Technology

schools net neutrality

How Lack of Internet Service Providers Hinders Public Education

Healthy competition between Internet Service Providers (ISPs) has made it possible for countries like Hong Kong, Japan, and South Korea to offer some of the fastest internet at prices that turn American internet consumers green with envy. Hong Kong residents can surf the internet at 1Gbps speeds for just $26. The closest competitor to offer speeds of 1GBPS is Google Fiber currently charging a  rate of $70, but unfortunately, the service is only available in select cities.

tomwheeler3-01The high-cost barrier to high-speed internet stems from the 1996 Telecommunications act enacted to prevent Telco companies from forming monopolies. Unfortunately, the bill backfired and the deregulation created new barriers of entry for smaller companies leaving existing Telco companies with little competition.

The Chairman of The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Tom Wheeler, has addressed the issue in a recent speech he gave last week commenting on the lack of broadband competition. Tom Wheeler expressed his concern that: “competition is the most effective tool for driving innovation, investment, and consumer and economic benefits. Unfortunately, the reality we face today is that as bandwidth increases, competitive choice decreases.” Wheeler laid out the key tenets the FCC intends to follow to foster competition — to protect existing competition, to promote competition in areas that don’t yet exists, and most important for scarcely populated areas, the FCC promises to “shoulder the responsibility of promoting the deployment of broadband.”

The timing of the speech came approximately one week before the symbolic ‘Internet slowdown Day’. Many  websites posted an incessant ‘loading widget’ urging visitors to protest possible revisions to net neutrality rules that would allow Telco companies to charge extra fees for sending internet traffic down faster network lanes. The silent protest amassed a total of 3.7 million comments but the FCC has yet to make a decision.

While he directed his speech at Internet Service Providers (ISP), Tom Wheeler’s speech falls flat in the wake of the net neutrality battle with the FCC’s current consideration of “whether the new rules should be different for mobile and fixed line broadband.” The lack of broadband competition has made it possible for Internet Service Provider’s (ISP’s) to overcharge customers for subpar internet speeds, making it difficult for schools with an already tight budget to connect their students to the internet. tomwheeler-02

Public school figures yield shocking statistics that reveal that only “39% of public schools having wireless access”. Obama’s Connected initiative aims to ameliorate the need and hopes to connect 99% of American students to high-speed internet by 2017. The FCC has allocated a total of $2 billion to invest in the networking costs of public schools. While Sprint, Verizon, and AT&T have committed to donating a total of $300 million to support the initiative, the lack of competition among ISP’s have contributed to the steep costs for high-speed internet uses.

The FCC broaches this subject, with Tom Wheeler quipping that as soon as Google Fiber deployed its services in Kansas City and Austin, “the cable company responded with its own upgrade to gigabit service; in Austin, it was the telephone company that upgraded competitively with its own ultra-high-speed service”.

If the FCC decides to revise the current net neutrality rules and side with Telco companies, the decision will inadvertently impact American students. ISP’s inability to provide fast internet services at costs comparable to those available in South Korea, have made it difficult for schools with a tight budget to rely on the many educational resources available online. When compared to countries like South Korea, a technologically progressive country where education is highly prized, American students severely lag behind. Not only do schools in South Korea enjoy high-speed internet connectivity, but their teachers are trained to utilize e-devices as part of their curriculum. The need for more affordable high-speed internet connectivity is as much a social issue as it is a consumer issue.

Do you think the FCC will protect net neutrality rules? Join the conversation by leaving us a comment below. 

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Net Neutrality Silent Protest “Slows Down the Internet”

Upon surfing the web on Sept. 10th, chances are you will encounter an incessant spinning loading icon on some of your favorite websites. But before you call your internet service provider (ISP) to troubleshoot your connection, rest assured that the icon is part of a silent protest led by popular internet companies to preserve the current net neutrality rules that prevent ISP’s from differentiating and prioritizing traffic. Top internet companies like Google and Mozilla Firefox, are rallying together to persuade the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to reject a revision to the current net neutrality rules that would allow ISP’s to charge companies and consumers an extra fee for the privilege of using their faster network “lanes”. The silent protest attempts to simulate what the internet would look like to consumers if FCC condones the act.

netneutrality

Internet companies argue that creating a tiered system will hinder entrepreneurship and hurt emerging businesses. FCC’s approval of the revision would affect internet companies with high-bandwidth demands like Netflix and Amazon as well as their correlating customers. Because not all traffic is created equal, the proposal would sanction digital segregation and allow ISP’s to slow down the traffic of customers who opt out of the fee.

