Delta Airlines will soon offer free WiFi on flights

MPR News reports…

Delta Air Lines will provide free Wi-Fi service on most of its U.S. flights starting in February.

The airline said Thursday that by the end of the year it will outfit more than 700 planes with high-speed, satellite-based broadband service from T-Mobile and plans to expand free Wi-Fi to international and Delta Connection flights by the end of 2024.

The service will use equipment from Viasat, a U.S.-based satellite broadband provider.

MVTV is a rural wireless provider with staying power in MN

West Central Tribune reports

While millions of dollars in federal and state grants are helping bring fiber optic cable for broadband service to ever more rural locations, a wireless internet provider serving them remains confident of its future.

MVTV Wireless Internet has continued to grow its customer base ever since it began offering wireless internet service in 1999. It anticipates seeing continued, albeit slow, growth as it continues to reinvest in equipment and new technology to remain a state-of-the-art provider, representatives of the company told the Yellow Medicine County Board of Commissioners on Dec. 27.

Tim Johnson, operations manager, told the commissioners that the company continues to add new members. “(We’re) not growing by leaps and bounds, but (we) are growing hundreds of customers every year,” he said.

Johnson and Pam Rosenau, the company’s marketing director, said MVTV continues to serve and add customers in some rural areas where new fiber optic cable has been installed for broadband services. Costs remain an important factor for customers deciding to link to fiber optic, and some rural areas are seeing new residential development after fiber was installed to existing sites, they pointed out.

Fiber is the ultimate goal for every community, but not for every customer. MVTV has and ethos that demonstrates that understanding…

MVTV is a nonprofit organization owned by its members who subscribe to its wireless internet services. Headquartered in Granite Falls, its licensed, basic trade area includes Yellow Medicine, Chippewa, Renville, Lincoln and Lyon counties. It is the dominant rural provider in this area, with 25 to 30% of the rural households, according to Johnson.

New FirstNet Cell Site Launches in Grand Rapids to Support First Responders (Itasca County)

News from AT&T…

What’s the news? First responders in Northern Minnesota are getting a major boost in their wireless communications thanks to the FirstNet® network expansion currently underway by AT&T*. We’ve added a new, purpose-built cell site cell site to provide coverage for the Grand Rapids area.

This FirstNet site will provide coverage when traveling along U.S. Highways 2 and 169 in Grand Rapids. This new site is giving first responders on FirstNet – America’s public safety network – access to always-on, 24-hours-a-day priority and preemption across voice and data.

Why is this important? We consider FirstNet the most important wireless network in the country because it’s serving our first responders. And unlike commercial networks, FirstNet provides dedicated mobile broadband. To ensure AT&T and the FirstNet Authority are putting coverage and capacity where first responders need it most, the FirstNet build is being done with direct feedback from state and local public safety officials. This helps ensure Minnesota first responders connect to the critical information they need – every day and in every emergency.

FirstNet sites already launched in communities across Minnesota including Angle Inlet, Bagley, Baudette, Blackduck, Cloquet, Deer River, Ely (Echo Trail, Meander Lake), Ely (Echo Trail, Twin Lakes), Faribault, Finlayson, Gary, Graceville, Grand Marais (Gunflint Trail), Grygla, Hokah, Hovland, Isabella, Kellogg, Lewiston, Orr (Kjostad Lake), Peterson, Tofte (Lichen Lake), Togo and Williams.

Will BEAD fund unlicensed spectrum? Good question and it will matter in Minnesota!

So many posts about the FCC maps and funding and details because the details will impact how much money communities will receive for broadband in the next few years. The issue this post – unlicensed spectrum versus licensed spectrum. Telecompetitor reports

The BEAD program is designed to cover some of the costs of deploying broadband to unserved rural areas. In establishing rules for the program, NTIA omitted fixed wireless service that relies totally on unlicensed spectrum for last mile connectivity from its definition of reliable service – a decision that impacts the BEAD program in two ways.

It makes FWA deployments using unlicensed spectrum ineligible for funding. And it makes areas that have high-speed broadband eligible for overbuilds if the only high-speed broadband available is FWA that relies on unlicensed spectrum.

But some folks want that changed…

Seven U.S. senators sent a letter to Alan Davidson, head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, today urging NTIA to revise its definition of reliable broadband for the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) program.

