Spacex Gets Greenlight From FCC

The FCC on Thursday officially signed off on SpaceX’s application to provide broadband through a network of more than 4,400 satellites the company plans to launch, John reports. Chairman Ajit Pai circulated the approval order last month, arguing that satellite broadband could help bridge the digital divide in hard-to-reach and rural parts of the country. In final text unveiled today, the FCC concluded that SpaceX’s plan is in the public interest. The approval contains conditions, such as SpaceX coordinating internationally and updating a plan to minimize orbital debris in the event that a satellite is retired or collides with other equipment in orbit. Billionaire businessman Elon Musk founded the company in 2002 and is its CEO.

Source: POLITICO Morning Tech

Let’s hope it works better than the current satellite broadband, which is slow and expensive with data caps.

Trump’s Broadband Shoutout

President Donald Trump during a speech Thursday gave a shoutout to broadband as part of the administration’s proposed $50 billion pot of money for rural infrastructure. “Very unfair!” he said of broadband being historically “left out” of major infrastructure investment. The reference caught the notice of Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), a co-chair of the Senate Broadband Caucus and longtime supporter of an infrastructure funding carveout for broadband. “This is an opportunity both to rebuild our roads & bridges & to build a brighter future for our country through #broadband & other important investments,” Capito wrote in a tweet. “Look forward to working together on this priority.”

Source: POLITICO Morning Tech

Broadband is a transportation network for the products of the human brain, just like the road network moves potato from the field to market. We should treat broadband as critical infrastructure just like we treat the road networks which are critical to our economy. Moving the critical products of our rural brains to consumers is as important as moving the products of our fields to markets.  Why is this connection so hard for our political leaders to understand?

Valley Vision Broadband Newsletter

The March issue of the Valley Vision e-Connection has been published and has some rural broadband news and information. Rural Broadband Featured Stories include:

CPUC listens to Oroville community in rural broadband workshop series

Learn about the meeting where community residents discussed broadband deployment in rural parts of Northern California.

Secretary Perdue Applauds Broadband Investment Included in Omnibus

Read about the big investment in a rural broadband deployment that is part of the newly signed 2018 federal spending package

New Report: Bridging the Urban-Rural Economic Divide

Learn how inequities in broadband access affect the shared economic future of cities and their rural surroundings in a new report from the National League of Cities. [Link to report is under the Institutions Tab above]

The Broadband News Section includes notice of USDA Community Connect Grants

I recommend traders subscribe to the Valley Vision Broadband Newsletter HERE.

New FCC Order Will Accelerate 5G Rollouts


The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved an order last week to accelerate the national approval process for deploying 5G small cells, according to the FCC.

Small cells are advanced radio hardware required for 5G networks.

The order, which was proposed by the FCC under Tom Wheeler in August 2016, aims to loosen regulations on 5G deployments in the US.

Previously, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) were required to review small cell installations. Under the new order, the majority of small cells will be exempt from NEPA and NHPA reviews, while larger cellular towers used by previous networks will undergo a streamlined process.

As the global race to 5G heats up, the new order will be key in reinforcing the US as a leader in the next generation network for two key reasons:

It will accelerate the rollout of small cell installations.Along with streamlining the review process, FCC officials will now have timeframes to act on the review process. This will prevent approvals from taking too long, speeding up deployment of the more than 800,000 small cell sites projected through 2026, according to Accenture.
It will reduce the cost of deploying small cells.The federal review process accounts for nearly 30% of single small cell deployment costs, and the cost per review is expected to increase year-over-year with an inflation growth assumption of 3%, Accenture reports. Eliminating this step will save at least $1.56 billion during the entire 5G rollout process. And while just 0.33% of federal reviews resulted in changes to planned deployments, they cost providers $36 million in 2017.
The FCC is looking into other ways to accelerate the deployment of 5G networks. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced plans at MWC to launch new auctions of high-band spectrum in November 2018 to fast-track deployment of 5G networks in the US, according to The Wall Street Journal. To make this plan a reality, Pai must first get congressional approval by May 13 to allow the Treasury Department to hold pre-payments from US carriers.

