SpaceX Starlink Update

The Verge has a long read update HERE

SpaceX is in communication with all but three of 60 Starlink satellites one month after launch And two of the 60 have intentionally been de-orbited

It’s been over a month since SpaceX launched its first batch of 60 internet-beaming satellites for the company’s massive Starlink initiative, and all but three of the satellites seem to be working as intended. Initially, SpaceX was able to communicate with all 60 spacecraft after launch, but eventually lost communication with three outliers. The uncommunicative trio will continue to orbit the Earth for a time, but will eventually get pulled down toward our planet by gravity, where they will burn up in the atmosphere.

The rest of the 57 satellites have been working as intended, according to the company. Forty-five of the satellites have raised their altitudes with their onboard thrusters and have reached their final intended orbits of 342 miles (550 kilometers) up. Five of the satellites are still in the middle of raising their orbits, and another five are undergoing additional systems checks before they raise their orbits. As for the remaining two satellites, SpaceX intentionally fired their onboard thrusters with the goal of crashing them into the planet’s atmosphere. There wasn’t anything wrong with those satellites — the company just wanted to test the de-orbiting process.

That means that five total satellites are headed into a fiery grave. “Due to their design and low orbital position, all five deorbiting satellites will disintegrate once they enter Earth’s atmosphere in support of SpaceX’s commitment to a clean space environment,” SpaceX said in a statement.

Continue reading HERE

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Solving the BB Mapping Problem

See Telecompetitor Article:

USTelecom: Fixing Carrier Data Only Solves Part of the Broadband Mapping Problem; We Know How to Solve the Other Part

6/20/19 at 7:16 PM by Joan Engebretson

As the FCC gets set to address inadequacies with the way broadband availability data is collected from service providers, USTelecom is warning that those efforts are only part of the solution to broadband mapping problems. To know which U.S. homes and businesses do not have broadband available to them, we also need to know the exact geographic coordinates of those homes and businesses. And perhaps surprisingly, that information doesn’t exist, explained Mike Saperstein, vice president of policy and advocacy for USTelecom, on a webcast today, in which the organization offered an update on the USTelecom broadband mapping initiative.

“If we map only where broadband is, we have no idea where broadband isn’t,” Saperstein said. “We don’t know physically where the unserved locations are.”

That’s important because service providers need to know the precise location within a farmer’s acreage of the family home to determine the cost to serve that home. But as slides shown during the webinar illustrate, geocoding systems often don’t show the correct location of rural homes within a farmer’s or rancher’s holdings.

us_telecom_pilot

Source: USTelecom

The good news, Saperstein said, is that the USTelecom broadband mapping initiative suggests that solving that part of the problem “isn’t as hard as it seems.”

USTelecom Broadband Mapping Initiative

Broadband provider organization USTelecom launched its mapping initiative in March and has been working on creating what Jim Stegeman, president and CEO of CostQuest, called a proof-of-concept “broadband serviceable fabric” for Virginia and Missouri. CostQuest specializes in data about broadband deployments and was responsible for creating the cost model that underlies the FCC’s Connect America Fund. The company is also working with USTelecom on the broadband mapping initiative.

Also participating in the initiative are several other broadband organizations and broadband service providers, including AT&T, Verizon, CenturyLink, the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association, ITTA – The Voice of America’s Broadband Providers and others.

USTelecom, CostQuest and other participants followed several steps to create the broadband fabric, explained Stegeman.  They began with data showing parcel boundaries (which, in general, depict the boundaries of a farmer’s or rancher’s holdings.) They augmented that data with information from tax assessors about how the land is used (commercial, agricultural, residential, etc.) and about primary and secondary structures on the land. They also brought in data showing building polygons – essentially a bird’s eye view showing the outer dimensions of every building on a farm, including garages, chicken coops and homes.

Current rules for broadband programs such as the Connect America Fund call for bringing service only to the primary location on an individual homestead (although that definition could broaden in the future). Accordingly, logic developed to analyze the data makes a determination about the location of the primary location on a property, and a specific confidence level is calculated for that determination. A designated team then reviews the data. The review process also could use crowd sourcing to hone the results, Stegemen noted.

