The SoCen Times
Vol. 76Your Connection to the World March 30, 2017
Big donation from South Central to fund K-2 Chromebook computers July 10, 2014
South Central Communications, under the leadership of Chief Executive Officer Michael East, has donated $11,630 to the Kane Schools Foundation for Students (KSFS) to fund the purchase of Chromebook computers for Kindergarten through Second Grade (K-2) classrooms in the Kane School District. The proposal, called K-2 Technology Foundational Skills, was developed by Kane District Reading Specialist Nancy Roundy, along with all K-2 teachers in the district. Roundy presented the idea at a KSFS board meeting in May of 2014. Michael East, a new member of the KSFS Board since February, was impressed with the idea and decided that South Central should help provide funding to obtain the computers and put the new program in place before the new school year.
This is the largest single business donation made to the non-profit Kane Schools Foundation, which is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year. The foundation will honor South Central Communications as a Founder's Circle Partner in Education this fall, recognizing this significant contribution to elementary education in the Kane District schools. The KSFS Board, and the Kane School District, appreciate the dynamic efforts of Mr. East on the KSFS Board, his leadership of South Central Communications and its strong commitment to community.
The K-2 Technology Foundational Skills funding will give the K-2 teachers the technology and training as a team, to empower students to achieve success in understanding and integrating technology into Math, Reading, Language and Science. The Utah State Office of Education recently directed elementary schools in the state to begin teaching proper keyboarding before third grade to allow students to reach a high level of proficiency before graduation. In fact, research shows that students need to be able to type 20 words per minute in order to free up their minds for understanding content.
Today, efficient keyboard and computer operation is a necessary skill for most occupations. Furthermore, keyboarding is now a critical tool for communication throughout one's life. It is therefore important to get younger students exposed to this tool, to ensure that they improve proficiency throughout their school career.
Kane District schools also now use technology extensively to do assessments on student progress and to collect data. The foundation has supported and funded other technology to enhance student learning over the last four years, including iPads for reading assessments and tracking, handheld graphing computers for math classes, GPS units for high school resource management and geography classes, and iPads to develop pre-literacy skills in pre-schoolers. This will be the largest technology purchase made through the foundation, thanks to the generosity of South Central Communications.
Kane School District Technology & Assessment Director Travis Terry commented, "We are very appreciative to South Central for donating the funds to purchase this technology for the K-2 classrooms. Most technology funding from the state in the past has been focused towards online testing preparation, which has left out these younger grades towards the purchasing and implementing of the Chromebooks in those grades in the district. Getting Chromebooks into the hands of these young students will be a valuable tool for teachers to help familiarize them with the technology that we have adopted in the higher grades. It will also allow them to fully utilize the vast amount of software which has recently been selected and used by the district, which has been proven to be effective in early education learning. A big thanks to Nancy Roundy and the elementary school principals for writing this proposal, and for South Central seeing the vision of what we want to accomplish with learning through the use of technology and funding it."
Will Google Fiber Make Kansas City, Provo And Portland The New Tech Meccas? July 3, 2014
Regional business incentives have become big news. Over the past several months, we’ve heard about Walgreen potentially ditching its Illinois headquarters in favor of Switzerland to lower its corporate tax rate to 20% from the roughly 31% it currently pays in the U.S. We saw the official launch of the Start-Up New York program, which is creating “tax-free zones” for innovative young companies in New York. And, as I recently wrote, Texas now ranks second in the nation in video game employment, thanks largely to huge tax incentives the state has implemented to woo tech and video production talent.
These examples clearly illustrate the power of tax incentives to change corporate behavior and the amazing mobility of the contemporary business culture. But taxes are really just one factor in a business’ decision to relocate. Things like real estate prices, access to talent, proximity to research institutions and transportation infrastructure all factor into the equation when businesses are considering a big move or expansion. We may soon be adding super-fast Internet speeds to that list.
The early test cases for this theory are in Kansas City, MO and Provo, UT where Google has rolled out gigabit, fiber optic Internet connections that are 100 times faster than typical connections today. Plans are currently coming together for a Google Fiber roll-out in Portland, OR as well. According to the MIT Technology Review, Kansas saw the largest jump in average Internet connection speeds of all U.S. states in the fourth quarter of 2012, immediately following widespread availability of the Google Fiber service.
