Monetizing Broadband through Cooperacy


Monetize means to convert something to money and this can be achieved quite simply by selling something.  Another way might be to take a tool or service that you have and use it in different ways to create money perhaps by utilizing it in such a fashion as to save your money being spent on other purposes. 

What then are the best ways to monetize that broadband connection that you have or should have? How do you monetize that communications service that you pay for.  How does your community monetize its broadband network?  The obvious ways are to use the Internet not just for data but for voice, television, and security systems. What are some others?

I’m thinking that there has to be others that are offered either free or at very little cost.  There is of course VOIP services like Skype which you can use to stay in touch with friends and family.  You can get a VOIP service provider to give you virtually all the capabilities and features you have on your analogue phone.

I got to thinking about this as my son doesn’t watch television anymore, nor I, especially now, since we cancelled it.  He doesn’t use the phone which we still have, perhaps mostly for nostalgia, as he talks with his friends, actually conferences with several at a time, over the Internet, or uses his cell phone.

What is this future generation watching? I know Youtube is one, but I’m wondering what other free channels, that is, URLs, as well?  I’m surprised that there is not a new version of  TV Guide called Free TV Guide.  Television was initially free.  Remember all those TV antennae on the roofs of houses with rotators.  All you had to do was to buy a television and an antenna, a one time charge.  Now you have to pay monthly to watch advertisements.  Have we been duped?  Shouldn’t the advertisers be paying for our service?

Well, we can still listen to radio free of charge and even monetize our broadband further by being able to listen to radio stations in other cities and countries, thanks to Internet radio.

You have a smart phone but no cell coverage.  With a soft phone app on your smart phone you can communicate using WiFi on your smart phone to take even more advantage of your residential broadband Internet gateway while lowering your cellular usage costs.

For HAM operators we can even use the Internet to make connections throughout the world.

For rural and remote communities, distance learning has to be another way of monetizing that broadband connection. You no longer have to pay for  travel to get to class.  Anyone else with some thoughts on reducing your costs by monetizing your broadband connection and virtual vacations don’t count?

Just thought of another one, not so direct, but still appropriate, and that is selling all those items we possess that are no longer used through classified ads or bartering.

Basically these are personal and family ways to monetize that broadband connection.  Now, how many ways are there for a community to monetize their broadband?  Well, in order to even think about this the community really needs to own their network infrastructure, otherwise the monetization process benefits others.

Assuming then that your community owns their network, hopefully through a cooperative endeavor, cooperacy, and not local municipal government, some of the ways that this broadband network may be monetized are: local phone service; promote local buying through a community portal; local web hosting; community WiFi for tourists and visitors; local radio broadcasting; local video streaming for council meetings and event coverage; Big Box stores without big boxes through affiliate marketing; promote local trade; local coupons; local classified ads; surveillance; water monitoring; meter reading; precision farming; and local fund-raising online.

What Happen$ in the Community $tay$ in the Community!

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Locality of Application Tsunami


Application Internet Exchanges (AIX) are inevitable and will be facilitated by what is called cloud computing data centers which will transition and evolve accordingly.  Consequently community broadband application cooperatives are bound to happen.

We have tiered access to the Internet where we have providers that provide us with personal, home, and business access to the Internet.  Correspondingly, we have a second tier of providers providing services to the aforementioned tier one providers.  A similar tiered network will occur involving software applications and to some extent this has already occurred.  Some companies have unwittingly blundered into the opportunity; but the total market potential of locality of application has not been recognized as yet.

My personal experience with community broadband surveys is that most of the communications stays within the community.  You just have to look at the demand for local news.  If the only alternative for access to applications goes outside of the community anyone can readily and blatantly postulate and theorize that the growing trend will be outside of the community.

Data communications and telecommunications are going through a technological merger.  Data communication companies have been considerably more adept through this evolution and at making the transition because for the most part they have controlled the content and haven’t been burdened by legacy systems and introverted thinking.  Content, like software applications, vertical or horizontal, will prevail and drive connectivity.

