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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.

April 18, 2008 2:58 PM

Video from Net Neutrality Hearing...

Not sure even I can sit through all this, but I've found a site with video from today's FCC hearing at Stanford about network management here.

It is fascinating stuff, just somewhat dry, it takes a while to get through, and I'm not sure if much was said that hasn't already been said a thousand times.

But hey: it's an example of using broadband to talk about broadband, and I can't pass up an opportunity to share something like this.

April 18, 2008 9:10 AM

Net Neutrality Redux: Progress or Regression?

Yesterday at Stanford the FCC held it's second outside-the-beltway hearing on net neutrality generally and Comcast's treatment of P2P traffic specifically. I'm torn on whether or not I'd call it a successful step in the right direction.

On the one hand I'm a supporter of Chairman Martin's push for greater transparency as a solution to the problem of network operators managing traffic on their network. He reiterated this stance and it makes a lot of sense: force network operators to disclose how they're shaping traffic, and then have the market decide what it finds acceptable. Now I don't think this is the ultimate, final, and only solution, but it's an essential piece to the larger puzzle of where Internet regulation must go.

I was also somewhat heartened by reading FreePress policy director Ben Scott's remarks, which can be found here. Firstly, he acknowledged right upfront that he's not advocating for the end of network management and the beginning of a regime where all bits must be treated equally. I also like how he tried putting this debate into the larger context of the many issues that need to be addressed, some of which relate to net neutrality, some of which don't.

That said, I found it kind of odd that he specifically separated network management from net neutrality; it was almost as if he's acknowledging that "net neutrality" isn't a specific, concrete issue but rather an issue painted with broad strokes that's much more akin to an argument for free speech rather than anything having to do with proper network management practices.

At the same time, I grew frustrated in reading through this that while Mr. Scott makes an impassioned call to action he doesn't share any specifics as to what that action should be. Making matters worse is that while he acknowledges that net neutrality should not mean the end of network management if you read through the language in the net neutrality bills that have been put forth to date, it's so vague as to call into question all sorts of valid network management practices.

But the thing that frustrated me the most about these hearings was that no incumbent sent a representative to state their case. I understand they wanted to avoid getting beat up on a high profile stage, but by deferring on the opportunity to state the valid points of their case I worry that the overly broad message of net neutrality will pick back up steam in an election year when it's less likely than ever that we'll actually be able to have a reasoned debate through which we can find a solution that addresses the interests of all parties involved.

The key for me in all this is that we mustn't forget that net neutrality is only one facet to the Great Broadband Debate. We've still got to figure out how to get more broadband into rural areas, faster and cheaper broadband everywhere, more people using broadband, and that's just scratching the surface of big-picture ideals.

We can't let net neutrality slow us down from having productive conversations about all of these issues.

Don't get me wrong, we do need to address net neutrality in a way that protects consumer interests while not jeopardizing the ability of network operators to invest and innovate in their networks.

I made an attempt to push the debate forward by devoting an entire week to the topic of net neutrality back in February. You can read those posts here.

But there's obviously still a lot to be said, many more issues to be explored, and workable solutions still to be found, so I'll do my best to keep you informed on what's happening, why it matters, and how we might find a way past the rhetoric and towards real solutions that can help move our country forward more aggressively into the 21st century.

April 17, 2008 8:18 AM

Video Production as Driver of Economic Development

One thought that's stuck with me from my trip to Lafayette occurred near the end of my time there as I communed over drinks with Cajuns.

As we were chatting they pointed to a big warehouse-looking building located near the downtown strip, identifying it as the location of a new video production facility.

Normally when I hear about something like this I begin thinking about what kinds of cool things they must be producing inside, but for some reason this time my mind wandered to begin thinking about how this might impact local economic development.

First off someone had to buy or lease the building. Then they needed to refurbish it, hopefully using local labor. Then they needed to stock it with the tools of their trade, some of which you figure must have been purchased locally. Then they needed to staff it, which either means creating jobs for locals or bringing in more creative talent to the area. So by coming into Lafayette, this facility has put money into local pockets, created new jobs, and added to the tax base. But that's not all...

To keep the building up and running you figure they must rely on local goods and services, everything from morning biscuits to janitorial work to office supplies and beyond. And the salaries being paid to workers therein should find their way into Lafayette's local economy as they stroll over to a bar after work to buy a drink or eat at any of the area's amazing restaurants. But this goes even further...