Though Google Fiber has been positioned and marketed as a consumer product, the allure for businesses is hard to ignore. As Gartner analyst Bettina Traz-Ryan recently explained to The Wall Street Journal:
"A faster connection could help spur current efforts collecting and analyzing data from sensor-enabled objects, a system aimed at yielding valuable insights into operations commonly known as the Internet of Things… Businesses can get data much faster without any latency, so the quality of the data is improving."The possibilities for today’s businesses from an Internet connection that is 100 times faster than normal are mind-boggling. Big Data applications are just the tip of the iceberg. Algorithmic trading firms, logistics companies and pretty much every single business in the world that runs an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) program could easily and reliably transition this software onto the cloud, which is a game-changer for big business.
Just as the 3G and 4G wireless broadband paved the way for a host of new companies building applications that could support audio and video on mobile devices, fiber optic broadband could make these early adopter cities the hotbeds of new application development. Consider this speed in the context of a new product like the new Fire Phone from Amazon, which will launch later this month. This breakthrough device will devour bandwidth as its four infrared cameras track your head movements to produce a 3D effect on a standard screen. App developers and programmers with the speed to capitalize on the power of this device will be light years ahead of their competitors working on traditional cable and fiber connections.
All of this begs the obvious question: if Google Fiber is so great, why isn’t it rolling out everywhere? The short answer is because it’s much easier said than done. The challenge comes, once again, from that precarious intersection between regulation, innovation and corporate strategy. While some businesses and the politicians eager to woo them to their states may agree that improving Internet infrastructure is a good idea, the labyrinth of local, county and federal laws that govern this kind of project are nearly impossible to navigate.
Google’s own general manager of access, Kevin Lo, made that point in a speech at the Broadband World Forum a couple of years ago, when he explained the challenges confounding the national roll-out of Google Fiber:
“Regulation can get in the way of innovation. Regulations tied to physical infrastructure sometimes defer the investment altogether.”The fact is, as attractive an idea as it may be to roll-out super-fast fiber optic Internet throughout the country, the effort has been met with all sorts of regulatory hurdles, from access to public rights-of-way and ability to use utility poles to municipal zoning restrictions.
As Google and its competitors in the broadband space continue to duke it out with zoning boards around the country, an interesting dynamic is emerging whereby some cities that have rallied to support the initiative may actually gain a first-mover advantage by offering consumers and businesses the fastest connection speeds in the country. Combine this allure of a fat Internet pipe with a tech development tax incentive or two and things might really get interesting. Could these be enough to change the zip codes of major corporations? Only time will tell.
Xpressweb Internet merges with South Central Communications June 12, 2014
Xpressweb Internet Services is pleased to announce a merger with South Central Communications. Craig Baird, Owner and Principal of Xpressweb, recently signed an agreement to transfer operations of Xpressweb Internet Services to South Central Communications.
Craig Baird states, "When I formed Xpressweb, my goal was to bring great high speed Internet service to an area that was previously underserved. South Central Communications, under the leadership of CEO Michael East, has taken incredible steps to improve the reliable and affordable high speed Internet service available in Kanab and the Valley." Baird continues, "South Central is dedicated to dramatically improving Internet services in our area by bringing fiber optics to every home, business, hospital, library and public building – a goal that is in perfect alignment with what we have been striving to accomplish at Xpressweb. This advanced network will put our communities on better technological footing than most cities in the U.S., and will drastically improve the economic viability of our area. With that in mind, I feel it is time for me to pass the baton to South Central Communications, and to do whatever we can to assist them in bringing this to fruition."
Michael East added, "South Central Communications is committed to providing the highest quality Internet service possible. That is exactly why we are investing over $100 million in our system-wide fiber to the premises build, beginning here in Kanab later this month. However, great service isn't measured in megabits or even gigabits; it is measured by the customer's overall experience, from beginning to end. It is in that vein that I am extremely excited to have Craig Baird and Andy Gant become part of the South Central Communications team. These guys built and operated a great company and they are committed to providing great customer service. I am extremely happy to have them join the South Central family."
Both East and Baird are committed to ensuring the customer's experience through this administrative transition is seamless. Existing customer rate plans and equipment are expected to remain unchanged into the foreseeable future. According to East, "The customer will not experience any interruption of service caused by the merger. Craig and Andy have operated and maintained the wireless network for years and will continue to do so. I am confident our loyal customers will continue to experience the great level of service they have come to expect from both organizations."
The merger is anticipated to close on July 1.
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