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U.S. Has Poor Cellular Video

Opensignal recently published a report that looks around the world at the quality of cellular video. Video has become a key part of the cellular experience as people are using cellphones for entertainment, and since social media and advertising have migrated to video. The use of cellular video is exploding. Netflix reports that 25% of its total streaming worldwide is sent to mobile devices. The new Disney+ app that was just launched got over 3 million downloads of their cellular app in just the first 24 hours. more

Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) Satellite Internet Service Developments for 2019

I posted reviews of important LEO-satellite Internet service developments during 2017 and 2018. I've been updating those posts during the years and have 16 new posts for 2019. In 2019 we saw four inciteful simulations, Leosat suspending operations and Amazon announcing the availability of a new ground station service and plans for a LEO constellation, progress in phased-array antennas but a lowering of expectations for inter-satellite laser links (ISLLs), new competition from China... more

The Power of Data in Smart City Developments

A few weeks, I attended a one-day conference at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) at the occasion of the launch of their new $7.5 million Centre for Data Science. This laboratory is also the lead node of a new Australian Data Science Network, bringing together data science organizations from across the country. The new center aims to support data-led decisions across key areas like health, environment, business, government and society -- in short, data for the good. more

Spectrum and Weather Forecasting

There is currently a brewing controversy over the allocation of various radio frequencies for 5G that could have a negative impact on weather forecasting. Weather forecasting has become extremely sophisticated and relies on masses of data gathered from weather satellites and other data-gathering devices. The masses of data, along with modern supercomputers and data center computing, have significantly improved the ability to predict future weather. more

My Telecom Predictions for 2020

There is already a growing shortage of fiber resources that includes engineers, construction companies, and fiber consultants. The upcoming $16.4 billion RDOF program will create a resource shortage in 2020 for those who can help companies seek grant funding. Once the grants are awarded, the size of the program will add stress to the resources needed to build networks. Companies that don't line up their experts early might find themselves without help. more

Starlink Simulation Shows Low Latency Without Inter-Satellite Laser Links

Handley's simulation shows that, while not as fast as an equivalent ISLL path, long bent-pipe paths would typically have lower latency than terrestrial fiber routes between the same two points. Mark Handley, a professor at University College London, has made two terrific videos based on runs of his simulation of the first – 1,584 satellite – phase of SpaceX's Starlink Internet-service constellation. I discussed the first video, which assumes that the satellites have inter-satellite laser links (ISLLs), in recent post. more

Fiber Resource Shortages

The fiber industry is as busy as I have ever seen it, and it's about to get even busier. The cellular carriers, particularly Verizon are actively building fiber to reach small cell sites. The cable companies are building a significant amount of fiber, particularly Altice which is upgrading to FTTP. The FCC is going to award $9 billion in 2020 for the 5G Fund grant program, much which will go for fiber to reach rural cell sites. more

Counting Gigabit Households

I ran across a website called the Gigabit Monitor that is tracking the population worldwide that has access to gigabit broadband. The website is sponsored by VIAVI Solutions, a manufacturer of network test equipment. The website claims that in the US, over 68.5 million people have access to gigabit broadband or 21% of the population. That number gets sketchy when you look at the details. more

Starlink Making a Space Grab

SpaceNews recently reported that Elon Musk and his low-orbit space venture Starlink have filed with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) to launch an additional 30,000 broadband satellites in addition to the 11,927 now in the planning stages. This looks like a land grab and Musk is hoping to grab valuable orbital satellite paths to keep them away from competitors. more

Nielsen's Law of Internet Bandwidth

One of the more interesting rules-of-thumb in the industry is Nielsen's Law of Internet bandwidth, which states that: A high-end user's connection speed grows by 50% per year. This 'law' was postulated by Jakob Nielsen of the Nielsen Norman Group in 1998 and subsequently updated in 2008 and 2019. Nielsen started by looking at usage for himself and other big data users, going back to a 300 bps (bits per second) modem used in 1984. more

5G for Fixed Connectivity in Cuba

ETECSA reports that over 110,100 Cuban households have DSL connectivity using their Nauta Hogar service. There are also shared facilites – 986 WiFi hotspots (127 in Havana) and 347 Navigation Rooms (44 in Havana) with 1,309 computers (304 in Havana). These services are dead-ends on the road to hoped-for "computerization." The Cuban population is around 11 million so, after three years, roughly one person in 100 lives in a Nauta home and the services are limited geographically... more

Do Cable Companies Have a Wireless Advantage?

The big wireless companies have been wrangling for years with the issues associated with placing small cells on poles. Even with new FCC rules in their favor, they are still getting a lot of resistance from communities. Maybe the future of urban/suburban wireless lies with the big cable companies. Cable companies have a few major cost advantages over the wireless companies, including the ability to bypass the pole issue. The first advantage is the ability to deploy mid-span cellular small cells. more

What to Expect From SpaceX Starlink Broadband Service Next Year and Beyond

Last May, SpaceX founder Elon Musk tweeted "6 more launches of 60 sats needed for minor coverage, 12 for moderate" and SpaceX President and CEO Gwynne Shotwell recently said they planned to be offering service in parts of the US in mid-2020, which would require six to eight 60-satellite launches. The first of those launches will be in the middle of this month on a thrice-flown Falcon 9 booster. (They will also need customer terminals and Elon Musk has used a prototype to post a tweet from his home). more

Farm Access to Broadband

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has been measuring computer usage on farms and publishes the results every two years in its Farm Computer Usage and Ownership report. The most recently released report for 2019 was compiled by asking questions to 20,000 farmers. This is a large sample from the more than 2 million farms in the country. more

Shame on the Regulators

It's clear that even before the turn of this century that the big telcos largely walked away from maintaining and improving residential service. The evidence for this is the huge numbers of neighborhoods that are stuck with older copper technologies that haven't been upgraded. The telcos made huge profits over the decades in these neighborhoods and ideally should not have been allowed to walk away from their customers. more

News Briefs

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

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

Fiber Infrastructure in China Has Grown Nine Times Faster Than in the U.S. Since 2013

Wi-Fi Alliance Launches Wi-Fi 6 Certification Program

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

Google Announces a New Private Subsea Cable Connecting Africa With Europe

Loon Balloons Restore Internet After a Massive Earthquake Strikes Remote Parts of Peru

Critics Say FCC's New Report Declaring US Broadband Healthier Than Ever is Based on Flawed Data

SpaceX Succeeds in Launching Its First Full Batch of Starlink Internet Satellites

American Households Estimated to Save Over $30 Billion a Year on Broadband With LEO Satellites

World's Growing Refugee Population Requires Access to Broadband to Mitigate Problems, Says Report

Trump Administration Announces Its Big 5G Push: Largest-Ever Spectrum Auction and a 20.4B Fund

US House of Representatives Pass a Bill to Restore Net Neutrality Rules Repealed by Trump's FCC

Close to Half of America Not Using the Internet at Broadband Speeds, Says Microsoft

Article Expresses Concern That Google and Other Tech Giants are Quietly Buying Up Undersea Cables

Amazon Joins the Race to Offer Broadband Access from Orbit, Uncovered Filings Show

Facebook Enters Wholesale Fiber Business, Plans to Sell Unused Capacity on New Fiber Routes

High-Speed Fibre Makes Up One-Quarter of Fixed Broadband Internet Connections in OECD Countries

Microsoft’s New Study Reports Over 162 Million in US Lack Broadband, FCC Says Only 24.7 Million

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