Monthly Archives: August 2011
By: Brian T. Horowitz
Mobile devices and emerging technologies are fueling the creation of a $1.3 billion health care WiFi industry within the next five years, according to ABI Research.
The increasing use of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, as well as cutting-edge technologies, is pushing the health care industry to invest more in its WiFi infrastructure. In turn, these changes mean that the wireless market within health care is poised to grow to a $1.3 billion industry within the next five years, according to a new report by ABI Research.
Until recently, my wife and I watched rented movies on an ancient DVD player. Yes, we actually went to Blockbuster (when it still existed), picked out a movie and hoped to God our dinosaur of a DVD player would work. It usually didn’t, though. It didn’t recognize BluRay and buffered more than Youtube on dial-up. It was simply no way to live.
So we finally traded in our old unit for a newer, fancier version. And guess what? We’re better people because of it. The new player connects to our Wi-Fi and allows us to stream Pandora and, most importantly, Netflix. No longer does an hour-long episode of Mad Men take us an hour and twenty minutes to watch. No longer do we need to drive to the movie rental store. No longer do we have to feel compelled to rent a movie we know we’ll hate just because we’re already there. But I digress. We love technology and, quite frankly, it finally loves us back.
So when we heard the news that Netflix decided to jack up its prices by 60% for the same services we were previously getting for around ten bucks a month, we were incensed. “Let’s cancel!” I screamed. “How dare they?” she muttered. It took us a little longer than it should to come to our senses, but we did. Convenience (streaming) wins, especially with hectic work schedules and a new baby. Really, when are we really going to go to a movie or time travel to the stone age to actually rent a movie? So we’re sticking with Netflix. For now. That doesn’t mean we wouldn’t consider another service, were another option to present itself.
Enter Dish Network. They spent a few hundred million buying Blockbuster and will spend a few billion more buying up a bunch of spectrum. As everyone knows, CALinnovates is a big proponent of expanded access to spectrum to keep the consumer experience moving in the right direction. Our members, including app developers and mobile gaming companies, want (need) more to continue to serve their customers’ needs in an ever-demanding arena.
The Dish/Blockbuster marriage is an innovative and interesting strategy in a changing marketplace. Given the economic woes we are facing here in California and nationwide, fusing these two companies together may be a good call. We’ll make sure the CALinnovates team monitors its success moving forward. Now, back to Mad Men….
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has established several broadband-centered initiatives in recent months that display the agency’s appreciation for the tangible societal potential of high-speed connectivity.
Whereas previously the aim of FCC broadband policy has been enabling service providers to increase the supply of telecommunications service, à la the notion of universal service (both lowercase and capital “u” and “s”), these more recent initiatives aim at increasing demand. It appears that Chairman Julius Genachowski wants not only to spur carriers to deploy broadband, but he also wants to ensure that businesses and consumers will use it.
This intent came to light first in the National Broadband Plan, in which the FCC devoted a significant amount of energy to ascertaining how many Americans forego getting broadband, and why. That issue was not overtly teed up in Congress’s mandate for a plan ensuring “access to broadband capability,” but exploring the question whether Americans would actually use that “access” seemed a reasonable part of the exercise. The answers alarmed the FCC: only 65% of Americans use broadband at home, for reasons having little to do with its retail availability. As a result, the Plan became as much about encouraging broadband adoption as about laying transport cables.
So the Commission has, in addition to revamping Universal Service funding for the broadband era, turned its attention to what drives broadband use: applications. First was the Open Internet Applications Contest announced in January of this year. Programmers were invited to submit white papers, research, or actual applications to tell consumers how their broadband connectivity is functioning on a real-time basis. The project, which essentially commissioned the invention of an electronic watchdog against deliberate traffic disruption, was created in furtherance of the December 2010 Open Internet Order. But the Open Internet Apps Context is not only an innovative way for the FCC to ensure rule compliance – it increases consumer demand by assuring would-be subscribers that they will actually get what they pay for.
A few weeks ago, Chairman Genachowski announced the winners of the Open Internet challenge. Netalyzer was an Open Internet Research Award Winner, and proposes a Java-based applet that will link a computer to remote servers to measure several aspects of broadband-related performance, including HTTP caching and DNS manipulation. Another Open Internet Research Award Winner was the DiffProbe (short for “differential probing”), which detects whether an ISP has deployed mechanisms such as prioritization commands that alter Internet traffic. MobiPerf won both the Open Internet Research Award and the People’s Choice Award, and enables mobile handset users (those with Android and iOS operating systems) to obtain network performance information, and compiles that information anonymously. According to the FCC contest page, the winners will present their work at FCC headquarters, with travel expenses paid up to $500 per person or $1500 per team, and the applications will be featured on the FCC website and social media outlets.