The net neutrality battle received major consumer attention after Netflix accused Verizon of slowing down the streaming speeds of its customers. Techcrunch.com reports that David Young, Vice President of Verizon’s Federal Regulatory Affairs fired back at the company stating that “Netflix should use paid peering and pay Verizon for the inbound traffic flowing into its network”.

The iconic protest is reminiscent of when Google donned a black bar across its logo and Wikipedia blacked out its homepage to protest against SOPA’s proposednetneutrality policing of online content. Though the bill intended to prevent media piracy, opponents argued that policies would violate the freedom of speech rights that the First Amendment protects.

SOPA was successfully shelved and  the “Internet Slowdown Day” on Sept. 10th has re-emphasized a new development in protesting conventions—virtual protests.  Though the protest is silent and symbolic in nature, virtual protesting has the potential to instantly galvanize a mass of internet users with a convenient call to action such as emailing congress, from the comfort of a laptop. Entrepreneur and Marketing Expert Seth Godin, assert that “The most viral ideas ask for nothing more than a click from your mouse, a share, more attention gained”.

  Taking into account how the majority of information consumption occurs through online platforms, technological moguls are perfectly positioned to make this protest, as well as the protests to come, viral.   Do you think loading icon will receive the necessary attention to discourage FCC from siding with Internet Service Providers? Leave us a comment below:!
invisible fiber optics

Fiber Optic Air-Cables to Create True Invisible Cloud Networks

fiber optic cables

It’s been nearly a hundred years since Alexander Graham Bell made his first phone call. And it’s been over a forty years since Martin Cooper, Father of the “cell phone” made the first handheld phone call to none other than his competitors at Bell Labs to announce that Motorola had beaten them at creating the first cell phone. But the air wars of engineers has opened up another rabbit hole of innovations as physicists form new invisible “air cables” that could give the term “cloud network” a truer, more literal meaning.

Howard Milchberg from the University of Maryland and his team of physicist have developed a way to manipulate air waves so that they mimic physical air cables to successfully transmit fiber optic signals. The team arranged four laser beams in a square and “heated air molecules [to] create a low-density ring around a denser core of air. Light bounces around the dense core just like in a fiber optic cable”. The technology mimics physical fiber cables which are lined with reflective glass to guide the transmitted light signals to the desired destination source. The laser forms an ephemeral “air pipe” that lasts for no more than a couple of milliseconds which gives ample time for a pulse to transmit a signal at nanosecond speeds. fiber-optic cablesThis temporary air tunnel remedies the problem that electrical signals encounter as their strength attenuates when traveling long distances. Further development of this breakthrough could lead to the ­­­deployment of invisible air cables across the atmosphere and form true cloud networks, a current misnomer. This breakthrough technology could finally help U.S internet consumers catch up with the internet streaming speeds enjoyed in South Korea and Japan where the fastest networks are offered at bargain prices. Do you think these invisible air cables will warrant the “air rights” that prominent skyscraper cities so astutely regulate? Let us know what you think. Leave us a comment below! Versa Technology | Versatek's Ethernet Extenders | PoE Devices and more

Could Bell Lab Rescue Telephone Copper Lines?

Alcatel-Lucent’s Bell Lab recently broke records when it successfully transferred 10 Gbps of data over 30 meters and 1 Gbps over 70 meters using traditional copper telephone lines.

