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Fixed Wireless Access: An Enterprise Broadband Alternative
- Published on 12 July 2023
(Source: Geoff Smith / Alamy Stock Photo)
Depending on availability, fixed wireless access could deliver the bandwidth IT managers need to connect far-flung workers and remote sites.
Although living in the shadow of fiber as an alternative to broadband for all, fixed wireless access (FWA) has a bright present and future as means to expand corporate networks to home workers, small businesses, and rural locations.
Enterprise IT planners can expect to see an expansion of FWA availability as the result of an ongoing effort by the FCC to use the 42-42.2 GHz spectrum for sharing among small businesses and small wireless internet services providers (WISP). Bringing millimeter wave services such as 5G could be a boon for value-conscious high-speed broadband seekers.
The focus to date has been on fiber-based carrier deployments as they provide higher-speed services and can easily scale upward. Fixed wireless access point-to-multipoint systems can be upgraded but have fallen short of fiber-delivered speeds.
What’s the value of fixed wireless access?
In a challenging economy punctuated by inflation and higher prices for most everything, it's little surprise that the business case for or against fixed wireless access comes down to cost and ROI. The fastest option can give way to a slower alternative that’s better value.
T-Mobile and Verizon have seen big first quarters by bundling 5G FWA (Internet) with wireless calling plans, an emerging trend that will continue as states add carriers are at the beginning when it comes to actual fiber deployments based on the $48 billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment program (BEAD) included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
5G fixed wireless access gains momentum
5G FWA has been the focus lately, with T-Mobile and Verizon each adding hundreds of thousands of new subscribers each quarter and stealing away existing cable and DSL subscribers.
Commenting on broadband delivery options and priorities for using BEAD funding, Jeff Heynen, Vice President, Broadband Access and Home Networking at Dell’Oro Group, said, “All this Federal money is about getting people connected, not just getting them fiber.”
They are doing so by offering consumers a low rate, no contract, and discounts on bundles with cell phone plans, explained Jeff Heynen. “The success of these services, which offer decent, but certainly not fiber-like speeds, is proof that speed isn’t everything. In fact, with inflation and prices still high, value is a crucial factor in how people select their broadband service.”
Fixed wireless access overcomes broadband services challenges
Fixed wireless access, which is available to support sub 5G speeds, holds a large edge on fiber when it comes to installation. Trenching for fiber is a time, labor-intensive and expensive undertaking, especially in un- and underserved, often rural areas. Mountainous areas and regions where the ground is frozen several months a year are also major challenges. Hanging fiber over telephone poles requires local approvals that slow deployment but is far less disruptive than trenching roads.
In contrast, adding gear to current towers and adding new ones is less resource-draining. FWA does require line-of-sight between signal origination and devices at the location to be connected.
Additionally, a wide-sweeping education and staff skills shortage widely acknowledged by the Fiber Broadband Association (FBA) industry trade association and fiber industry companies portends to slow the rollout of broadband, which requires significant labor for trenching, splicing, and other routine deployment tasks that FWA deployment largely avoids.
What about WISPs?
Fixed wireless internet service providers (WISPs) deliver broadband to customers in fixed locations such as residences, businesses, and schools. They focus on serving the hard-to-reach, unserved areas of rural America, as well as bringing affordable alternatives to underserved urban customers.
There are over 2,800 providers serving more than 7 million customers in 50 states. WISPs are small organizations with an average of under ten employees apiece and 1,200 customers, according to the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA). Typical download speeds are 25 to 100 Mbps for residential and up to 1 Gbps for businesses.
Most WISPs are small and medium-sized businesses that have built their networks with private capital and are profitable and sustainable without government subsidies, according to the association. They employ local staff.
Beyond the recently outlined FCC plan, WISPs, small carriers, and rural groups will be able to access through sharing the 14 to 14.2 GHz band, which will help them compete with incumbent providers to serve small businesses, which make up over 95% of all U.S. businesses.
