RCRC: Broadband Update

On Wednesday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which oversees broadband policy, approved a multitude of bipartisan broadband and tech-related bills on a variety of topics, from broadband mapping and network security to freeing up spectrum. Two bills in particular were notable in regard to rural broadband.

The first of which was the “Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability Act” or the Broadband DATA Act (HR 4229), which would require the government to collect granular information about which areas in the U.S. have access to high-speed internet and which do not. The Senate Commerce Committee advanced its own version of the Broadband DATA Act earlier this year, meaning there is significant momentum to move the bill onto President Trump’s desk. The second significant bill was the “Mapping Accuracy Promotion Services Act” (MAPS Act) (HR 4227). This measure would bar anyone from “willfully, knowingly, or recklessly” submitting broadband internet access service coverage information or data to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for mapping purposes if it is untrue. This legislation was largely in response to an admission earlier this year by the FCC that its maps were inaccurate because one internet service provider gave the agency false information about its broadband coverage.

Last week, Senators Maggie Hassan (D-New Hampshire) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-West Virginia) introduced two broadband-related bills. The first was the Rural Broadband Financing Flexibility Act, led by Senator Capito, which would allow state and local governments to issue tax-exempt bonds to finance public-private rural broadband projects, and allow the federal government to assist state and local governments in bond payments. The second was the “Rural Broadband Investment Tax Credit Act”, led by Senator Hassan, which would create a federal tax credit that states and localities could direct toward rural broadband projects. Read a one-pager on the new bills that Senators Hassan and Capito introduced here.


Every Thing You Want to Know About 5G – With One Exception.

Digital Trends:

Right now it seems like there are more questions about 5G than there are answers. Some people are wondering what 5G is, and if they’ll ever see it in their city, while others are more interested in 5G smartphones. And of course, there is the debate about which carrier will have the best 5G service.

You have questions; we have answers. Here’s everything you need to know about 5G.

The exception is when can rural communities get 5G? It is doubtful that rural communities will see 5G  any time in the near future. The telecom focus will be on densely populated urban areas, not sparsely populated rural areas.


Where were the Real Innovators?

Satellite Innovation Symposium has become the most important West Coast event for satellite professionals who follow the evolving technologies and market opportunities related to satellites and space.

Here is what the conference attendees were saying about the LEO companies, according to Wendy Lewis writing in SatMagazine:

How the proposed constellations of Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites will impact the industry remains a key question.

There were multiple discussions about the potential for OneWeb, Project Kuiper, Starlink, Telesat LEO, LeoSat and others to succeed and speculation on which might merge with others and which might be left on the drawing board.

Continue reading HERE.

I would like to have overheard some of those conversations and discussions.  If the LEO operates as planned they are going to be taking customers from these MEO and GEO satellite communications innovators. LEOs have a latency advantage they can exploit, with no way for the MEO and GEO systems to match.

The LEO broadband companies are the leading edge innovators, yet they did not exhibit or present at the Symposium “the most important West Coast event for satellite professionals.” Why?  SpaceX is going to launch more satellites than all MEO and GEO sats ever launched. Is SpaceX too busy Innovating to go to conferences where they spend hours talking about innovation?

The Sponsors & Exhibitors are HERE.  Any insight from readers? 

Broadband Bills to Keep Tabs On

Sens. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) last week offered a double dose of broadband : the Rural Broadband Investment Tax Credit Act, which would create a tax credit to help spur state and local broadband efforts, and the Rural Broadband Financing Flexibility Act, allowing state and local governments to use tax-exempt bonds to help stand up public-private rural broadband projects. House Judiciary Committee ranking member Doug Collins (R-Ga.), meanwhile, reintroduced his Gigabit Opportunity Act, H.R. 5082 (116), aimed at helping state governors offer tax incentives for providers offering fast internet service.

Source: POLITICO Morning Tech

RCRC: Broadband Update

This week, Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-West Virginia) and Jacky Rosen (D-Nevada), both members of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, announced the introduction of their Broadband Parity Act, bipartisan legislation that would bring all federal broadband programs to the current definition of what the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) defines as high-speed internet (currently 25/3 Mbps).

This bill would ensure that all communities receiving federal broadband support have access to internet service that is actually at “broadband” speeds.  Currently, there are over twenty federal broadband programs promoting access to fixed broadband service.  However, some programs define an area as “served” when service is at 25/3 Mbps speeds, while others define being served as having access to much slower 10/1 Mbps speeds.  This discrepancy in bandwidth speeds means that the federal government is often investing in inadequate broadband services.  This bill will remove such inconsistencies in service and improve broadband access for rural America.  Details on the bill can be accessed here.

Source: RCRC Newsletter

SpaceX Just Launched 60 Starlink Satellites [Updated]

This morning I watched in realtime the launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 with 60 Starlink Satellites under the shroud. An hour after launch the video showed the flock of 60 birds released as they floated away from the upper stage.

Space.com has more details and videos HERE.

What a thrill to see the booster stage land on the remote recovery platform, completing its fourth mission and ready to be refurbished for a fifth. This mission also reused a shroud recovered from a previous Falcon Heavy launch.  According to Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX CEO most Starlink launches will be with reused boosters and when possible the shrouds which are being recovered also.

Elon Musk’s disruption of the telecommunications industry is beginning to accelerate.

We live in interesting times. Stay tuned.

