FCC’s Starks on Speeds, Starlink’s Heat Problems, Louisiana Awaits $180M Broadband Signing

Geoffrey Starks says speeds are outdated, Starlink users complain of heat-impacted services, Louisiana waiting on $180 million for broadband.

FCC’s Starks on Speeds, Starlink’s Heat Problems, Louisiana Awaits $180M Broadband Signing
FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks

June 22, 2021–Federal Communications Commissioner Geoffrey Starks said Monday that the current broadband speed definition of 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload is “outdated.”

“Many of the latest applications—especially those that rely on simultaneous two-way communications—need more than 25/3,” Starks said Monday at the Ericsson Broadband For All conference.

“Households clearly need more download speed, and critically, uploads have become more and more important. That became especially clear for the many of us working at home with children simultaneously taking classes online. And we know higher bandwidth applications like [augmented reality] and [virtual reality] are coming.

“For many of today’s needs and the needs we anticipate in the near future, 25/3 just won’t cut it,” he added.

Starks’ comments come as debate rages about what to do about the definition of high-speed internet. Congress is looking at bills that aim to update the definition and bring the minimum upload speed to 25 Mbps from 3 Mbps. It also hopes to create new tiers of service, including a low tier sitting between 25/25 and 100/100 and medium tier between 100/100 and gigabit symmetrical speeds.

It appears SpaceX’s Starlink broadband satellites are having trouble dealing with a heat wave that have been sweeping the western United States over the past few weeks, according to a user on Reddit.

Many concerns have been raised across the internet about Starlink’s capabilities in times of storms or extreme temperatures, as internet services have experienced intermittent outages, the users report.

Starlink engineers responded in a Reddit AMA that the dish is certified to operate from 22° below zero up to 104°F. This is leaving a lot of users of the satellite broadband service without broadband connectivity for hours while the sun is out.

Louisiana’s $180 million investment in rural broadband awaiting governor approval

Legislation called Broadband For Everyone has passed the Louisiana state legislation earlier this month and is awaiting signing by Governor John Bel Edwards in the coming days.

The state plans to invest $180 million in grants to telecommunications providers to construct broadband infrastructure to underserved communities over the next three years.

To bring high-speed internet to every household in Louisiana, around $1.1 billion will ultimately need to be invested, according to Veneeth Iyengar, who will run the new grant program as head of Edwards’ Office of Broadband Development and Connectivity.

With $180 million, up to 145,000 households could become connected to high-speed internet, Iyengar said. The grant program will run at an “accelerated pace,” he added, distributing up to $90 million in grants by January.

The program will subsidize projects using dollars from the American Rescue Plan passed by Congressional Democrats in March. Also, a trillion-dollar infrastructure package pending in Washington, it will likely serve as a vehicle to distribute even more grants in the future.

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