What really excited me about this line of thought is the realization of how powerful it can be to think about video production as a manufacturing business of sorts. In manufacturing you leverage local assets to create something new that either adds value to the local economy or is sold elsewhere to bring revenue into the community. The same principles hold for video: it's created using local assets and then either adds value to the local community or brings in dollars from other communities. But it gets better still...

In truth, video production may be more attractive than traditional manufacturing. Not only does it create higher quality jobs it does so by creating a product that doesn't necessarily require a lot of raw materials to produce and that can be distributed cheaply, quickly, and broadly. It's not like you're building widgets that need to be physically shipped, stored, and then sold. Video can be stored and sent digitally, taking up no space and requiring little to no cost or energy to deliver it to a global audience.

Which brings us to broadband. The simple truth is that without it video production stays stuck in the 20th century, with videos that have to be stored and distributed on physical media. But with robust broadband availability, video production becomes a remarkably effective tool for 21st century economic development.

And it's about more than just being able to easily distribute videos. In this report by the New Zealand Institute they detail how the availability of robust broadband impacts their country's digital media industry. Their conclusions were that it is essential as having big enough pipes means things like being able to send videos more quickly which gives them more time to work on creating better video. For New Zealand alone, the benefits of big broadband connectivity to their digital media economy was pegged at $600 million New Zealand dollars every year.

And I'm pretty sure I remember hearing that the big video production facility that moved into Lafayette did so in part because of their fiber-powered connectivity.

Long story short, digital media production is one of the cornerstones of the 21st century economy that can be very beneficial to local economies. But in order to create the best environment for attracting and supporting that talent your community needs copious amounts of bandwidth.

April 15, 2008 10:29 AM

Retailers Struggling; Broadband's the Answer

Yesterday I read this New York Times article about how the global financial crisis is beginning to hit retailers of all shapes and sizes in the US, driving some to bankruptcy.

The main reasons behind this are the usual--a weak dollar and economy has made goods more expensive and consumers less willing to buy them--but I also learned something new about how retail stores work.

To operate a store you're constantly in debt because you need to first buy the goods so you can stock the shelves to give customers something to buy. Now stores are faced with the double whammy of customers who are holding off on making purchases due to economic uncertainty and banks that are either unwilling or unable to make the cheap credit available that's needed to stock shelves with goods.

The first thing that sprung to mind in reading all this is how much more efficient e-commerce can be for retailers. No more stocking shelves and waiting for people to show up. In fact, in some instances it may be possible to not buy a good from the wholesaler until after the customer has purchased it, creating a just-in-time delivery model that reduces or even eliminates the need to invest in and store massive inventories.

Now I know that e-commerce is not necessarily the ultimate answer for everyone. Many consumers are still wary of giving out their personal information online, and many others prefer to physically touch a good before purchasing it.

But the truth of the matter is that with these retailers closing hundreds of stores there'll be fewer and fewer opportunities for people to go to the store and check something out before buying it. This will undoubtedly be especially true in rural areas as I'd imagine that's where most of these stores will be closing and in those areas the opportunity to go into a store is already limited.

That's why broadband and the use of e-commerce should become especially vital to maintaining the opportunities for people in rural areas to purchase the goods they want and need.

By retailers and consumers continuing to embrace e-commerce in greater ways, our economy can find new avenues for maintaining consumer spending levels while improving the efficiency and economics of the retail industry.

And if we're going to survive this oncoming recession, I'd argue the best way to do so is to look to the Internet to find new ways to shift the paradigm and overcome the limitations of 20th century retail.

April 14, 2008 11:56 AM

Why Lafayette Can Be That Shining City on the Hill

During my week in Lafayette a message I attempted to leave behind is that building a full fiber network isn’t enough; it’s as, if not more, important to focus on getting the community engaged with the use of broadband.

While I feel this is true for all communities regardless of whether or not they’re deploying a muni-fiber network, I believe it’s especially true for communities that are making this investment and want to make the most of it.

Along these lines, I shared on more than one occasion that I have yet to find a fiber community that’s taking full advantage of what their full fiber network makes possible. Quite simply: there is no shining city on the hill for fiber.

But I also expressed my strong and growing belief that Lafayette has the potential to be that city, and not just for fiber but for broadband as a whole, to show the world how society can be revolutionized through the use of the Internet.

The reason why I think this, though, has little to do with the full fiber network they’re deploying. Instead, it’s about their history, their culture, and the many wonderful people I met on my travels.

