Map Challenge Concerns, Satellite Players Ask for Spectrum, Multi-Gig in Huber Heights

The CRS report references a Broadband Breakfast Live Online event held in October.

Map Challenge Concerns, Satellite Players Ask for Spectrum, Multi-Gig in Huber Heights
Screenshot of Adam Carpenter at the Broadband Breakfast Live Online event on October 26, 2022

December 29, 2022 – A new report released Tuesday by the Congressional Research Service highlights barriers that may prevent the Federal Communications Commission’s national broadband map from being adequately corrected before its data is used to calculate grants from the $42.5 billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment program.

The report raises concerns that some state broadband offices lack the resources to participate fully in the challenge process, which the FCC instituted to correct errors in its preliminary map released in November. Although the FCC will accept challenges on an ongoing basis, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which administers BEAD for distribution in the first half of next year, has said challenges should be submitted by January 13 to be considered for that funding.

“For example, according to a local news article, New Mexico State Broadband Director Kelly Schlegel stated, ‘the broadband division has found a number of errors in the FCC map of New Mexico detailing broadband access,’ and ‘the division, right now, probably doesn’t have enough staff to fix it by the program’s mid-January [2023] target date,’ which ‘could cause New Mexico to miss out on hundreds of millions of dollars,’” the report says. CRS further suggests that some service providers could bring legal action to dispute the FCC’s adjudication of challenges.

Alan Davidson, head of the NTIA, recently expressed concern about the challenge due date, saying it made him feel “incredibly uncomfortable.”

The report references a Broadband Breakfast Live Online event held in October, at which Adam Carpenter, chief data officer of the State of Montana, said his state is barred from submitting location challenges by contracts with its mapping vendor, LightBox (which sponsors Broadband Breakfast). If Montana submitted LightBox’s mapping data in a challenge, Carpenter explained, that data could then, per FCC licensing agreements, be accessed for commercial use by CostQuest Associates, the FCC’s mapping vendor and a LightBox competitor. James Stegeman, President and CEO of CostQuest, said on a panel at another Broadband Breakfast event that this conflict “is a concern.”

Satellite broadband players push FCC for access to the 17 GHz band

Touting the benefits of satellite broadband, Starlink parent company SpaceX and Amazon subsidiary Project Kuiper on Tuesday urged the FCC to allow non-geostationary satellite orbit systems access to the 17 GigaHertz band.

The companies submitted separate comments on FCC proceedings that would open the 17.3–17.8 GHz band to non-geostationary orbit “space-to-earth” operations. Both argued that increased spectrum access would boost the burgeoning satellite broadband industry, which, they say, now suffers from a spectrum shortage.

“A downlink allocation in the 17 GHz band for next-generation satellite systems would benefit American consumers and businesses everywhere, including those American living and working in underserved and unserved areas, by providing critical spectrum resources to meet the growing demand for high-capacity, low-latency broadband,” SpaceX wrote.

About 5,000 satellite have been launched into orbit in the last two years, Kuiper stated. “Amazon plans to launch the first of its Kuiper System satellites for testing and demonstration purposes early next year,” the company added.

Multi-gig fiber access for Huber Heights

Fiber provider Metronet announced Wednesday citizens of Huber Heights, Ohio, can now access multi-gigabit, symmetrical speeds.

Metronet offers symmetrical residential speeds of up to two Gigabits per second (Gbps) and symmetrical businesses speeds of up to 10 Gpbs, where previously it offered 1 Gbps service, according to a press release. The company and its affiliates operate in more than 250 communities across 16 states.

“With multi-gigabit speeds now available to residents and businesses throughout Huber Heights, our customers now have the opportunity to experience the fastest speeds available, improving the way they live online,” said John Autry, Metronet’s regional sales manager. “We are proud to continue providing Huber Heights with accelerated, reliable multi-gigabit service that is sure to make a positive impact on for residents and businesses alike.”

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