So what’s the difference between licensed and unlicensed spectrums?

Here’s a definition from IotaComm. I was hoping for a less commercial perspective but also high level enough to take in easily.

Most of the radio spectrum is licensed by the FCC to certain users, for example, television and radio broadcasters. Individual companies pay a licensing fee for the exclusive right to transmit on an assigned frequency within a certain geographical area. In exchange, those users can be assured that nothing will interfere with their transmission.

Alternatively, organizations can still use the airwaves to transmit communications without getting permission from the FCC, but they must transmit within those parts of the spectrum that are designated for unlicensed users. The amount of spectrum that is available for public and unlicensed use is very small—only a few bands. Both the size of the area and the lack of exclusivity mean there’s greater potential for interference from other users located nearby. (It’s like the “wild west” of radio communication.)

The Telecompetitor article touches on it a little…

NTIA hasn’t said much about why it defined reliable broadband as it did. But David Zumwalt, CEO of the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA) told Telecompetitor a few months ago that NTIA’s primary concern was the future availability of unlicensed spectrum.

WISPA is particularly concerned about whether areas that already have unlicensed high-speed FWA will be eligible for overbuilding through the BEAD program, as many WISPA members already have made high-speed FWA deployments that rely on unlicensed spectrum.

Folks in Minnesota may have a special interest in this issue. According to the FCC map, LTD Broadband is serving a large portion Southern Minnesota with unlicensed spectrum, as the map below indicates.

BBC chat on digital equity projects in Big Stone, Lincoln and Pine Counties, Austin and Warroad

Last week the BBC (Blandin Broadband Communities) final cohort met to catch up with what was happening in each community.

Here’s a very high level list of what happening:

  • Big Stone has smart rooms and training through PioneerTV. The are trying to get local government folks to join via streaming versus travel unnecessarily.
  • Lincoln is adding hotspots, adding an Internet safety class and an at-home at Lincoln County program and is getting fiber to some of the last areas.
  • Austin has hosted a PCs for People event (refurbished computer distribution), working on privacy internet kiosks so that people can privately get public access to the Internet, working on getting seniors more comfortable with technology with an online trivia event and digital literacy training.
  • Pine County held come “Going Google” classes, working with a provider to build towers for fixed wireless and working in another areas on deploying fiber.
  • Warroad is working on Wi-Fi on sporting fields to aid in livestreaming, completed Wi-Fi on school buses and enhancing backbone coming into Warroad.

 

Midco and Land O’Lakes bring better broadband to Madelia

Telecompetitor reports

Midco has partnered with Land O’Lakes, Inc. and farm cooperative Crystal Valley to expand broadband internet access to Madelia, MN residents and the surrounding community. Midco installed high-speed broadband technology on one tower in the Madelia area at Crystal Valley’s location, improving access to broadband connectivity.

This effort to improve internet connectivity has the potential to benefit 1,500 residents in rural areas who are currently unable to access adequate broadband service in their homes. Crystal Valley is providing the space Midco needs to place equipment. …

This project is part of ongoing efforts by Land O’Lakes, Inc. and Midco to address the rural broadband gap across the United States. Crystal Valley is part of the Land O’Lakes member network. Through its American Connection Project, Land O’Lakes and its cooperative network are helping bridge the digital divide with awareness and advocacy.

Nextlink Internet and Tarana enter Minnesota rural broadband market with fixed wireless

Business Wire shares a press release from Nextlink Internet and Tarana…

Nextlink Internet and Tarana announced today their formal collaboration toward large-scale improvements in the US broadband landscape. The companies are partnering to bring reliable, low-latency gigabit broadband service to an extensive set of under- and unserved communities and rural regions in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin. The team expects to expand service to hundreds of rural counties over the next several years, covering over a quarter million households.

Nextlink is using Tarana’s G1 platform to compete in local markets with fiber providers, taking market share with rapid deployment of fast, affordable broadband service. Nextlink is also using the platform to go above and beyond its regulatory commitments, delivering 500 Mbps service where it was obligated to deliver 100 Mbps service. Finally, Nextlink plans on utilizing a combination of fiber and gigabit fixed wireless to meet its RDOF obligations. Tarana is uniquely positioned to help Nextlink deliver on all of those promises.