First off, it’s important to understand a bit of their history. From the very beginning, Cajun’s have had to be survivors, first as outcasts, then settling down to make a life for themselves in the wilderness of southern Louisiana, to more recently when the oil crash of the 1980s wiped out their local economy, forcing everyone without deep local roots and anyone with a college degree to look elsewhere for quality jobs. Even those who stayed often ended up having to commute to places like Atlanta to find work.

Today while Lafayette stands poised to take a big step into the 21st century and establish itself as the center of technological progress in Louisiana, there’s still a strong sense that they must never again allow themselves to be pushed to the brink of economic failure. It’s this energy that (I hope) will drive them forward to embrace the possibilities of broadband to make their community better, confident in the fact that through the use of broadband they can establish their path to a more prosperous tomorrow.

Secondly, the strength of their culture is equally important. Being Cajun is what unites people down there. It’s amazing how many people I met during my travels who have family roots in the area that go back hundreds of years. This is a people who knows their neighbors, who gets together with their extended families on a regular basis--whether it’s to roast a hog or boil up some crawfish--who not only knows about but cares for the people around them.

The advantage found herein is that all we need to do is inspire a subset of their population on the wonders of broadband and the message should be able to disseminate throughout the community. In a culture like this, where people still talk to each other, imagine what can happen if we get all the young people engaged with how to use broadband to better their community. Ultimately what better way is there to spread the good word about broadband than through the interpersonal relationships of a close-knit community?

But what this all ultimately comes down to for me are the people themselves. This isn’t about any sort of overarching cultural mindset but instead the steady string of dynamic individuals I met during my time in Lafayette. For a community that twenty years ago couldn’t provide good jobs to college graduates, it now boasts a remarkable array of technology professionals. Whether you want to build a website, market it, develop an application, or learn new computer skills, I met experts in all these areas and beyond. The simple truth is that Lafayette has the creative talent, ingenuity, and power of conviction to harness the full potential of broadband.

Equally important are the quality of its leaders. I continue to be impressed by the practicality and energy of City-Parish President Joey Durel. It’s inspirational to meet a politician like him who doesn’t think anything like a politician. He’s not running for reelection; he’s focused on running government to the best of his ability. And the better I get to know Terry Huval, who heads up LUS and is leading their fiber deployment, the stronger the sense I have that he’s just the kind of good-hearted, pragmatic leader a project like this needs to succeed.

In the end, I know I’ve only begun to scratch the surface of discovering all the great people who call Lafayette home, and I’m looking forward to continuing this process through many more trips there in the future.

Lafayette is a unique and special community that I can’t wait to continue exploring, but for now I’ll end this coverage with the following charge to the people of Lafayette:

Your community is poised to take a bold step into the 21st century.

But your investment in a new network means nothing if no one uses it.

Your community can become that shining city on the hill for fiber and the use of broadband.

But only if you leverage the strength of your history, culture, and people to make the most of what’s possible.

If done right, Lafayette can guarantee its economic prosperity for the next 100 years.

But it’s going to take hard work to do so, not just building the network but getting the community ready to use it.

Cajuns know that through hard work great things can be achieved.

So set the goal to be great, make the commitment to do what it takes, and anything is possible.

April 11, 2008 12:49 PM

From Lafayette: Broadband On Display On TechSouth Show Floor

TechSouth has come and gone but I wanted to share some of the things I saw while walking the show floor with my focus as always on all things broadband.

First off, there were a lot of companies offering businesses all forms of Internet services, from connectivity to hosting to data recovery to web design. Of course it’s a technology show so that’s not surprising but it’s also a good sign that there’s great demand for these services, meaning more and more businesses are engaging with the digital age. And beyond that, all this competition is driving greater investment in innovation as evidenced by the introduction of fabric computing by Abacus, as highlighted yesterday.

Second, Internet-enabled video security must be in the midst of booming as there were at least four companies selling some form of it, including Active Solutions, a manufacturer of cameras with an emphasis on wireless connectivity; a couple of more traditional systems integrators; and GOSN, makers of the SafetyBlanket. The thing about cameras is that they’re a tremendous example of why having lots of bandwidth is important because the less you have the less you can see ultimately meaning the less effective security can be.

Third, there were a couple of unique projects aimed at the oil industry, which has long dominated this areas economy.

One project is just that, a project rather than a company. Called the Ubiquitous Computing and Monitoring System, it’s a joint effort by the Department of Energy, state of Louisiana, and a number of colleges to develop a system for monitoring the pressure of undersea oil reservoirs using sensors that feed data wirelessly into a grid computing system that crunches the numbers into visual representations, which can help avoid problems and find new opportunities underground.