Low-cost bandwidth will come about through competition at all levels: community, county, region, state and country.  The cost of technology is such that local community empowerment, local sustainability, and local self reliance is quite achievable and makes better use of local resources in more ways than one.

Demand by its very definition is neither static nor stationary as it invokes responsive change.  The benefits of locality of reference will always disappear when there is no local alternative; but inevitably market forces will prevail.  We have been and are being technologically bullied and like sheeple most of us just blindly follow the herd.

The premise for this blog is based on my personal education, experience, expertise, and observations.  This of course leads to my theorizing that locality of application, insourcing, distributed processing, tiered cloud-in-a-box technology, and whatever technological tools and methodology to empower communities locally will always outweigh the alternatives.

What is really needed is application peering in a distributed fashion down to the community level.   This is more of an evolution based on demand.  With respect to telecommunications, originally private branch exchanges were switch boards manned by operators who were then replaced by electromechanical switches and those subsequently replaced by digital PBX technology which has evolved to IP PBXs and virtual IP PBXs.  Distributed technology and processing when economically viable, and in most cases it is, will always take precedence unless outside factors, like legislation, dictates otherwise.

Another example of locality is the mainframe which has evolved to a new role.  The mainframe’s “general” commercial usage was usurped by the personal computer and servers.  When you aggregate the number of PCs and servers, and support costs in large companies and government to displace the mainframe, this was not a lower cost displacement but a local empowerment one for users, organizations, and corporations selling the technology.  We’re going through another version of locality of empowerment with BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) where people insist on using their own personal devices in their workplace.

For every outsourced solution there should be an insourced solution where it can economically fit.  In other words, there should be community non-hosted solutions for relevant hosted solutions.  We personally don’t use hosted solutions ourselves if we can’t have a non-hosted version of it.

Taking the concept of insourcing and outsourcing a little further, backup and recovery  is another great example of locality of application.  Technology exists today to backup your personal computer and your business server both from a non-hosted perspective and a hosted perspective.  Novastor, http://www.novastor.com and several other companies have software which can be installed on your local computers and backup your critical data to external devices locally.  You can then go store the device in your bank’s safety deposit box if you want.  This is your first level of backup and recovery.  Most ISPs and WISPs offer local backup and recovery to some extent in your communities.  They in turn may back-up and even grandfather-father-son your data to colocation and cloud computing centers outside of the community.

There is a myriad of applications like accounting, social media networking, online games, CRM, CMS, etc. that can be similarly recognized and treated as both local and remote, hosted and non-hosted, outsourced and insourced versions.  There is a huge market opportunity awaiting the right buzzwords to entice the sheeple.

Smart phone technology is another good indicator of this next enormous wave coming in technology.  As I mentioned earlier the myriad of applications will inevitably include smart phone apps becoming more localized.  After reading such books as “Android Apps for Absolute Beginners” there is no reason that applications and their corresponding smart phone apps like OpenTable, Uber, Zillow, Yelp, DemandForce, GrubHub, 1stdibs, and Peixe Urbano could not be readily replicated locally to the benefit of the community.  Again, there is a huge market opportunity not only awaiting the right marketing buzzwords, but local entrepreneurs with a little geeky savvy.

The new reality, that is, centalization, is merely a transitional stepping stone brought on by a mere local absence through lack of foresight and hindsight which like a void will be filled.  Its inevitable, as it is human nature to seek local empowerment.  Those companies not addressing both centralized and corresponding distributed versions of their software and sell accordingly will inevitably fail to those who do.

Let me try to be more succinct about the consequences of not having locality of application.  Let us say we live in a rural community whose backhaul, that is, access to the Internet goes down, perhaps because of disaster, or more likely because someone has inadvertently dug up the fiber.  The community no longer has access to all those centralized applications like social media networking, or heaven forbid, applications which utilize public safety, like amber alerts.

