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Starlink Likes FCC Direction on 12 GHz, Verizon & Comcast Urge ACP Funding, FCC Head on ACP Tour

The sharing of the 12 GHz band between satellite and mobile services has been the subject of contention for years.



Photo of Elon Musk in 2019
Photo of SpaceX CEO Elon Musk

May 10, 2023 – Starlink, SpaceX’s satellite broadband service provider, said in a letter to the FCC Monday that it “appreciates” a proposal to be voted on by the commission later this month to reject the use of high-powered mobile operations in the lower 12.2 to 12.7 GHz band.

The band in question is used by satellite services, including Starlink, to provide broadband thousands of Americans. The company has raised the alarm for years about potential interference issues if the commission opens the band to mobile use.

“In addition to multiple studies validating that proposed high-powered services in the band would harm those that depend on these [satellite] services across the country, nearly one hundred thousand actual consumers weighed in asking that the Commission not allow them to be harmed,” Starlink said in its letter, which came after a meeting with FCC officials.

But RS Access, which also met with commission officials on May 5, said in a letter to the FCC Tuesday that the band is compatible with both mobile and satellite operations. It said it would like for the FCC to “tentatively conclude” that high-power fixed operations are compatible with other “co-primary operations.”

“The parties discussed the extensive technical analyses in the record, which establish that terrestrial, high-power transmission can provide important services while protecting other operations, including satellite-based operations, in the band,” the RS Access letter said, adding it would like the commission to further explore the possibility of mobile services in the lower 12 GHz band.

Research commissioned by RS Access nearly two years ago – and that was rejected by Starlink – was said to show compatibility of the two services in the band.

The FCC will vote at its May 18 open meeting on a proposed rulemaking that would open up the mid-band spectrum between 12.7 GHz and 13.25 GHz to mobile services.

Verizon and Comcast encourage funding extension for Affordable Connectivity Program

Verizon and Comcast are urging Congress to extend more funding to the Affordable Connectivity Program.

Kathy Grillo, the telecom’s senior vice president and deputy general counsel of public policy and government affairs, warned in a blog post Tuesday that the $14 billion for the subsidy program could run out “as soon as the first quarter” of 2024.

“We believe Congress needs to develop a plan to keep the ACP program funded while also developing long-term reforms to current broadband subsidy programs to ensure they operate efficiently, avoid duplication, and target funding to those who need it most,” she said in the post. Verizon is an ACP participant.

In a blog post on Wednesday, Comcast’s Broderick Johnson, executive vice president of public policy, said “we can’t ignore the looming ACP funding cliff. The program’s funding will run out, fast. In some ways it’s a problem that is created by success – with more households signing up, the funding will run out sooner. Currently, it’s expected that the ACP will lose funding in the first half of 2024.

“It’s time for a bipartisan Congress and the administration to once again act and solve the affordability question once and for all, before it’s too late,” Johnson added.

Jonathan Spalter, the head of the broadband industry association USTelecom, similarly said the fund could run out of money by next year. The association and the National Digital Inclusion Alliance have urged Congress to make permanent the program which replaced the Emergency Broadband Benefit.

The program provides a monthly subsidy of up to $30 and $75 for those on tribal lands, with a one-time $100 discount on devices. Currently, more than 17 million Americans are signed up, but many more are eligible, according to the Federal Communications Commission.

The commission has been working to get as many qualified people as possible on the program, principally through its four outreach programs it announced last year.

Rosenworcel continues ACP tour

FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel was in Phoenix, Arizona, Tuesday to promote the ACP.

According to a media advisory, Rosenworcel partnered with Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego on a visit to the Phoenix Public Library’s Burton Barr Central branch.

Phoenix is the recipient of $700,000 in ACP outreach funds, and the visit was intended to underscore the city’s approve to “innovative local enrollment and awareness raising efforts to help close the digital divide,” according to the advisory.

The city is working with the Phoenix Revitalization Corporation to help with the outreach effort.

“This critical link will help Phoenicians access additional opportunities, from remote work options to education,” Gallego said during the event. “I am excited to welcome Chairwoman Rosenworcel to Phoenix to help spread the word to those who might need assistance getting online.”

The FCC has committed to training community partners on the ground to help get people signed up for the program.

