Mark Goldberg

Fox Group Dispatch

Being a mensch

Be a “mensch.”

A very basic instruction to our kids. It means being a decent human being. A person of integrity and honor.

My brother and I were talking about some characteristics of menschlichtkeit. Treating everyone with respect is a big one. I recall going to a dinner for a job interview about 30 years ago and as we were being escorted to our table, a napkin fell from the tray of a busboy who was clearing dishes. I picked up the napkin and handed it to the service staff member. Many years later, I was told that this simple act won me the job before the actual interview ever took place.

How do you treat everyday people, the waiters and busboys, the flight attendants, the cleaning crews, strangers you have never met? Are you a “mensch” or do you reserve your acts of common decency just for your friends or those who can immediately impact your career?

Why is this so foreign to engagements on social media?

Complete strangers, who I envision are writing from their parents’ basement while hiding behind mythological-based pseudonyms, feel compelled to issue coprolalic comments as a response to posts with which they disagree. We led a generation to believe that the internet meant a democratization of interaction with everyone; some trolls help demonstrate the corollary: while they may have ability to have their message broadcast, people still retain the ability to ignore them. If people want to bleat obscene and derogatory epithets with anonymity, I am happy to aid in preserving the obscurity they desire and so richly deserve.

I have often referred back to a post I wrote nearly a dozen years ago called “4 degrees of impersonal communications.” It continues to baffle me that people generally take more care in communications when the conversation can most easily be private and candid, such as in face-to-face conversations, compared to the anti-social language and tone so commonly found in online fora.

As an exercise, look at the replies to almost every tweet from FCC Chair Ajit Pai (such as his announcement on the proposed Sinclair/Tribune transaction) to see the level of abuse he routinely attracts. Sifting through noise must be exhausting.

I am happy to engage, debate issues, share my experience, provide guidance. But there are limits to what I will tolerate in my 4 degrees.

Summer time has given me an opportunity to spend more time away from the computer screen, unwind and reflect.

Last fall, I wrote advice to my kids to “find a career doing something you love doing; aim to be the best at what you do; find people who share your values to do it with; and, remember that family should always come first.”

Among those values I hope they share with their friends and co-workers is to always be a “mensch.”

I wish I could find more tools to impart that simple rule to others.

For now, this post will have to do.

How smarter policy can create smarter cities

Over the holiday weekend, I had a chance to read a recent post from the Verizon Public Policy blog, calling for reforms in policies governing antenna siting and access to rights-of-way in order to accelerate deployment of 5G networks. Verizon says a “fundamental building block for the networks of tomorrow are small cells that will be deployed on light poles and other ‘street furniture’ throughout cities.” One of the biggest challenges facing service providers is getting approvals to deploy small cells on a reasonable and timely basis.

As we heard at The 2018 Canadian Telecom Summit [watch the 5G panel here], the deployment of 5G networks is a journey, with incremental deployment of more cell sites and more fibre connectivity.

About 6 years ago, I wrote about some of my experiences as a member of a community advisory body assisting my local municipality in the development of a new tower siting protocol. At the time, I was writing about health concerns, saying that we need more towers in order to reduce exposure to RF energy, since that would allow the devices we carry in our pockets to dial down their transmitting energy. “Tell your local municipal councillor that you want more towers – attractive ones, or camouflaged towers – to reduce your exposure to RF energy and improve your mobile service.”

We want towers within sight of our cell phones; just not within sight of our eyes.

For more than 10 years, I have suggested that a city could be “better off with a declaration that it will no longer fight carriers looking to invest and it will get out of the way of service providers that want to improve fibre access to their customers.” Smart cities require advanced communications infrastructure.

If a service provider is looking to deploy capital to upgrade facilities, how should a community respond? Is there an existing communications facilities protocol to be followed? Are there administrative or financial inhibitors that may discourage the decision to proceed or do processes encourage and welcome investment?

A few years ago, I wrote a post called “A little smarter every day“, saying “Building a smart city means creating a culture that works to make the community a little bit smarter every day.”

When setting policies, it really shouldn’t be that complicated:

  • Set clear objectives.
  • Align activities with the achievement of those objectives.
  • Stop doing things that are contrary to the objectives.

If we want to lead in the development of smarter cities, more connected communities and delivery of better services for our citizens, we need to create an environment that encourages service providers and all levels of government to work collaboratively to encourage investment.

It is all part of making our communities a little smarter every day.

#CTS18 on demand

Over the past few weeks, I have posted a number of sessions from The 2018 Canadian Telecom Summit. Here is the list of what is available:

This ends my posts about The 2018 Canadian Telecom Summit [many of you are now exhaling a sigh of relief]. Your comments are welcome.

I am now officially in vacation mode, working from my northern office, accessible thanks to Xplornet LTE. I’ll stay in touch, but perhaps a little less frequently.

Have a good summer.

#CTS18: The 5G journey

On Tuesday, June 5, 2018, Eric Smith, VP, Regulatory Affairs for the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association moderated a panel entitled “The 5G Journey” at The 2018 Canadian Telecom Summit. Panelists included:
  • Alexander Brock, SVP, Network Technologyv Rogers Communications
  • Tim Dinesen, EVP, Network, Xplornet Communications
  • Brian O’Shaughnessy, SVP & CTO, Converged Networks, Shaw Communications
  • Bruce Rodin, VP Wireless Networks, Bell
  • Kyriakos Vergos, VP Sales – North America, Airspan Networks

Will 5G be a catalyst for innovation and economic growth? Will it shine a light on the importance of Canada’s wireless networks?

Coincident with The 2018 Canadian Telecom Summit, the 5G Canada Council website was launched:

5G is more than just a new wave form. The reduction in latency permits all kinds of new applications and capabilities.

As Bruce Rodin said during the session, 5G is an evolution in the network, but a revolution in what the network can deliver.

You can read the account of the 5G panel, or watch the complete session on YouTube.

As always, your comments are welcome.

#CTS18: Artificial Intelligence

On Wednesday, June 6, Rita Trichur, Financial Services editor at The Globe and Mail, moderated a panel at The 2018 Canadian Telecom Summit that looked at “Artificial Intelligence: Should we embrace or fear what’s coming?”

The panel included:
  • Hassan Alzein, CTO, Communications Sector, DXC Technology
  • Brian Carpenter, Technology Evangelist, Pure Storage
  • Ian Hood, Chief Technologist, Global Service Providers, Red Hat
  • Jaime Leverton, VP & GM, Canada & APAC, Cogeco Peer 1
  • Shawn Mandel, Chief Digital Officer, TELUS

AI is among the top business trends being tracked, in terms of disruption and innovation. Is AI a threat? By some estimates, AI could unleash up to US$1.25T in investment by 2025.

Should we embrace or fear what’s coming?

Our panelists have lots to say. I hope you find the video useful.