The Apps For Communities contest launched in April 2011, challenging developers to create an application that will make the Internet more attractive to users. With aspirational goals of a “personalized Internet” and obtaining “actionable information,” the contest is another vehicle for the FCC to put its expertise – and up to $100,000 in prize money – behind ensuring that if telecom companies build more broadband, people will in fact come to broadband. Entries are due August 31.
The FCC’s demand-side focus now also embraces the nation’s overall economic agenda: jobs, jobs, jobs. At an event held August 4 in Jeffersonville, Indiana, the Chairman announced a partnership with Jobs4America, a coalition of call center providers, to create 100,000 new call center jobs in the next two years that, he stated, will rely entirely on broadband connectivity. Coalition members located throughout the US will either build new centers or hire persons who, thanks to broadband, can train and work at home. The program seeks to bring these jobs back from foreign countries and give them to people who, for reasons such as a disability or lack of access to child care, need to work remotely. The announcement was a victory on many fronts, none the least of which was a clear message to industry that the FCC is working to prevent a repeat of the DotCom bust in 2000 that was sparked, in large part, by miles of stranded, unused telecommunications infrastructure.
These initiatives show that the FCC is not content to assume or to assert that the mere existence of broadband is a public good. Broadband as a theory will not play. It seems that unless measurable societal benefits are achieved through integrating broadband into our classrooms, our institutions, and our workforce, the Chairman will not feel that his broadband policy was a success. If the market cannot of itself create consumer demand sufficient to create these benefits, the FCC will find an app for that.
I attended a great meetup earlier this week hosted by the Los Angeles Lean Startup Circle at CoLoft in Santa Monica. The guest speaker was Rob Walling, a well-known Solo Entrepreueur aka “Micropreneur”. Despite the fact that the pizza delivery guy was over an hour late, Walling saved the day, providing colorful insight and helpful tips to a crowd generally comprised of coders and business guys.
So why was I there? I don’t write code, though sometimes I speak in it. I am not hawking my latest app, but I like to use them. I was there to meet the crowd and learn about what makes this up-and-coming tech hub tick and, of course, to pimp CALinnovates and the great work done by our organization. Besides free beer, pizza, t-shirts and a few of Walling’s books (and e-books loaded onto laser pointer pen thumb drives (how’s that for innovative?), this youngish crowd was convinced that it will undoubtedly create the next big thing with the right revenue model, great code and brass knuckles marketing.
At the end of the day, Walling’s words of wisdom will undoubtedly help the next set of entrepreneurs make their mark (and their money) if there is wider access to their products. How can we help these guys succeed? Well, right now, too many potential consumers are being left out in the cold due to limited or no connectivity. If we continue to implement common sense policies and encourage private sector investment in expanding access to high-speed mobile broadband while increasing spectrum to meet (or, better yet, EXCEED) data demands then many of these micropreneurs will succeed.
I’m going to continue attending meetups and conferences as often as possible to meet as many tech innovators as I can. They’re the ones at the forefront of CALinnovates’ mission of creating new jobs and spurring investment in tech-friendly policies across the state.
By Ken Terry
Partially due to an infusion of federal funds, the healthcare industry is creating IT jobs faster than other industries, according to a new Bureau of Labor Statistics report. The number of IT positions in healthcare is expected to grow 20 percent annually through 2018, the report says.
Since 2009, the number of health IT jobs has increased 67 percent, according to an article in Computerworld. Online employment agency SimplyHired.com, lists 7,200 open positions in the field, the article points out.
Most in demand are CIOs and CTOs, but jobs in health IT administration also are growing rapidly, SimplyHired.com’s database reveals. Since 2009, database administrator positions have grown 94 percent, and other administrative jobs in networking, systems and storage have also seen strong growth. In addition, the healthcare industry needs thousands of software developers and system analysts.
Overall, the BLS report notes, healthcare and social services jobs are expected to grow 24 percent from 2008 through 2018. Healthcare support jobs will increase by 1.1 million during that time period–more than any other service job category. However, healthcare employment took a nose dive in July, according to a report just released by The Conference Board.
In health IT, BLS predicts that a rise in medical testing, treatments and procedures performed, and electronic health record use all will be pivotal in terms of growth. “[M]ore technicians will be needed to complete the new responsibilities associated with electronic data management,” the report notes.
The problem that many hospitals and other providers encounter in filling these jobs is the shortage of qualified, experienced health IT staff. While the federally funded training programs in 82 community colleges may help meet some of the demand, the majority of the available positions are not entry level, say consultants and CIOs.