It seems like maybe they are capitalizing on the changes/opportunities with LTD Broadband’s situation with their RDOF plans. Here’s more info on both…

About Nextlink

Nextlink Internet is a rural-focused provider of high-speed internet and phone services, investing over $1 billion in unserved and underserved communities with its fiber and wireless infrastructure. As an active participant in public-private partnerships to close the digital divide, Nextlink is working to rapidly connect thousands of additional homes, businesses, and anchor institutions in rural areas and small communities across 11 states. For more information visit: nextlinkinternet.com.

About Tarana

Tarana is on a mission to accelerate the deployment of fast, affordable internet access to the world. With a decade of research and more than $400M of investment, the Tarana engineering team has created a unique next-generation fixed wireless access (ngFWA) technology instantiated in its first commercial platform, Gigabit 1 (G1). G1 delivers a game-changing advance in broadband economics in both mainstream and underserved markets, using both licensed and unlicensed spectrum. G1 started production in mid-2021 and has already been installed by over 120 service providers globally. Tarana is headquartered in Milpitas, California, with additional research and development in Pune, India. Visit www.taranawireless.com for more on G1.

Three new FirstNet Cell sites launch in MN: Deer River, Ely and Gary

AT&T reports on three new FirstNet Cell site. Here’s the info on each, starting with Deer River

First responders in Northern Minnesota are getting a major boost in their wireless communications thanks to the FirstNet® network expansion currently underway by AT&T*. We’ve added a new, purpose-built cell site located south of Deer River on Great River Road near Skunk Lake and the Mississippi River.

This new site will provide coverage when traveling along Great River Road (County 65 NE) and Minnesota State Highway 6 west of Grand Rapids in Itasca County. It will also give first responders on FirstNet – America’s public safety network – access to always-on, 24-hours-a-day priority and preemption across voice and data.

In 2021, we added a new site in Togo near George Washington State Forest in Itasca County. In addition, AT&T has added new cell towers in Itasca County to enhance mobile broadband coverage and help give residents, visitors and first responders faster, more reliable wireless service. These sites are south of Bigfork near Maple Lake and north of Bovey by Lower Balsam Lake.

Ely

First responders in Northern Minnesota are getting a major boost in their wireless communications thanks to the FirstNet® network expansion currently underway by AT&T*. We’ve added a new, purpose-built cell site located on the Echo Trail just north of Ely near Twin Lakes and Everett Lake.

This FirstNet site will provide coverage when traveling along the Echo Trail in the remote wilderness of northeastern Minnesota. It will also give first responders on FirstNet – America’s public safety network – access to always-on, 24-hours-a-day priority and preemption across voice and data.

This is the third FirstNet site in St. Louis County and the second on the Echo Trail. In 2021, we added a new site on the Echo Trail northwest of Ely near Meander Lake and Lake Jeanette State Forest – one of the first primarily powered by solar in the Midwest region. This site along the Echo Trail provided coverage to first responders who battled the Bezhik wildfire in May of 2021 just a few miles south of the tower. We also added a new site in 2021 in the Kabetogama State Forest near Kjostad Lake and west of Buyck.

Gary

First responders in northwestern Minnesota are getting a major boost in their wireless communications thanks to the FirstNet® network expansion currently underway by AT&T*. We’ve added a new, purpose-built cell site located near Gary and just west of the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota’s Red River Valley region.

This FirstNet site will provide coverage when traveling along State Highway 200 and State Highway 32 in Norman County. It will also give first responders on FirstNet – America’s public safety network – access to always-on, 24-hours-a-day priority and preemption across voice and data.

FCC takes back Auto Safety Spectrum for Wi-Fi

In an extreme case of use it or lose it, C|Net reports

The US Federal Communications Commission won an important battle in a fight to free up more unlicensed wireless spectrum for Wi-Fi devices.

A federal appeals court on Friday sided with the FCC in its decision to reallocate a big chunk of key spectrum for an expansion of unlicensed Wi-Fi use. The spectrum had previously been set aside for auto safety.

The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia rejected a legal challenge from the Intelligent Transportation Society of America and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials seeking to reverse the FCC’s 2020 decision to repurpose about 60% of the 5.9GHz band spectrum block for unlicensed indoor use to help improve speeds and reduce congestion on 5GHz Wi-Fi networks.