That’s because big banks are no longer willing to hold pre-auction payments from carriers due to capitalization and collateralization requirements. Going forward with spectrum auctions will be key in keeping the US at the forefront of 5G deployment, according to a joint statement by US House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden and Representative Marsha Blackburn.

Source: Business Insider

Tech And Telecom Measures Managed To Hitch A Ride on Omnibus

Ray Baum’s Act (H.R. 4986 (115)), a package of telecom provisions, was able to secure inclusion, Margaret reports. The telecom bill, the culmination of a bipartisan deal between House and Senate lawmakers, would reauthorize the FCC; free up airwaves for next-generation 5G wireless networks; and cover a funding shortfall stemming from a massive airwaves auction.

Rural broadband got a carveout: The omnibus includes $600 million for a new pilot program within USDA aimed at rural broadband, John and Sarah report. This additional boost of cash is on top of existing USDA broadband loan and grant programs.

The CLOUD Act is on board as well: The legislation (S. 2383 (115)), which has the backing of an array of tech companies including Microsoft and Apple, sets up a new legal framework for U.S. authorities to access data that’s stored abroad. The omnibus needs to be passed by both chambers of Congress by Friday to prevent another government shutdown.

Source: POLITICO Morning Tech [Emphasis added]

FCC Marches Forward With 5G Plan – Local Control?

The agency will take up an order today meant to drive down the regulatory costs for deploying 5G infrastructure by scrapping some federal reviews, despite calls for a delay from Democratic Commissioner Mignon Clyburn and Democrats in Congress. The wireless industry has cheered the move, led by Republican Commissioner Brendan Carr, which would exempt from federal environmental and historic reviews the small-cell wireless antennas that will deliver 5G service. But tribes, which can charge fees for siting on areas outside of reservations, say the FCC is wrong to cut them out of the review process, Margaret reports.

Democratic Sens. Tom Udall, Maria Cantwell and Tina Smith and Rep. Ben Ray Lujan urged the commission to delay its vote over concerns from tribes, saying in a letter that the order confuses “streamlining with steamrolling.” But wireless trade group CTIA, which backs the order, said the FCC has found the right balance. “The FCC’s action is targeted and long overdue and modernizing the process will help deliver faster wireless broadband deployment across the country while still safeguarding areas of importance to Tribal Nations,” a CTIA spokesperson said.

Also up for a vote is a proposal for a database that businesses can check to see if a phone number has been reassigned to a new consumer before placing a call, and an order that would lift the personal-use restriction on wireless signal boosters so that businesses can also use them.

Oh, and speaking of 5G, the wireless industry is going wild for the newly introduced RAPID Act from Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), which directs the FCC to reexamine broadband deployments subject to environmental and historical reviews within a 180-day period. Carr lauded the bill for ensuring the FCC updates “outdated regulatory approaches.”

Source: POLITICO Morning Tech

(Broad)Banding Together

The Senate Broadband Caucus this morning is convening lawmakers and educators to talk about how closing the digital divide could help address challenges that schools, teachers and students face. Sens. Angus King (I-Maine), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), and FCC Democratic Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel are all scheduled to give remarks at the event. Tune into the livestream beginning at 9 a.m.

Source: POLITICO Morning Tech

I hope we can get by all the talking “real soon now “and get to some action.  Please!

AT&T Gigapower Fiber Coming to My Neighborhood

The focus of this blog is on rural broadband issues. However, AT&T has launched a fiber to the home project in my Sun City community. This fiber install provides an opportunity to observe the process and write about it, sharing issues that might arise out of this telecommunication infrastructure upgrade.

According to a technician who was marking the street for PG&E and Water Company to identify their utilities, the installation will be a neighborhood by neighborhood, until all 6,000 home in Del Web is connected. According to the door hanger brochure, each area will be under construction for approximately 30 days from the start date. Details HERE:

AT&T GigaPower

I sent an email with some technical questions to the contact email. When they answer, I will share the results.

