National Parks Become Digital Battle Sites

In the Insight Section of the Saturday [30 Dec] Sac Bee’s Stuart Leavenworth has an article discussing the expanding use of cell phones in National Parks and the opposition by environmental organizations.  The part of the article which caught my eye was legislation supporting the expansion of cell tower on rural public lands to assist people living in rural communities to gain broadband access. Bill is summarized below:

Public Lands Telecommunications Act

This bill directs the Department of the Treasury to establish separate special accounts for the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, and the Forest Service (the federal land management agencies) for the deposit of rental fees received by such agencies for communications use authorizations on federal lands that are granted, issued, or executed by them. A “communication use authorization” is defined as a right-of-way, permit, or lease granted, issued, or executed by a federal land management agency for the primary purpose of authorizing the occupancy and use of federal lands for communications use.

The rental fees received by each federal land management agency shall:

be deposited in its special account, and remain available for expenditure, as provided in advance in appropriations acts, for agency activities related to communications sites (those areas of federal lands designated for telecommunications uses). The Department of the Interior and the Forest Service may enter into cooperative agreements to carry out those activities related to such sites.

The Bill is in committee and does not seem to be gaining much traction as it has been put forth by Rep Jarad Huffman in past sessions of the Congress.  It will be interesting to see how this bill plays with FirstNet which will link all public safety agencies. 

The Sac Bee is online but I cannot find a direct link to the Insight Section.

Broadband as Essential Infrastructure

By Russell Steele ( Submitted to The Union for Publication 18 December 2017.)

Update: Article was published on 9 Jan 2018:

According to a recent Brookings Institute Metro Policy Paper in less than two decades broadband access has become one of the foundations of the American Economy, joining clean water, waste management, and energy as essential infrastructure.

In California, the General Planning process provides guidance on how communities should plan for and implement essential infrastructure. The Governor’s Office of Planning and Research published General Planning Guidance, August 2017, outlining critical planning elements for Land Use, Housing, Circulation, and Conservation, with recommended elements for Safety, Air Quality, and Environmental Justice.

The guideline also recommends community planning focus on four broad issues: Climate Change, Economics, Healthy Communities, and Equitable Opportunities. Reading through the instructions, I could not find any mention of broadband which has a significant relationship to climate change, economics, community health and equitable opportunities.

According to a California Emerging Technology Fund report, broadband is a green strategy. Whereas, access to broadband reduces vehicle miles traveled, lowers need for office-space construction conserving energy, and calms circulation congestion while increasing online shopping, all which can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1.1 billion tons over ten years, yet these advantages are not addressed in the General Planning Guidelines.

Broadband is only referenced in the Governor’s General Planning Guidelines in three places:

Chapter 4, Required Elements, Page 81, broadband described as a “relevant utility”.

Chapter 4, Page 82 Broadband:

“Both state and federal governments are implementing various funding programs that serve the goal of expanding broadband access to unserved and underserved areas. Within California, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) manages the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF), which invests hundreds of millions of dollars annually in broadband deployment. The state also created the California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF), which was designed to be a public-purpose venture capital fund.”

“Dig once policies can substantially reduce costs for providing broadband service to communities….”

Chapter 6, page 211:

“Also, general plan policies may improve access to health services through integrated public transportation and provisions for access to broadband, allowing for telemedicine capacity.”

None of these references address the issue of greenhouse gas reductions or the economic impacts on communities. Cities that have broadband services which match or exceeds 25 megabits down and 3 megabits up, can take advantage of telecommuting, teleconferencing, online education, eGovernment engagement, and reduced energy consumption, and reduce vehicle miles traveled, as VMT is the most significant contributor to California Greenhouse Gases.

In a recent Nevada County General Plan Update (2014) planners included broadband in the Land Use Element after some citizen prodding.

Policy 1.7.18 Encourage and support a sustainable and technologically current high-speed broadband transmission system that reliably connects Nevada County businesses and residences to national networks as a means to reduce transportation impacts, improve air quality, enhance citizens’ quality of life, and promote economic development

Program 1.7.1 The County will develop site standards requiring new residential and commercial development projects to include the broadband infrastructure components and adequate bandwith (sic) speeds necessary to support current communication technologies.

Counties, Cities, and Villages should incorporate broadband in all their General Planning documents, taking advantage of the reduction in vehicle miles travel, energy reduction and reduction in environmental impacts when broadband becomes essential infrastructure.  Equally important is the inclusion of broadband in the economic element, as it is a powerful rural economic development tool. Communities with high-speed Internet grow faster than those with just limited broadband access, according to studies.  Nevada County has started the process; now they need to declare broadband as essential infrastructure and plan accordingly.

Russell Steele, former Nevada County resident currently lives in Lincoln Hills CA where he blogs on rural broadband issues at

RF Energy to Treat Alzheimer

There has been a lot of concern and some brew ha ha about the danger of cell phone radiation. Details here and here.

Here is another view on the potential benefits of cell phone radiation.