Furthermore, equipment vendors such as Tarana Wireless, which has raised $376 million in funding, are targeting WISPs and small players with their evolving FWA offerings. The company’s solution is interesting in that it can use both unlicensed sub-6GHz spectrum as well as licensed CBRS spectrum, according to Dell’Oro’s Heynen. “CBRS spectrum is going to be critical for WISPs seeking BEAD funds as they must have licensed spectrum to qualify. “ In addition, installing robust outdoor routers will help overcome the building materials challenges. FWA providers will have to offer alternative solutions where users can see similar speed and performance – without the limitations of 5G millimeter wave issues.
Furthermore, fixed wireless access addresses a common 5G limitation. Early on, FWA systems using 5G were limited as the millimeter wave spectrum used had difficulty penetrating building materials such as metal and certain types of glass. Over time, a feature called beamforming was applied to address this challenge by forming the signal into a tightly focused beam.
A final word about fixed wireless access
All the talk about deploying fiber first, foremost, and fully will likely give way to an end result that includes optical and fixed wireless systems in the absence of carrier overbuilding. Value (less cost per connection as well as the ability to bundle mobile services) and availability are probably the two biggest advantages FWA offers IT managers, Heynen said.
FCC Explores 42 GHz Spectrum Band Sharing for Small Businesses
- Published on 05 July 2023
(Source: Audrius Merfeldas / Alamy Stock Photo)
42 GHz spectrum band sharing for Fixed and Mobile Millimeter Wave services potentially could benefit small businesses and service providers.
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) met yesterday with industry members to consider ways to open spectrum in the 42 GHz band that would provide small businesses and service providers access through spectrum band sharing on a traditional licensed and unlicensed basis.
Opening up this spectrum could have far-reaching implications as 99% of all businesses in the U.S. fit the Small Business Administration's criteria of businesses with fewer than 500 workers. Municipalities and non-profit organizations could potentially benefit from a change in the way this spectrum is used.
The item also seeks comments on how “potential sharing and licensing regimes might lower barriers to entry for smaller or emerging wireless service providers, encourage competition, and prevent spectrum warehousing,” according to the FCC.
The several spectrum access mechanisms considered by the agency and a wide variety of commenters on the notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) are intended to pave the way for the high-band spectrum to be used more broadly and efficiently for millimeter services, such as 5G fixed wireless access (FWA).
The NPRM is intended to outline the potential benefits of implementing a spectrum band shared licensing approach in the 42-42.5 GHz band specifically and seeks comment on any other benefits or drawbacks of such an approach as compared to either a traditional exclusive use licensed or unlicensed model.
The FCC proposes to license the 42 GHz band as five 100 megahertz channels.
Three spectrum band sharing approaches offered
The FCC has solicited comments on three specific shared licensing approaches (and on any other shared licensing models proposed by commenters):
- A nationwide non-exclusive licensing approach, in which licensees would apply for such a license with the Commission and then coordinate and register specific deployment sites with a third-party database.
- A site-based licensing approach, in which licensees would apply for each deployment site directly with the Commission.
- A technology-based sensing approach, in which operators would employ certain technologies to avoid harmful interference from one another without the use of a registration database.
The list of commenters on the NPRM reads like a who’s who of the wireless industry, including AT&T, the CTIA, Ericsson, Cisco, Nokia, Qualcomm, Samsung, T-Mobile, US Cellular, the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), the Competitive Carriers Association, the National Academy of Sciences, and SES Americom.
Other carriers have already spent big in the third millimeter wave 5G spectrum auction, concluded in early 2020, which saw T-Mobile, DISH, and Sprint come away with almost all of the 47 GHz spectrum. The trio is licensed to provide service to roughly 95%of the U.S. population.
Proposed spectrum band sharing
The 42-42.5 GHz band is largely but not totally unused. The NPRM proposes measures to protect radioastronomy services in the adjacent 42.5-43.5 GHz band. Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) is a shared wireless spectrum in the 3.5GHz band that has helped in building private LTE networks and extending public 4G and 5G services. The frequency band space was auctioned to all comers – including enterprises – in July 2020 and brought in $4.6 billion. A novel spectrum access system was created to manage the CBRS band, which means eliminating interference with license holders.
