FCC issues ruling that Wi-Fi Blocking is Prohibited

Why does this effect RE – because every convention or hotel on the planet will now need to allow people and companies to use their own wifi and avoid the usury charges that have been imposed previously.  This will ultimately reduce conference costs for exhibiting companies by billions of dollars per year.

What is Prohibited? No hotel, convention center, or other commercial establishment or the
network operator providing services at such establishments may intentionally block or disrupt
personal Wi-Fi hot spots on such premises, including as part of an effort to force consumers to
purchase access to the property owner’s Wi-Fi network. Such action is illegal and violations
could lead to the assessment of substantial monetary penalties.

In addition, we reiterate that Federal law prohibits the operation, marketing, or sale of any type
of jamming equipment, including devices that interfere with Wi-Fi, cellular, or public safety
communications. Detailed information about the prohibition against jamming is available on
the Commission’s website at http://www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/jammer-enforcement.


Bad medicine: Costs, ignorance plague health insurance users

Bad medicine: Costs, ignorance plague health insurance users

Dan Mangan | @_DanMangan

A large minority of people who have health insurance aren’t sure what’s covered by their plans.

And too many people with insurance are still afraid to use it because of worries about the costs they believe they will face from going to the doctor—despite the fact that a sizable fraction of them have a chronic condition, according to the results of a new survey.

All of those findings, outlined in a survey released Thursday by SCIO Health Analytics, are a worrisome counterpoint to the fact that many previously uninsured Americans are now getting health coverage due to provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

The results suggest that the benefits of providing people with health coverage are lessened to a certain degree by people not using that coverage correctly, and thus incurring unnecessary health costs down the road.

“These findings are particularly relevant at this time as millions of Americans are once again deciding their annual health-care benefit options through open enrollment,” said Siva Namasivayam, CEO of SCIO Health Analytics, whose customers included major insurers, pharmacy benefit managers and other health-care organizations.

“While Americans are spending time researching health plans, the survey reveals a significant knowledge gap in the specifics of their health-care options that may lead to unnecessary risks and costs,” Namasivayam said.

SCIO’s survey was conducted online by Harris Poll, which questioned more than 2,000 people age 18 and older, 1,872 of whom reported having health insurance at the time. The survey was taken about two weeks before open enrollment began on government-run Obamacare health insurance marketplaces.

The poll found that 38 percent of respondents lack a good understanding of the health services covered by their current insurance plan. That is the equivalent to some 84 million Americans. Young adults were almost twice as likely as adults age 65 and older to say they didn’t have a good understanding of their plan’s scope, according to the survey.

The poll also found that 20 percent of respondents said they had “avoided visiting a doctor for a general health concern within the past 12 months because of cost concerns.” Men were significantly more likely to avoid doctors’ visits because of cost worries than women.

SCIO noted that about half of U.S. adults have at least one chronic condition, such as heart disease, asthma or diabetes. The findings suggest that as many as 16 million adults with chronic conditions who could benefit from health-care treatment have skipped going to the doctor because they are worried about cost.

Given the fact that “treatment costs for Americans with chronic conditions are already around $277 billion annually,” the company said, if people avoid getting treatment for them, there are increased risks of complications, emergency room visits, hospitalizations and other consequences “that could potentially drive health-care costs even higher.”
Those worries are not necessarily based on a firm understanding of the costs, the poll found.

Almost half of the respondents in the survey, 44 percent, did not know what costs they would incur out-of-pocket for prescriptions drugs, such as co-pays, as opposed to what would be covered by their insurance plans.

And more than 61 percent of respondents said they did not know the costs they would face if they sought treatment from an urgent care or walk-in clinic facility.

Namasivayam told CNBC that his company’s customers were “definitely worried” even before the survey that newly insured people and others with low-levels of health-care literacy would be making poor decisions related to their health.

“It’s big time,” Namasivayam said of those concerns. “Because you now cost more [to insurers]. You are delaying the inevitable.”

“The prevention costs and the costs of taking good care of themselves is actually less than the person ending up in the ER 12 or 24 months down the road,” he said. “They are going to cost you maybe five to 10 times more than the cost of prevention and the cost of care.”

