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Veena Rawat: Empowering Women

by Veena Rawat, President, Communications Research Centre
October 8, 2010

(Part of the ongoing WISENET Series)

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:245:height=100,width=71]]Previously we posted a blog noting that Dr. Rawat was the only woman running for a senior post in the ITU. We also began an introduction of Dr. Rawat, and in this blog we continue.

Throughout Dr. Veena Rawat’s career and in her personal life, she has enthusiastically supported women. In 2004 the Canadian Women in Communications organization presented her with the Canadian Woman of the Year in Communications Award. A spokeswoman stated “[Dr. Rawat] has been a tireless role model and supporter of advancement of women and under her leadership, the participation of women in engineering roles at Industry Canada has blossomed.” From 2003 to 2006, Dr. Rawat was a representative for Women in Science & Technology. Since 2007, she has been a member of the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance, Women in Technology group. In 2005 Dr. Rawat was included in Canada’s Most Powerful Women, Top 100 by Canada’s Executive Women’s Network, and was awarded Canadian Woman of the Year in Communications by the Canadian Women in Communications in 2004. Dr. Rawat has been a volunteer mentor with The Women’s Executive Network since 2007 and a member of the Heart Truth Leadership Council starting in 2008. The council is part of the Heart Truth campaign to raise awareness of women’s heart disease. During the 1990s, she worked with groups concerned with violence against women, and volunteered with sports teams for high school girls.

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FCC Launches New Consumer Webpages Dedicated to Online Safety and Security to Help Kickoff National Cybersecurity Awareness Month

October 8, 2010

As you may know, October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and the FCC and other government agencies are providing educational materials and outreach on how consumers and small businesses can protect themselves while online. Online security and privacy are very important issues, and there are growing concerns as we access the Internet to do more and more things, like online banking, purchasing items from our favorite online retail stores and interacting with each other on popular websites.

As the FCC's National Broadband Plan recognized, protecting online privacy and security are also important for promoting our nation's adoption of cutting edge broadband services. In kicking off our Cybersecurity Awareness Month activities, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski noted that, "When people fear that new technologies put their privacy at risk, they are less likely to use those technologies. To fulfill the promise of broadband for our children, parents need to feel confident that their children are safe online and that their personal information is protected."

As part of our education and outreach on these issues, the FCC has created a new online privacy and security webpage, which can be accessed at www.fcc.gov/consumers. This webpage provides useful information for consumers and small businesses regarding online safety and cybersecurity. Throughout the month, we will be rolling out tip sheets, checklists, videos, screencasts, and blog postings — such as this one — addressing several topics, including:

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Broadband Comes to Harlem

by Mignon Clyburn, FCC Commissioner
October 8, 2010

Taking part in last Friday’s “Broadband Comes to Harlem” was a great pleasure for me. The open event felt much like a town hall exchange with seniors, students, politicians, policy makers and anyone wanting to learn more about broadband availability and how it can improve their lives. I had the honor of meeting Florence M. Rice, the host of the event and the founder of the Harlem Consumer Education Council (HCEC). At 91 years of age, Ms. Rice is just as active and committed as ever in her quest to keep Harlem’s citizens informed and empowered.

I shared with those gathered my experiences with my Grandmother in rural Berkeley County, South Carolina, and how the “protocols” of the past had the potential to perpetually stifle one’s ambitions. Affordable and available high-speed internet can and will take any granddaughter beyond the structural limits of those “unpaved roads”, and has the capacity to boost the confidence and abilities of an entire household.

The adoption numbers affirm that seniors in America are just learning the benefits and joys of being online, through word of mouth or from peering over the shoulders of their children and grandchildren as they type away and share memories, pictures and a host of experiences. They are re-discovering old friends and making new ones. They are realizing that fascinating information is just a click away, and that access to hobbies and places to visit await them. They are saving time and money by purchasing goods and services online and spending less on transportation by accessing essential government information and services with these technologies.