The “scale of information flow and velocity” will inevitably be distribution first, centralization second, and that has already been realized but ignored for the time being.

Let’s take even another example, video conferencing.  Video conferencing applications exist today, which are free by the way, to run on community servers.  The expertise to create such an app has in all likelihood been done virtually perhaps by some geek who farms part time and not necessarily by some geek in a 30th floor apartment.  So, you want a video image of yourself, perhaps even that Darth Vader holographic image of yourself, presenting in a virtual board room.  Let’s call this application, VY, for Virtually Yours, and it is a centralized application developed locally by that same geek, and now your image needs to be constantly transported across a terabyte data stream to a board room in a distant community.  Would it not make more sense to have VY in each community so that only your virtual image criteria is transmtted and not consuming vast amounts of bandwidth while doing your virtual presentation, along with holographic images of those board members who actually reside and work in that community?

Let’s take even a more practical and more immediate application, a final example, like classifed ads. Would it not make more sense to have a classifed ad application resident on a local community server where most of these kinds of transactions are made?  Now assume this application, a micro application, is resident on communities all around the world.  Your micro application can then become a macro application to do searches, not just on a community level but a regional level, a state level, and a country level, so that you can find your Darth Vader mask that you lost while on a world wide vacation with Chubaka.  In other words, look for a distributed version of Craigslist, and eventually VY, that can become a macro version through an AIX.

Cloud computing has merely made this perspective foggy, not cloudy and only Application Internet Exchanges will be able to facilitate the cloud dispersion and locality of application.

Like the universe, constant expansion of empowerment is inevitable, unless it is taken away.  Now, where and when will the earthquake happen that will precipitate this tsunami and will some type of fracturing cause it?

What Happen$ in the Community $tay$ in the Community!

Community Broadband Funding Secret


Here is a secret: community broadband, and bundled entertainment, can be had for a fraction of the cost of television programs and channels that you pay for and don’t watch.

A few months ago I looked at my cable television bill and wondered why I was paying big bucks for television programs and stations that we didn’t watch? 

In reality, entertainment is already more cost effectively bundled into your broadband offering. You don’t need to pay for something now that you don’t watch.

Before dropping our cable television we found that with all the advertisements we could flick and forth between two programs without missing the story lines. Then it occurred to me that we’re paying to watch advertisements; that doesn’t make sense. 

My family now gets their shows, news, movies, etc. through the Internet. We use a Sony DVD player with WiFi, http://store.sony.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?catalogId=10551&storeId=10151&langId=-1&partNumber=BDPS790 to connect our television.  This set top box also has Skype and video capability making it ideal for connecting to those friends and relatives across the pond, or wherever.

We still have an antenna on the roof with a rotator; remember those?  I think that I might just see what we can pick up with the old antenna then replace it with a digital antenna.  I wonder why television stations didn’t use their spectrum for two way communication? I know that the technology exists.  It would have seemed to be a logical progression to readily address rural and remote broadband.

Here is another perspective on this growing trend: “8 Alternatives to Cable TV That Will Keep You Entertained”, http://www.wisebread.com/8-alternatives-to-cable-tv-that-will-keep-you-entertained .

Furthermore, a community media center and a local community development cooperative could enlighten residents to these trends and opportunities.

What is everyone else doing for online entertainment?

Community Revirtualized through Supply and Demand


I’ve posted previously about “Yesteryear’s Country Catalogue Store Revirtualized” and have discussed the meaning of to “revirtualize” in separate posts, but it basically refers to “revitalize virtually”.  When you think more about revirtualization, your community in itself will inevitably become revirtualized with a catalogue store, newspaper, radio, coffee shop, fitness centre, or, even a cemetery. It makes you wonder if there is some community cloud application that can facilitate a revirtualized community hotel made up of individual rooms to let in the community which could be a bed and breakfast cooperative of several resident homes (another cooperative business plan in the making for someone).