The research lab’s XG-Fast technology easily competes with fiber optic services. Telco companies find breakthroughs like this particularly appealing because the alternative allows them to sidestep the demand for fiber optics and deliver faster broadband speeds through existing copper lines thereby removing the need to replace them. Companies like Verizon feel that video streaming services like Netflix should incur part of the cost required to upgrade outdated networks that cannot support high bandwidth demands. Advancements such as these enable Internet service providers to postpone upgrading to faster technology which could surmount to billions of dollars. In 2010, Verizon stopped deploying fiber optic cabling after forking out $23 billion dollars in fiber optic installation. However, this particular XG-Fast technology requires pairing traditional copper lines with fiber optics to truly optimize performance. Mark Jackson, chief editor of  ISPreview.co.uk comments that even though the technology is truly a breakthrough for copper technology, data transmitted at 500 Mhz is too high a frequency to successfully transfer data at longer distances. fiber_opticJackson observes how quickly the data rate transfer plummets from 10Gbps over 70 meters to 1 Gbps over 30 meters. Because the data rate transfer decreases over longer distances, the XG-Fast technology could only supplant fiber optics in short distances such as those connections within a household network and would require the aid of a main fiber optic supply source to truly reach optimal speeds. Copper wire has long been the foundation of telecommunications since the beginning of the 1820’s when Alexander Graham Bell first began experimenting with transmitting speech telegraphically. Since then, landlines have become an anachronism in the world of telecommunications with more efficient UTP and fiber optic cabling options.  But it seems that the new XG-Fast technology has “given the traditional copper telephone lines a new lease of life”. Do you think the switch to fiber optics is long overdue, or should telco companies continue to resuscitate the utility of copper land lines? Let us know what you think! Leave a comment below. Versa Technology | Versatek's Ethernet Extenders | PoE Devices and more

Internet Connectivity In Public Schools to Receive Government Boost

Last week, The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that it plans to invest $2 billion over the next two years to ensure that our public school students have high-speed internet connectivity and wi-fi access. Obama administration's ConnectED initiative aims to bring high-speed internet and wi-fi access to 99% of America's students.  Technology has increasingly made education more egalitarian with free online resources such as Coursera and Universities making a number of their lectures available online and on podcasts such as Stanford on Itunes U. Unfortunately, not all our public schools offer students the state-of-the-art tools that could increase their understanding of more complex concepts. In terms of implementing technology in education,  the United States currently lags behind countries like South Korea which offers high-speed connectivity to all of their schools. South Korea aims for all educators to adopt digital books by 2016. Ensuring that ours students have access to high-speed internet at school is a critical step for education reform.wifi_infographic_versa Versa Technology | Versatek's Ethernet Extenders | PoE Devices and more

Google Steps into Virtual Reality Using Cardboard

Google recently unveiled yet another ocular device during its annual Google I/O Summit that could transform how we consume media with our mobile devices. googlecardboardLast month, Google made it possible for the general public to get their hands on its Google glasses for a hefty fee of $1500. But the aesthetic design of its newest addition to the eye-wear family could become your next DIY project. Google has released a cardboard encasement reminiscent of a stereoscopic toy that gives you access to the immersive world of 3D entertainment. Available for under $30 dollars, the seemingly low-tech device named Google Cardboard requires an Android phone and some 3D-ready-apps to be able to step into an alternate reality. You can peek into your new widescreen entertainment system by simply strapping on your Android phone into its compartment. With the assistance of your phone’s gyroscope, the phone can register your head-tilts and adjust your perception within a 360 degree landscape.google-cardboard-9902 Animated apps such as “Windy Day”, which prompts you to follow a falling hat and Tuscany drive, which lets you explore a charming Italian lodging, immerse you in 3D virtual environments. The technology more naturally appeals to the video gaming and entertainment industry but just as easily could revolutionize how we learn, how we experience conferences, maps, virtual tours and a myriad of unforeseen possibilities. Imagine being able to tour your child’s college or travel to a vacation hotspot without having to leave your living room. The device opens up the portals to virtually travel to any region in the world. Google virtual realityFacebook similarly anticipated these commercial possibilities and forked out $2 billion dollars to acquire Oculus Rift, a company that has managed to exploit virtual reality without making users dizzy. Google Cardboard was developed by Google[ X], the “semi-secret” section of Google that  is dedicated to creating technological innovations that rival science-fiction fantasies. Do you think the mainstream public will favorably receive this new technology? Leave us a comment below! Versa Technology | Versatek's Ethernet Extenders | PoE Devices and more
Argentina vs. Germany

