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The US-China Technology Cold War Battle Over Optical Communication in Space

The United States and its allies are in a technology cold war with China and its allies. This is evidenced by major battles like the US ban on Huawei and China's drive for technological independence and their global infrastructure program to create a digital silk road. (The cold war began under Trump, but President Biden is continuing it). There are other, less well-known battles like the battle over optical communication in space. more

Australian Farms Get Connected to the Starlink Satellites

Last year, I reported on the possibility that LEO (Low Earth Orbit) satellite-based systems might be a gamechanger for the delivery of high-speed data services, including internet access, to people in regional and remote Australia. What has become clear with the rollout of the NBN is that the quality of data connections in metropolitan cities in many cases has improved, but that the rest of Australia doesn't have a similar experience. more

Fixed Cellular Broadband Performance

One of the first in-depth reviews I’ve found for T-Mobile’s fixed cellular broadband was published in the Verve. It’s not particularly flattering to T-Mobile, and this particular customer found the performance to be unreliable – fast sometimes and barely functioning at other times. But I’ve seen other T-Mobile customers raving about the speeds they are receiving. We obviously can’t draw any conclusions based upon a single review by one customer... more

The 25/3 Mbps Broadband Connection Myth

There is no such thing as a 25/3 Mbps broadband connection, or a 100/20 Mbps broadband connection, or even a symmetrical gigabit broadband connection on fiber. For a long list of reasons, the broadband speeds that make it to customers vary widely by the day, the hour, and the minute. And yet, we've developed an entire regulatory system built around the concept that broadband connections can be neatly categorized by speed. more

My Broadband Predictions for 2022

It's that time of the year for me to get out the crystal ball and peer into 2022... I have no idea why it took a year for the administration to tee up a new Chairman and recommend a fifth FCC Commissioner. But once a new Commissioner is seated, the new FCC will tackle reinstating some version of Title II regulation, accompanied by net neutrality regulations. For yet another year, this won't come from Congress, which is the only permanent solution. more

Incumbents Fight Broadband Improvement

There was a recent article in the Bangor Daily News about Charter Communications fighting a move by small towns in Maine to bring fiber broadband. To anybody who has been in the business for a while, this is nothing new. The big cable companies and telcos have fought municipal broadband for decades. The article highlights a recent public meeting in the small town of Leeds, a town of under 2,300. The town was hoping to partner with Axiom Technologies, a nearby ISP, to provide fiber broadband. more

The Fight Over 12 GHz Spectrum

For an agency that has tried to wash its hands from regulating broadband, the FCC finds itself again trying to decide an issue that is all about broadband. There is a heavyweight battle going on at the FCC over how to use the 12 GHz spectrum, and while this may seem like a spectrum issue, it's all about broadband. 12 GHz spectrum is key to several broadband technologies. First, this is the spectrum that is best suited for transmitting data between the earth and satellite constellations. more

Why Did Russia Test an Anti-Satellite Missile and Why Doesn’t China Condemn the Test?

On November 15th, Russia used an anti-satellite missile to destroy COSMOS 1408, a defunct spy satellite. The explosion quickly created over 1,500 pieces of trackable debris and will likely generate hundreds of thousands of smaller pieces. As a precautionary measure, the astronauts on the International Space Station, two of whom are Russians, took shelter in escape shuttles during two orbits. The anti-satellite test was widely criticized, but the Russian defense ministry released a statement saying... more

Big Internet Outages - There Is No Such Thing as a Routine Software Upgrade

Last year I wrote about big disruptive outages on the T-Mobile and the CenturyLink networks. Those outages demonstrate how a single circuit failure on a transport route or a single software error in a data center can spread quickly and cause big outages. I join a lot of the industry in blaming the spread of these outages on the concentration and centralization of networks where the nationwide routing of big networks is now controlled by only a handful of technicians in a few locations. In early October, we saw the granddaddy of all network outages... more

SpaceX’s Rural Development Project in India

Sanjay Bhargava, Starlink Country Director for India at SpaceX (source)SpaceX Starlink is moving quickly in India. Last April, they said they would be offering service in 2022 and began accepting pre-orders. In July, SpaceX committed to manufacturing antenna systems and terminals in India and, at the end of September, Sanjay Bhargava, who had been with Elon Musk at Paypal, was selected to head Starlink in India. In the last week or two, they set up a wholly-owned subsidiary that will apply for licenses, seek Indian distribution partners, and attempt to sell 200,000 units - 80% in rural districts - in 2022. more

