi-Fi services offered by municipalities tend to be inferior to what’s already on the market. The average broadband download speed in the United States is 8.6 Mbps (megabits per second) and the average smartphone download speed can range from 1-5 Mbps for 3G services and 5-17 Mbps for LTE services. In contrast, although exceptions exist (see San Jose, Calif.), municipal internet speeds are typically only 1 Mbps. For example, city-provided Wi-Fi in Raleigh, N.C., Santa Clara, Calif., Albany, N.Y., and El Paso, Texas all provide speeds around 1 Mbps. By comparison, your local Starbucks used to offer speeds of 1.5 Mbps, before it partnered with Google last month to provide speeds of up to 15 Mbps.

Rather than relying on free Wi-Fi as the sole cyber-solution, local governments should focus on increasing the speed of their broadband networks. A 2011 study demonstrated that doubling the broadband speed for an economy increases GDP by 0.3%. Furthermore, businesses are enticed to locate to a city based on internet speed, not the mere presence of Wi-Fi. In a 2012 survey 90% of professionals in economic development organizations agreed that a broadband speed of at least 25-50 Mbps is needed to attract new business to a city, with over a quarter concurring that 1,000 Mbps would be needed.

Fiber optic cables can provide these speeds and the corresponding benefits. First, high-speed fiber optic networks are a demonstrated boon to economic growth. Since first offering its fiber optic service in 2012, Chattanooga, Tenn. has generated $400 million in new business investments and 6,000 new jobs. Additionally, fiber optic networks generate significant revenue, allowing cities to cover operating expenses and pay down initial costs. In 2014, Chattanooga is expected to bring in $93.6 million in revenue from its more than 50,000 fiber optic subscribers.

Moreover, fiber optic networks can serve as competition to the de-facto monopolies in the broadband industry, who typically make a 97% profit margin on internet services. Since Google Fiber’s entrance into Kansas City, Time Warner Cable has boosted its “turbo” service by 33% and doubled its fastest available service to 100 Mbps. After Google announced plans to come to Austin, Texas, Time Warner announced it would match Google’s 1 GB service and provide free Wi-Fi in public areas to existing customers.

Despite the benefits, gigabit services are extremely limited in the United States. The deficiency in fiber optic options is primarily an infrastructure issue — there is a scarcity of cities wired for fiber optic networks.

To be sure, providing a fiber optic network is not cheap. In 2012, the Chattanooga-owned utility company, Electric Power Board, installed a fiber optic smart grid, connecting each home’s electricity meter with fiber optic cables and allowing Chattanooga residents to purchase a gigabit service for $299 per month. The total cost of the project, however, totaled $320 million ($112 million of which came from the Federal Recovery Act).

However, Susan Crawford has identified a public-private model in New Zealand that could work in the U.S. to reduce overall taxpayer costs. Under this plan, the government would build the network and provide price schemes incentivizing internet service providers to invest in fiber optic networks. Internet service providers would then develop the final connections to homes and buy back the basic network connected to those homes. Such a model reduces the upfront cost to an investor, allows the government to recover on its costs, and makes fiber optic projects more feasible.

Fiber optics are the way of the future. Rather than offering a service that anyone can get at a neighborhood coffee shop, local governments should focus their efforts on truly giving their cities an edge.

via 57 Cities Now Have Free Wi-Fi, But They're Not Thinking Big Enough – Mic.

Compare Internet Plans in Mumbai (and India)

Compare Internet Plans in Mumbai (and India)

There are many ways to compare internet plans in mumbai. On the basis of speed and data limits. However, for most Indian users affordability is still the key access.

Most often than not, ISPs end up confusing the user with various different pricing schemes and offers. Here’s a quick and easy way to get more for your money. Compare the best rates.

1. Mainly for Broadband: http://www.internet-compared.com/
2. Mainly for 3G: http://www.icompare.in/MobileBroadband/Devices/USB-Modem?circle=Mumbai
3. For 3G and 4: http://www.knowyourmobile.in/networks/9529/best-and-cheapest-3g-and-4g-data-plans-india-november-2014
4. For data Cards: https://www.komparify.com/search/datacards

Are you a restaurant, bar or cafe owner in Mumbai? First 100 sign-ups will get Muft Internet!

Muft-Internet-Cafe-Poster
Would you like to increase your customer base by proving free wifi at your bar, cafe or restaurant?
We are looking for public places where we can to test out our technology.

Dear Bar/Restaurant/Cafe Owners in Mumbai,
We are trying to scout out locations as to where we could test out our technology. We are looking at densely populated public spots. The internet service + the hardware will be paid by us. All you have to do is sit back, relax and let your customer enjoy free internet! Sign up now and our researchers will contact you!

[contact-form-7 id=”208″ title=”cafe/business/restaurant owner”]

What happens when everyone becomes a cellphone zombie?