Namasivayam spoke Wednesday, hours after the Obama administration had announced that 7.15 million people have already enrolled in insurance effective this year on HealthCare.gov, the federally run marketplace that serves 37 states. That pace suggests that 10 million or more people will be enrolled nationally by the close of enrollment Feb. 15.

“I think that people are signing up, but people are signing up without having [a] clue about what they’re getting into,” he said. “The whole communication and literacy issue is a major hurdle. … Are you telling them what they need to know? Are you really driving them to be healthy?”

The enrollment surge and the reduction in the numbers of uninsured people nationally “could be a short-term gain,” Namasivayam said.

“But we may be paying in the long term if that literacy is not taken to the next step,” he said.

Namasivayam said he didn’t fault insured people for having difficulty figuring out their health-care plans, which he noted includes terms like out-of-pocket costs, co-insurance and co-payments are part of an often-complicated formula for determining what share of medical services are the responsibility of the health plan versus the customer.

“You almost need a Ph.D. in health-care economics to understand all this mumbo-jumbo,” he said.

While the media has paid significant attention to Obamacare, particularly during its first enrollment season last year, that hasn’t translated into widespread understanding of the health-care system, according to the survey’s results.

Sixty percent reported that they do not have a better grasp of how the health-care system works despite that coverage.


Real-Estate Tech Takes NYC

For years, the commercial real-estate industry has lagged behind other industries when it comes come to embracing cutting edge Internet technology to provide old services in a new way.

But 2014 may be the year that the business begins to catch up as New York increasingly shows signs of becoming the epicenter of entrepreneurship in real-estate technology.

In the past six weeks, four real-estate startups—View the Space Inc., Honest Buildings Inc., Floored Inc. and Hightower—have received a total of more than $18 million combined in venture capital. “These deals are not large yet, but it’s indicative that the center is very likely to be in New York for this intersection of commercial real estate and technology,” said Susan Wachter, a real-estate and finance professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

For the first nine months of last year, venture-capital investment in New York City real-estate technology companies was $11.62 million, according to the MoneyTree Report by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association with data by Thomson Reuters. In all of 2012, just $5.4 million was raised. The amount was $27 million in 2011.

The startups, which are building on a two-year surge in the industry, provide services such as real-time analysis of leasing data and virtual 3-D tours allowing the landlord to show how a raw space would look when finished.

The biggest fund raised in the past six weeks was by View the Space, a company that tracks and analyzes leasing data for landlords and brokers in real time. It got $7 million in funding by a group led by Trinity Ventures.

In another recent deal, Honest Buildings, an online marketplace matching building services with property owners, secured $4 million. Floored raised about $5.3 million; the firm allows developers to create photographic, 3-D tours of spaces online. Hightower, which provides mobile and cloud services to track and analyze leasing data in real time, obtained $2.1 million; it just moved to Manhattan from Seattle.

Startups in any industry have high mortality rates, say some experts. But this wave may be distinct from those others in the past. “We are at a confluence that is right for this,” says Ms. Wachter. “Real estate is back, and we have an entrepreneurial explosion of all kinds of mobile apps.”

Brandon Weber, co-founder and chief executive of Hightower, says it opted for a move to the Flatiron District to be closer to investors and customers.

New York also has a booming real-estate industry packed with entrepreneurs looking for the next big thing. Many of the startups “have founders or employees that are from the commercial real-estate industry—more so than previous waves of [tech startups] like 15 years ago,” says Ben Breslau, managing director for research at Jones Lang LaSalle Inc. “There are better ideas more in tune with the complexity of commercial real estate.”

Mr. Weber, of Hightower, says that his experience includes working for Microsoft Corp. and Zillow Inc. as a program manager and software designer and CBRE Group Inc. as a broker.

Backgrounds like this are appealing to venture capital investors. “You need to understand real estate to have an offering that people want to buy,” says Stuart Ellman, managing partner and co-founder of RRE Ventures, an investor in Floored and Hightower. “More and more people managing properties are becoming interested in using technology, but only where they have a real business case for it.”

