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LEO Satellite Technology Should Be in All Libraries, Gigabit Libraries Network Says

Satellites, at the very least, can act as backup connections, webinar heard.



Don Means from the Gigabit Libraries Network

October 21, 2021 – Low earth orbit satellites, which are expected to help connect a portion of people who live in remote regions of the country, should be available to all libraries – even if it’s just for redundancy, the director of Gigabit Libraries Network said Thursday.

Don Means, the director of the organization that has a deal with SpaceX’s Starlink beta service to connect a “handful” of libraries, said the technology can be used as backup in the event of a disaster.

“We think this should be in every library, even if it’s a place that has a connection – this would be very valuable as a backup because consider any kind of lights out scenario in a community,” Means said. “With this system, it bypasses the local infrastructure, and if you have a power source and you have a [satellite] dish, you’re connected.”

Earlier this month, Means said libraries will need various ways to stay connected and provide access to public Wi-Fi. While the “cheapest, most equitable, most economical way to connect every community with next generation broadband is to run fiber to all of the 17,000 libraries,” Means said previously, other solutions will need to be considered where geography doesn’t allow for a direct fiber connection.

The LEO constellation is unique compared to other kinds of satellites because it hovers closer to earth, theoretically meaning it provides better connectivity and lower latency, or the time it takes for the devices to communicate with the network.

The House is waiting to vote on an infrastructure bill that will pour billions into broadband. People have debated what kinds of technology the money should go toward, with some arguing for hard wiring and others saying wireless technologies have a space at the table.

Despite having a deal with Starlink, Means said he encourages LEO satellite technology in general and not just Starlink in particular.

“We’re not advocates or agents for Starlink,” Means said, “it’s just they’re the first ones out there with this technology. There are others coming…this is a new thing, a burgeoning thing.”

Starlink said this summer it had shipped 100,000 terminals to customers.

Managing Editor Ahmad Hathout has spent the last half-decade reporting on the Canadian telecommunications and media industries for leading publications. He started the scoop-driven news site to make Canadian telecom news more accessible and digestible. Follow him on Twitter @ackmet.


DISH Agrees to First FCC Enforcement Action Over Space Debris

DISH did not adhere to its plan for disposing of a satellite, the commission said.



Photo of Loyaan Egal, head of the FCC's Enforcement Bureau.

WASHINGTON, October 3, 2023 – DISH Network has agreed Monday to settle with the Federal Communications Commission over the carrier’s failing to properly dispose of a satellite.

As part of the settlement – the first space debris enforcement action from the commission – DISH agreed to pay a $150,000 fine and adhere to a compliance plan.

When the company’s EchoStar-7 satellite reached the end of its life, the order read, DISH moved it 122 kilometers above its normal position into a disposal orbit – an orbit designated for old and unused equipment that sits far away from currently operating satellites and communication equipment.

But DISH had agreed as part of its operating license to put the satellite almost 180 km further into space by May 2022.

The company was unable to fully move the satellite because it ran out of fuel in February of that year. But the failure to comply with its FCC license still constituted a violation of the Communications Act of 1934, the agency said in a statement, and the dead satellite “could pose orbital debris concerns.”

The first-of-its-kind fine comes as the FCC is looking to expand its regulatory presence in space and crack down on debris orbiting the planet. The commission established its Space Bureau this year and adopted a rule in September 2022 shortening the window for companies to dispose of satellites after they complete their missions.

The commission also voted in September 2023 to streamline satellite application processing.

“As satellite operations become more prevalent and the space economy accelerates, we must be certain that operators comply with their commitments,” FCC Enforcement Bureau chief  Loyaan Egal said.

FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in September the commission is working on new regulatory frameworks to support satellite-to-smartphone communications.

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Satellites Essential to Bridging Global Digital Divide, Says Provider

Satellites can bring broadband to communities that terrestrial networks can’t reach.



Photo of Michele Di Paolo, director of business development and product lifecycle management at SpaceBridge.

WASHINGTON, August 31, 2023 – Satellites are essential to bridging the global digital divide and connecting unserved regions and countries, an expert said on Thursday.

