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Potential Impacts of Large-Scale Metaverses on Internet Governance: Bandwidth

Neal Stephenson’s foundational cyberpunk novel Snow Crash brought to the public the concept of a metaverse, a virtual reality in which people interact using avatars in a manufactured ecosystem, eschewing the limitations of human existence. More recently, Ready Player One capitalized on that idea and brought it back to prominence with a bestselling novel and subsequent film adaptation. Amid rebranding efforts and seeking a new way forward, Mark Zuckerberg has made it Facebook’s (now Meta Platforms) priority to build a platform that could enable the metaverse to become a mainstream technology with the sort of reach that their social networks and WhatsApp have. 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

The Impact of Rising Sea Level on Internet Infrastructure

A recent study predicts that rising sea level might result in as much as 4,067 miles of fiber conduit being under water and 1,101 nodes (data centers, Internet exchanges, cable landing points, etc.) surrounded by water in U. S. coastal cities in 15 years. Paul Barford, professor of computer science at the University of Wisconsin, and his colleagues have been compiling data on the physical Internet and making it available to the research community at the Internet Atlas Web portal since 2011. 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

Is Defining Broadband by Speed a Good Policy?

I’ve lately been looking at broadband policies that have shaped broadband, and I don’t think there has been any more disastrous FCC policy than the one that defines broadband by speed. This one policy has led to a misallocation of funding and getting broadband to communities that need it. The FCC established the definition of broadband as 25/3 Mbps in 2015, and before then, the definition of broadband was 4/1 Mbps, set a decade earlier. The FCC defines broadband to meet a legal requirement established by Congress and codified in Section 706 of the FCC governing rules. more

5G for Cars – an Idea That Won’t Die

An industry group calling itself 5G Americas has published a whitepaper that touts the advantages of a smart auto grid powered by 5G and the C-V2X technology. This technology is the car connectivity standard that much of the industry has gelled around, replacing the older DSRC standard. Over a decade ago, the FCC became so enamored over the idea of self-driving cars that the agency dedicated the 5.9 GHz spectrum band for the sole use of smart cars. more

Starlink Beta vs. Fiber

Last year we had terrible DSL from Consolidated Communications and much better, although not always consistent, service from wireless ISP GlobalNet. I signed up for fiber service from Stowe Cable for installation this year and also was accepted early as a Beta tester for Starlink. Now we have both Starlink and fiber and can compare the two. I was very happy to cancel my Consolidated service but felt bad about canceling GlobalNet, which was essential to me for many years. Most of the time, there are only two of us in the house. more

Computing Clouds in Orbit – A Possible Roadmap

Last week, I predicted that much of the Internet and most cloud datacenters would launch into space in the next ten years. Today the only part of the Internet in space is a very small amount of "bent-pipe" access: signals which go from a user to a satellite and bounce back down to a ground station which feeds them into the terrestrial internet where all processing is done and all queries answered by internet-connected servers, many of them in cloud data centers. more

A Simulation of the SpaceX, Amazon, Telesat and OneWeb Broadband Satellite Constellations

Over two years ago, an MIT research group ran a simulation of the low-Earth orbit broadband constellations of OneWeb, SpaceX, and Telesat, and last January they repeated the simulation updating with revised constellation characteristics and adding Amazon's Project Kuiper. They ran the new simulation twice, once using the planned initial deployments of each constellation and a second time using the configuration shown. more

New Innovations in Free Space Optics

I read an article on the Finley Engineering blog that talks about new research with free-space optics. For those not familiar with the term, this means communication gear that communicates directly using light without any wires. The article talks about a Chinese team of scientists who have used light to transmit ultrahigh-definition video signals between high-rise buildings. more

NTIA’s New Broadband Map

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration surprised the broadband industry by issuing a new broadband map for the whole U.S. The map differs in dramatic ways from the FCC's broadband map, which is derived from broadband speeds that are reported by the ISPs in the country. It's commonly understood that the FCC broadband map overstates broadband coverage significantly. The NTIA map draws upon varied sources in an attempt to create a more accurate picture of the availability of broadband. more

Avoiding Low-Earth Orbit Collisions – the Clock Is Ticking

There was a recent dispute between OneWeb and SpaceX regarding the possibility of a collision between two of their low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellites. OneWeb's satellite (OneWeb-1078) was launched on March 25 and headed for its orbit at an altitude of 1,200 km when, in early April, it passed near a SpaceX satellite (Starlink-1546) in orbit at about 450 km. There was no collision, but subsequently, OneWeb's government affairs chief Chris McLaughlin said... more

Telling the Truth About 5G

I still run across articles that extol the supposed wonders of 5G. The most recent, published in Gizmodo asks "How 5G Could Replace Your Home Broadband Connection". I was surprised to see an article like this in a tech-oriented site because the article gets most of the facts wrong about 5G - facts that are not hard to verify. This article talks about 5G having "faster download speeds, faster upload speeds, more bandwidth, and lower latency" than landline broadband. more

The White House Broadband Plan

Reading the White House $100 billion broadband plan was a bit eerie because it felt like I could have written it. The plan espouses the same policies that I've been recommending. This plan is 180 degrees different than the Congress plan that would fund broadband using a giant federal, and a series of state reverse auctions. The plan starts by citing the 1936 Rural Electrification Act, which brought electricity to nearly every home and farm in America. more

Quantifying the Benefits of Fiber

Dr. Bento J. Lobo, an economist at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga undertook a study to quantify the benefits of the municipally-owned fiber network in Chattanooga. Any citywide fiber network brings economic development to a community, but a municipally-owned system brings additional benefits because of the way that the business is more deeply integrated into the community. more