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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

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

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 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

Multi-Orbit Broadband Internet Service

Three satellite companies, SES, Telesat, and Hughes, are working toward integrated, multi-orbit broadband Internet service and Eutelsat may join them... It is too soon for these companies to be offering integrated multi-orbit services, but they have begun testing and demonstrating switching and antenna technology. 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

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

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

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

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

SpaceX Starlink Comes to South America

SpaceX has roughly 90,000 Starlink beta test customers in North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand and now they have one in South America -- in Sotomó, an isolated town at 41.6° South in Chile's Lake Region. Chile's second terminal will be online at a school in Caleta Sierra in a few days and other pilot locations will follow. Twenty families live in Sotomó and it is only accessible by private boats or subsidized services that navigate the Reloncaví Estuary on which it is located. more

Let’s Not Forget the Lobbyists

Common Cause recently released a report, Broadband Gatekeepers, that describes the influence that lobbyists have on broadband policies. The numbers are staggering -- the ISP industry spent $234 million lobbying the 116th Congress (2019 and 2020). That number is likely understated since the rules on reporting lobbying are lax, and enforcement is almost nonexistent. That number doesn't include the huge amounts of lobbying efforts at State legislatures. more

Satellites and Cellular Backhaul

Elon Musk recently announced that he was going to be providing cellular backhaul from the Starlink constellation of satellites. This makes a lot of sense from a financial perspective in that it avoids the costly wired fiber networks needed to reach rural cell sites. This is clearly a shot across the bow for companies that currently bring fiber connectivity to rural cell sites. 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

News Briefs

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

Government of India Gives the Go-Ahead for 5G Technology and Spectrum Trials, Avoids Chinese Firms

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

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

UK Bans Huawei 5G Equipment, Also Orders 5G Kit to Be Removed From UK Networks by 2027

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

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

Department of Commerce to Allow US Companies Work With Chinese to Develop 5G and Other Standards

SpaceX Launches Another Batch of 60 Starlink Internet Satellites

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

FCC Proposes Over $200 Million in Fines Against Four Largest Wireless Carriers

FCC Gives Google, Sony and Others Full Authorization for Commercial Deployment of 3.5 GHz Spectrum

New York City Releases Internet Master Plan For City’s Broadband Future

Germany’s New Rules for Developing 5G Mobile Networks Will Not Exclude China’s Huawei Technologies

EU Member States Release Report on Coordinated Risk Assessment on Cybersecurity in 5G Networks

Wi-Fi Alliance Launches Wi-Fi 6 Certification Program

Study Reveals U.S. Carriers Throttle Online Video on Their Mobile Networks Even When Not Congested

OneWeb Fails in Latest Attempt to Get Russian Approval for Its Worldwide Internet Coverage Plan

Telesat and the Government of Canada Join Forces to Tackle Canada’s Digital Divide

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