USTelecom expects to submit full results from the pilot mapping initiatives in Virginia and Missouri to the FCC this summer and estimates that a fabric for the entire country could be created sometime in 2020. The FCC could then use the fabric in combination with shapefiles, also known as polygons, from service providers showing where the providers offer broadband to determine which U.S. locations do not have broadband available to them. Creating the nationwide fabric would cost between $10 million and $12 million by USTelecom’s estimate.

In an email response to an inquiry from Telecompetitor, a USTelecom spokesman said “We are funding the pilot as a proof of concept that the fabric can deliver a targeted view of broadband service availability. We have been keeping the FCC involved with our process and demonstrating our results to them; our hope is that they will adopt the fabric nationwide as part of their ongoing proceeding. To do so they will need to make provisions on their end (for example, a vendor that would produce the fabric.)”

Statlink Update at Engadget

The first batch of 60 Starlink internet satellites has been orbiting Earth for about a week, and now SpaceX has released a status update on the mission. According to a spokesperson, “all 60 satellites have deployed their solar arrays successfully, generated positive power and communicated with our ground stations.”

The statement didn’t directly mention concerns by astronomers about their brightness and visibility, but Elon Musk already has, and they aren’t expected to reach their full altitude for three to four weeks. According to SpaceX, “observability of the Starlink satellites is dramatically reduced as they raise orbit to greater distance and orient themselves with the phased array antennas toward Earth and their solar arrays behind the body of the satellite.”

Parabolic Arc notes that during a speech at MIT this week, SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell mentioned four of the units had unspecified problems, while today’s update said “most” are using their Hall thrusters to reach operational altitude and have already made contact with their broadband antennas, but all of them have maneuvering capability to avoid each other and other objects.

SpaceX:

We continue to track the progress of the Starlink satellites during early orbit operations. At this point, all 60 satellites have deployed their solar arrays successfully, generated positive power and communicated with our ground stations.

Most are already using their onboard propulsion system to reach their operational altitude and have made initial contact using broadband phased array antennas.

SpaceX continues to monitor the constellation for any satellites that may need to be safely deorbited. All the satellites have maneuvering capability and are programmed to avoid each other and other objects in orbit by a wide margin.

Also, please note that the observability of the Starlink satellites is dramatically reduced as they raise orbit to greater distance and orient themselves with the phased array antennas toward Earth and their solar arrays behind the body of the satellite

Continue reading HERE.

More CA Broadband Blathering

CA Economic Summit: Digital Inclusion Event Sparks Commitments Around Expansion Of Broadband In California

In a day marked by creativity, candor and collaboration, broadband stakeholders came together during a “Digital Inclusion Roundtable” on last week in Sacramento to develop a set of action steps to expand high-speed broadband deployment throughout California.

The Roundtable was convened through a partnership between the California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF) and California Forward. Its purpose was to promote policies and practices in state agencies to advance “Digital Inclusion” for all Californians. The event drew more than 40 representatives from state and local governments, League of California Cities, Rural County Representatives of California, Broadband Regional Consortia, internet service providers, tribal interests, the California Council of Governments, and other local and regional stakeholders.

In opening remarks, Amy Tong, director and state chief information officer for the California Department of Technology, noted that statewide broadband initiatives are a priority under Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration, with much energy focused on the digital divide still facing the state.

“The broadband initiative is taking on a whole new life,” Tong said. “We have done everything we can under the circumstances, but there is a lot more we can do.”

Lenny Mendonca, the Governor’s chief economic and business advisor and director of the Office of Business and Economic Development, echoed those thoughts during a noontime address. He emphasized that broadband access is critical for public safety, education, economic development and a host of other state priorities.

“We really need to have a digitally inclusive economy,” Mendonca said. “It is a priority for the governor.”

The Roundtable discussion featured lively discussion around both opportunities and barriers for expanding broadband access to underserved and unserved areas of the state. It was designed to build upon the work of CETF to integrate Digital Inclusion into all state policies and programs.

