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May 14, 2006 Provided by System Dynamics Inc.

Briefly Noted: Updates, Observations and Trends

Each month, we collect miscellaneous happenings, studies, trends or observations you might have missed. This month we feature more on muni Wi-Fi, some broadband statistics, BPL testing in California and a couple of fun applications.

Muni Wi-Fi -- A St. Cloud Update

About 18 months ago, we wrote about the St. Cloud free municipal Wi-Fi project ( ). Jonathan Baltuch, one of our readers, is spearheading the project and had previously filled us in; we visited St. Cloud to get first-hand information to our readers. As of March, 2006, St. Cloud has rolled out free Wi-Fi to the whole town. See this update from Jonathan ( ).

Municipal Wi-Fi has spread virally across the US and around the world. Although these projects have been multiplying rapidly, the playing out is still unclear from the perspectives of business model, technical capabilities, satisfying customer expectations, legal considerations and the role of established providers.

Broadband by the Numbers--OECD Report

A survey from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reports that Iceland has passed South Korea for the highest concentration of broadband users. The top four countries--Iceland, Korea, the Netherlands and Denmark--all have more than 25 subscribers per 100 inhabitants. Although the US has lower per capita penetration, it has the largest total number of broadband subscribers in the OECD at 49 million. US broadband subscribers represent 31% of all broadband connections in the OECD. ( )

More Numbers--IGI Telecom Economy Report

IGI has released a report by Clif Holliday on First Quarter 2006 High-Speed Access ( ) in the US, saying

  • DSL represents over 44% of total US High Speed Access, up from 34% at the end of 2002
  • High Speed Access reaches 44% of households, up from 19% at the end of 2002; this is almost 48 million households, up from 20 million at the end of 2002
  • and forecasting that Telco DSL will pass Cable in terms of US broadband penetration by the end of 2006. ( )

Broadband Over Powerline

Things have been relatively quiet on access BPL in the US, but the California Public Utilities Commission just agreed to allow statewide BPL testing. Electric utilities and other companies in California can begin BPL projects, as long as they follow affiliate transaction rules and secure the power distribution system from harm. Sponsors of the rules believe that power companies will represent another competitive option for Internet access. ( )

Making Wine With Wireless (What Comes After the iPod?)

Pro Vina has announced the Wine Pod, a personal use winery controlled by an on-board computer and built-in wireless networking. You load the software on your computer which communicates wirelessly to the Wine Pod. The personal winery coaches you at each step in the winemaking process. For $2000 it might make a great Father's Day gift, but there is a waiting list. ( )

Personalization with Meez

Sean Ryan, formerly CEO of, whose Rhapsody service was bought by RealNetworks, has a new venture. is a way of creating personalized 3D avatars to jazz up users online interactions. Donnerwood Media is the online entertainment company that has created the service, which is targeted largely to teens and college students. Although wildly outside the target demographic, Sandy is having a good time creating and changing her Meez. ( )