Dawn of a Decade: The Top Ten Tech Policy Issues for the 2020s

Microsoft President, Brad Smith and Carol Ann Browne writing at LinkedIn.

Ten_issues

Continue reading HERE.

I think that ubiquitous global broadband will introduce some serious tech issues not covered in the list above.  For example, this one is currently boiling to the surface.

Elon Musk, SpaceX Unveil Latest Starlink Plans, Creating An Astronomical Emergency

Despite warnings and protestations from astronomers and skywatchers, Starlink is moving fast and breaking things.

Your thoughts on the issues. I have one to share after you have expressed your views. Please comment.

View at Medium.com

Starlink Early Success

According to Financial analyst Brian Wang the early success of his Starlink Internet service satellite constellation.will depend on two critical technologies — free-space laser & phased-array links. Laser light communication in a vacuum is physically 45% faster than communication through a fiber. In capital markets, low latency algorithmic trading reacts to market events more swiftly than the competition to increase the profitability of trades. “In 2007, a large global investment banker declared that every millisecond lost results in $100 million per year in a lost opportunity.”

Latency Performance Table:Latency Table

 

 

CNBC: Why SpaceX And Amazon Are Launching 42,000+ Satellites

Since the start of the space age, more than 8,800 objects have been launched into orbit, according to estimates from the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs. But in a few years, that number could increase significantly. Private companies plan to launch thousands of satellites to beam the internet to customers on Earth. SpaceX alone has announced plans to launch 42,000 satellites. If this happens, SpaceX will be responsible for about a fivefold increase in the number of spacecraft launched by all of humanity.

Broadband Mapping Bills Passed

Press Release  |  House Commerce Committee

Today, the House passed two important bills designed to fix our nation’s faulty broadband maps.  Accurately mapping the availability of broadband internet service is essential to promoting the deployment of high-speed service to all Americans, especially those in unserved and underserved areas.  We thank Committee members for working on these bipartisan bills, and we urge the Senate to act soon to ensure the reliability of broadbands maps so investments in broadband can have maximum impact.

H.R. 4229, the “Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability Act” or the “Broadband DATA Act,” was introduced by Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-IA) and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Ranking Member Bob Latta (R-OH).  This legislation requires the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to issue new rules to require the collection and dissemination of granular broadband availability data and to establish a process to verify the accuracy of such data, and more.

H.R. 4227, the “Mapping Accuracy Promotion Services Act” or the “MAPS Act,” was introduced by Reps. A. Donald McEachin (D-VA) and Billy Long (R-MO).  This legislation specifies that it is unlawful for a person to willfully, knowingly, or recklessly submit inaccurate broadband service data.

House to Vote on Broadband Mapping, Supply Chain

— The House is scheduled to vote this week on its bipartisan compromises aimed at improving broadband mapping and securing the U.S. telecommunications supply chain (and helping rural wireless carriers rip and replace any existing gear from providers like Huawei that the administration has labeled a security risk). Measures on deck under suspension of the rules include the Broadband DATA Act, H.R. 4229 (116); the MAPS Act, H.R. 4227 (116); and the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act, H.R. 4998 (116).

— Senate and House staffers had previously agreed to bundle the mapping and security measures with their bicameral robocall deal, which is awaiting passage in the Senate, as MT reported last week. Senate Commerce Chairman Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) told John he wanted the Senate to advance a package addressing the three issues by year’s end, per that deal. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), speaking in his home state Friday, suggested that a “handful” of GOP holdouts exist to the Pallone-Thune TRACED Act robocall legislation and that he would, if needed, formally seek unanimous-consent passage (a process that would require a formal objection) to “flush out who supports ending these robocalls and who doesn’t.”

Source: POLITICO Morning Tech

Why Flawed Broadband Speed Tests Have Devastating Consequences

If government policy is based on faulty data, everyone loses.

C/Net has the details:

The stakes are high. The FCC uses data it collects to produce reports, such as the Measuring Broadband America and the Broadband Deployment reports, to set policy and determine where to deploy resources to promote broadband adoption. Much of the data the FCC gets to populate these reports is supplied by the broadband and wireless companies themselves, or in the case of the speed test, a third party that also contracts with these companies. The result is information that often paints a rosy picture of wireless and broadband in the US.

Though The Wall Street Journal article singled out the broadband speed test, there have long been complaints that the information collected to show where fixed and mobile broadband service is located is flawed. The issue around flawed mapping data has come to a head in the last several months in Congress, where Republicans and Democrats alike from rural regions of the US have lashed out at the FCC, demanding the issue be fixed.

Some of the problems can be attributed to the methodologies used to collect the data. For instance, in mapping fixed broadband the FCC has been criticized for asking carriers to provide more granular data. But critics also charge that relying on carriers to self-report information can lead to problems. Earlier this month, the FCC found that three major US wireless carriers, Verizon, T-Mobile and US Cellular, had misstated their wireless coverage in several rural areas.

