Amazon is trying to get a waiver to FCC rules that companies like SpaceX and OneWeb had to follow.
Motherboard has the details:
When Amazon confirmed it was planning to launch 3,236 broadband internet-beaming satellites into low-Earth orbit, much of the media reported it as if it were a done deal—the latest, inevitable step in the corporation’s quest to conquer commerce, the cloud, and beyond.
Amazon officials said the massive satellite constellation, called Project Kuiper, would one day provide low-latency, high-speed broadband to tens of millions of underserved people around the world, no doubt also connecting them to the wide world of Amazon offerings.
But before Project Kuiper can launch, it must receive approval from the Federal Communications Commission to operate within a certain frequency spectrum. In an application filed this July, Amazon requested a special waiver to FCC rules that would grant it the necessary permission. The problem, though, is that the FCC already handed out licenses to that spectrum years ago to nine other satellite internet companies in a different, more complicated process.
Those companies—including SpaceX and OneWeb—are now lobbying the FCC to deny Amazon’s waiver request, according to FCC records. If successful, they could significantly reduce Project Kuiper’s viability in an already oversaturated market.
Top SpaceX officials have met with FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and other agency staff at least three times to lodge in-person complaints about Project Kuiper’s application, according to FCC records. The first meeting came several weeks after Amazon filed its application, the most recent took place on Dec. 2 and 3.
“Amazon’s overt attempt to override long-standing rules would undermine confidence in Commission processes, harm competition, and eliminate broadband options for consumers,” SpaceX lawyers wrote in a Nov. 25 filing. Project Kuiper would have a “significant detrimental impact [on] SpaceX … Amazon’s flawed analysis yields results that defy common sense.”
Industry experts said Amazon’s request is unorthodox, but there’s a clear reason why the company has tried a backdoor route to gain access to the coveted spectrum.
Continue reading HERE
“I’d sort of written Amazon off as not being viable simply because they hadn’t gotten started and these other guys—SpaceX, OneWeb—are already putting satellites up,” Roger Rusch, a satellite and telecommunications consultant with TelAstra told Motherboard. “By the time Amazon gets started, they’re already probably going to be years behind them.
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.
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.
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
No new radiation threats from 5G
5G doesn’t pose new cellphone radiation threats, according to the FCC, which spent six years reviewing the issue and receiving public feedback. The regulator voted unanimously this week to keep in place standards for how much exposure to the radio-frequency energy cellphones and antennas emit is safe. The rules cover consumer devices, and the 5G infrastructure used on cell towers and rooftops, as the four major U.S. wireless carriers race to roll out the next-generation of wireless networks.
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.
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.
Rural Broadband Update
This week, Representative Antonio Delgado (D-New York) announced a package of two bills aimed at addressing flawed broadband mapping practices and increasing broadband speeds for rural communities.
The first bill, the Broadband Speed Act (HR 4641), would require internet service providers to annually report data to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that shows the actual speeds they are capable of providing, as opposed to what they can potentially provide. This will help the FCC determine where advertised speeds match actual speeds. The second bill, the Community Broadband Mapping Act, would allow local governments, electric/telephone cooperatives, economic development/community groups and small internet providers to collect information on local broadband service. This will enable communities who are currently incorrectly designated by the FCC as having service to take action to have the information necessary to dispute that status with the FCC.
AT&T is urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to exclude 5G from its required upgraded data mapping collection. “There is broad agreement that it is not yet time to require reporting on 5G coverage” AT&T said in a statement to the FCC.
AT&T and other mobile carriers want to hide 5G coverage maps from the public while subsequently marketing the pace and breadth of their 5G rollouts. “Service standards for 5G are still emerging, precluding reporting of service-level coverage for 5G networks (other than the 5G-NR submissions already required),” AT&T wrote.
by Joan Engebretson writing at Telecompetitor:
The FCC will vote later this month on broadband speed testing procedures for recipients of Universal Service Fund (USF) support, said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in a blog post. Pai said he had circulated a draft of USF broadband speed testing requirements to the other FCC commissioners in preparation for a vote at the October FCC monthly meeting.
USF Broadband Speed Testing
Pai noted that the FCC has been reviewing testing procedures for several months aimed at ensuring that USF recipients deliver broadband at the speeds they are required to deliver as a condition for receiving USF support. He said the proposed performance measurement procedures strike “the right balance.”
“On one hand, we want to make sure that subscribers are getting the quality of service that they have been promised and our rules require,” Pai wrote. “On the other, we also want to make sure that our testing procedures don’t impose unnecessary burdens on small carriers located in hard-to-serve areas that often face unique challenges.”
He didn’t provide many details on the speed test procedures and the draft order is not yet available publicly, but he did note that the proposed requirements would change testing implementation dates so that those dates are more closely aligned with when a carrier has its first mandatory build-out obligations.
He also noted that the speed test procedures call for a pre-testing period aimed at enabling carriers to ensure that their testing systems are performing correctly before testing begins.
Speed testing could become increasingly important as companies that won funding through the Connect America Fund CAF II auction begin their buildouts, as some companies gained a bidding advantage by committing to provide higher-speed service.
Continue reading HERE.
What is this accountability noise? It is rare that an ISP provides the level of service promoted in their marketing campaigns. This contract accountability could make for some very nervous providers, I can smell the sweat already.