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

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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?

Erratic Posting and Comment Moderation

Dear Readers

I will be in Chemo Therapy for the next four months, with a session every two weeks, starting on June 18, 2019.  Posting will depend on how I respond to the chemo drugs.  Please be patient if you have posted comment needing moderation.  Thank You!

New posts will appear below.

Russ

StatLink Update 06-14-19

Starlink-solar-array-deploy-SpaceX-pano-3-crop-2-1024x543

Speaking at Tesla’s annual shareholder meeting, CEO Elon Musk – also CEO of SpaceX – briefly segued to his spaceflight company’s ambitious Starlink program and discussed how he believes the satellite constellation can support no more than 3-5% of the global population.

On May 23rd, SpaceX successfully launched 60 “v0.9” Starlink satellites – weighing as much as 18.5 tons (~41,000 lb) – into LEO, a first step unmatched in ambition in the history of commercial satellites. Delivered to an orbit of ~450 km (280 mi), all but four of the 60 spacecraft have managed to successfully power up their electric ion thrusters and 55 have already raised their orbits to ~500 km (310 mi). For what is effectively a technology/partial-prototype demonstration mission, the record of Starlink v0.9 performance is extremely impressive and bodes well for a quick and relatively easy design optimization (to “v1.0”) before true mass production can begin.

In general, Musk was more than willing to acknowledge some of the potential limitations of a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) broadband satellite constellation at Tesla’s 2019 shareholder meeting. Most notably, he bluntly noted that Starlink is not designed to service densely populated areas and will predominately be focused on low to medium-density populaces. Triggered by an investor’s question about the possibility of integrating Starlink into future Tesla cars, Musk reiterated that SpaceX’s first-generation Starlink user terminals (i.e. ground antennas) will be roughly the size of a “medium pizza”.

Although pizza sizing is not exactly ISO-certified, Starlink’s user antennas will presumably be around 12-14 inches (30-36 cm) wide and come in a square form factor. Thanks to the use of what Musk believes are the most advanced phased array antennas in the world, neither the antennas on Starlink satellites or user terminals will need to physically move to maintain a strong signal. Still, as Musk notes, an antenna the size of medium pizza box would still stick out like a sore thumb on the typically all-glass roof of an of Tesla’s consumer cars, although built-in Starlink antennas might actually make sense on Tesla Semis.

Elon Musk’s specific comment indicated that Starlink – at least in its current iteration – was never meant to serve more than “3-5%” of Earth (population: ~7.8 billion), with most or all of its users nominally located in areas with low to medium population densities. This generally confirms technical suspicions that Starlink (and other constellations like OneWeb and Telesat) is not really capable of providing internet to everyone per se.

Continue reading at TESLArati

 In general, CEO Elon Musk’s comments serve as an excellent temper to the hype surrounding Starlink. SpaceX isn’t going to initially be breaking the backs of Comcast or Time Warner but there’s no reason to believe that that day will never come.

 

Rural America Could be Left Behind in 5G Global Race

“The United States is making choices that will leave rural America behind,” FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel writes in WIRED.

So far the United States 5G focus has been on mmWave high-band service, which is not a good technology for rural applications.

This means that high-band 5G service is unlikely outside of the most populated urban areas. The sheer volume of antenna facilities needed make this service viable makes it too costly to deploy in rural areas. So if we want to serve everywhere—and not create communities of 5G haves and have-nots—we are going to need a mix of airwaves that provide both coverage and capacity. That means we need mid-band spectrum. For rural America to see competitive 5G in the near future, we cannot count on high-band spectrum to get the job done.

It should be noted the T-Mobile/Sprint strategy is to focus on the low-bands, and AT&T is claiming a multi-band approach, while Verizon is using a high-band mmWave approach.

 

Race Communications Leases Nevada County Land for Bright Fiber Project

After holding a Community Town Hall in January on the fiber network down highway 174, Race Communications has started to move forward on the project. The Union has more details HERE.

There are almost 2,000 homes in the service area along Highway 174. In a January town hall officials said the project’s completion was set for May 2020.

If you live along SR-174 what are your thoughts?  Ready to sign up?

AT&T National 5G Strategy

Telecompetitor has the details:

AT&T nationwide 5G plans include a multi-pronged strategy. Those plans include leveraging millimeter wave spectrum for dense urban areas. AT&T calls this their 5G+ coverage, which will provide the fastest mobile broadband experience.

This service will be delivered primarily through small cells using a centralized radio access network (CRAN) architecture. CRAN allows multiple (maybe hundreds of) small cells to be controlled from a single centralized hub. AT&T 5G+ is currently available in select locations in 19 cities. It can offer gigabit capable speeds, notes Mair.

“I really like the momentum I’m seeing right now from our build in terms of the CRAN or small cell capabilities,” said Mair in his remarks. “That millimeter wave, basically 200, 300 plus meters radius, so there’s a lot more of those small cells that you need to put in place to provide that capability.”

For broader, more macro coverage, AT&T will use their sub-6 GHz spectrum holdings, with 700 MHz a likely 5G workhorse. This capability will be put on existing AT&T towers, with their FirstNet build helping facilitate the transition to 5G.

Emphasis added

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AT&T National 5G Strategy

Source: Allnet Insights & Analytics

Continue reading HERE.  The use of low band will be a boon to rural users, as the signals will go further and are less attenuated by foliage.