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Who is Veena Rawat?

by Veena Rawat, President, Communications Research Centre
October 7, 2010

(Part of the ongoing WISENET Series)

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:245:height=100,width=71]]Dr. Rawat is a notable trailblazer and spectrum ambassador. In 1968 she emigrated from India to Canada, where she became the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Queen’s University in 1973. She is fluent in English, French, Hindi and Spanish.   Dr. Rawat began her career 35 years ago with the Canadian federal government’s communications ministry, starting as an engineer before advancing into executive-level positions. Her experience spans the technology continuum — from bench-level engineering to taking a leadership position in a national R&D organization.

In 2004, Dr. Rawat became the President of the Communications Research Centre (CRC), the only federal government laboratory carrying out R&D in communications technologies. She currently manages a staff of 400 and an annual budget of over $50 million. Her work has garnered much recognition both nationally and internationally:

  • Canada’s Leading Woman High Tech Entrepreneur
  • Canada’s Most Powerful Women, Top 100, 2005
  • Leadership in Government Award, 2005
  • Canadian Woman of the Year in Communications, 2004
  • Radio Advisory Board of Canada Award of Excellence, 2004
  • International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Gold Medal, 2003
  • Queen Elizabeth Golden Jubilee Medal, 2003
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Fish, phones, and the law of one price

October 7, 2010

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:137:height=99,width=70]]When mobile phones were introduced to a fisherfolk in Kerala, India, suddenly the surrounding markets had the same price for fish.  Before mobile phones, fishing boats didn’t know where best to bring their catch.  Maybe one day they would converge on three markets, overloading them with supply and leaving the other markets scarce of fish.  Where there was too much supply, the price of fish was low.  Where fish was scarce, the price was high.  With mobile phones, fisherfolk could call from the boat first and determine which market was best for them.  This demonstrates what economists call the law of one price.  Can you think of examples where ICT reveals the law of one price?  ….  Next time, how shopping online eliminates information asymmetries….

Reference:  “The digital provide” in Quarterly Journal of Economics, August 2007, by Robert Jensen.

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Theory vs. Practice

October 6, 2010

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"Well, it may be all right in practice, but it will never work in theory." -- Warren Buffett on how the academic community regards his investment approach.

The Phoenix Center apparently thinks their latest paper is so good they named it three times. "Jobs, Jobs, Jobs" is a frothy mix of algebra and math jargon ("a 2 × 1 speed of convergence parameter vector, C is a matrix that defines the contemporaneous structural relationship among employment and investment expenditures, and et = [e1,t e2,t]' is a vector of mutually orthogonal structural shocks to these variables") apparently proving that investment creates jobs (or, "we have a one-way causal relationship, in a Granger causality sense, flowing from changes in capital expenditures to jobs"). So far, so obvious.

Less well supported is the headline of the accompanying (mercifully equation-free) press release "FCC's Regulatory Agenda May Have Serious Adverse Impacts on New Job Creation.” Perhaps there is a typo, as for all the evidence in the paper, an equally appropriate title would be "FCC's Regulatory Agenda May Not Have Serious Adverse Impacts on New Job Creation." In fact, maybe we could just compromise and agree on an alternative bipartisan title: "23 Pages of Theory Actually Says Nothing at All About the Practical Effect of FCC's Agenda on New Job Creation."

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Brainstorming: the FCC Mobile App

by Haley Van Dÿck, FCC New Media
October 5, 2010

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:153:height=104,width=70]] The rate of mobile users has sky-rocketed in the past ten years, with over five billion mobile devices world wide. Today Americans are spending more time online through their phones than ever before, with 6 out of 10 Americans connecting to the Internet through mobile access.

The FCC understands that growth like this makes mobile broadband even more vital in keeping Americans connected. To empower and inform consumers, we released iPhone and Android applications to test mobile broadband speeds. Since the FCC Broadband Speed Test launched in March, over 1.3 million speed test have been run.

As part of our FCC.gov redesign efforts, we're heading back to the drawing boards to develop more powerful and innovative mobile applications to put in consumers' hands.

