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News Release

San Francisco Mayor Receives Broadband Honor at Calit2

San Diego, CA, March 24, 2006 -- San Francisco mayor Ga vin Newsom took a tour of Calit2 at UC San Diego today and received an award fro m FirstMile.US, a non-profit group that honored "his Big Broadband vision for th e 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.

Newsom Rao Smarr
Mayor Gavin Newsom (righ t) accepts his Big Broadband award from FirstMile.US president Susan Estrad a and Calit2 director Larry Smarr.
(Photos by Barbara Haynor)
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 communications companies, which have sued the city to block the plan, charging that it hurts private enterp rise. 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 bee n 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, wh ich provided a glimpse of living in a Big Broadband-enabled world and focused discussion on jump-starting strategies to build demand to get "Big Broad band Everywhere" in the United States.

Mayor Gavin Newsom (midd le) poses in front of the institute with Calit2 UCSD Division Director Rame sh Rao (left) and Calit2 Director Smarr.
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 ne eded to craft the right environment that ensures that every member of the Americ an public has access to big broadband, the 21st century pathway to a better over all 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 leadersh ip is laudable and what we'd like to see in every community in the U.S.," said FirstMile.US'  Estrada. "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 commitm ent 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."

The two-day FirstMile event included demonstrations of 'killer' applications in entertainment, education and healthcare utilizing Calit2's first-of-a-kind co llaborative environment, including 10 gigabits of connectivity to the venue, and a rare 4K projection system that offers four times the resolution of high- definition TV.

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 20-year-old technologies," said Estrada.  In a global ranking, th e United States now places 16th against nations around the world aggre ssively deploying contemporary broadband technologies. Many nations are also dep loying "first mile" broadband technologies that are 100 times faster than w hat is currently available to the majority of U.S. communities, homes, and businesses. "This threatens our nation's economic well-being," said the broadban d advocate. "With the right policies and the right incentives, the U.S. can be the global leader in big broadband deployment."  President Bush has cal led for universal and affordable broadband for every American by 2007.

Media Contacts

Doug Ramsey
Jacobs School of Engineering