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April 14, 2009 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's briefs focus on examples of innovative applications, the increased focus on "smart grid," a view on what "unserved" means, world broadband statistics and recognition of a cooperative cable effort.

Mobile apps provide relief

If the cable industry is trying to increase innovation through tru2way, Apple's iPhone has some interesting examples. There are competing iPhone applications for finding nearby clean public restrooms. Have2Pee allows you to search for bathrooms, including those with diaper changing tables, while competitor SitOrSquat--sponsored by P&G's Charmin toilet paper brand--has compiled information on more than 52,000 toilets in 10 countries worldwide. Now there's a reason to get an iPhone! ( )

BPL, Energy Stimulus and Smart Grid

The focus for communications technology for utilities continues to shift from BPL for broadband toward energy management and smart grid applications. In the US, funding from the economic stimulus package provides a strong incentive for utilities to participate in "smart grid" projects. AT&T announced an expanded relationship with SmartSynch--a maker of communications modules and networks for smart meters--for machine-to-machine residential communications using AT&T's wireless network. SmartSynch’s smart grid is deployed at more than 100 utilities throughout North America. ( ) ( )

The IEEE voted to form the P2030 group, with the intent of writing a high-level electronics guide to tomorrow's smart grid. About 40 companies have expressed interest in the effort, which is planning to hold its first meeting in June in Silicon Valley. ( )

Where there's new opportunity you'll find Google. The company announced that they will be rolling out free software called PowerMeter to analyze the consumption information captured by "smart meters", and help consumers track their home electricity use and improve energy efficiency. ( )

What is "Unserved"?

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) has dedicated about 7.2 billion dollars to accelerating broadband deployment in unserved, underserved, and rural areas across the US. The Wireless Communications Association (WCAI) has submitted comments regarding its view of how "unserved" should be interpreted. They assert that mobile wireless broadband service is a separate product market, and therefore areas in which mobile wireless broadband is unavailable should be classified as “unserved” even if fixed broadband is available. ( )

World Broadband Statistics

Point Topic released their estimates of world broadband statistics for Q4 2008. There were 13.77 million broadband lines added in Q4 2008, taking the world total to 410.9 million lines. They found that growth has continued, but has slowed in many countries. For example, growth in China halved in the quarter. The top 10 broadband countries were (in order): China, USA, Japan, Germany, France, UK, South Korea, Italy, Brazil and Canada. ( )

Kudos for cable cooperation

From our house in Morris Plains NJ, it's a short walk to the train station, where we can ride a commuter train directly into New York City. The train line cuts through the franchise territories of both Cablevision and Comcast.

At our train station and the others along the line, there are now large posters promoting the availability of Optimum WiFi service. The sign has directions providing access for both Cablevision and Comcast customers. We applaud this sort of sensible cooperation between MSOs! We're told the MSOs are working with the railroads to put Wi-Fi on the trains.