I attended Telecom Israel conference this morning, mainly to say hello to my good friend Jeff Pulver, who came back to Israel for 24 hours from VON Berlin just to speak to us natives...Anything to get Jeff back here, I support, so I was at Telecom show.
Jeff and I tried to go on-line from the conference floor with my laptop (so he could update his blog...), and an incredible thing happened. I "saw" literally over 20 WiFi networks running in the conference room, and a good 5-6 unsecured, but I could log on to stable IP connection from a single one -- and Jeff remarked, wow, in the middle of the ocean of technology but no "water" to drink. How true.
It was a stark reminder of the limits of technology. Following my visit with Jeff, I hopped over to one of our portfolio companies, mPortico (no, we have not officially announced yet,and they are still in "stealth mode"). As I was in the area, jumped after that to see a great company, InspiAir, that is doing wonders to improve WiFi (I am not an investor, just a fan). A senior InspiAir exec was very proud to tell me that they support 48 concurrent users from each transmitter. Now, that may seem like a lot (and in comparative terms it is)...but what if all of our dreams (and sometimes nightmares) come true and demand for sustained IP connectivity goes way up...48 concurrent users will seem like barely a starter network.
IP connectivity to many of us is like water -- we cannot imagine living without it. But we must remember we live in a bubble -- with all the advances we have made, the majority of the world is not on-line. And I am not just talking about far-away places, but huge chunks of our neighboring countries are not part of the IP generation.
I constantly counsel start-ups working in the Web 2.0 space that one of the states of connectivity that still needs to be taken into account is off-line. You can be as thin as you want, but some provision needs to be made for off-line as well. Or at least recognize that reality in your product design.
And we as a society need to keep in mind that there are many in our ocean, even in our little part of the ocean, that do not have any water to drink. I happen to believe that on the whole, access to Internet connectivity is an overwhelmingly positive force in the world, but like water and oceans (think Tsunami, Katrina) can also cause destruction...it is up to us to keep it a positive force.
OK, enough of this thread of thinking. Tomorrow I will start to answer some questions I have received from locals in Israel about Web 2.0, start-ups, and funding. Stay tuned.