TV White Spaces Group Boosts Ranks – Where is CA? [Updated 03-22-18]

Connect Americans Now, a coalition backing the use of TV White Spaces to expand access to rural broadband, now has 100 members. Its membership includes Microsoft and ACT | The App Association.

Source: POLITICO Morning Tech

From the Connect America Now website:

Implications of the Digital Divide

• 6.5 million students lack access to high-speed internet, but 70 percent of teachers assign homework that requires a broadband connection. This means that millions of students – most often in rural areas – struggle to keep up with their assignments and fail to learn the computer skills they need to succeed and enter college or the workforce.

• Telemedicine could collectively save lives and millions of dollars annually for underserved patients and rural hospitals that pay up to three times more for broadband than their urban counterparts. Broadband allows patients, regardless of where they live, to access specialists and benefit from advanced monitoring services that would normally require hours of travel for patients or their providers.

• Broadband access brings the promise of precision agriculture, including remote monitoring equipment that helps farmers save money by optimizing irrigation, conserving resources and increasing yields. It also allows farmers to search for new customers, find buyers willing to pay higher prices and identify the most affordable sources of seeds, fertilizers and farm equipment.

• Broadband access will drive economic growth and job opportunities by enabling rural small businesses to expand their customer base from local to global and attract new industries to rural communities.High-speed internet supports workforce development by allowing rural job seekers to access services online, develop new skills through cloud-based training and secure additional employment opportunities like remote teleworking. It will also allow rural communities to keep and attract new workers who require a broadband connection to carry out their daily responsibilities.

Looking at the Membership list HERE, I was disappointed by the lack of California organizations who are supporting White Space TV. Cal.Net is using White Space TV technology to provide access to highly forested areas along SR-49 in Calaveras County and Tuolumne County. Carlson Wireless Technologies in Eureka, California, manufactures White Space TV equipment. The technology is here, where are the community and government support?

It is clear from the Connect America Now membership list that Oregon, which has many highly forested areas, has strong support from multiple organizations. The Mendocino County Broadband Alliance is one California group on board.  More California organizations should be supporting this technology, especially those in the highly forested Sierra? Where is the support from organizations like the Sierra Business Council, Rural County Representatives of California, Nevada County Economic Resource Council, the CPUC’s rural broadband Consortia, and other community organizations? More on this issues in a future post.

[Update ]  Information on White Space TV technology and strategy is HERE

[Update 03-22-18]

The GCBC Team at the Sierra Business Council reports that Plumas Sierra has been beta testing white space TV in Calpine successfully.

“If it turns out to be a good option, they will be looking into building the infrastructure needed to bring it to Sierraville. It, unfortunately, is not an option in Sierra City. We have been keeping our eye on the technology as we do realize it to be a good option for our rural areas and hope to see it implemented where possible.”

This is good news, let’s hope the tests continue to be successful.  Highly forested Sierra areas are a challenge, as radio wave cannot penetrate foliage, especially when it is wet.  5G millimeter wave technology is even a bigger challenge in rural areas due to the line of site requirements free of all foliage.  The TV White Space frequencies between 650-700 Mhz are a better option in highly forested areas.

National Rural Broadband Standard?

The House Energy and Commerce telecom subcommittee scheduled a March 22 legislative hearing on four bills, including a new discussion draft from Reps. Leonard Lance (R-N.J.) and Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.) that would increase fines for illegal pirate radio operators by 10-fold per violation. The other trio of FCC-centric measures would direct the commission to study whether it could designate a dialing code for a national suicide prevention hotline, streamline filing requirements for small businesses and develop a national standard for determining whether rural and urban areas have comparable wireless access.

Source: POLITICO Morning Tech

H. R. 2903 A Bill to direct the Federal Communications Commission to promulgate regulations that establish a national standard for determining whether mobile and broadband services available in rural areas are reasonably comparable to those services provided in urban areas.

SHORT TITLE. This Act may be cited as the ‘‘Rural Reasonable and Comparable Wireless Access Act of 2017’’.