Archive for month: March, 2019

Connect America Fund Making Federal Dollars Work for California

Presented at CENIC’s 2019 Annual Conference.

SPEAKER:

Skyler Ditchfield, Co-Founder and CEO, GeoLinks

ABOUT:

The Connect America Fund Phase II Auction (CAF II) was created by the Federal Communications Commission to distribute federal grant dollars to enable broadband infrastructure buildout to rural areas of the country that lack basic broadband services. In August 2018, GeoLinks was awarded approx. $88 Million to deploy high-speed broadband network facilities to eligible areas in California and Nevada (to be distributed over 10 years). In this discussion, GeoLinks’ CEO, Skyler Ditchfield, will discuss the CAF II application process, awarded areas, and opportunities for creating synergies between CAF II and other broadband grant programs. He will also discuss possible pain points and policy changes needed to streamline deployment and ensure CAF II funding is used as efficiently as possible to connect unserved Americans.

Invisible Infrastructure Connecting Rural and Unserved Areas via Spectrum

Presented at CENIC’s 2019 Annual Conference.

SPEAKERS:

Melissa Slawson, General Counsel and VP of Government Affairs and Education, GeoLinks | Louis Fox, President and CEO, CENIC | Rachelle Chong, Attorney/Lobbyist, Law Office of Rachelle Chong | Luis Wong, CEO, K-12 High Speed Network

ABOUT:

Millions of Americans still lack access to high-speed broadband service, especially in rural areas. According to data collected by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), as of the end of 2016, more than 500,000 households were without access to internet service of at least 6 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload, the minimum threshold for high-speed service in California. This is due largely to the costs associated with building fiber networks to these unserved areas. Wireless services may provide cost-effective solutions and bring much-needed high-speed access to these communities and the anchor institutions that serve them. This panel will explore the role of spectrum-based wireless technologies (i.e. fixed wireless) in closing the digital divide; the benefits to various industry segments and success stories using this technology; and what spectrum policy changes are needed to promote this kind of connectivity at both the federal and state levels.

 

Strategies for Addressing the Broadband Digital Divide

Strategies for Addressing the Broadband Digital Divide

Presented at CENIC’s 2019 Annual Conference.

Featured Speakers:

Skyler Ditchfield, Co-Founder and CEO, GeoLinks | Louis Fox, CEO and President, CENIC | Matt Rantanen, Director of Technology, Southern California Tribal Chairmen’s Association | Sunne Wright McPeak, CEO, California Emerging Technology Fund | Steven Huter, Director, Network Startup Resource Center, University of Oregon

About:

A recent article in the New York Times titled, “Digital Divide Is Wider Than We Think, Study Says” (12/4/18), notes that, “Fast internet service is crucial to the modern economy, and closing the digital divide is seen as a step toward shrinking the persistent gaps in economic opportunity, educational achievement and health outcomes in America.” While the FCC concludes that broadband is not available to 24.7 million Americans, a recent study by Microsoft states that “162.8 million Americans do not use the internet at broadband speed” and that this “discrepancy is particularly stark in rural areas.”

Many projects that might address this broadband disparity have been unattractive to private sector providers, given the difficulty of generating a return on investment necessary for the capital expenditures for construction of necessary middle-mile infrastructure. And, while there is a tendency to see the digital divide as a rural issue, many urban areas show a similar lack of access to fast home Internet, though often for different reasons — lack of affordable broadband and/or lack of motivation for broadband adoption.

The picture is not entirely gloomy: There are many creative approaches to address issues of access, affordability, and adoption, often pooling sources of funds, integrating two (or more) broadband technologies, and through partnerships that involve public, government, and private sector partners. The panelists, all of whom are engaged in every aspect of broadband from public policy to project deployment, will highlight and discuss successful strategies to address the broadband digital divide and engage conference participants in a discussion about how to scale locally instantiated projects to reach across all of California (and beyond).

Expanding Flexible Use in Mid-Band Spectrum Between 3.7 and 24 GHz

Expanding Flexible Use in Mid-Band Spectrum Between 3.7 and 24 GHz - GeoLinks

REPLY COMMENTS OF CALIFORNIA INTERNET, L.P. DBA GEOLINKS

California Internet, L.P. DBA GeoLinks (“GeoLinks” or the “Company”) hereby submits these Reply Comments in response to comments filed on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) released in the above-captioned proceedings.[1]

 

  1. INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY

GeoLinks is one of the fastest growing Internet and phone providers in America and the fastest growing telecom in California.  In an effort to be a truly competitive service provider throughout its service territory, the Company has a vested interest in ensuring that the FCC’s policies allow fixed wireless broadband service providers access vital spectrum resources.  GeoLinks applauds the Commission’s efforts to make more spectrum resources available for wireless uses.  It is undeniable that additional spectrum is necessary to meet “America’s appetite for wireless broadband connections.”[2]  However, GeoLinks urges the Commission not to assume that more unlicensed spectrum is sufficient in and of itself to meet the ever-growing demand for these connections.  Moreover, GeoLinks urges the Commission not to limit how fixed wireless service providers may use these new unlicensed resources, and to create rules that allow for Point-to-Multipoint (“P2MP”) use within the 6 GHz band.