Predicting Future Broadband Prices

I've been giving a lot of thought lately to the long-term trajectory of broadband prices. This is something that should be considered by anybody who is thinking about competing in a market against a big cable company. It's not an easy question to get your hands around since many factors might affect future rates. The following are some of the major trends that I think must be considered. First is pressure on the big ISPs from Wall Street. more

Content Blocking at the DNS Level in Germany

For those who follow the issue of blocking illegal content from the Internet, there is an interesting development in relation to this issue here in Germany, and I will tell you a little about it. One way to make it difficult to access illegal content is to block it directly in the DNS. But what is DNS for? Basically, it serves to translate the domain name into the IP of the server that is hosting the content. By blocking directly at the DNS level, a query to a domain will no longer bring the server's IP number, and with that, the user no longer accesses that content. more

Meet the Metaverse

I had already written this blog before Facebook announced it would be hiring at least 10,000 programmers to start moving the company towards the metaverse. I see the metaverse as one of the next big drivers of increased bandwidth usage. Wikipedia defines the metaverse as a collective virtual shared space created by the convergence of virtually enhanced physical reality and physically persistent virtual space, including the sum of all virtual reality worlds, augmented reality, and the Internet. In the most basic sense, the metaverse consists of online worlds where people interact through avatars. more

Fixing the Supply Chain

Almost everybody in the broadband industry is now aware that the industry is suffering supply chain issues. ISPs are having problems obtaining many of the components needed to build a fiber network in a timely manner, which is causing havoc with fiber construction projects. I've been doing a lot of investigation into supply chain issues, and it turns out the supply chain is a lot more complex than I ever suspected, which means it's not going to be easy to get the supply chain back to normal. more

The Future of Satellite Broadband

People ask me a lot about what Starlink means for somebody building a rural broadband network. That set me to contemplate the long-term prospects for LEO satellite broadband. Today, the broadband provided by Starlink is a boon to rural subscribers who have had no alternatives. Hundreds of thousands of prospective customers have gotten onto the Starlink waiting list. It's not hard to understand why when the rural broadband alternatives are extraordinarily slow rural DSL, high orbit satellite broadband, or cellular hotspots. more

News Briefs

The Internet Infrastructure in Afghanistan (Event)

Google Cloud Lands Grace Hopper Subsea Cable in Bude, Cornwall

18 Million of the 22 Million Net Neutrality Comments Received by FCC in 2017 Were Fake

SpaceX’s Starlink Satellite Internet Service Has Received 500K Preorders, Says the Company

Beavers Chewing Through Fiber Cable Cause Hundreds Lose Internet in a Canadian Remote Community

ISPs Saw a 30% Increase in Traffic During the Pandemic, 40% During Peak Business Hours

Alphabet to Shut down Loon, its Balloon Based Internet Access Project

SpaceX Gets FCC’s Approval to Bid in a Federal Auction for Rural-Broadband Funding

New Digital Services Act Should Not Disrupt Internet’s Technical Operations, Warn RIPE NCC, CENTR

The Defense Department Opening Large Areas of Mid-Band Spectrum to Help US Compete With China in 5G

Google to Invest $10 Billion in India to Help Accelerate Its Digital Economy

Alphabet’s Loon Goes Live With Its Commercial Internet Service in Kenya

Japan Fueling China’s Leap to 5G, but for How Long?

FCC Doubts LEO Satellite Broadband Services Like SpaceX’s Starlink Can Meet Latency Requirements

SpaceX Launches Another Batch of 60 Starlink Internet Satellites

FCC Grants ISPs Temporary Access to Wireless Spectrum to Help Handle Demand During Pandemic

BT Removes Broadband Caps, Offers Unlimited Data to Customers Amid COVID-19 Crisis

EU Commissioner Calls on Streaming Services to Switch Streaming Videos From HD to Standard Mode

Broadband Companies Take Connectivity Pledge Amid COVID-19 Crisis

Red Sea Region Suffers From Multi-Day Internet Outage Following an Undersea Cable Cut

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