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Improvements in Undersea Fiber

We often forget that a lot of things we do on the web rely on broadband traffic that passes through undersea cables. Any web traffic from overseas gets to the US through one of the many underwater fiber routes. Like with all fiber technologies, the engineers and vendors have regularly been making improvements. The technology involved in undersea cables is quite different than what is used for terrestrial fibers. A long fiber route includes repeater sites where the light signal is refreshed. Without repeaters, the average fiber light signal will die within about sixty miles. more

The Beginnings of 8K Video

In 2014 I wrote a blog asking if 4K video was going to become mainstream. At that time, 4K TVs were just hitting the market and cost $3,000 and higher. There was virtually no 4K video content on the web other than a few experimental videos on YouTube. But in seven short years, 4K has become a standard technology. Netflix and Amazon Prime have been shooting all original content in 4K for several years, and the rest of the industry has followed. more

Now Available: Worldwide and Local Current Starlink Performance

The blue dot circled is our dish in the center of Vermont. Volunteers run software that collects statistics every 15 minutes and uploads them to update the tables and the map at https://starlinkstatus.space. You can see below that we have been averaging download speeds of 143Mbps, upload around 12Mbps, and ping times of 43ms. Below, you can see our most recent updates, including the percentage of time our dish was obstructed (0% happily). There are also tables with country and region-wide averages. more

Better Protection of Essential Power and Communication Grids From Storm Damage

After every major hurricane, like the category 4 Ida that recently hit Louisiana, there is talk in the telecom and power industries about better protecting our essential power and communication grids. There was major damage to grids and networks in Louisiana from hurricane winds and storm surges and massive flooding in the mid-Atlantic from Western Maryland to New York City. One thing that we've learned over time is that there is no way to stop storm damage. more

Satellite Companies Fighting Over RDOF

There has been an interesting public fight going on at the FCC as Viasat has been telling the FCC that Elon Musk's Starlink should not be eligible for funding from the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF). At stake is the $886 million that Starlink won in December's RDOF auction that is still under review at the FCC. Viasat had originally filed comments at the FCC stating that the company did not believe that Starlink could fulfill the RDOF requirements in some of the grant award areas. more

Google Cloud Lands Grace Hopper Subsea Cable in Bude, Cornwall

Google Cloud has landed its muchly anticipated subsea cable, Grace Hopper in Bude, Cornwall. The 16-fiber pair Google-funded cable will connect New York (United States) to Bude (United Kingdom) and Bilbao (Spain). more

Demystifying ISP Oversubscription

I think the concept that I have to explain the most as a consultant is oversubscription, which is how ISPs share bandwidth between customers in a network. Most broadband technologies distribute bandwidth to customers in nodes. ISPs using passive optical networks, cable DOCSIS systems, fixed wireless technology, and DSL all distribute bandwidth to a neighborhood device of some sort that then distributes the bandwidth to all of the customers in that neighborhood node. more

Supporting SpaceX Starlink in Remote Communities

Five companies are developing low-Earth orbit (LEO) broadband satellite constellations, but, as of now, only SpaceX is planning to market directly to consumers. What sorts of support will they require? A pilot study of Starlink connectivity in remote Chilean communities may provide some answers to that question. The Chilean regulator, SUBTEL, has authorized a year-long pilot study of Starlink connectivity in remote, rural communities and is committed to supporting them during the year. more

A Chance to Tackle the Urban Digital Divide

For the first time in my career, we face the possibility of some big changes for broadband in low-income neighborhoods in cities. The recent American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) gave cities significant funding that can be used for various kinds of infrastructure, including broadband. Cities have been handed a once-in-a-lifetime chance to fix some of the broadband deserts that have grown in poor neighborhoods. I'm already working with several cities that are taking this opportunity seriously. more

The Long-Run Effect of Cuba’s Recent Internet-Augmented Protests

It’s now more than 6 weeks since the Cuban political protests and accompanying Internet service disruption. Will they lead to a long-run change in the Cuban Internet or the Cuban political situation? Let’s start with the Cuban Internet. Many of the Internet changes during the protests have disappeared. Total daily traffic, the ratios of mobile to fixed traffic, and human to automated posts, and the proportion of blocked Signal sessions are about what they were before the protests. more

High-Speed Fiber Overtakes DSL as OECD Countries Add 21 Million Fixed Broadband Connections in the Pandemic Year

High-speed fiber Internet subscriptions surpassed copper-wire DSL connections across OECD countries for the first time in 2020 as the need to move work and home life activities online during the COVID-19 pandemic led to a record 21.15 million new fixed broadband connections (including fiber, DSL, cable, and others) in the year to end-December 2020. more

Are We Ready for Big Bandwidth Applications?

There is a recent industry phenomenon that could have major impacts on ISP networks in the relatively near future. There has been an explosion of households that subscribe to gigabit data plans. At the end of 2018, only 1.8% of US homes subscribed to a gigabit plan. This grew to 2.8% by the end of 2019. With the pandemic, millions of homes upgraded to gigabit plans in an attempt to find a service that would support working from home. more

The Test of Time at Internet Scale: Verisign’s Danny McPherson Recognized with ACM SIGCOMM Award

The global internet, from the perspective of its billions of users, has often been envisioned as a cloud -- a shapeless structure that connects users to applications and to one another, with the internal details left up to the infrastructure operators inside. From the perspective of the infrastructure operators, however, the global internet is a network of networks. It's a complex set of connections among network operators, application platforms, content providers and other parties. more

Holding Times – A Phenomenon Happening With ISP Networks That No One Seems to Talk About

During the last year, we saw a big change in the nature of our broadband usage in that many of us are connecting to remote work or school servers, or we are connecting to long Zoom calls. We already can see that these changes have accelerated the average home usage of broadband. OpenSignal reports that the average broadband usage per home grew from 274 gigabytes per month just before the pandemic up to 462 gigabytes per month measured at the end of the first quarter of this year. more

How Will Rural Chileans Use SpaceX Starlink?

The Chilean Undersecretary of Telecommunications (SUBTEL) has begun a year-long pilot study of SpaceX's Starlink satellite Internet service. I don't know how many test locations they are planning, but the first two have been selected. Last week I discussed the first, the John F. Kennedy school in Sotomó, an isolated town at 41.6° South on a fjord in Chile's Lake Region, and the second will be in Caleta Sierra on the coast about 1,200 miles north of Sotomó. SpaceX is also considering a European pilot study in Georgia and perhaps (hopefully) others. more

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