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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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January 8, 2008 12:48 PM

The Rift in Productive Telecom Debate Personified at CES

It's amazing how combining a seemingly endless show floor with limitless choice in nighttime activities can derail the best intentions of any blogger to post throughout the day. Never worry, though, as there have already been many interesting, enlightening experiences I'm looking forward to sharing with you throughout the week.

The first I want to delve into is the bizarre juxtaposition of the two sessions I was most interested in attending yesterday.

One was entitled "National Broadband Deployment: Are We There Yet?" and the other was "Finding the Right Bandwidth."

"National Broadband Deployment..." featured, among others, a representative from Google, the Consumer Electronics Association, and non-elected representatives of Congress and the Executive Office of the President.

"Finding the Right Bandwidth" featured a slate of wireline and wireless network operators, including AT&T;, Verizon, Comcast, and Sprint.

The unfortunate challenge I faced was that the first session was at noon at the Las Vegas Convention Center, and the second was at 1:30 at the Venetian. Being able to get between the two in less than half an hour was an uncertain affair; both buildings are huge, it can be a scrum to get a taxi at the convention center, and the only other option--the monorail--I was completely unfamiliar with.

So, much to my chagrin, I made the decision to forgo the "National Broadband Deployment..." session for the "Finding the Right Bandwidth" session in the hopes of finding a more interesting discussion regarding the use of broadband.

I admittedly regret the decision to some degree looking back as the second session didn't plow much new ground, especially in the area I'm most interested in of the supply and demand of bandwidth--I'll share my notes from this session in my next post--but that's not what frustrated me most.

That honor goes to the unintentional symbolism of having two sessions about the availability (and, to a lesser degree, use) of broadband that each to a degree feature a different side of the debate (though Verizon and NetCoalition, a group of ISP organizations, were on stage as well) occurring on opposite sides of the conference.

It's almost like the realities of the broadband debate being overly polarized and lacking real two-way dialogue became personified in the scheduling of these two panels. The arrangement paralleled the tendency for the two sides on issues like net neutrality to not engage in a straightforward, productive dialogue.

I'm not trying to blame anyone for this happening, especially since I understand on a much smaller level the challenges of constructing a conference agenda that is inevitably imperfect due to availability and scheduling and the like.

But I couldn't ignore the irony of this arrangement.

The truth of the matter is that this intellectual stalemate that has put a chill over substantive telecom debate has to end. There are just so many issues that are going to have to be worked through over the next few years as the Internet continues its rise to prominence as the dominant medium of the 21st century.

If we want to have any hope of resolving these issues and finding the best path to America's broadband-enabled future we need to create an environment where people and companies can state their opinions and be heard and thoughtfully considered, where we can all disagree yet find a way to focus less on our differences and more so on our similarities, where we can uncover the threads of truth that connect us all and that we can all agree on.

And to do this, the only way is to have all parties come together and engage in a civil, upfront dialogue where we all respect the opinions of others, state our own opinions eloquently and without vitriol, and understand that on some issues compromise and a willingness to evolve one's positions is the only approach that will allow us to find those truths that can ultimately be what's best for our country rather than what's best for an individual company or person.

So here's to 2008, a year that I will both hope for and fight for to be the time when we finally all come together, acknowledge the importance and validity of all parties involved with making the Internet great, and find a way to come together help everyone participate in and profit from a broadband-enabled future.


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