Airborne Sky Network. Will This Work?

Airborne Wireless Networks propose to use commercial aircraft as “mini-satellites” to form mesh networks in the sky to provide worldwide connectivity. Details HERE.

A view of aircraft in the sky over a 24 hour period HERE.  Another view of aircraft HERE.

Note the lack of aircraft over Russia, interior Africa, and South America. My guess is this would work best in the US and Europe.  And, it will require the cooperation of multiple airlines.  Will we see this solution to rural connectivity?




The Nevada County Bright Fiber History and Community Reaction

The Union has published a timeline for the Bright Fiber project in this story:

THE STORY, SO FAR: Long-awaited gigabit internet project in Nevada County takes new turn with new owner

More funding details in this story:

State funds remain in place for high-speed internet project in Nevada County

The comments following this story reveal the community’s frustration with the ongoing delays.

Race Communications to acquire Nevada County’s Bright Fiber and its fiber network project

Disclosure:  I was a Nevada County Community Network Board Member that voted to transfer the NCCN customer base to Spiral when AT&T refused to sell NCCN DSL services at bulk rates, which Spiral could offer customers.

Race Communications To Acquire Nevada County’s Bright Fiber And Its Fiber Network Project

A highly anticipated effort to bring high-speed fiber-optic internet service to the western Nevada County area, funded largely through nearly $17 million in grant money, may soon be in new hands.

Race Communications, a Bay Area company, has entered negotiations with Spiral Internet CEO John Paul to acquire Bright Fiber, an independent internet service provider in Nevada County that resells internet from wireline providers and has been working on building a new fiber network in the region.

According to company officials, Race Communications and Bright Fiber have come to an agreement on the terms of the purchase, which are currently pending regulatory approval from the California Public Utilities Commission.

“Bright Fiber offers an exciting opportunity for Race Communications to strengthen and expand its footprint in California,” Race Communications founder and CEO Raul Alcaraz said in a statement. “Our company has decades of experience in the telecom industry and we look forward to providing quality broadband and customer service to the residents in and around Nevada County.” ­­­­

Full story HERE.

Let’s hope this change of ownership will allow the project to move foreard. It has been on the books with not action for too long.


Does It Matter If China Beats The Us To Build A 5G Network?

Wired takes a look at the stakes in the global competition to deploy the next-generation wireless service.

TECHNICAL STANDARDS FOR the next generation of wireless services aren’t even finalized, yet the US and China are already locked in a crucial race to be the first country to deploy a so-called 5G network.

Or at least that’s what both the US government and the wireless industry say. “The United States will not get a second chance to win the global 5G race,” Meredith Attwell Baker, president and CEO of the wireless industry group CTIA, warned in April, when the group released a report concluding that the US trails China and South Korea in preparing for 5G (fifth generation) networks. If that doesn’t change, the report warns, the US economy will suffer.

Full article is HERE.

Still no discussion of 5G limitations to meet rural broadband needs. Millimeter waves planned for 5G implementation are blocked by vegetation requiring a clear line of sight. Millimeter waves have limited range, measured in yards rather than miles. The 5G technology is better suited for population dense urban neighborhoods, than less dense rural communities were users are distributed over broader areas covered in vegetation.

The Sierra hills and valleys covered in vegitation will present evan greater challanges to 5G installers.  When will this all become clear to rural community leaders counting on 5G to bring broadband to their constituents?

Broadband at End of Forty Mile Road: Community WiFI

by Russ Steele

There are rural communities in the Sierra that are  40 miles from fiber broadband connections and lack the population density necessary to attract cable providers.  Hughes Network Solutions is promoting the development of community WiFi networks using satellite backhaul.  A single high capacity network terminal serving a WiFi mesh network, with access costs comparable to urban broadband access.  The June issue of SatMagazine has the details. Download the article here: WiFi hotspots with satellite backhaul

Your thoughts. If you lived at the end of the forty mile road with 20 other families would you consider the Hughes approach as a broadband option?  Why not?

Microsoft’s Latest Rural Broadband Push

Microsoft’s latest rural broadband push: Microsoft and Declaration Networks today are unveiling plans to deploy broadband using TV White Spaces and other tech in the Eastern Shore of Virginia and Garrett County, Maryland, according to a news release.

Source: POLITICO Morning Tech

The Microsoft Press Release is HERE

In addition to introducing new service and technology, Microsoft is including digital skills training.

In addition to commercial partnerships with local companies like Declaration, Microsoft’s Rural Airband Initiative includes digital skills training for people in newly connected communities and access to royalty-free patents. Proceeds from Airband connectivity projects will be reinvested into the program to expand broadband to more rural areas.

We need a Sierra Airband demonstration project. All the 5G hype is ignoring the reality that 5G does not work well in rural settings, with a requirement for a clear line of sight. Limitations that Airband can mitigate.


New Space Tools for Economic Development.

Below is an email from Planet, formally Planet Lab, offering access to a global database of images providing the broadband user a new set of tools for exploring the planet and creating new ideas for analysis and possible business applications.

Hi Russell,

Planet has about 500 images for every given location on Earth’s landmass – a massive dataset, documenting immense change. To bring this change to life, we recently released two new Planet Explorer tools: Timelapse and Compare.

With the introduction of these features, anyone can easily tell stories of change by creating time series’ or side-by-side comparisons of Planet imagery, easily shareable online.

To get your feet wet, new Planet Explorer users will get access to global, full-resolution PlanetScope and RapidEye imagery for a two-week trial to browse, compare, and share stories of change from anywhere on Earth.

You can see these tools in action at our blog here, and sign up for your free trial at

The Planet Team