FCC Funds Satellite Broadband in Nevada County

The Union has the details:

The FCC is giving Viasat more than $400,000 to bring high-speed satellite internet to Nevada County customers.

The funding is part of the Federal Communications Commission‘s Connect America Fund, whose second phase granted $14 million to California internet service providers to connect rural areas with high-speed internet. Viasat was the only satellite-based internet service provider to win funding and will receive $429,669 to service just over 1,000 customers in the county over 10 years.

According to Nevada County’s broadband strategy, low population density and rugged topography make providing broadband internet a challenge, compelling the county to rely on a patchwork approach that pulls from many different resources and brings together varied solutions throughout the county.

“All together, these challenges create a patchwork of coverage and non-coverage areas across our county,” according to the county broadband website. “It is common to find a home that has wireless or wired service, yet the next door neighbor cannot be served due to one of these challenges.”

Continue reading HERE.

Money Quote: “In the county’s broadband plan, satellite internet is an afterthought, finding the Connect America Fund as unreliable . . .”

The County Plan does not recognize there are three kinds of satellite internet provided by space-based ISPs: geosynchronous orbit, with high latency, mid orbit with lower latency and low earth orbit with low latency. The future is low latency high-speed internet from space.

A Viasat project that is going to take 3-10 years is too little too late. SpaceX will start offering “fiber-optic like services” from low latency satellites starting in mid-2020, with full service by 2012, in just two years customers will have access to higher-speed services than Viasat can provide from geosynchronous orbit over three to ten years. Amazon plans to have full ISP service from space in five years, OneWeb three years.

LEO broadband will be worth waiting for, 15ms latency, 1Gig + speeds up and down.

More details HERE and HERE

CPUC Invests $12.7 Million in Broadband Infrastructure and Access for Unserved California Households

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) last week approved $12,689,849.72 in grant funding to build high-speed broadband Internet infrastructure and access to unserved Californians. The awards, under the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) broadband infrastructure grant program administered by the CPUC, will serve households in Lassen, Modoc, Kern, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Ventura counties, and include affordable subscription options.

Press Release is HERE.

 

Broadband DATA Act Unanimously Passes Senate

December 20, 2019

The Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability (DATA) Act unanimously passed the Senate. The bill would:

  • Require the Federal Communications Commission to collect granular service availability data from wired, fixed wireless, and satellite broadband providers.
  • Set strong parameters for service availability data collected from mobile broadband providers to ensure accuracy.
  • Permit the FCC to consider whether to collect verified coverage data from state, local, and tribal governments, as well as from other entities.
  • Create a process for consumers; state, local, and tribal governments; and other groups to challenge FCC maps with their own data and requires the FCC to determine how to structure that process without making it overly burdensome on challengers.
  • Establish a crowdsourcing process that allows the public to participate in data collection.
  • Strengthen enforcement against providers that willfully and knowingly, or recklessly submit materially inaccurate broadband data.
  • Require the FCC to use the newly-created maps when making new awards of broadband funding.

Emphasis added.

FCC Finally Discovers Coverage Maps are Broken

The FCC discovered they can not fix something if they do not know where it is broken. The nation’s broadband maps are truly broken, as any rural cell phone user can attest.

Through the investigation, staff discovered that the MF-II coverage maps submitted by Verizon, U.S. Cellular, and T-Mobile likely overstated each provider’s actual coverage and did not reflect on-the-ground performance in many instances. Only 62.3% of staff drive tests achieved at least the minimum download speed predicted by the coverage maps—with U.S. Cellular achieving that speed in only 45.0% of such tests, T-Mobile in 63.2% of tests, and Verizon in 64.3% of tests. Similarly, staff stationary tests showed that each provider achieved sufficient download speeds meeting the minimum cell edge probability in fewer than half of all test locations (20 of 42 locations). In addition, staff was unable to obtain any 4G LTE signal for 38% of drive tests on U.S. Cellular’s network, 21.3% of drive tests on T-Mobile’s network, and 16.2% of drive tests on Verizon’s network, despite each provider reporting coverage in the relevant area.

The Full FCC Staff report is HERE.

 

FCC Announces Plan to Launch $9 Billion 5G Fund for Rural America

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai intends to establish the 5G Fund, which would make up to $9 billion in Universal Service Fund support available to carriers to deploy advanced 5G mobile wireless services in rural America. This investment would be allocated through a reverse auction and would target hard-to-serve areas with sparse populations and/or rugged terrain. The $9 billion Fund also would set aside at least $1 billion specifically for deployments facilitating precision agriculture needs. The 5G Fund would replace the planned Mobility Fund Phase II, which would have provided federal support for 4G LTE service in unserved areas.

Press Release HERE.

 

LEO Launch Schedules

SpaceX is launching 12,000 satellites, which can provide low latency “fiber-like broadband” to rural users around the globe. Initial Starlink service is projected to start in the Northern US by mid-summer, with full US coverage by the end of 2020. SpaceX has launched 120 Starlink satellites, with 60 more planned in December. SpaceX is planning two launches per month in 2020, adding capacity and customers with each new launch. By January 2021, the Starlink constellation will have 1610 satellites in orbit, providing high-speed broadband services to customers.

OneWeb, SpaceX’s nearest competitor, has launched six satellites, with more planned in 2020, starting in February, then again in October and November. Each launch will insert 32 more satellites in orbit. OneWeb is not expected to begin service until they have 350 satellites on orbit.

Screen Shot 2019-12-04 at 2.03.00 PM
Red dates indicate satellites launched, blue scheduled launches.

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.

 

RCRC: Rural Broadband Update

Last weekend, the Federal Communications Commissions (FCC) approved performance testing procedures for carriers receiving Connect America Fund.  This would apply carriers to deploy fixed broadband networks to unserved Americans living in rural areas, helping to ensure that rural Americans have access to the same high-quality networks as Americans in urban areas.

The Connect America Fund provides support for broadband and voice service in rural areas where service would not be available or affordable without such support. This approval by the FCC also ensures that carriers remain accountable to consumers, taxpayers, and the commission, while also delivering the network performance they have committed to provide.  The flexibility in these new testing procedures will enable carriers of all sizes and technical capabilities to meet testing requirements without unnecessary costs, while maintaining proper accountability.

Broadband for America’s Future: A Vision for the 2020s

A new Benton Institute for Broadband & Society report recommending policies it says would help ensure that every American can access high-speed internet.

The broadband revolution is sparking broad social and economic change. We see three overarching benefits that High-Performance Broadband can deliver in the next decade:

• . Growing the American Economy. High-Performance Broadband transforms industries that are basic to everyday life, positively impacting agriculture, education, healthcare, energy, and more.

•   Empowering Workers. High-Performance Broadband advances skills training to boost individual opportunity, helping to overcome income inequality and economic frustration.

•   Strengthening Communities. High-Performance Broadband spurs economic growth and jobs. It can enable civic participation. It can improve the health, education. and learning of community members.

Broadband for America’s Future: A Vision for the 2020s collects, combines, and contributes to a national broadband agenda for the next decade. Our work is built on the lessons of communities, public-interest advocates, government officials, and industry experts that have labored to expand broadband’s reach to everyone in the United States. They deserve credit for their investments and innovations, and we have attempted to reflect their accomplishments and ideas, while contributing Benton’s own insights — insights built on a body of work stretching back to the 1980s.

This publication is a part of a discussion on how public policy can close the digital divide and extend digital opportunity everywhere.

Download Report HERE