Rosenworcel was in Boston last month to promote the program. The Massachusetts city was the recipient of funds from the outreach programs.


Broadband Roundup

Supply Chain Improvements, Bill for Broadband in Public Parks, FCC Grants Alert System Compliance Extension

The Biden administration announced Wednesday a list of new measures to promote supply chain resiliency.



Photo of Congressman Raúl Grijalva, taken by Gage Skidmore 2018. 

November 30, 2023 – President Joe Biden announced at an inaugural meeting Wednesday new measures to improve national supply chain resilience, many of which are targeted at bettering semiconductor manufacturing. 

These new measures will see the development of a geospatial mapping protocol that will be used to account for and track trade disruptions of raw materials, with a special focus on ones that are involved in semiconductor manufacturing.

Additionally, the US plans to develop a resilience center to assess risks and supply chain vulnerabilities specifically inside national ports alongside looking at how to better implement CHIPS and Science funding.

In July of 2022, the Biden administration signed into law the CHIPS and Science Act, which was broadly supported by lawmakers, putting $52 billion into semiconductor research and development and a 25 percent investment tax credit to promote manufacturing. 

More recently, Biden has announced tech innovation hubs supported by CHIPS Act funds, four of which will focus directly on improving semiconductor production and manufacturing. 

Legislation put forth to expand broadband to public parks 

Congressman Bruce Westerman, R-Arkansas, and Congressman Raúl Grijalva, D-Arizona, introduced legislation Wednesday that would bring broadband connectivity to public parks and lakes. 

The Expanding Public Lands Outdoor Recreation Experiences Act would include increasing broadband connectivity in those visitor centers and surrounding areas as well as create digital passes for visitors to use when going to those parks. 

“The increasing popularity of outdoor recreation is a boon for local economies and job creation, but we must make sure our public land management agencies have the tools, resources, and staff they need to keep up,” said Grijalva. 

The broader legislation looks to improve access to public lands and waters, modernize visitor experiences and reduce overcrowding. 

FCC granted emergency alert development extensions to broadcasters

The Federal Communications Commission granted extensions to certain national broadcasters Wednesday, allowing them more time to acquire equipment needed to comply with national emergency alert system requirements. 

There are two ways that broadcasters can transmit emergency messages, either to devices connected to the internet using what is called the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System or over audio channels, which is referred to as the legacy emergency alert broadcast system. 

Historically, messages sent via IPAWS transmit more information to the recipient than ones that are formatted for being transmitted via the legacy system. Because of that, in 2022 the FCC required emergency broadcasters to alert constituents via the IPAWS unless they were unable to. 

Broadcasters were required to comply with this by December 12 of this year. However the National Association of Broadcasters and REC Networks, a broadcast advocacy group, filed a joint request for a 90-day compliance extension.

They explained that Sage Alerting Systems, a manufacturer of firmware needed to encode and decode emergency messages, is not able to meet supply demands for broadcasters to update equipment by the December 12 deadline. 

As a result, the FCC waived the deadline and granted a 90-day extension to emergency broadcast participants who are customers of Sage Alerting Systems. 

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Broadband Roundup

FCC Fines TracFone, Rip and Replace Extensions, Kansas State Internet Exchange Point

The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau has entered into a settlement with TracFone for subsidy program violations.



Photo of Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly taken by K-State Research and Extension, 2023.

November 29, 2023 – The Federal Communications Commission announced Wednesday that the Enforcement Bureau and TracFone Wireless, a Verizon Subsidiary, have reached a $23.5 million settlement for TracFone’s violation of broadband subsidy program rules

After TracFone was acquired by Verizon, the company self-reported instances in which it violated the FCC’s regulatory rules for the Lifeline and Emergency Broadband Benefit programs, according to the agency  

During an investigation into TracFone, the agency found that the company reported improperly claiming support for customers jointly-enrolled in subsidy programs and improperly using inbound text messages to make claims for customers who had not been using those services for at least 30 days, according to a press release.

According to the FCC, TracFone also conceded that some of their field enrollment representatives used false tax documents to enroll customers in the lifeline and EEB programs.

“Whether attributable to fraud or lax internal controls, or both, we will vigorously pursue allegations of misconduct that harms critical FCC programs designed to help those most in need of communications-related services,” said Enforcement Bureau Chief Loyaan A. Egal.

