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Broadband access Broadband Technology Digital Divide

The Challenges Facing Satellite-Based Internet

We have reported elsewhere on the challenges that satellite-based internet developers are facing as they seek to enter the the broadband market in a meaningful way (see “The New Outlook for Satellite-Based Internet,” January 28, 2020). In his article for Wired, “SpaceX is Banking on Satellite Internet. Maybe It Shouldn’t” (May 15 and 23, 2019), Daniel Oberhaus observes that the economics that prospective projects–such as Elon Musk’s Starlink and Amazon’s Project Kuiper, among others–will face are daunting at best, and possibly even prohibitive. In addition to competition from other satellite-based internet providers, Oberhaus notes, Musk’s Starlink will face a host of technological challenges stemming from low-earth broadband satellite constellations, stiff competition from more affordable land-based providers, and a potential rival in the global implementation of 5G networks within the next 5-10 years. To learn more about these and other challenges to satellite-based internet, visit Wired.

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Broadband access Broadband Technology Digital Divide Education Federal Efforts

How the Covid-19 Pandemic Will Change Our Understanding of National Security and Underscore the Need for High-Speed Broadband Expansion

In a recent article, CNN National Security Analyst Peter Bergen and Arizona State University Professor Daniel Rothenberg explore how the pandemic is rapidly becoming a “hinge event,” very much like the Great Depression or 9/11, “reshaping the world, politically, socially and economically and … revealing major structural weaknesses in American society and undermining already fraying trust in the capacity of the US government to respond effectively to core security challenges.” Covid-19 will force us to rethink our concepts of national security and to reassess what is important to our families, our communities, and our nation. Among the changes that Bergen and Rothenberg see on the horizon are increased use of telemedicine; the expansion of remote work; the redefinition of higher education and growth on online instruction; and a profound need for affordable and equitably distributed high-speed broadband. To learn more, visit CNN: Opinion.

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Broadband Technology Federal Efforts

Community Networks Broadband Bits Podcast: “Why Wi-Fi is Polite and Where It’s Going Next” (Episode 410)

In this podcast, Heather “Mo” Williams, Manager of Solutions Engineering at Ruckus Networks, discusses the history and fundamentals of Wi-Fi, as well as our overly optimistic hopes for 5G technology and the FCC’s wireless policies. To hear this podcast, visit the Community Networks Broadband Bits Podcast.

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Broadband access Broadband Technology Digital Divide Rural

Fiber or 5G: How Best to Serve Hard-to-Reach Communities?

The high cost of laying fiber the “last mile” to the home has left many communities without adequate, or any, connection to the internet. This problem has been made even more visible during the COVID-19 pandemic, as families in rural and under-served areas struggled to support their children’s online learning needs or to address their remote work demands. A recent Wall Street Journal article, “A Partisan Debate Emerges Over Internet Dead Zones,” explores the promise, and limits, of 5G technology to meet our growing connectivity requirements, particularly for that last mile. To learn more, visit the Wall Street Journal.

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Broadband access Broadband Technology

Addressing the High Cost of Broadband Expansion through Microtrenching

One of the major obstacles communities face in building out or expanding broadband infrastructure in their areas is the high cost of laying fiber. A relatively new construction approach to address this barrier to digital service is mircrotrenching, digging a narrower and shallower trench to accommodate conduit and fiber-optic cable. CCG, a telecommunications consultancy in business since 1997, offers a concise introduction to this practice in “The Pros and Cons of Microtrenching,” first published in 2017. To learn more about microtrenching, visit the CCG Consulting blog.

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Broadband access Broadband Technology

Will 5G Deliver on Its Promises?

In the popular imagination, 5G (or fifth generation) network technology promises higher digital speeds, transformative transmission capacity, expanded access, and a host of amazing new applications and services for consumers and businesses alike. Kevin Werbach, professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and author of The Blockchain and the New Architecture of Trust, offers a more restrained assessment. In “The ‘Race to 5G’ Is a Myth,” Werbach argues that 5G, like 3G and 4G before it, will take at least a decade to make its true impact. Moreover, while the change it brings may eventually be great, its implications for the average end-user of the internet might be much more modest. To learn more, visit CNN Business Perspectives.

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Broadband access Broadband Technology

The New Outlook for Satellite-Based Internet

This past December, the United Nations reported that more than half of the world’s population–almost 4 billion people–are still without internet access. According to the FCC’s Eighth Broadband Report, 6% of Americans lack access to high-speed internet at “threshold speeds,” and one-fourth of rural residents lack any service. Many in the tech industry, however, have pointed to improved satellite-based internet as a means of providing affordable high-speed service to those who have been excluded. As CNN Business reports, Elon Musk’s SpaceX project Starlink may be the first effort in satellite-based internet that has a shot of being both technologically feasible and economically viable. Read more