Here's where we need you. We want to hear your ideas for new FCC Mobile Applications. What kinds of functionality could we deliver? Guidelines and precautions for emergency situations? Tools that illuminate the sometimes fuzzy world of consumer electronics and billing? Maps that mash up FCC data with private sector data?

Send us your thoughts on your ideal consumer-focused FCC mobile applications. You can post your ideas in our forum, or check out ideas from other people and vote on your favorites.

Click here to share your ideas, or post a comment below.

Thanks—we're looking forward to hearing from you.

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Welcome to WISENET

by Mindel DeLaTorre, Chief of the International Bureau
October 5, 2010

(Part of the ongoing WISENET Series)

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:98:height=100,width=71]]As we open WISENET, I am pleased to welcome everyone to this experimental site designed to bring women in ICT together to share their professional experiences.  As I have described the site to women all over the world, the response has been overwhelmingly positive and enthusiastic. When I wrote to Minister Jasna Matic from Serbia, she was delighted that we were starting WISENET as she sees it as a complement to her program to promote careers for young women in ICT, an international “Girls’s Day/Girls in ICT” program to give girls an opportunity to explore ICT professions. This was the first time I had heard of this program and it is exactly the kind of "networking" and "information sharing" that we hope WISENET will engender.  Clearly, given the response to the pre-launch of WISENET, there is a need for just such a site. This is an opportunity for all of us to make it as successful as we can, so please do join us and participate. And thanks so much to those of you who have already responded with your ideas for WISENET.  I'm at the International Telecommunication Union's (ITU) Plenipotentiary Conference in Guadalajara, Mexico, and I'm looking forward to introducing WISENET to an even broader audience. I'll send an update from the Plenipot.

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The Women of Plenipot

October 5, 2010

(Part of the ongoing WISENET Series)

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:243:height=100,width=115]]I am at the International Telecommunications Union’s Plenipotentiary Conference in Guadalajara, Mexico. The Plenipot, as it is called, occurs every four years, and is where senior officials are elected, the budget established, and the strategic plan set for the next four years. In short, it is the most important conference for the ITU.

Given the importance of the Plenipot, it seems the perfect time to reflect on the status of women in the ITU. On the one hand, there is good news to report – participation of women at ITU conferences, and at this Plenipot, is up substantially. On the other hand, the situation is rather grim. There has never been a women elected to a senior post - Secretary General, Deputy Secretary General, or Director of one of the three Bureaus. At this Plenipot, there is only one woman running for any of these posts; Veena Rawat from Industry Canada is running for Director of the Radiocommunications Bureau. Does it matter that a woman has never been elected to a senior post at the ITU? I think it does. I believe diversity of perspectives makes an organization stronger. The ITU has recognized that in encouraging a particular focus on women (as well as youth and people with disabilities) in its programs and requiring regional diversity in the elected officials and staff (which means that there is a measure of racial diversity at the organization). Yet, when it comes to women, there is a complete lack of representation at the senior levels. The elections for senior officials will occur next Thursday and Friday, October 7 and 8. I will keep you posted on what happens. In the meantime, I would be interested in your view of whether this is an issue we should be concerned about and if it is, what can be done to increase the representation of women in senior posts at the ITU.

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Trading in your wallet for your phone

October 5, 2010

(Part of the ongoing WISENET Series)

If you can't remember the last time you were without your cell phone, but you can remember your embarrassment when you forgot your wallet, you're a good candidate for a mobile wallet. What's a mobile wallet and where can you get one? Well, get in line. While all over Japan and Korea, people are waving their telephones over reader pads to pay for everything that you could pay for with cash, checks, or credit cards, we in the U.S. are pretty much still waiting. Even in the developing world mobile banking is allowing cash to travel as quickly as a text message to pay for all kinds of things. By now you've guessed that mobile banking is intended to replace your wallet with your cell phone (which for those of us who are trying to downsize our purses is reason enough to consider the option). For mobile payments to safely and securely catch on in the U.S., consumers, banks, merchants, and carriers must work together. I'll be blogging on this subject for a bit, so tune in and join in the discussion, as I look forward to learning from you as well.

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