As part of the settlement, TracFone has entered into an improvement plan agreement with the Enforcement Bureau.

Wireline Bureau grants more rip and replace extensions 

The FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau announced in an order Wednesday that it has granted rip and replace extensions to Montana providers Triangle Telephone Cooperative Association Inc. and Triangle Communication System Inc.

The rip and replace program requires service providers to remove and replace any equipment they use that was manufactured by Huawei Technologies Company or ZTE Corporation that were installed prior to June 30, 2020, because of security concerns. 

Triangle Telephone filed for an extension on October 18 and on November 10th, requesting an extension to replace the equipment by Map 29, 2024 as opposed to their original deadline of November 29 of this year.

Triangle Communications filed their request for extension on October 18 and November 16 of this year requesting for additional time up until July 13, 2024, as opposed to January 13, 2024. 

Both petitioners cited supply chain disruptions and delayed equipment delivery as factors preventing them from replacing existing equipment alongside poor weather conditions and a decreasing number of employees. 

Both providers were granted the extensions they had requested. 

Additional funding from Congress has been requested by president Joe Biden to finance the rip and replace program, as a report published by the Federal Communications Commission in July of 2022 noted that the program’s initial $1.9 billion would not be enough to support providers. 

In October of this year the FCC’s Wireline Bureau issued extensions to two other providers who cited that they were unable to completely replace the equipment due to lack of funding. 

Kansas awards $5 million to internet exchange point 

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly on Wednesday announced that the state had awarded $5 million to help fund the construction of the first carrier-neutral internet exchange point at Wichita State University.

The construction of this carrier-neutral internet exchange point will allow for the operation of cloud services and streaming content networks to operate more efficiently alongside local and regional internet networks, explained a press release. 

The endeavor will be undertaken by Connected Nation, a Kentucky non-profit, and Hunter Newby, founder of Newby Ventures investment firm, working with them to build and operate the internet exchange facility. 

Tom Ferree, CEO of Connected Nation, said that the exchange point will support Wichita State and the economy well “by improving the entire regional broadband landscape — preparing Wichita, and Kansas more broadly, for the future evolution of the Internet and all that it will enable.”

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Broadband Roundup

NTIA Awards $13 Million from Wireless Fund, New Ritter CTO, Middle Mile in Virginia and North Carolina

The NTIA has awarded $13 million to open network projects.



Photo of Victor Esposito from Ritter Communications.

November 28, 2023 – The National Telecommunications and Information Administration announced Tuesday that it is committing $13 million in grant funding from the $1.5 billion Public Wireless Supply Chain Innovation Fund. 

“The transition to open, interoperable wireless networks is now well on its way — bringing with it greater security, competition, and resiliency,” said NTIA Alan Davidson in a press release announcing the funding, adding the fund will accelerate the transition toward open and interoperable wireless by financially backing research and development. 

The seven projects that will be awarded funding are expected to improve the networks’ security, energy efficiency, and allow them to leverage AI to automate the network testing process. 

The fund is supported by the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, which aims to invest in domestic manufacturing to improve national supply chain resiliency. 

Ritter Communications new CTO

Telecom service provider Ritter Communications announced Monday that Victor Esposito will serve as the company’s chief technology officer, after having served as its vice president of engineering and network operations. 

In his new role, Esposito will lead all of Ritter’s technology-related teams, read a press release. 

“[Victor] has the leadership, skills and drive to keep us and our customers on the cutting edge of innovation as well as maintaining the company’s steep growth trajectory,” said Ritter Communications president Heath Simpson. 

Esposito joined Ritter Communications in April of this year and will succeed Greg Sunderwood, who served as CTO position for 11 years.

Middle mile to be built in Virginia and North Carolina 

Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative announced Tuesday that it is partnering with Ciena, a networking systems service provider, to help install middle mile infrastructure to serve more than 31,000 customers in Virginia and North Carolina.  

MEC currently services 4,511 square miles in those respective states with its electric distribution system and is partnering with Ciena to deliver low-latency connectivity and aggregate operation technology to better broadband, explained a press release. 

“During our network deployment, we will pass tens of thousands of homes, businesses, and organizations, and we found it unthinkable to miss the opportunity to extend this fiber resource to our communities,” said Dwayne Long, vice president of information technology at MEC. 

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