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Geoff Daily

App-Rising.com covers the development and adoption of broadband applications, the deployment of and need for broadband networks, and the demands placed on policy to adapt to the revolutionary opportunities made possible by the Internet.

App-Rising.com is written by Geoff Daily, a DC-based technology journalist, broadband activist, marketing consultant, and Internet entrepreneur.

App-Rising.com is supported in part by AT&T;, however all views and opinions expressed herein are solely my own.

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April 30, 2007 9:50 AM

Killer App Expo Musings: The Calm Before the Storm

Good morning from sunny Fort Wayne, IN! I’m writing the first of many posts on the happenings of the first-ever Killer App Expo, which starts today with preconference workshops for developers and officially kicks off with a keynote by Mayor Graham Richard tomorrow morning.

Last night I met up with Tom Spengler, CEO of Granicus, and his lovely PR director Lauren Alexander in the hotel bar for a drink. Granicus has a very unique webcasting platform targeted to the local government market for streaming live and on-demand public meetings.

While chatting, Michael Johnston stepped in, looking for a libation of his own. Michael’s the VP of Information Technology for Jackson Energy Authority, which has deployed fiber to more than 30,000 homes in Jackson, TN.

We began to have a wide-ranging discussion that touched on a lot of points, but the one that I found especially interesting was when Michael mentioned the challenges JEA faced as incumbent broadband providers have begun aggressive marketing campaigns in his area that claim DSL and cable are fast enough, essentially saying there’s no need for fiber.

The trouble with this is that now Michael’s in a position where his sales people are saying, “So what’s the sizzle of fiber?”

Of course, if you know your Mbps from your Gbps, fiber’s a pretty sexy technology, but the average customer doesn’t have an awareness of this; they need to know what fiber enables.

The challenge there is that the vast majority of innovation we’re seeing on the Internet is being done with the mindset of “How can I fit as much as possible through a 1Mbps pipe?” not “What could I do if I had 100Mbps to work with?”

Much of this is due to practical issues, like trying to justify investing a million dollars in creating an application for a market of FTTH customers that’s in the single digit millions at best, rather than for the tens of millions of people with DSL or cable.

Yet at the same time, as we discussed this, I could see the wheels turning in Tom’s head as we were raising the question of “What can we do with all this bandwidth?”

Unfortunately, the hotel bar closes at 11 on Sunday nights and our conversation was cut short so I wasn’t able to pick his brain as to what thoughts were racing through his head.

But fear not. The next few days at the Killer App Expo will provide the first ever snapshot of just a sliver of the full potential that broadband applications have to offer.

And I’ll be working diligently over the next few days to try and find my own answers to that question.

In the meantime, last night’s conversation between an application developer and a network operator was precisely what I was hoping the Expo would enable. So I’m beside myself with excitement over what the next few days have in store.

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