May 6, 2021—The United States Air Force is tapping OneWeb for artic broadband coverage provided by the company’s low earth orbit satellites.
OneWeb has had a tumultuous past. After only deploying ten percent of its satellite network in March of 2020, the company filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and things looked bleak for the young company. But in April of 2021, in an apparent vote of confidence in OneWeb, Eutelsat purchased nearly a quarter of the satellite company’s shares.
Only one week later, it was announced that the Air Force would contract with OneWeb to provide broadband to the U.S. Air Force Lab Research Facility in the Arctic via OneWeb’s LEO constellation.
OneWeb is not the first telecommunications company focusing on satellite technology to contract with the military. In October 2020, Elon Musk’s SpaceX was awarded nearly $150 million to build satellites that could track missiles for the Space Development Agency; according to a Space News report, the technology for the satellite in question was based off of SpaceX’s Starlink satellite constellation—the same technology that Musk has touted as an answer to affordable broadband.
News of the Air Force/OneWeb deal came within hours of SpaceX announcing that the company had receive more than 500,000 preorders for its Starlink product and service.
Only 14 percent of Americans are in favor of banning municipal broadband
In a recent poll by Morning Consult, only 14 percent of those surveyed believed that local governments should be forbidden from providing a municipal broadband option to consumers.
The data also revealed that 19 percent of Republicans were opposed to municipal broadband compared to only 13 percent of Democrats. Of all the people who participated in the survey, 53 percent said that local governments should be allowed to provide a local broadband service.
Even though the data would seem to reflect that most Americans are either opposed to legislation that would back municipal broadband or are somewhat apathetic, more than a dozen states still have laws that either restrict or outright ban the practice.
Some states are in the process of removing these restrictions, however. Washington is one such state. Washington State House Bill 1336 was written to remove many of the roadblocks that were designed to restrict municipal broadband; the bill passed the state’s House and Senate and is now just waiting on Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee to sign it to become law.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed a similar bill into law in February 2021 after it passed muster in both the state house and senate.
NC bill would force electric co-ops to pay to make poles ISP-ready
A broadband bill designed to help broadband providers expand service to rural consumers would see electric cooperatives footing the bill on behalf of ISPs.
Republican Sen. Kevin Corbin is the primary sponsor of the bill, which would not only require electric co-ops to allow internet service providers to use their infrastructure but would also require that they pay any “make ready” costs associated with update to their poles to make them ISP-ready.
The bill passed its first reading back in April 2021, but it is currently on sitting in the Committee on Rules and Operations in the senate. Even though the bill is still in the early stages of its development, critics are worried about the consequences it may have if it makes its way to the governor’s office.
Shawn Hunt is the interim president and CEO of Lumbee River Electric Membership Corporation—an electric co-op that operates in North Carolina. In a piece he penned for The Robesonian, Hunt expressed his concern that the race for high-speed internet would raise costs for consumers.
“It is critical that rural broadband expand quickly, efficiently, and fairly,” Hunt said. “We join together to reject efforts by for-profit special interests that would shift costs to North Carolina’s rural consumers.
“Should this bill pass, special interests would receive more funding for their shareholders at the expense of rural consumers and further burden the very people who expanded rural broadband is intended to help,” Hunt continued.
It is likely the bill will undergo at least one more round of readings in the senate. If the readings are successful and the senate approves the bill, it will then undergo a similar process in the house. If it is approved there, it will be sent to the governor’s office where it could be signed into law.
Biden’s Involvement in 5G, Residential 5 Gbps in Northwest, New Technology Advisory Council
The president urged wireless carriers to comply with the aviation industry’s requests for further delays on new network launches.
January 21, 2022 – President Joe Biden says he pushed wireless carriers to accommodate aviation companies’ concerns about the networks’ launch of 5G that occurred Wednesday.
Biden encouraged carriers to give airlines even more time to examine their aviation equipment for possible interference with 5G before the new network updates were launched.
Verizon and AT&T announced Tuesday that they would limit 5G service around some airports, giving in to some of the aviation industry’s concerns.
Both companies had initially planned to launch their network changes on January 5 but further delayed launch at the request of airlines. January 5 was already a delayed launch date, with the companies having earlier planned rollout for 2021.
“What I’ve done is pushed as hard as I can to have the 5G folks hold up and abide by what was being requested by the airlines until they could more modernize over the years, so 5G would not interfere with the potential of a landing” said Biden following the events of Wednesday’s launch.
He says he spoke with Verizon and AT&T on the same day the launch took place.
The president did not mention any government fixes to the conflict, saying it was an argument between “two private enterprises,” despite speculation that following the messy fight the administration may develop a national spectrum strategy or the Federal Communications Commission and National Telecommunications and Information Administration may release updated memoranda on the issues.
Ziply Fiber offers 5 Gigabit per second residential service
Internet service provider Ziply Fiber announced it has begun offering ultra-high-speed 5 Gigabit per second (Gbps) and 2 Gbps residential fiber internet service to customers in several cities across the Northwest.
The expansion in Washington state, Oregon and Idaho makes Ziply Fiber the first company to introduce a 5 Gbps speed for residential services, the company said.
In its announcement Thursday, the company says the expansion will bring service to nearly 170,000 residential customer addresses across 60 cities and towns.
Ziply Fiber began building out fiber in Northwest markets in 2020 and has announced construction of 57 fiber projects since then.
The company plans to introduce its 5 Gbps and 2 Gbps service in Montana later in Q1 of 2022.
FCC sets stage for new TAC membership
The FCC has appointed a new group of members to serve on its Technology Advisory Council and set a February 28 date for its first meeting with the new class.