Benefits expanding for millimeter wave bands
Millimeter wave bands were widely embraced for – but somewhat limited to – high-speed, short-distance services such as 5G FWA, which T-Mobile and Verizon have rapidly deployed. This initially left mobile applications on the outside looking in because of propagation losses at such high frequencies and the inability of millimeter wave signals to propagate around obstacles.
Ericsson and Qualcomm claimed success in 2020 for extending the distance of these waves.
It’s now believed that some of the presumed disadvantages can be turned into advantages, according to the FCC. For example, short transmission paths and high propagation losses can facilitate spectrum re-use in microcellular deployments by limiting the amount of interference between adjacent cells. Furthermore, the FCC explained, where longer paths are desired, the extremely short wavelengths of millimeter wave signals make it feasible for very small antennas to concentrate signals into highly focused beams with enough gain to overcome propagation losses.
The agency added that short wavelengths of millimeter wave signals also “make it possible to build multi-element, dynamic beam-forming antennas that will be small enough to fit into handsets—a feat that might never be possible at the lower, longer-wavelength frequencies below 6 GHz where cell phones operate today.”
European Telcos Seek 5G Network Fees from Top Internet Users
- Published on 08 June 2023
(Source: Sarayut Thaneerat / Alamy Stock Photo)
The operators’ proposal is before the European Commission. Meta objects and warns the EC of damage to business and consumers. What’s the impact on U.S. enterprises?
A group of telcos in Europe is floating a plan whereby big tech companies accounting for over 5% of a telco’s peak average internet traffic should help pay for the rollout of 5G and broadband access.
The telcos' proposal is in draft mode, according to a report this week by Reuters. It raises questions as to whether the “build it and customers will spend” monetization approaches are enough for a profitable and justifiable business case.
The report claims the telco proposal is part of the feedback to the European Commission that began an inquiry into the issue in February, with a deadline for responses this Friday. It also claims the document was compiled by telco lobbying groups GSMA andETNO.
Making the case for 5G fees
Despite the marketing of 5G, with its superfast connections, super low latency, and purported ability to help transform the way enterprises do business, some telcos are struggling to justify the big-ticket undertakings by themselves or are uncertain whether the 5G services they offer will more than offset the initial investment.
Heavy internet users such as social media and video streaming companies Google, Meta, Amazon, Netflix, Microsoft, and Apple would seem to be most adversely affected by the so-called network fees.
The one public response opposing the move is in this blog by Markus Reinisch, Vice President, Public Policy, Europe and Global Economic Policy, Meta. He claims network fee proposals will ultimately hurt European businesses and consumers. Social media companies are among the top bandwidth users globally. Meta submitted its response to the European Commission's exploratory consultation on network fees.
Among the listed takeaways, the Meta executive contends:
- Network fee proposals misunderstand the value that content platforms bring to the digital ecosystem; and
- We urge the (European) Commission to consider the evidence, listen to the range of organizations who have voiced concerns, and drop these proposals.
“We support the Commission’s goal of “ensuring access to excellent connectivity for everyone,” began Reinisch. “However, proposals by a handful of telecom operators to be cross-subsidized by content application providers (CAPS) are fundamentally flawed.
Meta sees only downsides of the network fee proposal, calling fees to telecoms “a private sector handout.” The company sees fees as operators charging twice for the same infrastructure already charging consumers for internet access and potentially adding fees.
"We encourage the Commission to deeply examine the negative impacts of the telco-led proposals," said Reinisch. He went on to explain why the creation of what is effectively a required private sector handout for selected telecom operators would lead to bad outcomes for European businesses and consumers, disincentivize innovation and investment, and distort competition.
