RCRC: Rural Broadband Update

This week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a revised version of its 2019 Broadband Deployment Report, which stated 21.3 million Americans lacked broadband access by the end of 2017.  Unfortunately, by the FCC’s own admission, the data used in the report is deeply flawed, which raises questions and concerns about the accuracy of the report.

The 21 million figure is contradicted by a report released last year by Microsoft that found 162.8 million Americans, 19 million in rural America alone, did not have a way to use rural broadband.  The FCC report relies on data reported by nationwide carriers that is often contradicted from third party sources.

For some policymakers, the credibility of the data undermines claims from FCC Chairman Ajit Pai that the digital divide is closing at a satisfying pace.  According to the report, the digital divide has “narrowed substantially, and more Americans than ever before have access to high-speed broadband.”  But consumers are growing frustrated with the inconsistencies of carrier-reported data with the reality of internet availability in rural America.  Other rural broadband advocates are urging the National Telecommunication and Information Administration (NTIA) to step up efforts to modernize federal broadband data collection.  The FCC is unable to target truly underserved areas with broadband deployment assistance without accurately reported data.

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Sprint 5G Network Turned On — More Rural Friendly Spectrum

The Verge has the details on modes and speeds:

By contrast, Sprint is using what it calls “split mode” to allow devices to combine 5G NR and LTE Advanced for faster download speeds and, more importantly, 5G coverage that’s somewhat consistent. Sprint isn’t relying on the same high-frequency millimeter-wave tech as Verizon and AT&T at the moment. Instead, it’s building 5G on top of its mid-band 2.5GHz wireless spectrum. According to Saw, Sprint’s antennas in 5G markets are divided with dedicated LTE and 5G resources. “We are not sharing spectrum. We’re not stealing bandwidth from LTE users, and you don’t see a slowdown in 5G just because LTE customers are using a lot of data.” Saw insists this is something that isn’t possible with millimeter wave alone. “I think we’re the only operator in the US that’s able to launch our 5G network to have the exact same coverage as LTE, right on top of each other.”

But how fast is it? Sprint’s promise is up to five times faster than LTE. “We’re trying to set the right expectations,” said Saw. “You should see more than 100Mbps when you’re driving around.” Sprint drove media around for a short two-mile bus trip to demonstrate mobile speeds. The new LG V50 indeed remained above that 100Mbps mark throughout the test, and it never dropped Sprint’s 5G network during the drive. Peak speeds hit between 500Mbps and 600Mbps when we stopped and were stationary. But Sprint is definitely being conservative in its guidance and reiterating that this is day one and improvements will come early and often.

Full Article is HERE. Emphasis added. Article concludes:

Mid-band 2.5GHz spectrum will make 5G coverage more reliable and steady. And low-band “sub-6” spectrum will be crucial for making sure 5G can strongly reach indoor locations and challenging coverage spots. As you’d expect, he brought up the T-Mobile merger as being essential, since that company possesses a lot of low-band spectrum that would complement Sprint’s own.

The Sprint/T-Mobile low band approach will not produce mind blowing Verizon speeds but will provide enhanced speed over LTE and be more reliable in difficult to reach rural locations.

What Does the FCC’s Broadband Deployment Report Tell Us About the Digital Divide?

John B. Horrigan is Senior Fellow at the Technology Policy Institute

Conclusion

Back to the original question: What does the latest 706 report tell us about the digital divide? Not very much. It uses carrier-reported data that vary wildly from other methods and focuses only on a single part of the digital divide. Here are suggestions for action:

• . Continue to improve metrics: As the NTIA addresses broadband mapping, it should consider bringing network speed measurement into the picture to capture network performance at the local level.

• . Bolster capacity at the local level: With the digital divide becoming more local, the federal government should equip localities with the resources they need to address it.

The FCC recently gutted the ability of local governments to raise resources to address digital inclusion by limiting their ability to charge fees for rights-of-way for 5G deployment. Prior to federal preemption, some places used such fees for digital inclusion planning and funding. The federal government should develop a digital inclusion planning and grant program to help defray, in part at least, lost local revenues from the FCC’s action. Senator Patty Murray recently introduced the Digital Equity Act of 2019 which offers a vehicle for such a program.

Policymakers’ focus on the digital divide will not go away anytime soon. As dialogue on it continues, better data and a broad understanding of the problem are crucial to helping decision-makers make progress on the digital divide.