Technology Wins the 2014 World Cup

Amid the rivalry, the sorrow and revelry, depending on which team you rooted for, Versatek Technology will remember the 2014 Fifa World Cup as a collective win for all in the non-polarizing field of innovation and advancement. The World Cup saw a number of firsts in the realm of technology. Here is a rundown of some of the technological breakthroughs the tournament experienced

Social Media Records Were Set

It was difficult not to get involved in the hype of the championship in comparison to the last tournament, particularly because the way we exchange information has changed. Four years ago, Instagram did not yet exist,  Facebook had not lost its edginess, and not quite everyone understood the purpose of Twitter. But Twitter has since proven itself as a legitimate microblogging platform that continues to grow.  As Brazil stunned spectators with its nightmare 1-7 loss, twitter users went haywire and broke the record for most discussed topic with 35.6m tweets discussing the game and “peaked at 580,166 tweets per minute (TPM)” after Germany scored its fifth goal. Receive a Complementary Consultation

Cyber-Referees Confirmed Goals

This year’s championship utilized Goal Control Technology to formally determine whether goals crossed the goal-line. Founded by a German startup, Goal Control Technology utilizes “14 cameras, 7 per goal, situated around the pitch. The cameras send data to a powerful central image processing computer system that tracks the ball’s position” and formally declares whether the ball has cleared the goal line with centimeter-accuracy. Soccer officials initially resisted implementing new technology until England was denied a goal when playing against Germany back in 2010. This new technology will increase objectivity and fairness for fans.

Security Robots Maintained Peace

Irobot soccerThe Brazilian government invested $7.2 million dollars in robots from US Company Irobot to detect bombs and explosives. The apparatus resembles a motorized rover looking for signs of extraterrestrial activity in Mars. The equipment has previously been used for overseas war-fare and will be introduced in the next Olympic Games to maximize security. The championships also sported the most advanced technology in indoor and outdoor surveillance with cameras that are capable of storing the data of up to 400 faces per second.

Bing Made Betting Easier

Bing correctly predicted the outcome of 15 out of 15 games (not counting the missed prediction for the third place match). Microsoft utilizes  “teams’ records, strength of schedule, margin of victory in past matches, whether the location gives a particular team a home field advantage, and the influence of factors including weather and type of playing surface” to predict outcomes. Even though its group stage predictions had a 60% accuracy, Bing might be a source to examine before making your next bet.

German Performance App Determined the WinSAP Match Insight App

It sounds like an Apple commercial for the Ipad, but online sources are attributing Germany’s win to an app developed by SAP, a multinational German software corporation. Working in conjunction with “eight cameras around the pitch”, the app can produce “as many as 7 million data points” with only 10 minutes of recording time giving players the ability to later analyze their performance on their mobile platforms. The app gives players insight on their weaknesses and can even analyze data from opponent players. The SAP Match Insights App relies on Hana technology to help players track and refine their performance. With Germany’s win, other countries are sure to follow suit and adopt these new applications to gain the edge over their competitors. There’s something unsettling when learning that sport predictions and player performance can be reduced to simple algorithms as exemplified by the Bing search engine and SAP Hana software.  But as sports officials and players utilize technology to remove the elements of unpredictability and human error from their matches, the 2014 World Cup felt much more human as we shared viral content on the social media platforms. Versatek would like to congratulate, along with the players, the engineers and entrepreneurs who played on the invisible sidelines of the world of technology. Do you think technology is taking the fun out of the competition? Leave us a comment below: Versa Technology | Versatek's Ethernet Extenders | PoE Devices and more