CETF is a nonprofit corporation with a goal of broadband deployment and availability to at least 98 percent of California households by 2023 and overall statewide adoption of broadband service by 90 percent of households in that same time frame. The state has made progress, with 84 percent of California households in 2016 able to access high-speed Internet at home, according to a CETF analysis of progress between 2007-2017.

But as that analysis explains, “sobering challenges” remain with a digital divide in California that includes more than 5 million residents offline at home, and 14 percent connected at home by only a smartphone. CETF’s efforts to close the divide have included, among other initiatives, a focus on incorporating broadband deployment into state transportation corridor planning guidelines and recognizing broadband as a “green strategy” for reducing impacts on the environment and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions.

The event was designed to assess progress following a September 2018 stakeholder meeting by the California Broadband Council and the California Department of Technology, where participants explored the concept of “strategic corridors” to support broadband deployment. The concept, which arises under the state’s statutory “Dig Once” responsibilities, seeks to establish conduit installation specifications in strategic corridors where transportation projects are being constructed but no internet service provider or public agency is prepared at the time to install conduit.

CETF President and CEO Sunne Wright McPeak noted that the September 2018 forum “was a tremendous conversation,” and that the Roundtable in Sacramento was designed to “hear from state agencies – what you have done and what you intend to do.”

Continue reading HERE. [Emphasis added]

More broadband blather!  Where is the action?  CA blathers about broadband while the states global competitors take action. Even poorer states are taking action when CA the fifth largest economy continues to talk about the problem. Elon Musk’s Starlink will available before we see any concrete action by the state of Calfornia to serve its rural citizens.

5G Phones And Your Health: What You Need To Know

The rollout of 5G using super-high-frequency radio airwaves has ignited old fears about cellphone radiation risks.

Full-length CNet article is HERE.

So is 5G millimeter wave service safe?

According to expert agencies and the studies conducted so far, there’s nothing to suggest 5G millimeter wave is a significant health risk. But most experts say more quality research is needed.

“Everybody, including me, seems to be calling for more research on possible bioeffects of 5G,” Foster said. “But what we don’t need is more fishing expeditions and cherry-picking of the literature. We need more systematic reviews of the existing research and more well-done studies focusing on health-related endpoints.”

CPUC Releases California Advanced Services Fund Broadband Adoption Gap Analysis

SAN FRANCISCO, June 19, 2019 – The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has released an analysis on gaps in those subscribing to high-speed broadband internet. The Adoption Gap Analysis was ordered in Decision (D.) 18-06-032 and identifies various demographic barriers to broadband adoption and provides information to support important program and grant decisions for the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) Broadband Adoption Account.

The analysis concludes that income, of all the demographic barriers to adoption, is the most significant factor contributing to low adoption (subscription) rates. As a result, the analysis identifies the top ten communities with some of the lowest adoption rates and lowest incomes in California that will be prioritized for grant funding.

In addition to identifying various barriers, the analysis adds data to the online California Interactive Broadband Map (http://www.broadbandmap.ca.gov/) to include various demographic data at the census tract, block group or block level.

These resources will assist decision makers, stakeholders and potential CASF applicants to 1) better understand their communities and its needs; 2) identify the area’s specific barriers and how to address them; and 3) know where to best implement Adoption projects to yield greater benefits. Applicants interested in applying for grants in the CASF Adoption Account should use these tools and resources in developing proposals. The full analysis can be found here.

 

AI, Broadband Amendments Catch A Ride

— House lawmakers unanimously approved several amendments dealing with broadband funding and artificial intelligence as part of the second minibus appropriations bill on Wednesday and Thursday. That includes an amendment from Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) requiring the National Science Foundation to assess the social impact of artificial intelligence research it supports.

— On the broadband front: The House signed off on language forbidding the Commerce Department’s NTIA from relying only on the FCC’s carrier-submitted data in any update to its broadband mapping as well as an amendment dictating an additional $1 million be spent on its mapping efforts. In roll-call votes Thursday, lawmakers approved by wide margins amendments that would boost funding for the USDA Re-Connect broadband loan and grant program by $55 million and funding for the Community Connect broadband grant program by $5 million.