The commercial real-estate industry has been slow to incorporate Internet tools intended to be used across industries, in part, because its needs are specific, said Noel Fenton, co-founder and general partner of Trinity Ventures. “The real-estate industry is a different beast,” Mr. Fenton said. “We believe that a company like View the Space, which is tailored specifically by real-estate people for real-estate people, is more likely to succeed than a more general solution.”

By Keiko Morris of WSJ 

Jan. 5, 2014 

Madrone Capital Partners has invested $100 million in View, the manufacturers of View Dynamic Glass

Madrone Capital Partners has invested $100 million in View, a manufacturer ofelectronically tinting glass for buildings, in one of the largest deals for a clean-technology company in the past 12 months. Investors have been supplying less capital to clean-tech companies in large part due to the large risks inherent in manufacturing businesses.

View, the leader in dynamic glass, today announced a $100 million investment from Madrone Capital Partners. The investment will enable the company to extend its market leadership and meet increasing demand for View Dynamic Glass. Madrone Capital Partners is a Menlo Park, California-based firm specializing in growth capital investments. Thomas Patterson, co-founder and general partner of Madrone Capital Partners, has joined View’s board of directors.

Since launching the first large-scale commercialization of dynamic glass in November 2012, View has installed more than 50 projects at corporate campuses, educational institutions, government buildings, hotels and hospitals across North America.


Local markets perspective is required to see actual trends





National statistics do not accurately reflect the trends for local markets.  While share of attached homes in all of the U.S. are increasing the last 5 years (to 12.5% in 2012) and the average size of home is also still going up in U.S. ( The average size of a new single-family house grew 5.4% to 2,642 square feet), some markets are seeing opposite results.



SAN MARCOS, Calif.—Ure Kretowicz, a home developer here, built his company and fortune constructing suburban communities marked by detached, Mediterranean-style houses along winding cul de sacs. Now he has run out of space.

For the first time in his four-decade career, Mr. Kretowicz doesn’t have one detached, single-family home under development in metro San Diego. From the blueprints in his office to dusty construction sites across the county, his company’s future in the region revolves around attached homes.

“In the next 10 years the typical single-family subdivision will be a dinosaur,” he said.

Faced with a dearth of developable land, home builders across Southern California are cramming more houses into less space. Many are dispensing with the single-family homes that have defined the region’s development for half a century. In their place they are building somewhat smaller structures in the form of townhouses or pairs of homes that share one wall.

This contrasts with the rest of the nation, where homes are for the most part getting bigger after shrinking a bit during the housing bust. The average size of a new single-family house grew 5.4% to 2,642 square feet in the second quarter from a year earlier, led by fast-growing housing markets in Texas and several Southern states, where land is relatively inexpensive and plentiful.

Enlarge Image

Lindsay Novak and her family share a common wall with Gina and Paul Simmonds, right. Sandy Huffaker for The Wall Street Journal

Single-family detached homes still account for a majority of building permits in Southern California, but a look at the development pipelines suggests that will soon change. Of the 335,000 housing units that are in the entitlement process—the pre-permitting process whereby raw land is legally turned into a lot that can be subdivided—across Los Angeles, San Diego and Orange Counties, about two thirds are attached homes, according to MarketPointe Realty Advisors, a research company in San Diego.

Most of them are “medium density” attached houses—typically a pair of homes that share a common wall, but aren’t stacked on top of each other as in an apartment tower, said Russ Valone, MarketPointe’s CEO.

Rising home and land prices are driving the shift toward attached houses, but they aren’t the only factors. Many home buyers are willing to trade a smaller structure for a shorter commute to work.  Meantime, American households are getting smaller, as young couples have fewer children and the generation before them ages into empty-nesthood.

First-time home buyers Lindsay and Nick Novak found their cream-colored attached house at the overlapping center of a Venn diagram blending size, cost and proximity.

The couple couldn’t afford a single-family house near the coast, at least not without requiring Mrs. Novak, 31, to sacrifice her stay-at-home role and take a job.

Moving inland, where homes are cheaper, would force Mr. Novak, a project manager at a construction company, to suffer a longer commute and less time with their two young children.

The Novaks’ new home, at 1,650 square feet, isn’t much bigger than the rental apartment they left earlier this year. But their development—where homes sold for about $425,000 to $450,000—has amenities such as a pool and parks, and their house has a small backyard where they recently put their handprints in wet concrete.