Automotive Standardization of Ethernet Promises to Make Roads Even Safer

Microchips do much more than hold back the horse power of your car. Technological innovations in the automotive industry have made it possible to implement sophisticated microprocessors to support a myriad of safety mechanisms such as “camera-assisted parking with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), lane departure warning systems, collision avoidance systems, and traffic light recognition”. While Google teases the mass market with self-driving cars, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) has identified a market for cars that support faster internet speeds and as a response has announced that their 802.3™ Single Twisted Pair 100 Mb/s Ethernet Study Group will be will be exploring “the market opportunities and needs for a 100 Mb/s speed for Ethernet in automotive networking” and possibly standardize the networking speeds. Car-Video-Recorder As twisted-pair cabling has migrated into our cars, it’s exciting to think about the possibilities that the standardization can make. Though regularization can potentially limit higher-powered networking solutions from being used in cars, the speed will be set to the optimal networking speed that cars can currently support. This strategy mimics how the standard 120 voltage was adopted in the US—  “At [a] time [when] the most cost effective form of light bulb was a carbon filament bulb that operated best (optimally) at 100v to 110v”. The standardization far from limited innovation in the past, but at the same time, IEEE has undertaken the ambitious challenge of future-proofing devices in a market that will only increase the amount of features that require higher amounts of bandwidth. To add to the complication, “One study by Frost & Sullivan predicted that premium vehicles will have more than 100 Ethernet nodes by 2020 with mass-market cars having up to 60.” The IEEE  initiative can potentially prevent engineers from running into the circuitous problem of dispersing an already nominal level of bandwidth to devices that demand more and more power. Standardizing the bandwidth to 100 Mb/S will also help maintain a relatively low cost on Electronic Control Units and the frugal decision will make it easier for these safety-related features to percolate into low to mid-priced cars. Versa Technology | Versatek's Ethernet Extenders | PoE Devices and more
ISC West Conference

ICS West 2014 Security Conference

ICS West was a success!

Versa Technology had the pleasure of meeting our clients and partners at ICS West 2014. The event in Las Vegas, Nevada featured a variety of technology leaders in the surveillance industry. We were pleased to see a variety of innovative surveillance equipment from vendors around the world. It is truly exciting to see the future of the security industry at this conference. Versa Technology, the leading distributor of Planet Technology equipment, had the opportunity to view brand new surveillance technology from the company. Clients had the chance to view a selection of new security equipment at the Planet Technology booth #27099. ISC West At the event, Planet Technology showcased a BRAND NEW surveillance equipment line:
  • Panorama IP Camera,NVR,Ultra-Mini IP Camera, Cloud
  • Ultra-PoE
  • Power over Coaxial
  • Green Ethernet – Solar Power POE Switch
  • High Power PoE
  • Power over Coaxial
  • Video over Fiber
Versa Technology would like to thank all our partners and attendees for making this event a success! Until next year! Versa Technology | Versatek's Ethernet Extenders | PoE Devices and more

Phillips Launches Energy-Efficient PoE-Powered Light Bulbs

The next generation light bulb is here. The latest innovation released by Philips features connected light bulbs powered by Ethernet. These light bulbs will effectively replace standard wiring with Ethernet and utilizes Ethernet to power the LED bulbs. In addition, the bulbs efficiently pass information to and from each lamp. This allows businesses and homes to save on energy, and ensures that business owners reduce power usage. With the ability of each LED light bulb to collect information from various sensors, these bulbs have the ability to report back collected information in order to determine the best temperature. For example, a motion sensor has the ability to count the number of employees in a specified area. A thermometer then sends back the current temperature, allowing managers to monitor any part of the office. Managers have the ability to adjust their lighting and heating options effectively. This can be done simply via a app on a smartphone in order to save money on a business utility bill. In order to operate this new innovation, businesses do need to replace their standard cabling with Ethernet. Although the replacement will cost managers quite a bit, Philips notes there is a 50 percent reduction in the cost to install Power over Ethernet over standard wiring. With the changes in technology, this new light bulb alternative is an innovative option businesses may want to consider. led_lightbulbs_PoE Versa Technology | Versatek's Ethernet Extenders | PoE Devices and more
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