RCRC: Rural Broadband Update

Rural Broadband Update

A USTelecom pilot test found 38 percent of rural areas in census blocks depicted to have broadband on the National Broadband Map lack access to a basic internet connection.  The organization conducted the test following allegations that the broadband map drastically overestimated broadband availability in rural America.  The pilot test focused on Virginia and Missouri, but the study is sure to inspire calls for a nationwide test of broadband data.

The pilot test from USTelecom provides further evidence that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has relied on inaccurate data to measure broadband connectivity in rural areas.  Inaccurate mapping data prevents policymakers from prioritizing funds for areas that are truly most lacking in high-speed internet.  More reliable coverage data would help the FCC and other agencies properly devote public votes towards closing the digital divide for underserved rural areas.

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OneWeb: Investor Write Down

Japanese technology giant Softbank has written down the value of its stake in British satellite maker OneWeb by £380m, the Telegraph can reveal.

OneWeb, which is backed by Softbank, Airbus and Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, has burned through billions in investor cash for its plans to launch a web of hundreds of low-orbit satellites.

Softbank took an impairment loss on its stake in OneWeb earlier this year, while some early investors have lost as much as half of the value of their stakes, a source said.

Founded in 2012, OneWeb is one of Britain’s technology “unicorns”, a start-up valued at more than $1bn.

It hopes to launch hundreds of satellites to improve mobile and internet connections…

 

This not good news for OneWeb who seem to be having problems getting spacecraft launched.

Jeff Bezos Explains Amazon’s Bet on Project Kuiper Satellites

Geek Wire has the details

For the first time in public, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos explained the rationale for his risky Project Kuiper satellite broadband venture, during a fireside chat that was interrupted when an animal rights activist jumped on stage.

[. . .]

When Freshwater asked Bezos to name a “big bet” that Amazon has taken recently, he focused on Project Kuiper, the plan to put more than 3,200 satellites in low Earth orbit for global broadband coverage. The project came to light in April, and seems likely to be based in Bellevue, Wash. Here’s how Bezos explained his bet:

“The goal here is broadband everywhere, but the very nature of [having] thousands of satellites in low Earth orbit is very different from geostationary satellites. … You have equal broadband all over the surface of Earth. Not exactly equal, it tends to be a lot more concentrated toward the poles, unfortunately.

“But you end up servicing the whole world. So it’s really good. By definition you end up accessing people who are ‘under-bandwidthed.’ Very rural areas, remote areas. And I think you can see going forward that internet, access to broadband is going to be very close to being a fundamental human need as we move forward.

“So Project Kuiper has that. It’s also a very good business for Amazon because it’s a very high-capex [capital expenditure] undertaking. It’s multiple billions of dollars of capex. … Amazon is a large enough company now that we need to do things that, if they work, can actually move the needle.”

Amazon has already turned on its global satellite control networks, mostly located at it’s Global Data Centers strategically placed around the globe. As a significant provider of cloud services, LEO satellite delivery systems makes good business sense. It is the last link to providing cloud services to every business on the planet, at a highly competitive rate, compared to competitors like Microsoft Asure, IBM Cloud and lesser-known cloud companies relying on existing fiber network infrastructure. Amazon will be able to reach more global customers faster with competitive cloud service rates. More HERE.

The top ten cloud service companies are:

Kamatera.
phoenixNAP.
Amazon Web Services.
Microsoft Azure.
Google Cloud Platform.
Adobe.
VMware.
IBM Cloud.

After Amazon, only Google has made a move toward having an LEO satellite distribution system, partnering with Telesat and adapting Project Loon to LEO applications

Loon adapting connection routing ‘network brain’ from balloons to low Earth orbit satellites

While I admire and root for SpaceX, who is building a top-down system, Amazon is taking a bottom-up approach, building on existing reliable infrastructure and capping it with a fleet of LEO satellites has a higher probability of succeeding.  The open question is can Amazon catch SpaceX and OneWeb who have birds in space.

Lifting the Hood and Checking the 5G Physical Engine

Want to know the difference between 4G and 5G?  How does 5G work? Why is 5G a better communication technology? Read on!

5G wireless technology promises to deliver an abundance of reliable, data-rich, and highly connected applications for customers around the world.  To do that will required robust hardware or physical layer. National Instruments has recently published a white paper describing the 5G physical layer and its attributes — 5G New Radio: Introduction to the Physical Layer.