The other project is a new offering from MedXcel, is in the midst of introducing telemedicine services where they’ll locate medical diagnostic equipment on offshore oil rigs and leverage wireless connectivity to allow for patients to be diagnosed remotely. While installing this equipment on those rigs won’t be cheap, the cost savings could be huge as today seeing a doctor means getting on a helicopter to be flown back to shore, even if those chest pains you’re feeling are nothing more than heartburn.

Staying in the medical arena, another exhibitor was SurgiSys. My understanding of what they do is prepare healthcare providers to get accreditation and prepare their systems to take greater advantage of the digital age, ultimately allowing results from tests like echo ultrasound and carotid intervention to be viewed over the Internet from anywhere by doctors. Their emphasis didn’t seem overly broadband-centric, but in many ways it felt like what they do would be perfect for a healthcare system to prepare themselves for using teleradiology services, even though their focus is more on internal distribution today.

The highlight of the show for me was learning about the Academy of Information Technology at Carenco High School, who were exhibiting there. It’s a special four-year “school within a school” program that students apply for before entering high school and once accepted go through a separate track over their four years that focuses more heavily first on teaching the basics of a computer then moving up to web design and computer programming. At the end of the four years, they’re either ready to go on to more advanced courses in college or they can go directly into the workforce as the training they’ve received qualifies them for some really well-paying jobs.

In reading about them online I’ve learned that they’re the outgrowth of a much larger program called the National Academy Foundation which helps academies like this get started in high schools across the country.

I couldn’t be more excited about having found out about these programs as I’ve long lamented the lack of job skills training in high school and the fact that Carenco High has entire classes of students engaged with learning about computers and the Internet suggests that Lafayette will have a steady stream of young, inspired innovators at their disposal to help build and drive the economic engine of broadband-powered development in this area.

All in all, while I wasn’t overwhelmed with an array of cool broadband-based technologies at TechSouth, there were definitely some interesting things to find and a heavy sense of anticipation for what next year might bring as Lafayette continues on its path to becoming the digital center of Louisiana.

April 10, 2008 11:55 AM

LUS Fiber Already Having An Impact

One of the biggest challenges with broadband deployment is balancing public and private interests. Private companies are interested in profit, not necessarily what’s good for the public. The decisions they make about where and how much to invest in their capacity to deliver better service do not always reflect local interests.

That was the case here in Lafayette. The people of this town saw the incumbents investing in New Orleans and Baton Rouge to bring bigger, better broadband and TV services but not Lafayette. When Lafayette began pushing for better service they were told they didn’t need it. I’ve learned in my short time here that the best way to get a Cajun to do something is tell them they don’t want it or can’t have it, and thus LUS Fiber was born.

One of the more remarkable things that has happened as a result of of this decision is that new investment into Lafayette’s broadband ecosystem has already begun flowing into the community and they haven’t even lit up their first customer yet.

Case in point, since announcing the LUS Fiber project, Cox Communications, the incumbent cable company, has upgraded its infrastructure in a significant way, building a brand new $15 million facility and installing more fiber into their network. In talking with people it seems like these upgrades have had a significant impact on improving the picture quality of their TV service and it’s allowed Cox to offer more HD channels.

Additionally during a pair of luncheon addresses by Cox at TechSouth, where they were the top sponsor, they itemized the investments they’ve been making in the community, like a new community computer center and other local programs.

So simply the threat of muni-fiber has spurred the incumbent cable company to get off the sidelines and start investing more heavily in Lafayette.

But this is about far more than cajoling the incumbents to start investing; it’s about bringing new opportunity to Lafayette to further its capacity as a 21st century community.

Perhaps the most impressive example of this was unveiled on the show floor by Abacus Marketing Resources: the first deployment of Liquid Computing’s fabric computing solution with a broadband services provider in the country in the Abacus Data Exchange. Let’s try to put the significance of this into perspective.

Abacus is an innovative and advanced wholesaler of business-class access to LUS’s fiber network. With the opening of their Data Exchange powered by fabric computing they’ll be offering a wide range of business continuity services as well as tremendous opportunities for applications developers and anyone in need of storage.

I mentioned that this is the first deployment of Liquid’s fabric computing solution with a broadband services provider. Before now their system was only in use as super-powerful data crunchers in government agencies and a few private companies.