Starlink is worried that potential use of 12 Ghz spectrum will interrupt service

Ars Technica reports

SpaceX is asking Starlink customers to help the company win a regulatory battle against Dish Network. In an email urging users to contact the Federal Communications Commission and members of Congress, SpaceX yesterday said a Dish plan to use the 12 GHz spectrum band for mobile service will cause “harmful interference [to Starlink users] more than 77 percent of the time and total outage of service 74 percent of the time, rendering Starlink unusable for most Americans.”

Those percentages come from a study SpaceX submitted to the FCC last week, which claims mobile service in the 12 GHz band would interfere with Starlink user terminals that use the same spectrum for downloads. Tuesday’s email from SpaceX was posted on the Starlink subreddit and covered by The Verge.

The skinny on Fixed Wireless vs Fiber

Benton Institute for Broadband & Society have published a report on Fixed Wireless Technologies and Their Suitability for Broadband Delivery.  The full report is detailed and will be a great asset to folks in the policy and planning trenches making decisions about what to choose where and when. For the rest of us, there are helpful charts that give us a understandable look at key characteristics (such as cost)…

And the executive summary also helps put things into perspective for folks who need to understand it but not deploy it…

  • Fixed-wireless technologies will continue to improve but will not match the performance of fiber-optic networks—primarily because the existing and potential bandwidth of fiber is thousands of times higher than wireless. Also, fixed-wireless networks have inherent capacity limitations that sharply limit the number of users on a network using a given amount of spectrum.

  • Fixed-wireless network coverage is adversely affected by line-of-sight obstructions (including buildings and seasonal foliage) and weather. While a fiber network can physically connect every household in a service area (and deliver predictable performance), it is significantly more complex for a fixed-wireless network to deliver a line of sight to every household in a service area.

  • Scalability is a critical challenge to fixed-wireless deployments, both technically and financially. A given amount of wireless spectrum is capable of supporting a given amount of network capacity. If the number of network users increases or users need more bandwidth, the network operator must increase the spectrum (which is both scarce and extremely expensive—and may not be possible), upgrade the technology, or add antennas. It is challenging to design a fixed wireless network that will provide sufficient, robust upstream and downstream capacity and reach all the addresses in unserved areas.

  • The fastest fixed-wireless technologies (such as those that use millimeter-wave spectrum) are effective in delivering short-range service to closely grouped households in urban and suburban settings. These technologies are largely unsuitable for serving rural communities because of the typical geographic dispersion of addresses and the lack of mounting structures (such as towers or building rooftops).

  • Fiber is sustainable, scalable, and renewable. It offers greater capacity, predictable performance, lower maintenance costs, and a longer technological lifetime than fixed-wireless technologies. Fiber service is not degraded by line-of-sight issues and is not affected by the capacity issues that constrain fixed wireless networks.

AT&T Investments $400 million to Connect Communities from 2019-2021

AT&T reports

In Minnesota, we invested nearly $400 million in our wireless and wireline networks from 2019-2021, including nearly $200 million in the Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington area.

And some details…

Committed to expanding connectivity, our investment focuses on all facets of the network— from 5G to FirstNet.

  • Unlocking the Power of 5G: AT&T is America’s Most Reliable 5G Network1. AT&T currently offers 3 flavors of 5G*, which helps enable the network to reach its full potential. Here’s how they work:
    • AT&T 5G using low-band spectrum offers fast speeds and reaches more than 277 million people in more than 18,000 cities and towns in the U.S., including Austin, Bemidji, Brainerd, Duluth, Mankato, Minneapolis, Montevideo, Owatonna, Rochester, St. Cloud, St. Paul, and Worthington.
    • AT&T 5G+ recently introduced mid-band spectrum in limited parts of 8 metros nationwide, including Minneapolis. This spectrum sits between our other 2 bands. The mid-band spectrum provides a great combination of ultra-fast speeds and wide geographic coverage.
    • AT&T 5G+ using high-band (millimeter wave) spectrum delivers super-fast speeds and unprecedented performances in high traffic areas including parts of more than 45 cities and 40 stadiums and venues nationwide, including in parts of Minneapolis and at the Target Center and U.S. Bank Stadium.
  • Supporting First Responders by Expanding the Nation’s Public Safety Network: FirstNet, Built with AT&T, is the only nationwide, high-speed broadband network built with and for America’s first responders. Today, we cover nearly all of Minnesota with FirstNet – helping to connect public safety agencies and organizations in more than 190 communities across the state. It provides America’s first responders and the extended public safety community with truly dedicated coverage and capacity when they need it. FirstNet includes unique benefits like always-on priority and preemption, high-quality Band 14 spectrum and a one-of-a-kind 5G experience to keep public safety mission ready.