On the other side of a wall and the demographic spectrum live the Novaks’ neighbors, Gina and Paul Simmonds. The couple bought their home after selling a larger single-family house where they raised their two boys, one of them now in college and the other in high school.

“We didn’t need it anymore,” said Mrs. Simmonds, 44, a personal chef.

And they don’t even use all their now-reduced space, said Mr. Simmonds, a 45-year-old airline pilot. The family usually hangs out around the kitchen and rarely ventures to an upper-level TV room that has a massive orb-shaped cushion whose softness Mr. Simmonds demonstrated by diving into it as if he were a receiver in the end zone.

Government agencies also have played a role in pushing denser developments such as townhomes. As part of a series of air-quality and environmental laws passed in the 2000s, often dubbed “smart growth,” California encourages cities to embrace higher-density development by clustering housing around transportation hubs.

There is no legal minium on density, but the policies likely will to be tied to future greenhouse-gas-emission targets that will further push developers toward attached homes, said Benjamin M. Reznik, head of the Government, Land Use, Environment & Energy Department practice at Jeffer, Mangels, Butler & Mitchell LLP, a law firm in Los Angeles.

“To generate the density by definition you have to get away from the single-family-home concept,” he said.

Article from WSJ




Vacatia Launches with Strong Industry Backing



Vacatia.com, a new online marketplace for buying and selling time-share interests, has its official debut last week, with $5 million in financing from a group of prominent individual investors. 

 SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (Sept. 4, 2013) –– Vacation Listing Service, Inc. (VLS), http://www.vacationlistingservice.com, announced today it has closed more than $5 million in funding for the launch of Vacatia.com, http://www.vacatia.com, the new online marketplace for shared vacation ownership. Vacatia provides consumers and the vacation ownership industry with a groundbreaking, easy-to-use, transactional platform where visitors can research, and execute on, the purchase of timeshares and fractional interests at great prices, as well as cost-efficiently market and sell timeshare and fractional interests to the largest possible audience of interested buyers. 

Vacatia promises to reinvent and streamline the way timeshare and fractional interests are bought and resold by bringing new levels of transparency, credibility and convenience to this $14 billion global market. The beta site is already up and operational with more than 10,000 worldwide listings, representing over $100 million of timeshare and fractional resale inventory, located in leading vacation destinations developed by top hospitality brands and independent developers, such as Westin’s Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas, Marriott’s Grand Residences Lake Tahoe, Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort, Wyndham’s Cypress Palms, Hyatt’s Coconut Plantation Resort, Welk Resort’s Palm Springs and others. 

A Who’s Who of online travel, timeshare, e-marketplace and real estate industry luminaries participated in the company’s seed funding. Investors include Spencer Rascoff, CEO of Zillow; Erik Blachford, former CEO of Expedia; Greg Waldorf, Trulia director and former CEO of eHarmony; and Thomas Byrne, former President of LoopNet. Also participating were industry veterans Robert Spottswood, founding board member of Hyatt Vacation Ownership, and Raymond L. “Rip” Gellein, Jr., who founded Vistana Resorts and was CEO of Starwood Vacation Ownership and currently serves on the Board of Marriott Vacations Worldwide Corporation. In addition, professional investors such as Barry Sternlicht and Steve Hankin of Starwood Capital, Egon Durban of Silver Lake, Douglas Dillard, Jr. of Standard Pacific Capital and Gene Frantz of Google Capital invested personally in the round. Venture capital firms Maveron, Bee Partners, Peterson Ventures and Meyer Ventures also participated.

About Vacation Listing Service and Vacatia.com: 

Based in San Francisco, VLS is the parent company of Vacatia.com, the new online marketplace for shared vacation ownership. Vacatia addresses the vital need for greater transparency, convenience and liquidity in today’s timeshare and fractional ownership markets. It offers consumers, brokers, agents, developers, homeowner associations and resort managers a new and better way to connect, negotiate and transact in the timeshare and fractional ownership resale market. VLS is powered by an unparalleled team of proven innovators and senior executives from the vacation ownership, travel, real estate, hospitality and e-marketplace sectors.