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Supporting Rural Cell Towers

I work with a lot of ISPs that own rural fiber. Some rural network owners have been successful in providing fiber to cell sites near their networks over the last decade. A few sell directly to a cellular carrier, but most of these connections are sold to an intermediate carrier that bundles together cellular connections across a large geographic area. more

Amazon Project Kuiper vs SpaceX Starlink

In 2019, I wrote that Amazon would be a formidable satellite-ISP competitor. I still think so, but I didn't expect it would be over four years until they launched the first test satellites. In the meantime, SpaceX has put over 5,000 satellites in orbit and has over two million Starlink customers. Amazon has permission to launch 3,236 satellites. more

An Update on Satellite Broadband

Ookla recently published a blog that looks at the speed performance of satellite broadband, focusing mostly on Starlink. I haven't looked at this broadband sector for a while and thought it was time for an update. Starlink has had a busy year. At the end of November, the company had 5,500 satellites in orbit, up from over 3,200 at the end of 2022. The first constellation is still slated to reach almost 12,000 satellites, and the company has tentative permission from the FCC to extend to 42,000. more

The Trajectory of the Broadband Industry

For well over a decade, it was fairly easy to understand the trajectory of the broadband industry. In the residential market, cable companies snagged all the growth while telcos shrank as customers abandoned DSL. Other technologies like fiber or fixed wireless gained customers but were a blip on the national scale. more

It’s the Latency, FCC

Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 orders the FCC to "encourage the deployment on a reasonable and timely basis of advanced telecommunications capability to all Americans." On October 25, The FCC issued a notice of inquiry (NOI) into how well we are doing and invited comments. The NOI points out that COVID and the concomitant increase in the use of interactive applications has "made it clear that broadband is no longer a luxury... more

Is Broadband Essential?

For many years, I've heard people say that broadband is essential. I read it in articles. I hear it on broadband panels and webcasts. I see it said in comments on social media. It's obvious that a whole lot of people think broadband is essential. But what exactly does that mean? Does it mean that broadband is important in a lot of people's lives, or does it mean that broadband is something that society can't live without? more

A Peek Inside the FCC

I write a lot about the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC), but I imagine a lot of folks don't realize the many functions the agency handles. Like any regulatory agency, the FCC staff and Commissioners have been tasked by Congress with a wide range of responsibilities. The public gets to hear from the FCC formally once each month ... more

From Loon to Taara: Google’s Moonshot Delivering Wireless Backhaul

You may recall a number of years ago when Google experimented with delivering broadband from balloons in an effort labeled Project Loon. The project was eventually dropped, but a remnant of the project has now resurfaced as Taara - broadband delivered terrestrially by lasers. more

Space-Ground Optical (Laser) Communication

SpaceX is equipping its new satellites with inter-satellite laser links (ISLLs). They now have over 8,000 optical terminals in orbit (3 per satellite) and they communicate at up to 100 Gbps. The other low-Earth orbit Internet service providers will follow SpaceX's lead. more

Is There a Role for ICANN in Satellite Internet Governance?

A recent invitation to participate in a webinar to discuss ICANN's Role in Satellite Internet Governance as an enabler of UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 9 prompted me to consider this issue. As a legal scholar with expertise in telecommunications infrastructure, I had much to say and discuss about the new mega-constellation phenomenon and its potential role in achieving SDG9, which, for me, is a multifaceted and fascinating subject. more