San Diego, CA, March 23, 2006 -- San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom took a tour of Calit2 at UC San Diego today and received an award from FirstMile.US, a non-profit group that honored "his Big Broadband vision for the City and County of San Francisco." The tribute took place in front of a packed audience in the Calit2 auditorium, where the broadband organization held its spring conference.
After accepting his award from Calit2 director Larry Smarr and FirstMile.US president Susan Estrada, Mayor Newsom promised to continue pushing for broadband access -- notably, through his campaign to offer free Wi-Fi connectivity throughout the city of San Francisco.
That move has been countered by some private telecommunications companies, which have sued the city to block the plan, charging that it hurts private enterprise. But in his remarks, Newsom noted that many companies have come around and even bid on a major contract to build the San Francisco Wi-Fi network. "We expect to announce the winner of the competition next week," said the mayor. Newsom equated the role of government in providing free connectivity to all citizens, to its role in providing other types of jointly shared infrastructure such as roads and bridges: "These are public services and if the private sector has been unable or unwilling to roll out broadband throughout the city, then it's time for local government to make it happen."
The award to Newsom came at the conclusion of the FirstMile.US conference, which provided a glimpse of living in a Big Broadband-enabled world and focused discussion on jump-starting strategies to build demand to get "Big Broadband Everywhere" in the United States.
The FirstMile.US Big Broadband Honors recognize significant achievements in helping to make Big Broadband Everywhere a reality. The Honors showcase the pioneering ideas of today's visionaries who best exemplify the creative spirit needed to craft the right environment that ensures that every member of the American public has access to big broadband, the 21st century pathway to a better overall quality of life.
"Mayor Newsom has taken an active role in ensuring that his community is well served by current and future broadband solutions. His vision and leadership is laudable and what we'd like to see in every community in the U.S.," said Susan Estrada, President of FirstMile.US. "From the Digital Sister Cities to the Digital Media Initiatives, Mayor Newsom makes his San Francisco TechConnect strategy authentic, practical and inclusive for every resident."
"For San Francisco, which knows the highs and lows of the first Internet boom better than any other city in the world, this award is testament to our commitment to look forward and not back," stated Mayor Newsom. "San Francisco not only believes in the new economy, we believe all of our citizens should have a place in it."
Prior to accepting his award, Newsom and attendees got an advance look at CineGrid, a Calit2-led project that aims to provide global research, education, science and art communities who work with ultra-high-performance digital media with networked testbeds to enable new kinds distributed media production, remote mentoring, remote-controlled scientific research, networked collaboration and international cultural exchange. Another important Big Broadband application featured was in E-medicine, which is fueling a fundamental change from today's disease treatments to tomorrow's predictive, preventive, personalized and participatory medicine.
"Big Broadband supporters in the U.S. are disturbed that the nation is still employing twenty-year old technologies," said FirstMile.US president Estrada. In a global ranking, the United States now places 16th against nations around the world aggressively deploying contemporary broadband technologies. Many nations are also deploying "first mile" broadband technologies that are 100 times faster than what is currently available to the majority of U.S. communities, homes, and businesses, which threaten our nation's economic well-being. Added Estrada: "With the right policies and the right incentives, the U.S. can be the global leader in big broadband deployment." President Bush has called for universal and affordable broadband for every American by 2007.
The FirstMile.US objective is to build demand for big broadband through grass-roots education activities -- creating the "I need that. When can I get it?" broadband attitude across the nation.
The California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology, a partnership between UC San Diego and UC Irvine, houses over 1,000 researchers organized around more than 50 projects on the future of telecommunications and information technology and how these technologies will transform a range of applications important to the economy and citizens' quality of life.