Microsoft Says the FCC ‘Overstates’ Broadband Availability in the US

Motherboard has the details:

Generally speaking, you can’t fix a problem you don’t fully understand. That’s particularly true of US broadband, where the government’s efforts to map the scope of the nation’s broadband coverage gaps have long been ridiculed as an inaccurate mess.

Microsoft this week was the latest to highlight the US government’s terrible broadband mapping in a filing with the FCC, first spotted by journalist Wendy Davis. In it, Microsoft accuses the FCC of over-stating actual broadband availability and urges the agency to do better.

“The Commission’s broadband availability data, which underpins FCC Form 477 and the Commission’s annual Section 706 report, appears to overstate the extent to which broadband is actually available throughout the nation,” Microsoft said in the filing.

“For example, in some areas the Commission’s broadband availability data suggests that ISPs have reported significant broadband availability (25 Mbps down/3 Mbps up) while Microsoft’s usage data indicates that only a small percentage of consumers actually access the Internet at broadband speeds in those areas,” Microsoft said.

Similar criticism has long plagued the agency. The FCC’s broadband data is received via the form 477 data collected from ISPs. But ISPs have a vested interest in over-stating broadband availability to obscure the sector’s competition problems, and the FCC historically hasn’t worked very hard to independently verify whether this data is truly accurate.

Continue reading the report HERE.

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OneWeb Secures $1.25 Billion in New Funding After Successful Launch

OneWeb, a global communications company with a mission to bring connectivity to everyone, everywhere, announces it has secured its largest fundraising round to date with the successful raise of $1.25 billion in new capital. This brings the total funds raised to $3.4 billion. This round was led by SoftBank Group Corp., Grupo Salinas, Qualcomm Technologies Inc., and the Government of Rwanda.

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The new funds, following the successful first launch of OneWeb’s satellites, enable the company to accelerate the development of the first truly global communications network by 2021. OneWeb’s system will deliver high speed, low latency, seamless broadband access, everywhere on Earth.

“This latest funding round, our largest to date, makes OneWeb’s service inevitable and is a vote of confidence from our core investor base in our business model and the OneWeb value proposition,” said Adrian Steckel, CEO of OneWeb.

“With the recent successful launch of our first six satellites, near-completion of our innovative satellite manufacturing facility with our partner Airbus, progress towards fully securing our ITU priority spectrum position, and the signing of our first customer contracts, OneWeb is moving from the planning and development stage to deployment of our full constellation. Our success is made possible thanks to the backing of our investors and the cooperation of our world class commercial partners including Arianespace, Airbus, Qualcomm Technologies Inc., Virgin, and Hughes.”

OneWeb’s satellites, produced through its joint venture with Airbus doing business as “OneWeb Satellites”, will ramp-up production this spring at its new, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Exploration Park, Florida.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

Rural users will have access to LEO broadband long before they see 5G in the neighborhood if they ever see 5G.

Unlocking the Digital Potential of Rural America

Unlocking the digital potential for rural small businesses across the country could add $47 billion to the U.S. GDP per year. This new study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Amazon estimates the economic impact of digital technologies on rural small businesses based on official statistics and a survey to more than 5,000 rural small businesses across the country.

There are 37 million working-age adults and 18 million households in the rural U.S. While accounting for close to 15% of the adult population and nearly 75% of the country’s land mass, annual revenues of rural businesses represent only 3.7% of total gross revenues in the U.S. economy.

Despite some improvement in the adoption of digital tools by rural businesses over the past decade, this new research shows how increased use of digital technology in rural America could help drive faster growth in the rural economy.

Key findings:

  • Increased adoption of online tools and digital services for businesses across rural America could create more than 360,000 jobs in the next three years.
  • Increased adoption could grow annual revenues of rural small businesses by more than 21% over the next three years – the equivalent of $84.5 billion per year – with states in the South seeing the greatest benefit
  • Online tools and technology have the highest potential impact on rural small businesses with revenue under $100,000

Read the full report HERE, including additional insights and interactive graphics.  Select California for a breakdown by state. 

Hat Tip to barberadvisors.com blog for the link to the Chamber Report.

OneWeb Wants to Rebuild the Internet in Space

The Denver Post has the OneWeb story and Greg Wyler’s dream of connecting the world.