Expert insight into the 5G market
It’s early to get a take on what the telco proposal means to U.S. firms. “We remain optimistic about the European 5G RAN market and expect this segment to advance another 60% by 2025, with or without any contributions from the tech players,” explained Stefan Pongratz, Vice-President at Dell’Oro Group, a global market research and analysis firm. He specializes in 5G RAN, CBRS, Mobile RAN, Open RAN, Private Wireless, and Telecom Capex.
Pongratz, who has not yet read the telcos' proposal, provided constructive advice to operators. "Even if 5G by itself is, as expected, not fueling any material revenue growth, the reality is that providing connectivity is a profitable business. In the meantime, he claims, "operators that take advantage of the incremental bandwidth available in the upper mid-band will be in a better position from a cost, performance, and future growth perspective than those that don't."
The cost of 5G – U.S. edition
Moving to 5G incurs many costs. On the cost side alone, telcos around the world have, or are planning, to shut down 3G and or 2G networks for the spectrum and related resources to enable broad deployment of 5G. The costs are even higher when the cost of acquiring spectrum that can be used for 5G through auctions is added in.
Challenges monetizing network rollouts and service deployments are faced in the U.S. as well. In many cases, telecoms have teamed with equipment, construction, spectrum, monitoring, and integration companies to create private 5G network services as well as varying flavors of managed offerings. However, the operators have neither revealed their specific monetization expectations nor their results.
The costs of going with 5G are playing a big role in the decision making of telcos in many countries. While many, like the U.S. Japan and China are all in, much of the continent of Africa still relies on low-speed 2G. In fact, 2G networks are not being shut down in many countries as customers with IoT deployments that can’t justify the cost and don’t need the superfast speed of 5G rely on the second generation wireless technology.
Fiber Broadband Association Releases Workforce Development Guidebook
- Published on 08 June 2023
(Source: Islandstock / Alamy Stock Photo)
The crucial guidebook asset helps states and ISPs meet daunting broadband-for-all workforce creation challenges.
The Fiber Broadband Association (FBA) has created and released a comprehensive asset – dubbed the Workforce Development Guidebook, to equip states, ISPs, and agencies for the anticipated broadband staffing shortage.
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s $42.45 billion Broadband Equity and Access Deployment (BEAD) program – part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act - has begun to allot funds for the deployment of broadband services to un- and under-served U.S. areas.
The growing concern, however, is that recipients are more focused on the costs of building and maintaining the new networks for the next five years than on the daunting workforce creation efforts needed for success.
Why the guidebook is needed
The FBA describes itself as a large trade association that represents the fiber ecosystem of service providers, manufacturers, industry experts, and deployment specialists dedicated to the advancement of fiber broadband deployment. The group has helped providers, communities, and policymakers make informed decisions about how, where, and why to build better fiber broadband networks since 2001.
The FBA’s Workforce Development Guidebook notes that, according to the government’s calculations, 150,000 telecom jobs will be created by BEAD, while research by the FBA estimates the industry will need over 205,000 new jobs in the next five years to construct, operate, and maintain these new networks in every state.
The FBA warns the sudden and historic influx of public funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and BEAD Program will spur an unprecedented amount of construction activity and create a nationwide demand for skilled labor far beyond what the current workforce can support.
"Workforce is the second priority; construction is first," explained FBA President and CEO Gary Bolton. "We can't wait to see at the end what's left for workforce development." Increased emphasis on staffing is crucial. "Failure to ensure the availability of high-skilled labor will result in workforce bottlenecks, which will ultimately lead to higher costs and project delays.”
Those issues can have an enterprise impact. Why? Secure high-speed connections can bolster and broaden the availability of business applications for areas such as telehealth, collaboration, and education that were bearable during Covid that can be more effective and immersive. Remote and home workers can join corporate workforces. Small businesses can rise.
Planning for shortages
Telecom workers are in demand in rural areas, with service providers and their contractors seeking help with the rollout, according to Jeff Heynen, Vice-President of Broadband Access and Home Networks for Dell'Oro Group, a global market research and consultancy. Employees of a small carrier told him they were attracted to the upstart fiber provider offering a better compensation package than Tier 1 operators.
