Fiber: Nevada City is Missing the Revolution

I am reading Susan Crawford’s book Fiber: The Coming Tech Revolution—and Why America Might Miss It. She is a Professor at the Harvard Law School. Amazon’s summary of the book:

The world of fiber optic connections reaching neighborhoods, homes, and businesses will represent as great a change from what came before as the advent of electricity. The virtually unlimited amounts of data we’ll be able to send and receive through fiber†‘optic connections will enable a degree of virtual presence that will radically transform health care, education, urban administration and services, agriculture, retail sales, and offices. Yet all of those transformations will pale in comparison to the innovations and new industries that we can’t even imagine today. In a fascinating account combining policy expertise with compelling on†‘the†‘ground reporting, Susan Crawford reveals how the giant corporations that control cable and internet access in the United States use their tremendous lobbying power to tilt the playing field against competition, holding back the infrastructure improvements necessary for the country to move forward. And she shows how a few cities and towns are fighting monopoly power to bring the next technological revolution to their communities.

To my surprise, Nevada City/Grass Valley and John Paul of Spiral Internet has a role in the book. His fiber project is used as an example of the struggle that private citizens must endure while attempting to bring fiber to a community that does not recognize the economic potential and only provides lukewarm support for the project.

It is important that the community, the local government, have some skin in the game; the lack of such involvement in John Paul’s Nevada City/Grass Valley has made it very difficult for him to privately finance the building of the Chip Carman network.

This is only one of the ten references to Nevada City in Fiber: The Coming Tech Revolution—and Why America Might Miss It.

According to Crawford, Nevada City/Grass Valley are missing the fiber tech revolution.

Editor Note: Since Fiber was published, John Paul has sold his fiber project to Race Communications.  Nevada City/Grass Valley may still get some economic fiber. If you want to understand the fiber network issues I highly recommend reading Crawford’s book. 

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Good News from USDA for Small ISPs

When the ARRA Broadband RFP was released, multiple small ISPs were interested until they saw the additional workload the owner and staff would have to invest, just to submit the proposal and decided not to participate. When Trump was elected he indicated his administration would support rural broadband funding. My recommendation to the Gold Country Broadband Consortia was to help communities prepare for the RFPs which would be forthcoming, but the Program Manager had other priorities. Her position was “We are not interested in Trump’s money”. A short-sided view of the problem and I terminated my consulting agreement.

I now endorse the USDA action to let small ISPs prepare for the release of their ReConnect RFP.  The important action is for the ISPs to take advantage of this extra preparation time.

USDA Official: States and Localities Need Skin in the Game for Rural Broadband to Succeed

When decision makers consider who should receive some of the $600 million allocated to the USDA ReConnect rural broadband pilot program, the agency will use a scoring system that awards points based on a range of factors, including the number of educational and healthcare facilities that would receive service – and for serving parts of states that have their own broadband funding programs. The latter criteria was included with the goal of “leveraging funding from outside sources” to “maximize the use of very limited resources,” said Anne Hazlett, Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development at the USDA, in an interview with Telecompetitor.

“We believe the federal government has a role, but we also need to see skin in the game from states and local communities because this is an issue that really touches the quality of life in rural America,” said Hazlett, whose responsibilities include overseeing the USDA Rural Utilities Service program and several other units within USDA.

Hazlett pointed to another example of how the USDA aims to maximize the impact of limited funding: Applicants will be able to request funding in the form of a loan, a grant or a combination of loan and grant.

Full Article is at Telecompetitor

That understanding drove the USDA to release documents on December 14 explaining how to apply for ReConnect rural broadband pilot funding even though the agency will not begin accepting applications for several months.

That move, she said, should help people get any technical assistance they might need to submit applications.

Video of SpaceX Simulations

This is a video of Starlink simulation by Mark Handley, a professor at University College London. This is a video of the Phase 1 revision. It shows now a Starlink network is created with inter-satellite links and then used to simulate communicate between major cities across the globe.

This Starlink network is 2X faster then fiber networks over long distances. This will be the bread and butter feature of the network that will ensure it’s a financial success. Rural communities can take advantage of this success by becoming Starlink users.

For the reader who wants more details on Starlink, read this Draft Paper —Delay is Not an Option: Low Latency Routing in Space

 

Indoors-Outdoors — 5Gs Dirty Little Secret

Mike Murphy, CTO for North America, Nokia Corp has some interesting insights into 5G, which will have some impacts on rural broadband. Eighty (80%) percent of traffic originates indoors and twenty (20%) percent outdoors. However mmWave 5G does not penetrate walls, windows, and trees very well if at all. It is important to remember that 5G is more than a cell phone carrier, it is being marketed as a broadband service, with some mobile phone capacity.

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Murphy explains:

. . . there is another dirty secret in the closet. The rule of thumb for capacity, as embedded in the 3GPP channel models, is that 80% of traffic originates indoors and 20% outdoors. Compounding that, there is a seasonal aspect to traffic. During the cold winter months in the north, there is even less traffic outdoors (likewise, in the hot summer months in the south). With LTE, indoor traffic is primarily served by outdoor cell sites, booming signals through walls and windows. This begs the question: What happens when 5G needs to handle that indoor traffic?