As HCI researchers, a lot of us believe that computing should exist and not computers.

“Technologies have a life cycle, says Donald A. Norman, and they must change as they pass from youth to maturity. Alas, the computer industry thinks it is still in its rebellious teenage years, exalting in technical complexity. Customers want change. They are ready for products that offer convenience, ease of use, and pleasure. The technology should be invisible, hidden from sight.

In this book Norman shows why the computer is so difficult to use and why this complexity is fundamental to its nature. The only answer is to develop information appliances that fit people’s needs and lives. To do this, companies have to change the way they develop products. They need to start with an understanding of people: user needs first, technology last—the opposite of how things are done now”
The Invisible Computer | The MIT Press.

Contest: $60,000 prize for Localization of Apps

The Internet.org Innovation Challenge in India supports Internet.org’s vision of a connected world by recognizing those who are working to make the internet more relevant to women, students, farmers and migrant workers in India. Our goal with this challenge is to encourage the development of apps, websites and online services that provide real value for the members of these important communities.
Prizes
One Innovation Challenge Award prize in the amount of $250,000 USD will be presented to the app, website or service that the judges determine best meets the needs of one of the four designated population categories: women, students, farmers and migrant workers (four awards total). Each of the Innovation Challenge Award winners will also be eligible to receive a package of tools and services worth up to $60,000 USD from Facebook’s FbStart program.
In addition, two apps, websites or services designed for each of the four specified population categories will receive an Impact Award prize in the amount of $25,000 USD (eight awards total).
Deadlines
All entries must be received by January 31, 2015. Winners will be announced at Mobile World Congress, which will take place during the first week of March 2015.
Apply
Your entry should include:
  • The full legal name, mailing address and phone number of the individual, organization or group submitting the app, website or service. If you’re submitting as an organization or group, also include the name, email and phone number of a contact person.
  • A project brief (summary) that includes: team background, project goals, target audience and size, and plans for rollout and language support. You may also include screenshots or other images of your project in your summary, if applicable. The summary should be no longer than 2,000 words, and can be submitted either in the body of your email, or as a link or attachment.
  • App installation and usage files (attached or as a separate URL), along with instructions for installation and usage, if necessary.
  • A signed copy of the Challenge rules, as an attachment.
  • Optional: You may also choose to submit a video about your project. Your video should be no longer than 5 minutes and must be included as a link (no attachments).
FAQ
1. Who is eligible to participate?
Individuals, organizations, and groups around the world are eligible to participate so long as their applications, websites or services are designed to meet the needs of Indian women, students, farmers and/or migrant workers. (Note: Residents of countries where the United States has trade restrictions will not be eligible. See rules for details.)
2. Does it matter what platform I’m using to develop my app?
You may develop your app, website or service on any platform, so long as it will work on a mobile phone. Keep in mind that the platform you choose will affect your application’s potential reach and this will be factored into the judging (mobile web is more widely available than iOS, for example). If you’re looking for a hosting platform, Parse offers application tools and limited hosting free of charge.
3. What if my app isn’t in English?
Your entry and all accompanying materials need to be in English, but the app, website or service itself can be in any language. We encourage you to to provide local and multilingual support.
4. Does my app have to be finished?
Your app, website or service must be in a working state, not simply a prototype. If it isn’t already publicly available, be sure to include the timeline for public launch as part of your entry.
5. Who are the judges?
A diverse global panel of technology leaders will be judging the competition:
  • Dr. Avneesh Agrawal, President, Qualcomm India & South Asia
  • Arun Bansal, SVP & Head of Radio, Ericsson
  • Chris Daniels, VP, Internet.org/Facebook
  • Ameet Suri, Partnerships Manager, Internet.org/Facebook
  • Raj Talluri, SVP of Product Management, Qualcomm
6. How will you choose the winners?
Entries will be judged based on innovation, impact, scalability and launch-readiness.
  • Innovation: How original, groundbreaking or creative is the app, website or service?
  • Impact: Will the app, website or service impact numerous lives in meaningful ways?
  • Scalability: Does the app, website or service scale technically? What percentage of the designated population will it reach? Is the content localized? Is multilingual support available?
  • Launch-readiness: How soon will the app, website or service be publicly available, beyond prototypes and limited trials, if it isn’t already? If it’s already publicly available, how stable and consistent is its performance?
Selection of winners will take place at the judges’ sole discretion.
7. How will winners be notified?
Winners will be contacted by email in late February, approximately one week before the public announcement. Due to the large volume of submissions we’re anticipating, only winners will be notified once selection has taken place.
8. Can I enter more than once?
If you have more than one app, website or service that serves the needs of one of the designated populations, you may absolutely enter more than once. However, a maximum of one prize will be awarded to each individual, group or organization.
9. What if I have more questions?
10. How can I get up-to-date info about the Internet.org Innovation Challenge?