“There is just so much demand in terms of new projects that the existing workforce can’t handle it,” Heynen explained. “Also, I believe there is more churn now among operators, with workers leaving companies for new fiber entrants who are promising better pay and benefits.”
In anticipation of labor shortages, the NTIA included workforce planning requirements in its Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO), “forcing states to consider on the front end how to ensure enough high-skilled workers are available to deliver funded projects. The NTIA outlines key components of a workforce plan that states must consider and respond to in their Five-Year Action Plans, including training and workforce development activities, skilled workforce activities, labor and employment laws, and contracting requirements.
The guidebook emphasizes training and upskilling
While those components are instrumental to creating a prosperous workforce ecosystem, the FBA claims its Workforce Development Guidebook “primarily focuses on training and upskilling activities. It provides context on the telecommunications landscape, broadband workforce development, and practical guidance on how to craft and deploy an effective workforce development strategy.”
The FBA took on the workforce development challenge in the wake of the passing of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, under which it quickly engaged with 23 states to roll out the Optical Telecom Installation Certification (OpTIC) program with their community college systems and fiber-optic broadband service providers. Today (a year later), the number of states sits at 38, according to Bolton.
"The challenge for us is the 18 to 25-year-olds," Bolton explained. That is in part because much of the current U.S. workforce is far older. "We need to get young people interested in telecom jobs and careers."
In the guidebook, the efforts of several states that have already addressed the workforce development challenges are discussed. Included are Ohio, Vermont, and Maine – each with varying paths to the same goal. “States haven’t waited on BEAD,” noted Bolton.
Beyond the 18-25 age group, states are also looking to attract military veterans, previously incarcerated individuals, and those with autism. The FBA has considered the value of self-paced learning versus full-classroom education approaches.
One challenge the FBA is considering is how to lure staff from their current jobs into telecom by looking to replace some of their earnings with a stipend to incentivize them to learn while working.
Another observation focuses on the variations of training for the broadband rollout effort. Some large carriers have daylong boot camps, while other programs offer 2,000-hour apprenticeships.
The FBA teamed with Cartesian, a research and strategic consulting firm, to create the guidebook.
U.S. Firms Face Daunting Challenges with 3G Network Shutdowns Internationally
- Published on 18 May 2023
(Source: Jorge Pérez / Alamy Stock Photo)
Slow speeds, security issues, and a higher cost of doing business exist as countries take different tacks on wireless network evolutions.
The sunsetting of 3G wireless networks is over if your enterprise isn’t a multinational. But if your company operates, or plans to, outside the U.S., expect challenges as much of the world is playing catchup and at different speeds.
You’ll also find regions where 2G networks are being kept up and running to support crucial IoT devices, providing a cost-effective alternative to high-speed wireless. Further, developing countries that have valuable resources and business opportunities may only have 2G.
"There is a huge challenge ahead for companies trying to sell the same solutions globally as they will need to support 2G/3G technologies in order for their products to operate,” explained Susie Siouti, Chief Commercial Officer for SmartViser, a Rennes, France-based test automation solutions provider that helps organizations offer end-users high Quality of Experience (QoE) and Quality of Service (QoS). "In Africa, there is no plan to sunset these technologies except for South Africa. Similarly, Asia is a mixed bag with some countries very much ahead of the game and others not even planning.”
3G shutdown challenges near and far
U.S. businesses with multinational operations will also likely run into varying sunsetting timelines far closer to home, specifically in neighboring Canada, which is one of America's top trading partners. Canada's 3G networks are not due to be completely shut down until the end of 2025, according to Readers Digest Canada.
This is important as the North American Free Trade Act (NAFTA) has incentivized U.S. businesses to move assembly and manufacturing operations north (and south) of the border in recent decades.