Wyler’s dream to beam the internet from space to remote corners of the world is finally here, he said. In February, the first of his company’s satellites launched from a remote launch site in French Guiana, a key step toward building a constellation that could eventually reach nearly 2,000 satellites.

If Wyler’s plans are successful, what he and his fellow executives at OneWeb envision is nothing short of revolutionary: becoming one of the world’s largest providers of internet service by building the architecture in space, allowing billions more people to use the web. Wyler founded the Britain-based company in 2012.

“The ultimate goal is to connect every school in the world and bridge the digital divide,” Wyler said in an interview after his pep talk. “We’re bringing connectivity and enabling it for people around the world, and in rural populations.”

If successful, remote areas all over the world — from Alaska to Africa — that are out of reach of fiber optic cables could suddenly join the world of Facebook and YouTube, a feat Wyler and others believe could be transformative.

But building the backbone of the internet in orbit is no easy task. Others have tried to put up constellations of communications satellites. The enormous cost is only outmatched by the risks of putting up hundreds of spacecraft in orbit.

Full Story is HERE

 

Rural California Should Not Fret Over 5G and Start Looking for LEO Satellites

By Russ Steele

Ever wonder what the LTE in 4G LTE stood for? I always thought that LTE was the abbreviation for 4G light. In one sense it is as 4G LTE does not meet the minimum ITE standard for 4G, so it was designated 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE). Almost 4G but not quite. It does not matter what LTE stands for in those communities that do not have any 4G LTE networks by any of the four telco providers.

As you can see on the map below, there are large swaths of California census blocks which do not have a single provider of 4G LTE. FCC has designated these rural blue areas eligible for subsidies, under the Mobility Fund Phase II Program.

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Mobility Fund Phase II (MF-II) will make up to $4.53 billion in support available over 10 years to primarily rural areas that lack unsubsidized 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) service. MF-II is critically important to supporting mobile voice and broadband coverage, incentivizing the deployment of mobile wireless service through a reverse auction, and ensuring that 4G LTE service is preserved and advanced in those areas of the country that lack unsubsidized service.

Under this schedule, it could be another 10 years before some communities final get 4G LTE service, if at all. While the Federal Government is subsidizing the build-out, one of the four telcos has to decide to bid for the subsidy and then take the risk they can build a sustainable system, without additional subsidies.

The 5G rollout is expected to follow a similar path as 4G in the evolution from 3G. The 4G rollout started in the dense urban cities and then moved to the transportation corridors and then to the suburbs and final into some rural areas with populations density was high enough to support the telco ROI calculations. AT&T started offering 4G LTE in 2011, Verizon in 2010, Sprint in 2012 and T-Mobile in 2013. Eight years later many communities still do not have reliable 4G LTE coverage.

After eight years there are still rural communities with 3G service or no broadband service at all. It is highly likely that these rural communities will ever see 5G.

Digital Trends:

The ITU IMT-2020 specification requires 5G to feature peak speeds of 20Gbps, but as we saw from 4G LTE, we can realistically expect those sorts of speeds 10 years from now. Even then, those speeds are only expected when using short-range mmWave spectrum, not longer range sub-6GHz spectrum. That means as per usual, rural areas won’t feel the benefit for a while, if at all. For now, consumers living in urban areas should expect speeds in line with LTE Advanced (or, one might say, true 4G) that will incrementally improve each year.

For rural communities that do not have 4G LTE, it will be hard to benefit from an upgrade to full 4G which will take place over the next ten years. What are rural communities to do in the interim? Let’s look at some other timelines, the LEO satellite timelines.

Just last week (02-27-2019) OneWeb launched the first six of a 600 Satellite constellation, and under the FCC agreement must have all satellites launched in six years.

SpaceX will start launching phase one satellites in late 2019 with a full constellation of 4,425 by 2024. The SpaceX LEO constellations are expected to provide G5 level speeds at fiber network latency of 25-35ms.

Telesat, which operates a large fleet of geo sync statutes announced a smaller 117 satellite LEO constellation and plans to deliver the first service in 2021.

Given these timelines, if they hold up, rural communities could have access to space-based broadband long before some will see 4G LTE or 5G. It is time they stop fretting over when will they get terrestrial 5G and start thinking about how they can benefit from space-based broadband access.  Go LEO Satellites

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