To give a sense for how much power they have, at LITE (the Louisiana Immersive Technologies Enterprise, which I wrote about here) they have a data center in a fairly large room stuffed with racks of servers supplying the massive computing power 3D visualization demands. In talking with one of their tech gurus, who was being introduced to the technology at Abacus’s booth, I learned that with fabric computing he’d be able to replace almost that entire room full of racks with only three of Liquid’s setups, which would roughly take up two refrigerators’ worth of space.

In addition to computing power, the Liquid system is also conscious of its power consumption. I didn’t get any specific numbers regarding savings but I do know that Abacus was seeking out the most eco-friendly solution on the market and that was one big reason for why they chose Liquid.

But ultimately what I found most compelling about the solution is that unlike traditional arrangements where setting up a server to host your storage or application can take time and changing the characteristics, capacity, and performance of that server just doesn’t happen easily, what fabric computing allows you to do is essentially create servers with the specs you need for whatever applications you have on-the-fly. That means you can access computing power and storage as you need it, even if it’s only for a limited time, like when running trials for some new software.

At this time I won’t even attempt to explain how they pull this off as I’m going to be profiling their solution in greater depth later this month. In the meantime, I can report that despite the fact there were at least five other exhibitors offering some form of business continuity services, all of the buzz and a constant stream of people were around Abacus’s booth.

And even more exciting is how this investment has inspired the local tech community. I can not tell you how wide the eyes are of many of those who walked away from Abacus’s booth. In particular some of the younger innovators specifically talked about how they never thought that they’d have access to this much power in their own backyard, suggesting that this investment will help encourage local talent to stay local when they set out to create the next Google.

They understand that by combining this computing power with the connectivity of LUS’s full fiber project Lafayette tops any other city in the state and arguably the entire country. And because of this combination, I see great things in Lafayette’s future as a hub of innovation in the development of broadband applications.

The thing is, without LUS Fiber, there is no Abacus and therefore no Liquid fabric computing bringing new opportunity. Without LUS Fiber, there’s almost certainly less buy-in from Cox to invest aggressively in the community.

So already, before the first customer is lit up, LUS Fiber is having an impact, spurring investment, and improving the opportunities for this community’s broadband ecosystem as one of the greatest in the nation.

April 9, 2008 2:33 PM

Lack of Bandwidth Hurts Internet Innovation in America

Joost is an Internet TV platform that delivers high quality video using P2P technology.

Unlike BitTorrent, a P2P technology primarily concerned with the downloading of large files, Joost leverages P2P to deliver instant-on video, creating a TV-like experience over the Internet.

Joost's founders were some of the same people behind the multi-billion dollar success of Skype, the P2P chat/voice/videocalling communications platform. It was easily the most hyped product over a year or two ago, promising to have a YouTube-like impact on the delivery of high quality content.

Only they ran into a problem: not enough bandwidth.

P2P delivery systems rely on the bandwidth of its users to distribute content. So once you've downloaded a piece of video your computer essentially becomes a server helping distribute that video back out to other users.

Because of this P2P is very reliant on having robust upload capacity in order to send data back out from users after they've downloaded it. And this challenge was even more acute for Joost as it attempts to enable that instant-on experience that is much more sensitive to latency than the typical BitTorrent where users know it's going to take a while to download a large file like a high quality, full-length movie so they'll just turn it on and walk away.

As it turns out, despite its huge promise to introduce a new paradigm for P2P delivery, America just doesn't have enough bandwidth.

There are many other reasons cited for their disappointing performance, as listed in this article and the articles linked therein, but the underlying one really seemed to be that without sufficient bandwidth they can't deliver the level of service their technology holds the potential to enable.

Color me officially frustrated that the US's lack of big bandwidth connectivity, especially upstream, and the lagging adoption among the mainstream public has now clearly led to constraining innovation on the Internet.

I and others often talk about the ability to greater capacity to drive greater innovation. Now here we clearly see an example where the opposite is true as well: the less bandwidth you have the less innovation you'll realize.

(Lots more to come from Lafayette, but taking a brief break after three straight nights of not enough sleep, too much fun, a string of speeches, and meeting a ton of great people...and I haven't even mentioned the food!)

April 8, 2008 11:18 AM

From Lafayette: Do You Need to Know Why Fiber's Great to Love Fiber?

One of the more interesting themes I've heard now from multiple people during my travels so far in Lafayette is that while the majority of residents have gotten behind the deployment of a full fiber network, they don't really understand why fiber's such a great thing.

When the vote came to pass to invest and take the risk in deploying fiber, there was widespread support for the initiative, but driving that was more of a sense of "well, if fiber's the best, we should have fiber" rather than simply "fiber's the best."