The content associated with this inevitable community revirtualization is going to demand bandwidth, vast amounts of bandwidth. Isn’t this just simply supply and demand based on content where connectivity is merely the infrastructure of delivery; content drives connectivity?

I think that I will start a series based on community revirtualization. It could be the basis for new business plans for someone, for example, the revirtualization of cemeteries, a big demand coming from the Boomers.  Let me know what you come up with, as inevitably we will host it in our community media centre. 

Remember, the way to get this going in your community is by creating C-3PO, a community cloud cooperative PO’d, perhaps through your revirtualized coffee shop, stay tuned.

What Happen$ in the Community $tay$ in the Community!

Cooperacy through Community Stakeholders and Shareholders


Cooperacy is defined as the four C’s: Community, Content, Connectivity, and Cooperation.  Community Development Cooperatives, CDCs, represent demographic areas which may be rural and remote communities, incorporated or unincorporated municipalities, urban or suburban communities.  CDCs may collectively organize as a federation of cooperatives to the benefit of a larger geographic and demographic area which may then encompass counties, districts, states, and countries. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cooperative_federation

Perhaps to make things more simplistic a graphical representation of what your community needs to do to empower itself with its own resources is needed.  So, below you have on the left community stakeholders made up of the community’s residents, businesses, associations and institutions in the form of a cooperative, either for profit or not for profit.  On the right you have an enterprise, a company, a corporation with shares controlled 51% by the community development cooperative.  The remaining 49% may be made up of investments by individuals or corporations or institutions.  Those investors may have an exit strategy in which case the enterprise could become wholly owned by the CDC and eventually become a cooperative endeavor itself.  The enterprise may return profits in the form of dividends back to the shareholders and hence the stakeholders, the CDC.  The enterprise could be a cannery, lumber company, casino, utility company, or whatever; but for our broadband purposes and its importance to local economic development, let’s call the enterprise a community media centre.

Separating stakeholders from shareholders has the initial advantage of efficiency and bringing resources through incentives to a community that might not have the necessary resources.  It also has the advantage of protecting the interests of incumbents and fostering their business, such as the local ISP or local newspaper.

The biggest difficulty is finding a community champion and getting started.  I advocate initially creating C-3PO which could in turn evolve into a CDC.  Basically, a few companies and/or individuals with required skills may get together to create a community cloud cooperative, a community portal cloud, the community’s economic development content seed.

A great example of this cooperacy is in Sangudo, Alberta, Canada, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EgZzi80Jwns where the local development cooperative, Sangudo Opportunity Development Co-operative, facilitated a custom meat packer.  Cooperacy follows a tribal model, just as Native Americans and Canada’s First Nations have been creating businesses such as lumber companies, canneries, casinos, etc. using this methodology. 

A CDC would then form a community foundation.  Local government could transfer public land into the foundation for bond issues to facilitate schools or other community needs.  

The possibilities are immense.

Why Do We Pay Others for the Right to Communicate?


Communications is not only about the ability to speak and be heard, but having something of interest to say. Communities are no different from people.  So, why do we pay others for this right?

Why is it that communities which are made up of residents, businesses, institutions, and associations, pay money to outside sources to communicate and to convey their information when it can be done within the community quite readily through a community owned open access network and a community media center

I’ve been investigating for some time ways that I personally, as well as from a business perspective, that I can not only lower my communication costs but maximize what I do spend in this regard in the community. How do I inspire my community to help me and in doing so, help themself? The best way is through a Community Development Cooperative, CDC.

So far I have taken an esoteric approach on how to resolve rural and remote community broadband. Over the next few weeks I’m going to take a more practical approach and just “git-r-done”. The basic community open access network infrastructure is already in place along with supporting technology.

What I hope to create in this website is a kind of “Community Empowerment for Dummies” strategy, which should be easily replicated in any community, rural or remote, urban or suburban. It will be like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. Unfortunately this time the picture is not on the box but in our mind.  Knowledge and clarity of thought is essential and correspondingly the mind’s eye should be open to corrective lenses. Some of us start with edge pieces then look for color patterns and while doing so hope that all the pieces are there and the dog hasn’t eaten any. I would appreciate comments and questions as we go through this.

