Who We Are and What We Do
We are Stephen and Chey Cobb and from time to time we have advised companies, government agencies, and non-profit organizations on matters of Information Technology, Privacy, and Security.
Stephen is now working full-time in the Research department at ESET where his title is Security Evangelist.
Also on Stephen's radar are efforts to improve access to broadband in rural America which he blogs about here.
In his spare time, Stephen is campaigning to raise awareness of Celtic Curse, also known as hereditary hemochromatosis or HHC. He runs CelticCurse.org as as well as the Fighting Hemochromatosis page on Facebook.
Due to poor health resulting from undiagnosed HHC, Chey Cobb is only available for short-term consulting and writing assignments that can be performed on a flexible schedule.
The work of Cobb Associates has focused on maximizing the benefits of information technology to enterprises, governments, individuals and communities, both through technical innovation and the reduction of IT-related risks. We have published many articles and books. We conduct seminars, address conferences, and perform a variety of consulting tasks for a wide range of clients. To learn more about the type of work done by Cobb Associates, read on...
Cobb Associates have been engaged by organizations such as AT&T Wireless, Microsoft MSN, New York City, Edward Jones, the Securities Industry Automation Corporation, IBM, ICSA Labs, Hoover, Conoco, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, The Federal Trade Commission, VNU Business Publications, Merck Medco, the Royal Mail, and the Federal Trade Commission.
When IT Creates Disparity: The rural broadband crisis
For many years we thought that the benefits of information technology—to enterprises, governments, communities and individuals—could be achieved by innovation on the one hand and risk-reduction on the other. We now see that there was something missing: sensible public policy. Without such policy, technology can create disparity. Allow us to elaborate.
In the span of 5 years, from 2005 to 2010, information technology has experienced an incredible transformation. We have shifted from a model based on servers dishing up data to be consumed by applications residing on workstations and personal computers to a heterogeneous mix of mobile endpoints running apps and data from virtual servers in the cloud. Email is no longer the "killer app" on the Internet. Social media and Software as a Service rule.
More and more companies and government agenices rely on bandwidth intensive services like Google Docs and SalesForce for productivity applications and storage of the data they process. Mobile computers now outsell desktop models, mobile phones are now computing devices. New categories of handheld device continue to emerge offering 7x24 connectivity and computing on the streets as well as in the home and office. Businesses and schools and other public entities are increasing reliant upon a broad stream of rich media, video rendered in higher and higher definition.
All of which is great, with one major caveat: Millions of American homes and businesses have little hope of joining this wonderful world of broadband living. For tens of millions of Americans there is no telecommuting , no online trading, no SaaS, no cheap Voice over IP phone calls, no streaming video, either for entertainment or education. These Americans and the communities in which they live are condemned to a death spiral of declining population, crumbling infrastructure and failing schools. Why? Because politicians, in state capitols and our nation's capital, have failed to regulate broadband providers in any meaningful way.
In return for favors and campaign contributions—out of greed or ignorance, or both—our elected officials have failed to enact even modest service requirements for broadband delivery. Even as the telecommunication providers string their wires and bury their cables back and forth across the rural landscape, they are free to pick and choose who gets service and who does not. According to the telco ROI model, short term and some might say shortsighted, rural America is simply out of luck. And that has left many rural communities outside of the mainstream of modern American life.
For many families and businesses the choice now is move out or get left behind, leave the family farm, the family business, the place you call home, or stay out of the loop. Oh, and good luck selling that broadband-free homestead or business. As if property values weren't bad enough, the chances of finding a buyer who will knowingly take on a property that has no hope of broadband access, well let's just say it's hopeless.
Along with other like-minded people we are going to try to change this situation, but it won't be easy. If politicians don't get their courage up and their act together, Americans may come to know family farms and rural villages as nothing more than digitally remastered archival footage streamed to their hi-def devices.