Radio Amateur’s Invention to Treat Alzheimer’s Patients Going to Clinical Trials

Inveterate inventor and radio amateur Eric Knight, KB1EHE, may be on the cusp of medical history as a device he developed in collaboration with a prominent Alzheimer’s disease researcher enters clinical trials this month. Both are hoping that the device, which essentially saturates the brain with low levels of RF, may prove to be a viable treatment for the dreaded disease affecting millions.

“Sometimes breakthroughs happen in ways that are unexpected,” Knight told ARRL.

Knight learned of experiments that world-renowned Alzheimer’s researcher Dr. Gary Arendash was carrying out on mice specially bred to have the disease, exposing them to low levels of RF. Knight said the effects were dramatic, sometimes even reversing the disease’s effects in the mice. Borrowing some concepts from his early experiments with small rockets and avionics, he set about developing, and later patented, a device that could provide the requisite RF exposure to the human head.

“In the early 2000s, we were trying to figure out then how to make antennas that would wrap around the airframes of the rockets we were designing,” he said, noting that the diameter of his group’s space vehicle was about the same as that of a human head. Knight learned that Arendash was attempting to extend his investigations in a similar vein, and eventually they collaborated.

“He came at it from mice and science, I came at it from an aerospace and hobby perspective,” said Knight, who patented a device based on a bicycle-type helmet. At the same time, Arendash was developing a similar wearable — a fabric cap resembling an old-time aviator’s headgear. Both devices are embedded with small antennas to bathe the brain in electromagnetic radiation in the 900 MHz spectrum set aside for Industrial, Scientific, and Medical (ISM) applications — some 100 MHz higher than a cell phone’s frequency.  [Editor emphasis added]

“Ironic for sure,” Knight said. “Who would imagine that cell phone radio waves could be a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s disease?”

Knight, who has no medical background, said the device to be used in the clinical trials consists of the cap plus a palm-sized transmitter and wiring harness worn on the arm. The resulting combination has been dubbed the NeuroEM 1000. Participants will get doses of RF twice a day.

From the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) standpoint, the clinical trials aim primarily to show that the technology is safe, but Knight said he and Arendash are also looking for data that might demonstrate that the device could be beneficial in treating Alzheimer’s. The protocol they’ve developed goes further than what the FDA requires and includes before-and-after baseline data, with cognitive testing, assays of spinal fluid and blood, and PET scans.

“The hope is that there is a tiny bit of efficacy. Then we can work to refine it,” Knight said, adding, “No one is expecting a magic cure.”

H/T ARRL Newsletter 12/21/17


Missing Trump Infrastructure Broadband Funds??

This disturbing news for potential rural broadband customers comes from Politico’s Morning Tech newsletter:

“Although the Trump administration doesn’t seem inclined to set aside funds for broadband deployment in its forthcoming infrastructure bill, the White House national security strategy released Monday highlighted the need for next-generation 5G wireless to maintain U.S. competitiveness. “We will improve America’s digital infrastructure by deploying a secure 5G Internet capability nationwide. These improvements will increase national competitiveness, benefit the environment, and improve our quality of life,” the document states.”

Blackburn, Latta cheer the strategy: House digital commerce subcommittee Chairman Bob Latta (R-Ohio) commended the plan for putting “America on the cutting edge of emerging fields, like autonomous technologies, including self-driving cars, and artificial intelligence,” while House telecom subcommittee Chairman Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) deemed it a milestone for 5G. “The 5G revolution is here,” she said.

The way I read this news is the Trump Administration, and Congress has been sold a bill of goods by the major telcos that 5G will bring broadband to rural communities. Communities they are currently ignoring as they are too costly to serve without subsidies. Do you buy that 5G is a good solution for rural broadband? I do not, given the challenge that rural communities present, starting with the short range of the mmWaves and need for a clear line of sight void of foliage to function. The mountainous terrain limits population density, thus increasing the installation and operating costs. Microsoft “Airband” technology would be a better option in mountainous regions that are covered with trees and bushes.

Microsoft’s Rural Airband Initiative will invest in partnerships with telecommunications companies with the goal of bringing broadband connectivity to 2 million people in rural America by 2022.

We will have to wait and see how the final legislation addresses rural broadband needs. Stay Tuned!

Ericsson, to Provide 5G Gear for Verizon mmWave Networks in Sacramento?

Swedish telecom gear maker Ericsson said that it will provide US telco Verizon with networking equipment for their commercial 5G launch. Verizon will deploy the pre-standard 5G commercial radio network and the 5G Core network in select markets in second half of 2018.

Verizon has announced that Sacramento is one of those markets.

“Our pioneering work with 5G will make US consumers and businesses among the first in the world to benefit from the transformative services of the new technology. It further illustrates how our global 5G portfolio, designed to support 5G NR as standardized in 3GPP, enables first movers in the early commercialization of 5G networks,” Fredrik Jejdling, Executive Vice President and Head of Business Area Networks, Ericsson, said.

The companies are demonstrating continued industry leadership by accelerating the path to 5G. Verizon and Ericsson plan to work together to move the mobile ecosystem towards rapid commercialization of 5G.