Update 11-11-19: Inverse Has More Details

SpaceX Starlink takes a big step forward with the second groundbreaking launch HERE

Update 11-17-19: The first 60 Starlinks were not fully operational satellites, they were test birds and only had Ku band antennas.  The second batch of 60 is fully operational birds, ready to provide broadband internet with both Ku- and Ka-band antennas.  

“Since the most recent launch of Starlink satellites in May, SpaceX has increased spectrum capacity for the end-user through upgrades in design that maximize the use of both Ka- and Ku-bands.”



Senators Capito, Rosen Introduce Broadband Parity Act

Sen Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV)  |  Press Release  |  US Senate

Sens Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Jacky Rosen (D-NV) announced the introduction of their Broadband Parity Act, bipartisan legislation that would bring all federal broadband programs to the current definition of what the Federal Communications Commission defines as high-speed internet (currently 25/3 Mbps). Their bill would ensure that all communities and entities receiving federal broadband support have access to internet service that is actually at broadband speeds. Currently, there are over twenty federal broadband programs promoting access to fixed broadband service. However, each program follows its own set of guidelines for bandwidth speed. While some programs define an area as “served” when service is at 25/3 Mbps speeds, others define being served as having access to much slower 10/1 Mbps speeds. The discrepancy in bandwidth speeds means that the federal government is often investing in inadequate broadband services. The bill will remove inconsistencies in service and improve broadband access across the country, which is an essential step toward all Americans having equal access to healthcare, education, and economic opportunity.

“Access to high-speed internet is essential for economic growth, job creation, and an improved quality of life. Unfortunately, in states like West Virginia, many of our rural communities are being left behind as the digital divide grows,” Sen Capito said. “I’m glad to partner with Senator Rosen on this bill that will contribute to our ongoing efforts to close the digital divide by bringing parity on what defines high-speed broadband across all federal broadband programs.”

Source: Benton Institute Newsletter

OneWeb 2019 Launch Delayed to 2020

Space Daily has the details

First launch of UK OneWeb communications satellites from Baikonur postponed

The first launch of UK communications satellites OneWeb from Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome was initially supposed to take place on 19 December.

The launch of UK OneWeb space internet system satellites from the Baikonur space centre was postponed from December this year to January 2020, three sources in Russia’s rocket and space industry revealed.

“The launch is being postponed due to the fact that the spacecraft are not ready. Their delivery to Baikonur is delayed from November to December 2019. The planned launch is postponed from 19 December to 23 January,” one of the sources said, with two other sources confirming this information.

OneWeb plans to create a constellation of satellites that will provide broadband Internet access to users around the world fully covering the Earth’s surface. In cooperation with Roscosmos, the UK communications company sent up its first satellites in February and has planned its next two launches for the end of this year and the first half of 2020.

The Link is HERE

By 23 January SpaceX is planning to have 230 Starlinks in orbit, halfway to an initial operating flock of satellites. OneWeb seems to be stumbling at the gate.

Fast Company: OneWeb Wants to Blanket the Planet in High-Speed Satellite Broadband

[. . .]

In a July test, OneWeb reported download speeds of 400-Mbps to a Seoul location as it automatically switched from satellite to satellite—with latency under 40 milliseconds, versus 600 milliseconds and up for GEO satellite.

That would make this service competitive with many forms of wired and wireless broadband, even if that responsiveness figure can’t match the sub-10-ms latency figures touted for the fastest but shortest-range version of 5G wireless.

OneWeb sees that as less a bug than business opportunity, pitching its constellation-to-be as a worldwide solution for 5G backhaul, connecting 5G networks in less-dense markets with those elsewhere.

Fast Company has more details HERE

Some Thoughts on the Starlink User Terminal

Let’s start with what we know about the Starlink user terminal from news reports and then do some thinking about issues.

What we know from the news:

Described as being a similar shape to a family size pizza box, according to Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO

The terminal will be user-installed, arrived in a box with a power cord attached, Gwynne Shotwell, COO

The terminal will be placed in a window, on the roof or pole in the yard, Gwynne Shotwell

WiFi will most likely be the link from the terminal to user devices, computer, laptop, pad, or smartphone, Gwynne Shotwell.

Laser enabled satellites will not be available until the late 2020 launches, Gwynne Shotwell, COO

Bent pipe internet service to be available in mid-2020, Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO

Some assumptions:

A terminal will be a multi-user device with some limitations as to the number of users on the WiFi link

For maximum coverage, the terminal should have access to the open sky from horizon to horizon, as a single satellite is only visible for about 12 minutes before it needs to lock-on the next Starlink. In bend pipe mode, both user and ground station need to be tracking the same Starlink.

Bent pipe mode, with no laser handoff, will limit streaming connection time to about 10-12 minutes.

The service price will be about $80 per month, as Shotwell pointed out; this is what consumers are paying for crappy service now.

Some considerations:

Based on my experience as a non-profit ISP introducing the dial-up Internet to the community where none existed, shipping users terminal to end-users will work for some people, the techies. Early dialup users bought a modem, signed up for an account username and password, and then tried to get connected. The average consumer needed some help.

I think that the average Starlink consumer is going to need some help, especially in the early days when the network is not yet robust and has coverage limitations. Users will need to have some understanding of satellite dynamics and appreciate the horizon to the horizon line of site restrictions. They will need to understand the weakness of the system as well as the strengths. This information deficit opens the door for some entrepreneurs who might want to do some Starlink user terminal consulting.