Emphasis was added.  The full report is HERE.

Starlink Active by End of the Year?

According to the STARLINK Webpage HERE.

Starlink is targeted to offer service in the Northern U.S. and Canadian latitudes after six launches, rapidly expanding to global coverage of the populated world after an expected 24 launches. SpaceX is targeting two to six Starlink launches by the end of this year.

If you did not follow the first link, check out the very interesting Starlink web site HERE.

Starlink-internet-satellites-UJ-45587496542

Supervisors Deny 70 Household Critical Infrastructure

Note:  This letter to The Union Editor was submitted on 30 May 2019

Nevada County supervisors oppose new cell tower read the headline!

“Nevada County Supervisor Ed Scofield said he usually supports new cell towers. However, he wasn’t going to approve one at 13083 Wildlife Lane.
Speaking near the end of a Tuesday hearing for a tower, Scofield said the proposed 110-foot AT&T tower would bring broadband access to only some 70 homes.”
In today’s digital world Broadband access has become critical infrastructure, just like water, power and waste management according to the Brookings Institute, California Public Utilities Commission, the Federal Communication Commission and other future assessing organizations.
Would the Supervisors deny 70 households access to water, power, or waste management? No! So why do they deny 70 homes access to more economic opportunity, better education, and healthcare that is available on this critical infrastructure called broadband?
I have invested 1,000 of hours promoting broadband in Nevada County, mapping broadband deficiencies, working with Congress and the FCC to promote federal investment in rural broadband. Now that it has arrived Supervisor Schofield says, “We do not need that” Really, how clueless to the needs of modern digital society can a Supervisor be?
This kind of leadership is destroying the economic potential of a beautiful County. It would help if Nevada County had a more knowledgeable representative.

Starks: Race to 5G Could Bypass No-Gs

 

The U.S. needs to guard against internet inequity

For all the talk about the U.S. winning the race to 5G, FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks is concerned that the country will race right by with no-G.

In a speech at Georgetown University, Starks, the newest member of the commission, said he wanted to lay down a market on one of the most important issues the country faces. That is getting broadband to the over 24 million without access to broadband at any speed.

Starks said he feared the transition to 5G was also a transition from a digital divide to an “internet inequality.”

“I am worried about a world where those with much get even more, and everyone else gets left behind,” he said.

Continue Reading HERE.

This is a real threat to rural communities. Telecommunications is an ROI driven business and the sparse density of rural counties cannot make the ROI hurdle without some government help. Some 5G technologies are not rural friendly, and will not be used. Others can only provide a marginal improvement over 4G, which many communities do not have, and will not have for years, as the Connect American II program has a 10-year build-out schedule. It is not likely that low band 5G will be replacing newly installed 4G in an ROI world.

 

Both AT&T and T-Mobile Own Low Band 5G Spectrum – Why it matters

Light Reading has a 5G article that covers why this is important to potential rural customers. All the hype and concern about health issues has been about mmWave installation. Rural customers need to focus on the low band implementation of 5G, which both AT&T and T-Mobile have a role to play.

Light Reading: Why this matters

5G remains a hot topic in the wireless industry, but so far most 5G deployments have been done using millimeter-wave (mmWave) spectrum. Such spectrum generally sits above 20GHz and is able to transmit huge amounts of data but cannot travel more than a few thousand feet. Thus, today’s 5G mmWave networks from the likes of Verizon and AT&T only cover a handful of city blocks in a handful of large cities.

However, due to the physical propagation characteristics of low-band spectrum like 600MHz or 700MHz, operators like T-Mobile or AT&T could easily cover whole cities with just one cell tower. Thus, low-band spectrum will play a critical role in pushing 5G into more and more parts of the US.

The tradeoff though is that low-band spectrum can’t transmit as much data as mmWave spectrum. For example, Verizon’s mmWave 5G network has been averaging around 500Mbit/s with peaks above 1Gbit/s, while T-Mobile’s CTO has acknowledged that 5G on the operator’s 600MHz spectrum likely will clock in around 60-70Mbit/s. AT&T will probably see similar speeds on its 700MHz 5G network.

Well, 60-70 Mbits is better than no bits at all. Stay Tuned 5G is coming, the question is will SpaceX Statlink get there before rural 5G?  If they both arrive in your neighborhood, will competition drive down the price? Yes!  Capitalism is wonderful!