Download the white paper by clicking on this link:5G_New_Radio_WP

Will Amazon’s Flywheel Consume the Rural Broadband Advantage?

What is the Amazon Flywheel? It is best described in a Bloomberg article examining Amazon’s Market Reach.

As Amazon grew, the company adopted a business school concept called the flywheel, loosely defined as a sort of self-reinforcing loop. Where possible, projects were to be structured to bolster other initiatives underway at the company.

Here is an example of the flywheel in action:

By the time Amazon began breaking out the revenue of Amazon Web Services in 2015, the cloud-computing unit had reshaped how businesses used technology. It was also Amazon’s biggest money maker, churning out billions of dollars a year in profit that the company could put to work investing in new services and expansion of its core retail business. Once again, the flywheel in action.

With the announcement that Amazon will be launching 3,236 low earth orbiting satellites to provide broadband internet services from space the potential competitors SpaceX, OneWeb, Telesat and LeoSat took notice. The most vocal was Elon Musk who claimed Amazon was copying SpaceX.

Perhaps those that Amazon’s broadband network will impact the most, the mom and pop stores across the nation, may not have given the announcement a passing thought.

While the Amazon LEO satellites will be providing high-speed internet access to 14 million rural US citizens who do not have access now, they will also be providing these rural consumers access to Amazon’s e-commerce kingdom. While Amazon can offer cloud services to small business in rural communities at the same time, they could be stealing those small business customers with their lower cost e-commerce options.

Screen Shot 2019-04-16 at 5.50.09 AM

According to the Foundation for Rural Service study current rural broadband users account for $1.4 Trillion in an online transaction, 14% of all internet driven transition, or 7% of GDP. However, they’re 19 million users that do not have Internet access or have access too slow for effective e-commerce. Amazons LEO network will provide easy access to these unserved broadband customers and at the same time adding them to the Amazon e-commerce customer base. The flywheel in action.

While SpaceX, OneWeb, Telesat, and LeoSat are planning to provide broadband services, Amazon will be providing broadband service, but the primary goal is the creation of marketing and sales infrastructure, which is a far different business model than the service based competition.  The depth of Amazon’s offerings gives them an advantage.

The problem remains, will Amazon’s space-based broadband access be an advantage or detriments to rural communities? Given Amazon’s market penetration so far, it appears that a ubiquitous internet will transform communities, there will be more information based businesses and fewer street side shops selling commodities that Amazon can deliver for less.

Your thoughts?

Buy Local (Including Broadband)

 

An article in Broadband Communities Magazine by Eric Ogle

Ogle’s conclusion:

As corporate service providers continue to shortchange many rural communities on the services they should provie, they also remove tremendous amounts of money from communities. Given the public outcry for buy-local campaigns, why isn’t there a similar outcry for buy-local campaigns focused on local broadband service?

In the example provided, through a sustainable partnership with the local utility, what long-term local economic impact would result if a utility-anchored broadband initiative were able to capture 50 percent – or even a third or a quarter – of the market?

As with many public infrastructure projects, utility-provided broadband is deployed for the common good, and many benefits occur “off the balance sheet” in terms of enhanced economic opportunities and quality-of-life improvements. So instead of wondering how it can afford to offer broadband services, given the money that is lost each year to corporate providers with inferior services, a community should wonder instead how long it can afford not to offer broadband services.

It has been my experience, that AT&T moves much faster to improve broadband services when threatened by competition.

AIRWAVES, Take Two

— Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) is working to reintroduce his AIRWAVES Act, a bill previously filed as S. 1682. The original legislation, backed by the wireless industry, would have identified spectrum bands for unlicensed use, freed up mid-band airwaves and set aside funds from spectrum auctions for expanding rural broadband.

— Gardner is working with Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) on a new version , he told reporters Monday night. Some of the initial elements of the bill have been “picked up by the FCC” while other issues like satellite “have been brought to our attention,” Gardner said, adding adding that he wants lawmakers to get the legislation “right and to make sure this is something that can pass.”

Source: POLITICO Morning Tech [Emphsas added]

5G Stealing the Show at Consumer Electronics Show.

The 2019 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) officially kicked off in Las Vegas on Tuesday, and devices with 5G connectivity are stealing the show.