“So we’ve got carriers exaggerating coverage for mobile broadband, flawed methodology producing bad maps for fixed broadband, and unreliable numbers on the speed of broadband. What’s left?” said Gigi Sohn, an advisor to former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and a distinguished fellow at Georgetown Law Institute for Technology Law & Policy. “If there is no cop on the beat, the carriers will just make it like they’re doing awesome and no need for any regulation or oversight.”

Continue reading HERE

Money Quote: The FCC is still working on getting a clearer picture of where broadband and wireless service exists today and where it doesn’t.

A speed test has no value if you do not have a broadband connection to test. The FCC can not test broadband if it does not know where it is! The real issue with the FCC map is not just speed it is accuracy.

RCRC: Rural Broadband Update

On Monday, U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota), John Thune (R-South Dakota), and 46 others sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), urging them to promote the deployment of sustainable broadband networks as the FCC considers adopting new rules in the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) proceeding.

The RDOF will award high-cost Universal Service Fund (USF) support to deploy broadband service in rural areas. In a letter, the senators called on FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to ensure that broadband networks built in rural areas using these funds can keep up with future demands for speed and capacity and to hold support recipients accountable for providing adequate broadband service to consumers.

“If our rural communities are to survive and flourish, our rural constituents need access to services that are on par with those in urban areas. By contrast, it would be an inefficient use of resources to promote services that cannot keep pace with consumer demand and the evolution of broadband in urban areas,” the senators wrote

Source: RCRC Newsletter

Satellite Mega-Constellations Stir a Debate Over Avoiding Catastrophic Orbital Crashes

GeekWire has the details:

The retired commander of the U.S. Strategic Command says the tens of thousands of satellites that SpaceX, OneWeb and Amazon are planning to put into orbit over the next few years will require a new automated system for space traffic management — and perhaps new satellite hardware requirements as well.

Retired Gen. Kevin Chilton laid out his ideas for dealing with potentially catastrophic orbital traffic jams at the University of Washington on Friday, during the inaugural symposium presented by UW’s Space Policy and Research Center.

“We need to develop technologies that will improve space domain awareness, that will enable autonomous systems onboard satellites to automatically maneuver so as to avoid collision with another satellite, or with a known piece of man-made debris,” he said.

The issue is expected to become increasingly critical as commercial ventures deploy more satellites into low Earth orbit, or LEO, to widen broadband internet access to the billions of people around the world who are currently underserved. An estimated 2,200 active satellites are in orbit today, but if all the plans come to pass, that figure could go beyond 45,000 in the years ahead.

Continue reading HERE.

Money Quote:

Today the Los Angeles Times quoted SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell as saying that the company will take pre-sales for customer service, adopting a strategy that CEO Elon Musk has used for electric cars at Tesla, his other multibillion-dollar venture. Amazon’s Project Kuiper, meanwhile, is likely to follow a different business model: using its satellite data service to boost online sales well as its AWS cloud service, Alexa AI services and Amazon Prime Video.

Front Page WSJ:‘It’s Hard to Trust the Numbers.’ Internet Providers Inflate Official Speed Results

Summary from Benton Institute:

The Federal Communications Commission’s nearly decade-old program, Measuring Broadband America, is the US government’s gauge of whether home internet-service providers are holding up their end of the bargain when they promise users certain speeds. Companies wield tremendous influence over the study and often employ tactics to boost their scores, according to interviews with more than two dozen industry executives, engineers and government officials. As a result, the FCC’s report likely gives consumers an unreliable measure of internet providers’ performances by overstating speeds. “It’s hard to trust the numbers when you know” of efforts to massage the results, said veteran cable and telecom consultant Mark Lubow. 

Internet experts and former FCC officials said the setup gives the internet companies enormous leverage. “How can you go to the party who controls the information and say, ‘please give me information that may implicate you?’ ” said Tom Wheeler, a former FCC chairman who stepped down in Jan 2017. Internet experts said the FCC’s entire testing approach needs to be rethought to be more useful for consumers. The current test measures how much capacity internet providers supply to a household, in a vacuum, but doesn’t monitor the internet performance that users actually experience while streaming, gaming or surfing the Web, which can be affected by overtaxed neighborhood networks, Wi-Fi interference or traffic jams deep in the guts of the internet.

The full article is HERE.

This is nothing new, the cheating by the broadband Telcos was identified and presented to the California Public Utilities Commission in 2012, seven years ago.  My story is HERE

PEW Trust: State Broadband Policy Explorer — Laws governing high-speed internet access

The Pew Charitable Trusts’ state broadband policy explorer lets you learn how states are expanding access to broadband through laws. Categories in the tool include: broadband programs, competition and regulation, definitions, funding and financing, and infrastructure access.

As you choose categories, a 50-state map illustrates which states have adopted such laws.

The state broadband policy explorer includes state statutes related to broadband as of Jan. 1, 2019.

Link to California is HERE