Public Knowledge on Rural Broadband

For too many Americans, communications tools are either not accessible, not affordable, or both. After years of emphasis and bipartisan rhetoric around the need to serve all Americans with high-speed broadband, 31 percent of rural Americans continue to lack access. Many Americans in urban areas are also underserved by their local broadband providers. A lack of access to high-speed broadband means lost economic, employment, health, and educational opportunities for Americans in these unserved and underserved communities, and an increasing divide between those who are thriving in the current economy and those who are not. Congress must act and listen to new ideas and voices beyond industry lobbyists to make the benefits of broadband access a reality for all.

Link to Public Knowledge HERE.


5G Airwaves Auction

— AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile are among the companies the FCC has deemed qualified to bid in its upcoming auction for 5G spectrum licenses. The FCC on Wednesday released the list of 40 companies that have qualified and made upfront payments to bid in the 28 GHz auction, set to begin Nov. 14. In addition to the wireless companies, DISH — filing under the name Crestone Wireless — and Frontier Communications also made the cut.

— Back to back auctions: The FCC plans to auction off airwaves in the 24 GHz band after the 28 auction ends. The agency also released a list of 58 companies that it says filed complete applications, including Cox Communications and Starry. Sprint also intends to participate, under its ATI Sub subsidiary, a spokeswoman said.

Source: POLITICO Morning Tech

RCRC: Broadband Update

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted this week to revise the rules for the Citizen Broadband Radio Service (CBRS). The decision received mixed reviews among advocates for rural broadband. Former FCC Commissioner Michael Copps blasted the rule in a tweet where he accused the Commission of granting a “handout to bloated wireless carriers at [the] expense of rural and unserved Americans.”

CBRS was a popular source of spectrum for small rural carriers for many years but the FCC’s decision will invite new competition from nationwide carriers. CBRS spectrum is highly sought after by carriers building 5G nationwide networks. The FCC’s order frees up new spectrum for 5G nationwide networks at the expense of small carriers that continue to struggle to deliver 4G connectivity to rural customers.

The source is HERE.

The irony in all this is that 5G will not be coming to rural areas in the near future, yet the FCC is taking away a resource that ISPs use today to serve rural customers.

Deploying 5G: Bringing the Next Generation of Wireless to Life – but it’s no Panacea

By Doug Dawson

Doug Dawson is the owner and president of CCG Consulting, a telecommunications consulting firm in the country with over 700 clients. CCG’s clients include ILECS, CLECS, cable companies, ISPs, municipalities and wireless carriers. His insight is a valuable asset to the 5G discussion.  Note the link to POTs and PANs in the right-hand column.


To summarize, a 5G network need transmitters on poles that are close to homes and also needs fiber at or nearby to each pole transmitter to backhaul these signals. The technology is only going to make financial sense in a few circumstances. In the case of Verizon, the technology is reasonably affordable since the company will rely on already-existing fiber. An ISP without existing fiber is only going to deploy 5G where the cost of building fiber or wireless backhaul is reasonably affordable. This means neighborhoods without a lot of impediments like hills, curvy roads, heavy foliage or other impediments that would restrict the performance of the wireless network. This means not building in neighborhoods where the poles are short or don’t have enough room to add a new fiber. It means avoiding neighborhoods where the utilities are already buried. An ideal 5G neighborhood is also going to need significant housing density, with houses relatively close together without a lot of empty lots.

This technology is also not suited to downtown areas with high-rises; there are better wireless technologies for delivering a large data connection to a single building, such as the high bandwidth millimeter wave radios used by Webpass. 5G technology also is not going to make a lot of sense where the housing density is too low, such as suburbs with large lots. 5G broadband is definitely not a solution for rural areas where homes and farms are too far apart.

5G technology is not going to be a panacea that will bring broadband to most of America. Most neighborhoods are going to fail one of the needed parameters – by having poles without room for fiber, by having curvy roads where a transmitter can only reach a few homes, etc. It’s going to be as much of a challenge for an ISP to justify building 5G as it is to build fiber to each customer. Verizon claims their costs are a fraction of building fiber to homes, but that’s only because they are building from existing fiber. There are few other ISPs with large, underutilized fiber networks that will be able to copy the Verizon roadmap. With the current technology the cost of deploying 5G looks to be nearly identical to the cost of deploying fiber-to-the-home.

The Full Article is HERE

Rural neighborhoods will low density housing are not going to qualify for 5G.  It is time for rural communities to start thinking and planning for a better solution — Community Networks.

Space Month at the FCC and Broadband

The Federal Communications Commission is launching “Space Month” in November to focus the agency’s attention on the role of satellite communications, its chairman, Ajit Pai, writes in a new blog post previewing the upcoming agenda for its monthly meeting.

“The FCC will take up nine items to ensure that America leads in the New Space Age, with an emphasis on cutting through the red tape,” he writes, including “voting on a package of orders that would give the green light to companies seeking to roll out new and expanded services using new non-geostationary satellite constellations.”

Source: POLITICO Space

Speaking of constellations, we’ll also be voting on a package of orders that would give the green light to companies seeking to roll out new and expanded services using new non-geostationary satellite constellations. Kepler is looking to create a new satellite system for the Internet of Things, and LeoSat would like to offer high-speed connectivity for enterprises and underserved communities. We’re aiming to approve both requests. And we’ve also targeted for approval the requests of SpaceX and TeleSat Canada to expand the frequencies they can use so that their fleets of low Earth orbit satellites can offer even better broadband service.

Source: FCC Blog [Emphsis Added]

Utilities To FCC: Stay Off Our Spectrum

— The Utilities Technology Council issued a lengthy and fierce rebuke to Thursday’s FCC vote to proceed to a rulemaking on expanding the use of 6 GHz spectrum, which advocates like Public Knowledge celebrate for its potential use for unlicensed technology like Wi-Fi.

— Broadband broadside: “Although we understand the need for expanded wireless broadband, the risk of radio frequency interference to utilities’ mission-critical networks outweighs the potential benefits from unlicensed use of the band,” said Joy Ditto, who leads the utility trade group. “We are greatly concerned that the proposed rulemaking as drafted would not sufficiently mitigate potential interference to utility systems from these new unlicensed operations.” She argues “there are other spectrum bands more suitable to achieve the Commission’s goals.”

CTIA Blog: The FCC is Moving Forward on Mid-Band

Today, Commissioner Mike O’Rielly announced that the FCC will soon finalize rules for the 3.5 GHz band, setting the agency on a clear path to unleash the first swath of mid-band airwaves in the U.S.

This is a big deal. Here’s why.

Mid-band spectrum is considered a key building block for 5G networks, thanks to its unique abilities to both travel far and offer high capacity for mobile traffic. As Commissioner O’Rielly noted in an op-ed earlier today, “the [3.5 GHz] spectrum band is going to be the quickest and most appropriate band to initiate mid-band 5G services in the United States.”

Full Blog Post HERE.    LINK to New York Times Op-Ed.

As noted in the blog post the 3.5 GHz is a better spectrum for rural applications as it goes farther than the 24GHz and 28GHz being used for 5G. However, the emphasis is on mobile and not service to the home. We will have to see how the unlicensed portion of the spectrum is used by innovator and entrepreneurs. Stay Tuned.