In the US, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is planning to auction off Millimeter Wave (mmWave) (24GHz, 28GHz and 39GHz) spectrum over the next two years. But mmWave doesn’t like hard things such as walls, windows and trees. Penetration loss is significant. This means 5G mmWave, practically, will not really be able to service indoor demand from outdoors-in (unlike low band LTE). (For completeness, we should note that T-Mobile US Inc. ‘s 600MHz spectrum and Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) Band 41 spectrum (2.5GHz) can help in this situation to a degree. However, the number of petabytes needed is very significant, and it is unlikely these solutions alone will suffice.)

So where does this leave us? There are only two options. The first is to use low- or mid-band spectrum outdoors, and blast millimeter wave indoors; the outside-in approach. But in the dense urban case, we are already using that spectrum! So, the only real alternative is new mid-band spectrum. For the moment, none is in sight in the US until about 2020+ when the 3.7-4.2GHz band — or parts of it — become available. The other is to deploy mmWave indoors. The problem with going indoors versus using the outdoors-in approach is that everyone wants to get inside. Imagine Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and all the others showing up at your building and wanting to deploy 5G mmWave inside every room. Perhaps neutral hosting solutions may help.

Before we finish, let’s dismiss one counter argument. Some will say, “But WiFi will fix that.” WiFi, however, has its own growth problems, thank you very much. WiFi demand is also growing, at least at 30% or more, and it too has looming capacity issues, with no significant new spectrum becoming available either.

Cellular demand, meanwhile, is separate, independent and additive. So, there is no getting around it. 5G needs to go and bang on some front doors.

Full Article at Light Reading 5G

Will the 5G providers be banging on the doors in small towns and villages to install mmWave 5G in multiple building after populating the town with small cell towers ever 500 feet. Not likely, as the costs would soon exceed the potential revenue. The mmWave spectrum is not the right technology for rural broadband, whereas LEO satellites seem to have more potential.

The rollout plan for 5G is to serve the dense urban areas and then the suburbs and finally some larger small cities in rural locations. The timeline is about ten years; thus the LEO satellite broadband will be available long before 5G gets anywhere near rural communities in the Sierra and elsewhere. LEO bandwidth should be available by 2020. Go Starlink and OneWeb!

starlink_graphic

Telehealth Changes Will Increase Rural Broadband Demand

From the Daily Yonder

New federal policies will make it easier for Americans to use telehealth. Rural communities should be looking for ways to leverage the new demand into better internet connections at home.

Several policy changes from Washington, D.C., should accelerate urban and rural telehealth deployments. On November 1 the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the body that manages these two healthcare programs, finalized new rules that include payment reimbursements for telehealth.

These changes are good news for communities that want broadband to help expand access to healthcare. They will also be welcomed who hope that expanded use of telehealth will increase the number of broadband subscribers. Currently, telehealth service isn’t covered by Medicare and Medicaid in many rural homes, and they don’t reimburse telehealth at all in urban areas.

One of the major telehealth benefits is that it enables people to stay at work or home and have electronic doctor “house calls.” Medicaid and Medicare, as a guard against fraud, required patients to get telehealth treatments at a healthcare provider’s facility. Many private-sector insurers take their cues from Medicaid and Medicare as to what healthcare services they reimburse. Altogether, this has stifled telehealth adoption.

Eric Wicklund, editor of mHealth Intelligence, says that “the CMS changes open the door for more telehealth and remote patient monitoring programs. In turn, this pressures community broadband providers to make sure healthcare providers have the resources to deliver these services.” The FCC has publicly pledged to boost broadband access in rural areas, and hopefully the CMS’ actions will intensify the FCC’s commitment

 

Elon Musk Wants You to Stream Internet From Space

It’s yet another vision to completely remake an industry.

Elon Musk wants you to cut the cord to cable. He’s trying to raise $500 million for his SpaceX rocket company to blanket low-orbit space with up to 12,000 satellites to provide high-speed internet service — and he wants the first set of them in orbit by the middle of the year.

That might seem like an ambitious deadline, but anyone who’s watched Musk push SpaceX, Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA), or even his Boring Company forward knows he likes to go big. Making cheap internet available to everyone around the globe, and having half the world’s traffic go through his constellation of Starlink satellites? For the man who is arguably one of today’s most visionary leaders, it’s just another day ending in “y.”

Laser-fast communication

Early last year, SpaceX launched two prototype satellites into orbit, named Tintin A and Tintin B, and installed a series of ground stations around the country to communicate with them. SpaceX plans to launch 1,600 satellites over the next few years — the system will become operational when 800 satellites are in orbit — and to launch the full spectrum of 12,000 satellites by 2025.

Once in orbit, Starlink will receive signals from ground stations via radio waves. It will then transmit the signals between satellites with lasers; when a signal reaches the satellite over its destination, it will be beamed down with radio waves again. The process will speed communications to a rate that’s about twice what is possible with optical fiber.

The promise of the system is that it will provide direct-to-consumer wireless connections, instead of having signals rerouted through multiple waypoints as with cable and existing satellite TV, which results in relatively expensive service. SpaceX looks to dramatically reduce the cost of internet service for everyone.

Rest of the story HERE.  [Emphasis added]

If SpaceX starts launching in mid-summer, how long will it take to get 800 birds in space? I am thinking it will be 2020 before we see Internet streaming from space.  As for the low-cost projections, I will believe it when my first Starlink bill comes and it is less than expected.