In the absence of a single uniform wireless network technology globally. Companies looking to develop new products will find costs higher because they must support all new and legacy wireless solutions.
The big chill?
Widely varying wireless generation support, in some cases from country to neighboring country, could have a chilling effect that generates other concerns for enterprise IT, namely security.
"Security may also become an issue as 2G offers very weak encryption between towers and devices and can be allegedly easily hacked," added Siouti. "Replicating private network set ups from the U.S. in other countries could be difficult, especially in Africa and Asia.” Some may have to wait until 4G networks provide a better level of coverage. “It may be very difficult to prove their business case internally for entering certain markets like Africa.”
Solving the Rubik’s Cube of wireless support
There are vendors whose products for IoT devices cover the cellular waterfront.
One such vendor, Hologram.io, promises the redundant coverage devices needed today, with the flexibility to expand into new markets when enterprises are ready to scale. The company's cards allow devices to access2G, 3G, 4G LTE, 5G, and CAT-M today and upgrade as new network technologies become available. Hologram claims its SIMs allow devices to switch between over 470 carriers from anywhere in the world.
A continent-specific 3G shutdown summary from SmartViser
To complicate matters for enterprise IT planners, many operators plan to shut off their 3G networks first while keeping their slower 2G networks running until as late as 2025.
Europe’s 3G shutdown
This is the case in Europe, where 3G is expected to be switched off before 2G. Around 19 operators are planning to switch off their 3G network by 2025, and around eight operators are planning to switch off their 2G network by 2025. Telia will look to close 3G in all their countries between 2022 and 2025, and EE will be the first UK network that has announced the shutdown of 3G.
Asia’s 3G shutdown
In Asia, there are an estimated 29 operators who are looking to shut down 2G by 2025 and 16 shutting down 3G by 2025. Japan closed 3G long ago, as did Taiwan, which shut down both 2G and 3G roughly three years ago.
America’s 3G shutdown
The Americas. The U.S. shut down 2G networks, followed by 3G networks by yearend 2022. Elsewhere in this region, over a dozen operators in 7 countries have announced the closure of 2G by the end of 2025.
Australia’s 3G shutdown
Australia. 2G networks are long gone in the land down under, with the continent’s three operators shutting them down by yearend 2018. Telstra is expected to shut down its 3G network at the end of next year.
Africa’s 3G shutdown
Africa. It appears that the lights at 2G and 3G networks are on for the foreseeable future in the so-called dark continent. The spread of 4G and faster technologies is expected to eventually eclipse slower networks.
Recapping 3G sunsetting in the U.S.
Service providers using 3G technology, a workhorse for two decades, need the resources to broadly and efficiently roll out 5G.
To recap the situation, in the U.S., the three largest wireless service providers – AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile – all shut down their 3G networks by the end of 2022 to use resources to drive broader deployment of 5G. The trio announced plans to sunset these networks well in advance. However, Covid-19 and the resulting supply chain, workforce, and chip shortages hit companies with a trio of unexpected challenges.
The operators kept their deadlines, but several vertical industries, such as automotive, trucking, and consumer electronics, found themselves with less time to take the 3G sunsetting challenge. A flurry of software upgrades to dated devices helped most businesses and their customers survive the sunsetting, but the transition was not smooth.
FCC Creates New Space Bureau to Fuel Satellite Industry Expansion
- Published on 20 April 2023
(Source: Science History Images / Alamy Stock Photo)
The move is designed to give rise to Internet access and emerging satellite-to-cellular services for enterprises from SpaceX, OneWeb, Globalstar, Amazon, Iridium, and their wireless operator partners.
Acknowledging that its policies and processes could not keep pace with a burgeoning satellite services sector, the FCC Tuesday launched a new entity dubbed the Space Bureau, designed to meet the needs of the next Space Age.
What is the FCC’s new Space Bureau?
The new bureau has been formed by splitting the current International Bureau into two separate cooperative units within the agency. The Space Bureau will focus on policy and licensing matters related to satellite and space-based communications and activities, and the Office of International Affairs (OIA), which will coordinate FCC work with foreign and international regulatory powers.