Source: POLITICO Morning Tech

How Data Journalism Helped Power A Rural Broadband Revolution

One small magazine, one semi-retired reporter, and an award-winning series of studies using federal statistics that showed why broadband was critical to rural survival.

Trevor Butterworth
June 17, 2019

We are doing broadband,” said President Trump on signing H.R. 2, the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (aka, the “Farm Bill”). “Everyone wanted it so badly.”
Hardly anyone noticed, but to advocates of rural broadband, it seemed scarcely believable that wanting something so badly had actually ended in the funding to make it happen. But there it was: $1.75 billion over five years—which was coming on top of $600 million for rural broadband in the March 2018 omnibus budget bill.

Behind the wanting, though, was data—and notably, a series of studies looking at the impact of broadband access on rural population loss, and showing, over several iterations, an increasingly causal link between lack of access and population loss in America’s most disconnected counties.

The studies were done for a small business to business magazine, Broadband Communities, and its Editor-at-Large, veteran data journalist Steve Ross, who had taught students at Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism for years about the value of looking at the data (including this writer in 1997), when data journalism was called “computer-assisted reporting.”

Regulators had been headline attendees at the magazine’s conferences, so the studies were widely known and shared within the broadband community, but it was a series of calls from congressional offices in 2018 to talk about the findings that led Ross to think they might be helping to inform legislative change. As Ross notes, congressional staffers were “shocked” to discover that the studies came from an independent trade magazine and not an industry front group or advocacy organization.

What this story shows is that even a small magazine can help drive the kind of change that affects millions of Americans. And it did so because a journalist knew how to use federal statistics to tell a story.

Continue reading HERE.

This is a story of how leadership can solve a problem, by being diligent and unrelenting. If your rural community lack this kind of leadership your prospects of getting broadband is limited to waiting for the big telcos determine your density is sufficient to meet their ROI hurdles. How long are you willing to wait?

FCC Calling All Farmers

 

— FCC chief Ajit Pai said Monday he’s looking for a few good farmers (and ranchers, and broadband providers) for the new, 15-member Precision Ag Connectivity Task Force. The advisory group will focus on improving connectivity for agricultural producers, and will work with both the FCC and U.S. Department of Agriculture. The group’s mission includes identifying gaps in broadband availability on farmland, and coming up with policy recommendations with a goal of expanding reliable broadband to 95 percent of agricultural land by 2025. Nominations for membership are due July 17.

Sources: POLITICO Morning Tech

Like Politics, All Broadband Policy Is Local

Craig Settles

Federal and state policymakers continue to ignore, weaken and, in some instances, block local input and control of broadband. This needs to stop if the country is to ever have viable, affordable broadband for all.

Even though community broadband has proven itself incredibly valuable and viable, broadband is taking a beating in some areas of the country thanks to what has become a siege against municipal broadband by the large telecom incumbents, including AT&T, Comcast and others. This effort has led to a backlash against muni broadband in some states, depriving communities of a well-tested option when it comes to high-speed connectivity to the Internet and the digital economy.

The only way we can fight back is to start with reliable, locally generated data from those in the trenches. This is critically important. Nobody knows about local economies like economic development professionals, community groups, elected officials, co-ops and other local organizations.

Right now, several crucial federal and state broadband policy decisions are being made that will benefit from local economic expertise, input and advocacy. Who better to help inform those decisions than local economic development professionals? If communities don’t have this expertise at the table in Washington, D.C., and state capitals, local broadband could lose big. So, if they won’t seat you at the table, bring a chair.

Continue reading HERE.

When a local official is not engaged in the promotion of broadband, like we have seen in some foothill communities there is no one to represent the local community. This is a double slap in the face of citizens in the need for broadband access for commerce, remote work, healthcare, education, and public safety. You should ask your County supervisor and City Council person, what are you doing to bring broadband to our community?