Many factors seem to have played into this somewhat blind acceptance of fiber.

For one, no one likes the incumbents. There's a strong sense here that Cox, BellSouth, and the like were investing in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, which form a triangle in south central Louisiana with Lafayette, but not in Lafayette. Basically Lafayette was being left behind.

For two, these Cajuns take pride in their community. If they're going to set out on a municipal broadband project, they're going to do it right and get the best network they can. These are people who move boldly not meekly, and there's no more bold decision than deploying a full fiber network.

As I'm an advocate for fiber-powered broadband, Lafayette's ability to embrace fiber without a strong understanding of what it actually means is inspiring. It can sometimes be hard to get people who do understand technology to buy into the need for fiber. At the same time I do also find it slightly worrying.

Lafayette Utility System is building one of the most advanced networks in the country, a network that will reach every home within the city, but most of the people I've spoken to who aren't involved directly in the project don't know how great it is.

For example, the gentleman I spoke to over the weekend about rural healthcare that I wrote about yesterday had no idea that Lafayette's new fiber network was going to be one of the most powerful in the country. And he's a young professional who's in school learning about telemedicine, so if he doesn't know about this than it's unlikely older residents who are less tech savvy have any idea what's going on.

And that concerns me. What good is a fiber network if nobody knows about it?

Now I'm not assessing blame. I mean the network's not even built yet; it's still another 8 months until they light up their first customer.

But I'm hoping that during my time here I can help inspire a greater understanding among Lafayette's leaders and its citizens about the urgent importance of actively pursuing initiatives now that rely on broadband to revolutionize society before deployment's complete. Building the network's not enough; to extract its full value as much if not more attention needs to be placed on actually using the network.

April 7, 2008 9:51 AM

First Thoughts from Lafayette: The Importance of Broadband in Rural Areas

After a thankfully uneventful trip to Lafayette, LA on Saturday I went out on the town with some local friends to enjoy the nightlife of this great city.

While listening to some terrific bluesy rock at a quintessentially Cajun outdoor bar called the Blue Moon Guesthouse, which ingeniously also serves as the city's only hostel, I had the opportunity to meet and chat with the locals.

One conversation in particular piqued my interest. It was with a gentleman who's in the midst of finishing up his MBA in healthcare administration. His current job has him helping run a healthcare facility in Lafayette that cares for people who can't stay in the hospital any longer but still need some level of managed care.

I could sense his passion for what he did, and found it exciting when we began talking telemedicine as he had obviously been reading about and researching the topic, though I was slightly disappointed when he referred to it as still a thing of the future, not because telemedicine has no merit but because at least in his experiences with healthcare, it's an industry that doesn't always embrace new technological opportunities as readily as some.

But as we continued to talk, we came upon another string of thought. He began discussing the rapidly oncoming healthcare crunch, where the number of medical professionals we're graduating as a country is being far outstripped by the growing number of Baby Boomers whose healthcare needs are increasing as they age.

He lamented what he sees as an inevitable shortage of trained medical professionals, especially as its impact will undoubtedly be felt first in rural areas, a reality made even more stark in a largely rural state like Louisiana.

He then admitted that the only answer to this problem, other than a mass exodus from rural to urban areas, is the use of telemedicine technologies. Whether it's being able to consult a doctor from your home or a regional health facility being able to tap expertise from elsewhere to read the results of radiological exams, there's simply no other way rural areas will be able to maintain a high level of access to healthcare providers without the use of telemedicine.

But that then gets back to one of the biggest disconnects in broadband: on the one hand, some say rural areas are too expensive to reach or that the people who live there don't really want broadband; on the other, you can argue that no communities need and could benefit more from the use of broadband than those in rural areas.

In talking with him, my resolve has been steeled that solving the rural broadband dilemma must be a key part to any national broadband strategy if we are to have any hope of supporting and maintaining our rural areas. It's my belief that much of the strength of America can be found in rural areas, so I will not accept the proposition that rural communities should be left to wither on the sidelines of the broadband revolution.

That's all from me for now. I'm off to enjoy what I'm sure will be another tremendous day in Lafayette. You can look forward to more installments of my adventures here all throughout the rest of this week.

And for anyone reading who's anywhere near Lafayette, LA, I encourage you to come on over to the Cajundome to catch the region's leading technology show: TechSouth. I'm going to be presenting on the possibilities of broadband applications both Tuesday and Wednesday morning and Tuesday evening I'm going to have the great pleasure of addressing the City-Parish Council about why I find fiber exciting. So if you're in the area, come stop on by!