LEOs at the heart of Space Bureau focus
In recent years, the second space race has already seen the FCC authorize the launch of roughly 10,000 low-earth orbit (LEO) satellites for operators looking to deliver everything from Internet access to an emerging set of satellite-to-cellular offerings that provide connectivity to those off the terrestrial wireless network grid, including S.O.S services that help those with emergencies.
The creation of the Space Bureau is the latest in a series of steps the FCC is taking to realign and expand its resources to meet the needs of a fast-emerging satellite communications sector driven by the broadening use of LEO birds worldwide.
Roughly 4,000 LEOs are currently in orbit, with another estimated 20,000-30,000 awaiting review by the FCC.
"The satellite industry is growing at a record pace, but here on the ground, our regulatory frameworks for licensing have not kept up. We're working to change that. We are moving forward with our plan to prepare for what comes next," said FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. "A new Space Bureau at the FCC will ensure that the agency's resources are appropriately aligned to fulfill its statutory obligations, improve its coordination across the federal government, and support the 21st-century satellite industry."<.p>
The FCC claimed in January that it has acted “to speed up regulatory review processes, increase the size of the FCC’s satellite division by 38 percent, create new opportunities for competition in the delivery of satellite broadband services, and modernize spectrum policy to better meet the needs of the next generation Space Age.”
What will the Space Bureau do?
Once the reorganization is complete, the Space Bureau will, according to FCC materials:
- Lead complex policy analysis and rulemaking.
- Authorize satellite and earth station systems used for space-based services.
- Streamline regulatory processes to provide maximum flexibility for operators to meet customer needs.
- Foster the efficient use of scarce spectrum and orbital resources.
- Adopt new rules for deorbiting satellites to address orbital debris risks.
- Serve as the FCC’s focal point for coordination with other U.S. government agencies on matters of space policy and governance.
- Collaborate with the OIA for consultations with other countries, international and multilateral organizations, and foreign government officials that involve satellite and space policy matters.
What is the enterprise IT impact of the new Space Bureau?
For enterprise IT looking skyward for new and more robust communications options, the Space Bureau could provide a growing menu of services faster, backups for cut cables/suspicious network outages on Earth, and greater competition that could contain prices and fuel innovation.
Who are the LEO satellite operators?
The list of current LEO satellite operators includes Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which is best known for its Starlink internet services, OneWeb, Globalstar, and Iridium. Amazon has vowed to join the LEO space race under Project Kuiper, which has its first LEO bird launch set for later this year.
What’s the difference between LEO and GEO satellites?
LEOs fly closer to the planet — about 350 miles above Earth for Starlink satellites — versus 22 thousand miles above Earth in geostationary (GEO) orbit. LEOs have gained ground in the internet services market, helping in the defense sector (helping Ukraine hold off invading Russian forces), maritime communications, and with agriculture.
From Internet access to satellite-to-cellular services
As operators launch LEOs to build fleets, they have more recently partnered with wireless providers and equipment vendors to offer satellite-to-cellular services for those on Earth.
The activity increase in the sector has seen Apple team with Globalstar, T-Mobile partner with SpaceX, and Iridium connect with Qualcomm to create satellite-to-cellular services. Verizon has paired with Amazon. These services provide a lifeline to traveling and mobile workers when in remote and other rural areas.
Will the FCC’s Space Bureau help operators avoid disputes?
The creation of the Space Bureau and planned collaboration with the resulting OIA could provide oversight in cases where disputes arise between satellite operators. The industry has already seen one such high-profile situation when SpaceX claimed that DISH Network’s work-in-progress 5G network will interfere with the former’s LEOs in the 12 GHz band. Time will tell.
- How Emerging LEO Satellites are Impacting Wireless Networking
- Exploring the LEO Satellite Service Landscape for Potential Enterprise Use
- LEO Satellite Broadband: Top Considerations for Enterprise IT