Satellites can be used to bring responsive broadband connections to nations without widely available internet access, an element of the United Nations’ plan to eliminate poverty, said Michele Di Paolo, director of business development and product lifecycle management at satellite provider SpaceBridge.

“It’s something that can’t be overstated,” he said at an event hosted by Via Satellite magazine. “It’s a very important part of satellite’s benefits.”

These connections allow communities to access banking, healthcare, and education services that would otherwise never have been available in their areas, Di Paulo said.

He pointed to villages he worked with in Kenya and Nigeria that were too far from city centers to access their ground-based networks. Healthcare centers struggled to run applications properly on outdated 2G connections, he said.

New satellites enabled them to access broadband connections and function normally, as well as add residents to national registries and arrange consultations with specialists for people who need advanced treatment.

Satellites are also being used to connect the most remote regions of Canada. Subsidized by Canadian broadband expansion initiatives, satellites provide the country’s sparsely populated Nunavut territory with connections in excess of 15 Gbps, according to Di Paulo.

“This is really bridging the divide between the urbans and the ultra-rurals,” Di Paulo said. “It’s going to be a game-changer for them.

In March, the Federal Communications Commission proposed a framework for allowing satellite operators to collaborate with terrestrial networks to supplement mobile broadband connections.

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Amazon Spars With AT&T and Verizon at FCC Over Project Kuiper Spectrum

In the battle over frequencies for low-earth orbit satellites, Amazon pointed to successful geostationary satellite orbit usage.



Photo from Amazon

WASHINGTON, July 27, 2023 – Amazon’s Kuiper subsidiary has told the Federal Communications Commission this month that its non-geostationary low earth orbit satellites can co-exist with geostationary satellites in the 17 GHz band, contrary to what AT&T and Verizon have said. 

AT&T and Verizon asked the commission in January to delay a non-geostationary orbit allocation in the upper 17 GHz band until the commission receives “technical studies and data …show[ing] that current and future NGSO, and [fixed satellite service] operations can coexist at 17.7-17.8.”

Amazon said in a letter filed with the commission on July 20 that the telecoms’ concerns are limited to the upper 100 MHz of the 17 GHz band currently allocated to fixed satellite systems, adding both NGSO and GSO orbit FSS systems already share the significantly more utilized 17.8-18.3 GHz frequency band with FS links domestically. 

It added that this was due to power restrictions in the 17.8-18.3 GHz frequency band, which Amazon has argued in previous meetings with the FCC should also apply in the 17.7-17.8 GHz band, where interference levels will be nearly identical.

Amazon also said the 17.7-17.8 GHz band will experience less interference compared to the 17.8-18.3 GHz band because the former is less utilized by FS systems, resulting in fewer instances of co-channel and co-located usage between NGSO and GSO systems.

“Both the conservatism of Amazon’s model and its outputs demonstrate that there is little likelihood of significant interference—both now and in the future, as NGSO FSS systems expand their terrestrial networks and new operators deploy,” Amazon told the commission after conducting tests. 

Kuiper will produce LEOs that are constantly moving across the sky, as opposed to the stationary geostationary satellites. 

Amazon has said in previous filings that the 17 GHz band would help bridge the digital divide, promote efficient use of spectrum, encourage competition, and harmonize U.S. rules with international allocations.

The letter came before Kuiper announced on Friday that it was investing $120 million in the construction of a new satellite processing facility at Space Florida’s Launch and Landing Facility at Kennedy Space Center. 

The facility is the latest long-term investment in Project Kuiper, a low Earth orbit satellite network that will provide fast, affordable broadband to unserved and underserved communities around the world according to a statement by Amazon. 

Kuiper seek to provide broadband access at the speeds of 100Mbps, 400Mbps and 1Gbps according to their website.

“We have an ambitious plan to begin Project Kuiper’s full-scale production launches and early customer pilots next year, and this new facility will play a critical role in helping us deliver on that timeline,” said Steve Metayer, vice president of Kuiper production operations.

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