Tag Archives: Telecommunications

Metro Cable Network – Not so much a bandwidth as an untapped resource

Sometimes I think about old stuff. This is one of those thoughts– but it’s still current.  Decades ago a metro-oriented visionary had a grand thought, of a cable system that would reach the metro region.  Channel 6 was a must-carry on every cable system that reached metro area outlets.

This was back in the day when regional thinking was a priority and the Metropolitan Council had a say about the possibilities of a regional communications system.

For many years I served on the Board of the Metro Cable Network   – a lost opportunity beyond belief.  Perhaps because there is no regional vision, or perhaps because there is no financial support for that vision, the MCN is no longer a regional voice.  Surely, the technology has changed, but the idea of thinking regional is a post-technology thought.  Technology can divide or connect the region.

I am sad.  The region needs a voice and the potential is technologically at hand, even if it’s retro by today’s standards.  Politics, finances and people have sapped Channel 6 of the potential it once had.  Of course I would like to see a more vibrant and relevant Channel 6.  Still, the fact that the technology is dated does not assume that the vision is obsolete,  just not politically popular at this juncture.

National Broadband Map Answers the Question: WHere do all the wires go?


The Winter of 2011 is burying us – again.   Football season is history.  Ice from the neighborhood skating rink has flowed to the sidewalks which are now impassable.  What’s a homebound Minnesotan to do?


Once again, try delving into the world of information by and about government information.  Start with the newest game in town, National Broadband Map.  NBM as it is affectionately known, is a massive, reliable and comprehensive data base of searchable, interactive, graphic data now as close as your keyboard.  Settle back and try your hand at exploring what’s coming down the street where you life.  Compare data to learn how your neighbors, your friends and family, your competitors or your employer truly fit on the national telecommunications grid.


Okay, NBM is not strictly a video game.  It’s intriguing though, featuring infinite strategies, massive data about your neighborhood and that of your brother-in-law in Puerto Rico, and graphic maps  not only of broadband but of wireless, cable, fiber to the end user and more.


The NBM was created by the folks at NTIA, the National Telecommunications and Technology Administration in collaboration with the Federal Communications Commission.  The stated goal of the NBM project is “to encourage economic growth by facilitating the integration of broadband and information technology into state and local economics.


Putting their money where their mouth is the federal government has awarded a cool $293 million to 56 agencies, 50 states, 5 territories and the District of Columbia.  There’s a string attached, designed to ensure that the NBM game is constantly refreshed.  Half of that money must be used by grantees to gather data and report every six months on the availability, speed, and location of broadband services, as well as the broadband services that community institutions such as schools libraries and hospitals are actually using.  That unremitting data flow will continually refresh NBM.


Seriously, this is fun stuff – it’s complex but not confusing, responsive, and, best of all, the maps graphically depict how all the digital gadgets in your home, your car, your office and your pocket connect you not just with your kids (though that’s important!) but with the world writ large.