Being way too altruistic I constantly get stung by not addressing that obvious question “What’s in it for me?”. I too often trust others to take care of that for me, much to my chagrin. So, hopefully I can come up with a great answer and assist others who also behave like a trusting and loyal dog.

We have established a wireless network in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Canada where we were able to get spectrum more readily for rural and remote endeavors. I wasn’t involved in the initial phase of this. I had hoped to replicate the scenario in an Alaskan community as well as here in my community in Maple Valley, Washington. One of the challenges is keeping the politicians informed as I hope to form a community development cooperative through which a community foundation could be established for grant and local philanthropy purposes. Several of my U.S. political representatives are connected to me through Linkedin, but are not as yet members of the group “Rural and Remote Community Broadband”.  I guess that I should invite them and to my corresponding Twitter account and Facebook page.

Community stakeholders and anchor tenants are key to the success of a community owned open access network and essential to keeping “What Happen$ in the Community $tay$ in the Community”.

So, why do we pay others for the right to communicate?

Finding Community Broadband Funding


Funding forms come in three flavors: a self-sustaining business case, public and/or private subsidization, or a combination of the two. The preferred solution is a self-sustaining solution.

So many times we have been told that there is no business case for rural and remote broadband deployment and quite often upon investigation we find prospective customers paying $60 to $80 per month for satellite TV plus, plus at least $40 per month for a cell phone, and then an additional $20 per month for a fixed line phone service, all with exorbitant initial installation and/or setup fees.  As long as a service provider can deliver similar services, or more, over their broadband network there is more than a business case given technology today.

I advocate establishing a Community Development Cooperative which in turn could establish a Community Foundation, a non-profit through which local philanthropy can be fostered as well as applying for various grants.  Through this cooperative look at cooperative crowdsource funding.  Also, look at the obvious public funding programs, such as municipal infrastructure programs which if you’re going to get funding for sewers you should be contemplating laying fiber as well.

There is no reason why a community should not control and host its own content through a community owned network. For instance, revenue from hosting local businesses websites could be quite substantial.  It is a sorry state of affairs for any community, in particular, any municipality, to leave the importance of information highways, which have become increasingly more critical than transportation highways, to companies outside of the community with no real local vested interest, especially with respect to employment, other than extracting revenue from the community’s organizations, businesses and residents, and spending it elsewhere. It is even a sorrier state of affairs for a community to be perceived as non-responsive to local companies with a vested interest in the community and more than a willingness to invest more into the community.  Lastly, it is the sorriest state of affairs that the municipality does not recognize and expediently address its progressive short comings especially with respect to jobs and revenue.

The community stakeholders, such as schools, clinics, institutions, associations, and libraries are all vital as anchor tenants in local community broadband endeavors; yet, they form they own networks at taxpayer expense.  They could as easily and readily be served through secured virtual networks and truly contribute to the community in other ways.

Most importantly, the development of a community portal is the key, or corner-stone, to the subsidization of community broadband deployment through local advertisements, affiliate programs, mobile applications, etc.  Furthermore, by augmenting the portal with aspects such as a “walled garden” the community becomes empowered through control of local content. 

Think of the social implications of a community portal.  Through a community development cooperative a funding capability similar to Facebook could be set up with purchase credits to foster local buying.  Advertising, affiliate marketing, and community based applications could also generate revenue.  You can have specialized virtual stores.  You can have local stores without storefronts.  You can have big box stores with big boxes.  These all can be achieved through a revirtualized catalogue store in the community which may serve a multitude of other purposes. 

Bear in mind that it is all about content not just connectivity.   You put the best ice cream parlor into the community and people will find a way to get there.  Finding community broadband funding is not like finding Waldo.  The only limiting factor to finding community broadband funding can be found in the mirror.

What Happen$ in the Community $tay$ in the Community!

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