The annual conference, which is taking place January 8-11, showcases the latest mobile and connected technology from more than 4,500 exhibiting companies. CES is an important event for developers and manufacturers because it provides a peek at technological shifts.

Consumers Are Interested in Subscriptions for Connected Devices
Business Insider Intelligence
Devices with 5G connectivity were the chief focus at the conference this year, with Qualcomm and Intel making announcements that are poised to transform various industries.

Qualcomm’s chipsets will spearhead the first wave of 5G smartphones. Qualcomm expects its new Snapdragon 855 mobile platform and X50 5G cellular modem to power more than 30 5G devices, mostly smartphones, in 2019. The addition of 5G connectivity will provide considerable improvements to handsets, from more secure fingerprint scanning to faster AI-driven tasks, encouraging more users to upgrade.

Car manufacturers demoed Qualcomm’s 9150 C-V2X chipset, which set the future for connected cars with 5G. Automakers including Audi, Ford, and Ducati staged how the chipset, which will run on 4G and 5G networks, can be leveraged to enable vehicle-to-vehicle communications. Ford, for instance, plans to use the tech in all US models starting in 2022. Qualcomm’s chipset presents cellular carriers with an opportunity to add connected car subscriptions, which consumers are highly interested in paying for despite their lack of widespread availability. For instance, just 30% of consumers own a connected car, but nearly half (49%) are interested in paying a monthly subscription for a connected car, according to Business Insider Intelligence’s Telecom Competitive Edge report (enterprise only).

Intel will facilitate the shift to 5G-powered laptops. Intel lifted the lid on a new initiative, dubbed Project Athena, that aims to open the door to a new class of advanced laptops with 5G connectivity and AI capabilities. The company is developing a roadmap for PC makers including Microsoft, Google, Lenovo, Dell, and Samsung to bring Project Athena devices to market in the second half of this year. Integrated 5G connectivity will provide wireless carriers with an additional opportunity to diversify revenue streams and expand wireless subscriber bases.

Source: Business Insider

In 1996 I gave a presentation at a conference in Canada on Intelligent Vehicle Highway Systems. In my slide presentation, I showed how vehicles would be integrated into the digital grid, the internet. When I predicted that in the near the future cars would have an IP address, there was a lot of snickering and laughter in the audience. Only later it occurred to me I had been laughed off the stage. Today 30% of consumers own a connected vehicle and soon with G5 built in it will become a standard feature. Too bad many citizens living in rural communities will not be able to take advantage of this connectivity until they drive to an urban location with 5G.

Will This Technology Save Rural 5G?

T-Mobile, Ericsson and Intel claim to have completed the first 5G data call and video call on 600 MHz spectrum. The calls, which included uplink and downlink communications, were done on a live commercial network and provided a 5G coverage area of more than 1,000 square miles from a single tower. The companies did not say what bandwidth the data call supported.

“5G will power vibrant new use cases that span across network, client and cloud—spurring the convergence of computing and communications that will enable exciting use cases ranging from virtual and augmented reality and gaming, to smart cities, connected cars and intelligent data analytics,” Sandra Rivera, the senior vice president of Intel’s Network Platform Group, said in a press release. “This collaboration with Ericsson and T-Mobile conducted over low-band spectrum and using the Intel® 5G Mobile Trial Platform is a major milestone on the path to enabling the first wave of these types of 5G experiences.”

5G Coverage Area
According to a press release, the goal of the “new” T-Mobile – a company that includes Sprint — is to use the 600 MHz band to deliver “a broad layer of 5G” that will “balance” millimeter wave (mmWave) approaches that have trouble passing through objects and has limited range of less than a square mile. However, the companies also did a three-user triband call over 600 MHz, 28 GHz and 39 GHz band spectrum.

5G is a huge transition for the broadband industry and therefore has ignited significant marketing and technology claims and counter-claims. AT&T and Verizon initially are focusing on mmWave approaches and claim that though it will take longer to deploy, the approach supports higher bandwidth and provides the truer vision of 5G. T-Mobile – which has never said it won’t use mmWave – has placed its bet, initially at least, on the 600 MHz band, which the company notes is ready now and supports a much larger 5G coverage area in comparison with mmWave.

Full Article at Telecompetitor HERE.