During the past year, Ericsson and Verizon have conducted fixed-wireless 5G trials using mmWave spectrum in multiple cities and residential neighborhoods with different geographies and housing densities. This has been a critical step in Verizon’s plan to deploy a first-of-its-kind fixed wireless broadband network.

The mmWave bands are the spectrum bands above 24 GHz. There is abundant spectrum available at frequencies between 30 GHz and 300 GHz where the 5G technology is capable of delivering extreme data speeds and capacity. The ubiquitous WiFi protocol works up to 60 GHz.

Ed Chan, SVP Technology Strategy and Planning for Corporate Networking and Technology, Verizon said: “5G will change the way we work, interact, learn and play. Through our work with Ericsson, we are creating a clear roadmap and building a robust ecosystem that will enable us to maximize the potential of 5G.”

The rest of the article is HERE.


Getting To No

President Donald Trump and his team may have stumbled upon the one model of infrastructure investment that could turn off Democrats, who have been campaigning for years to crank it up. Administration plans to pay for roads, bridges and broadband with cuts to domestic programs aren’t going over well. “That’s not going to happen,” said Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon, the top Democrat on the House Transportation Committee.

Source Politico Morning Transportation. My blue highlight

Broadband funding needs bipartisan backing as it supports families and businesses regardless of party.

Can New Broadband Satellites Compete?

The California Public Utility Commission did not consider satellites as a viable broadband provider, as they often failed to provide the minimum download (6 Mbps) and upload speeds (1Mbps) and had untenable latency due to the distance signals have to travel from earth to geosynchronous orbit and return. This view may change with the development of flock of low altitude satellites circling the globe.

“Japan’s SoftBank Group has agreed to invest roughly $500 million more in satellite broadband provider OneWeb Ltd., according to a person familiar with the details, boosting the U.S. startup’s plan to offer significantly faster internet connections worldwide than most traditional systems, either space-based or terrestrial,” The Wall Street Journal reports.

Source: Politico Morning Tech

Details on OneWeb’s plans are HERE.  According to the Wall Street Journal

Work on OneWeb’s previously announced initial fleet of more than 700 small, low-altitude satellites is “generally on schedule” for launches beginning next year, starting to market service over Alaska in 2019 and expanding virtually around the globe by the end of 2020, according to Mr. Wyler. During a weekend interview, he also said deployment of roughly 900 second-generation, higher-orbiting satellites by the mid-2020s—intended to create the first such large-scale, hybrid constellation on orbit—is projected to increase speeds roughly fivefold to 2.5 gigabits per second.

In October, Mr. Wyler told the Senate Commerce Committee that OneWeb’s network portends “a brighter future for the nearly half of Americans with substandard internet connections, primarily in rural areas.” His ultimate goal is to “fully bridge the global digital divide,” he told the panel, by bringing inexpensive internet links relying on light, versatile antennas to impoverished communities, schools and small businesses in developing countries.

The plan is to provide 50Mbps Internet access, with each satellite will providing aggregate downlink capacity of 17 to 23 gigabits per second. This ability will provide the capability to exceed the FCC standard of 25 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up which are much higher than the CPUC standard of 6 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up. Low altitude flock of 1,000 plus satellites could be the solution to solving the rural broadband coverage gaps. Stay tuned; we will continue to cover these new satellites.

Spectrum Bills On The Move?

Senior staffers for the Commerce committees, speaking Friday at a Practising Law Institute conference, talked up a couple spectrum bills. One measure getting a lot of attention: the AIRWAVES Act, S. 1682 (115), from Sens. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.). “I hope we’re able to move that bill or at least parts of it through another vehicle,” said Crystal Tully, GOP policy director for the Senate Commerce Committee. Hassan spokeswoman Ricki Eshman told MT of “productive meetings” and expressed hope for an AIRWAVES markup in 2018. David Goldman, Democratic chief counsel for House Energy and Commerce, suggested during Friday’s panel that a bipartisan House companion could be forthcoming involving Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.), ranking member of E&C’s telecom panel. Rep. Leonard Lance (R-N.J.) is also believed to be interested.

Source: Politico

These two bills are important to expanding broadband in rural areas across the nation, see the highlighted blue text in summary below.

S. 1683

Advancing Innovation and Reinvigorating Widespread Access to Viable Electromagnetic Spectrum Act or the AIRWAVES Act

This bill requires the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to complete auctions during each of the next three calendar years that will grant new broadcast licenses for specified frequency spectrum bands.

The FCC and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration are directed to identify frequencies in specified spectrum bands that may be utilized for: (1) non-federal unlicensed use; and (2) commercial licensed use.

The FCC must allocate 10% of proceeds from each of the spectrum band auctions specified in the bill to expand wireless infrastructure in rural areas that are underserved or unserved.

The FCC shall conduct a study on how unlicensed frequency spectrum bands can be utilized for: (1) the provision of healthcare in rural areas, (2) distance learning, and (3) facilitating innovations in agriculture.

H. R. 4109

To amend the Communications Act of 1934 to provide for the deposits of bidders in auctions of spectrum frequencies to be deposited in the Treasury.