“The advisory council provides technical expertise to the Commission to identify important areas of innovation and develop informed technology policies,” according to the FCC.
Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel announced the new membership Wednesday with the commission’s press release calling them “a diverse group of leading technology experts.”
Dean Brenner, a former Qualcomm executive, will serve as chairman of the council, Michael Ha, chief of the policy and rules division in the Office of Engineering and Technology, will continue to serve as the designated federal officer and Martin Doczkat, chief of the electromagnetic compatibility division in the OET, is the alternate designated federal officer.
Rosenworcel highlighted that the council will work on advancing 6G research as well as numerous other issues such as examining both supply chain vulnerabilities and global standards development.
USDA Hires Lumen, Ligado Marketing Services, IRS Facial ID, New Public Knowledge Hire
The Department of Agriculture awarded Lumen a $1.2-billion, 11-year contract for data services.
January 20, 2022 – On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a $1.2-billion network services contract with telecom Lumen Technologies.
The 11-year contract will provide the department with data transport service with remote access and cloud connectivity, leveraging Lumen’s fiber network to connect 9,500 USDA locations across the country and abroad to better manage agriculture in the country, the press release said.
“Lumen is bringing modern technology solutions that will make it easier for the USDA to accomplish its mission of promoting the production of nutritious food that nourishes our people, providing economic opportunity to rural Americans, and preserving our nation’s natural resources through smart forest and watershed conservation,” said Zain Ahmed, Lumen’s public sector senior vice president.
The contract was granted under the General Services Administration’s $50-billion Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions program.
Ligado Networks and Select Spectrum to strengthen critical networks
Mobile communications company Ligado Networks and spectrum brokerage and advisory firm Select Spectrum announced an agreement on Tuesday that will market and sell Ligado’s mid-band spectrum services for critical infrastructure.
“We know the critical infrastructure sector has an urgent need for dedicated access to licensed spectrum, and our mid-band spectrum, with both satellite and terrestrial connectivity, is uniquely positioned to meet this need and empower companies to operate private networks on a long-term basis,” said Ligado Networks’ CEO Doug Smith in a press release.
According to the agreement, Select Spectrum will search for those seeking to use Ligado’s licensed spectrum in the 1.6 GHz band in order to provide 5G capabilities to projects like power grid modernization and advanced transportation initiatives.
IRS to require facial recognition for taxes access
According to a Wednesday Gizmodo article, starting this summer online tax filers will have to submit a selfie to a third-party verification company called ID.me in order to make payments or file taxes online. Along with facial identification, users will also have to submit government identification documents and copies of bills to confirm their identity.
ID.me will use the selfie and compare it to the government identification document to verify the user. If the system fails to match the two documents, the user can join a recorded video to provide verification to the user.
Gizmodo’s article claimed that both the IRS and ID.me could not provide a method to access user accounts without providing a face scan. This could be problematic for tax filers that don’t have access to certain technologies.
Public Knowledge hires new senior policy analyst
Non-profit public interest group Public Knowledge announced Tuesday that it has brought on Lisa Macpherson as senior policy analyst.
According to a press release, Macpherson’s “experience driving digital marketing transformation on behalf of brands led to concerns over the broader impacts of digital technology on individual well-being, civil society, journalism, and democracy.”
National Privacy Law, Digital Infrastructure Firm’s $8B Raise, Wicker Wants Spectrum Cooperation
Business groups are asking Congress to supersede state laws by passing privacy legislation that sets a national standard.
January 19, 2022 – As states begin to pass their own privacy laws, business groups are asking the federal government to pass legislation that would mitigate confusion by creating a national standard, reports MediaPost Communications.
The Association of National Advertisers, Interactive Advertising Bureau, and the U.S. Chamber of Congress are just a few of the business groups that are asking for a national privacy law.
“As the Federal Trade Commission considers a privacy rulemaking that would add a further layer of complexity to the state patchwork, it is critical that Congress pass one single national standard”, the groups stated in a letter that was signed by 15 national organizations and then by local business groups from across the country, the MediaPost report said.
California, Virginia, and Colorado are just a few of the states that have passed their own version of a privacy law, and while they all serve a similar purpose, they have various nuances that the business groups said they believe will be difficult to navigate for their businesses and for consumers across state lines, MediaPost reports.
In addition, there are members of Congress who are also asking for a national plan for consumer privacy.
Digital infrastructure firm DigitalBridge raises over $8 billion
DigitalBridge Investment Management, an investment firm in digital infrastructure, raised a higher-than-expected $8.3 billion, according to a Wednesday press release, illustrating interest in projects including fiber builds.
“The Fund has already invested in nine portfolio companies across towers, easements, hyperscale data centers, edge infrastructure, indoor DAS infrastructure and fiber, running reliable, mission-critical network infrastructure for many of the world’s leading hyperscale cloud providers and mobile network operators,” the release said.
The round comes as the federal government pushing billions of dollars into infrastructure, including broadband and as the pandemic has shown a need for remote capabilities driven by broadband.
Republican lawmaker calls for NTIA-FCC cooperation on spectrum
Senator Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi, sent a letter earlier this month to the head of the Federal Communications Commission and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration asking them to consider a renewed agreement to work together on spectrum management.
The January 13 letter to FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel and new NTIA head Alan Davidson said their “relationship can be strengthened” on matters related to the shared use of radiowaves between federal and non-federal users by refreshing the memorandum of understanding that was last updated in 2003.
“In light of recent disputes over spectrum allocations, it is more important than ever that the [FCC and NTIA] work together to promote spectrum policy that best serves the dual goals of furthering commercial innovation and enabling the mission-critical operations of federal agencies,” the letter said.
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