EVENT June 22: Webinar: The Limits of Fixed Wireless Technology for Rural Communities

A webinar hosted by CTCNet…

As state governments examine how to best invest federal funds to deploy broadband in unserved and underserved areas, a new study — commissioned by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and independently developed by CTC Technology & Energy —analyzes fixed wireless technologies and their suitability for delivering broadband service in various environments.

The goals of this evaluation included:

  • Providing an accessible guide to current and anticipated future fixed wireless technologies;
  • Demonstrating whether fixed wireless can be a viable approach to delivering broadband to currently unserved residents in various deployment scenarios, such as in urban and rural communities; and
  • Illustrating whether (and in what circumstances) states should consider spending public dollars to subsidize fixed wireless technologies as a permanent solution to meeting residents’ broadband needs.

This webinar will cover the critical technology and cost considerations outlined in the study—including a total cost of ownership analysis of candidate fixed wireless and fiber networks in a range of unserved rural settings.

Date and Time: Wednesday, June 22, 2022 at 2:00PM EST
Webinar Registration: Click Here

Moderated by President Joanne Hovis, CTC will host a one-hour webinar open to all.  Webinar presenters include:

  • Linda Hinton, District 4 Vice President, Communications Workers of America
  • Andrew Afflerbach, Ph.D., P.E., Chief Technology Officer and CEO, CTC Technology & Energy

Registration Link: The Limits of Fixed Wireless Technology for Rural Communities

RDOF winner Resound Networks gets Gig via fixed wireless – will that change the rules?

Telecompetitor reports

RDOF winner Resound Networks says that it has successfully achieved gigabit speeds using fixed wireless access (FWA) in the 6 GHz band via an experimental license. The company said that it reached a distance of more than three miles using 160 MHz-wide channels that will become available in the band.

Resound is one of three top-ten winning bidders in the Rural Development Opportunity Fund (RDOF) auction that plan to use fixed wireless, along with fiber broadband, to deliver gigabit speeds.

And while several big winning bidders that plan to rely on gigabit fiber broadband for their deployments have had funding released to them, none of the big winning bidders planning to use gigabit fixed wireless have had funding released — apparently because the FCC wants to make sure that the technology can meet performance requirements.

This is something to watch in Minnesota. The biggest potential RDOF winner in Minnesota is LTD Broadband. They bid to deliver fiber but they have more experience with fixed wireless. So that’s a conundrum. Are there appreciable differences if they can get the same bandwidth? Does it matter if they bid for one technology but use another? Resound Networks’ success is sure to spark discussion.

Americans for Responsible Technology promote FTTH over wireless solutions

Public News Service reports…

Groups that promote the responsible deployment of technology are celebrating the Biden administration’s new $42.5 billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment program because it favors fiberoptic technology over broadband communications technologies such as cable, satellite, DSL and wireless.
Gary Bolton – president and CEO of the Fiber Broadband Association – said fiberoptic connections are faster, more reliable, and can adapt easily to future technological advances.
“You’ll be able to do things like smart-grid modernization, public safety, and even advanced services like 5G,” said Bolton. “So having this near-limitless capacity is going to really close the digital divide once and for all.”

One reason for supporting fiber is the unintended impact of wireless…

Americans for Responsible Technology President and Founder Doug Wood said health groups favor fiber broadband over wireless because wireless cell towers emit radiofrequency radiation. And a 2018 study from the National Institutes of Health linked RF radiation to cancer in lab animals.

“We’re beginning to understand that it has biological impacts, even at levels far below what the government considers safe,” said Wood. “So, it seems like an unwise decision to start installing wireless antennas and wireless broadband and communities across the country.”