Starlink Launch, C-band on Speeds, HTH-AirVoice Merger To Expand Lifeline, Affordable Connectivity Program

Starlink plans to launch nearly 50 low-earth orbit satellites on Monday.

Starlink Launch, C-band on Speeds, HTH-AirVoice Merger To Expand Lifeline, Affordable Connectivity Program
Elon Musk, serial entrepreneur, at TED2013: The Young, The Wise, The Undiscovered. Wednesday, February 27, 2013, Long Beach, CA. Photo: James Duncan Davidson

January 31, 2022 – SpaceX’s broadband satellite subsidiary Starlink announced Sunday that it will launch 49 new low-earth orbit satellites on Monday.

The launch, which was initially delayed, will add to its more than 1,700 low flying satellites currently in orbit, which the company intends to improve connectivity in rural and remote communities in the United States and beyond.

The launch comes as Starlink’s connectivity promises come under scrutiny over concerns about the company’s capacity to deliver long-term, high-quality service that complies with the recently-passed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Public telecommunications policy leaders also have plans for the same 12 Gigahertz band of spectrum SpaceX wants to use to expand its services. They argue that the 12 GHz band, traditionally used by satellite companies, should be shared with 5G operators to deliver internet to lower-income communities.

SpaceX has also come under fire from China, which urged the U.S. to “act responsibly” last month after near-collisions between SpaceX satellites and Chinese satellites.

C-band spectrum may boost 5G speeds and coverage

Mid-band spectrum may boost 5G speeds and coverage, says a new report released Monday.

Speed test company Ookla said the C-band’s deployment increased mobile 5G download speeds in the United States by 13 percent since its launch on January 19.

Their research showed an increase in operators’ combined download speeds after the C-band rollout, with Verizon wireless getting the best performance since the deployment. Verizon won the most licenses in the February 2021 C-band auction.

“If Verizon continues to capitalize on their C-band rollout and add additional deployments, we could well see an upset in the U.S. market rankings,” Ookla said in its press statement.

Earlier this month, Verizon and AT&T were forced to delay the rollout of the C-band spectrum around airports due to interference issues raised by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Each month, Ookla collects data from Speedtest users to report the internet speed at their location, and the data from those tests are used to generate their quarterly reports.

Although T-mobile did not deploy its C-band technology in the same week as Verizon or AT&T, the company’s internet speeds have steadily increased. Ookla reported earlier this month that T-Mobile’s 5G speeds have increased in the fourth quarter 2021, rising from 135.27 Mbps to 187.12 Mbps since C-band deployment.

HTH Communications merger to expand Lifeline, Affordable Connectivity Program

HTH Communications has acquired AirVoice Wireless, enabling HTH to offer Lifeline and Affordable Connectivity service to customers in all 50 states under three brands: Cintex Wireless, NewPhone Wireless and AirVoice Wireless.

“AirVoice Wireless was an important acquisition for us in terms of achieving scale in our business,” said Henry Do, CEO of HTH Communications.  “This acquisition combined with the investments we’ve made in our infrastructure mean that its now even easier for qualified consumers to receive the services they need in order to stay in touch with family, employers, healthcare and schools.”

The acquisition will expand services such as the Affordable Connectivity Program, which offers discounts for lower-income Americans to receive internet devices and connected devices.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act transformed the Emergency Broadband Benefit to the longer-term ACP Program by allocating an additional $14.2 billion to it.

The ACP will provide eligible households with discounts of up to $30 a month for broadband service, and up to $75 a month if the household is on Tribal lands. The program will provide a one-time discount of up to $100 on a computer or tablet for eligible households.