  1. DISCUSSION 

  1. Unlicensed Spectrum is Not a One-Size-Fits-All Solution

Traditionally, fixed wireless ISPs have operated in the unlicensed bands (i.e. 2.4 and 5 GHz).  The lack of access to licensed spectrum has forced fixed wireless providers to get very creative about how they provision highspeed and high capacity broadband services (including multi-gigabit speeds).  While several fixed wireless providers, including GeoLinks, have been very successful in utilizing the unlicensed bands, the application of these bands is limited.  As several commenters note, increased use of the unlicensed bands has created congestion.[3]  As Broadcom points out, “demand for unlicensed services, especially Wi-Fi, continues to grow, and the existing unlicensed spectrum in the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands has become congested.”[4]  In addition, as WISPA’s comments show, the issue of congestion in the unlicensed bands has also been recognized by all current FCC Commissioners.[5]

While GeoLinks sees merit in Broadcom’s assertion that making the 6 GHz band available for unlicensed use “will be a critical step in addressing the looming unlicensed spectrum crunch,”[6] ultimately, GeoLinks believes that relying solely on more unlicensed spectrum availability (without additional opportunities for licensed spectrum) is, at best, a short-term solution.  As Commissioner Rosenworcel notes in her NPRM statement, “by the end of the decade, we will see as many as 50 billion new devices connecting to our networks through the internet of things.”[7]  GeoLinks cautions that as innovation and new devices seek room in the unlicensed bands, the wireless broadband providers that offer competitive connectivity to these new devices will continue to get squeezed.  Inevitably with so many wireless devices and wireless service providers clamoring for the same spectrum, the result will be the same – congestion in the bands and limited opportunities for competition and innovation.

As GeoLinks has expressed before, the availability of unlicensed bands is not a one-size-fits-all solution to the ever-growing demand for spectrum.  In order to craft a more complete, long-term solution, GeoLinks urges the FCC to expand the availability of unlicensed bands in conjunction with efforts to create more opportunities for licensed spectrum for competitive broadband providers.  This dual approach will ensure less congestion in the unlicensed bands for those carriers supplying the connectivity that drive further innovation.

  1. The Commission Should Ensure the New Rules Regarding the Use of the 6 GHz Band Allow for P2MP Use

With respect to new rules to govern unlicensed use of the 6 GHz band, GeoLinks agrees with various commenters that urge the Commission to create new rules that allow for and promote P2MP operations.  For example, the Dynamic Spectrum Alliance (“DSA”) and Starry urge the Commission to allow higher gain antennas and P2MP operations.[8]  Similarly, WISPA makes a number of suggestions that would allow for P2MP operations such as refraining from limiting the types of services that can be offered in the U-NII-5 and U-NII-7 bands.[9]

As GeoLinks has previously explained, P2MP technology creates opportunities to connect multiple users in a more cost-effective manner (even if miles apart), making it ideal for serving multiple customers in one area at a lower cost.  As Starry notes, “point-to-multipoint deployments are essential to fixed wireless providers.”[10]  Moreover, DCA explains that these technologies (as well as point-to-point) “will help improve connectivity and competition in all markets, including but not limited to underserved areas and rural communities.”[11]  For these reasons, GeoLinks urges the Commission to develop rules that allow for P2MP use in the 6 GHz Band.

  1. CONCLUSION

GeoLinks applauds the Commission’s efforts to make more spectrum resources available for wireless uses.  However, as the Commission strives to create policies and rules for unlicensed spectrum use in the 6 GHz Band, GeoLinks urges the Commission not to assume that more unlicensed spectrum is sufficient in and of itself to meet the ever-growing demand for these connections and to promote competition by creating rules that allow for P2MP use.

 

Respectfully submitted,

GEOLINKS, LLC

 

/s/ Skyler Ditchfield, Chief Executive Officer

/s/ Melissa Slawson, General Counsel/ V.P of Government Affairs and Education

 

March 18, 2019

[1] Unlicensed Use of the 6 GHz Band; Expanding Flexible Use in Mid-Band Spectrum Between 3.7 and 24 GHz, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, ET Docket No. 18-295 and GN Docket No. 17-183, FCC 18-147 (rel. Oct. 24, 2018) (“NPRM”).  The NPRM was published in the Federal Register on December 17, 2018.  See 83 Fed. Reg. 64506 (Dec. 17, 2018).
[2] NPRM at para. 4.
[3] See Comments of Broadcom Inc., ET Docket No. 18-295 (filed February 15, 2019) (“Broadcom Comments”) at 1, Comments of the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association, ET Docket No. 18-295 (filed February 15, 2019) (“WISPA Comments”) at 5, Comments of Dynamic Spectrum Alliance, ET Docket No. 18-295 (filed February 15, 2019) (“DSA Comments”) at 1.
[4] Broadcom Comments at 1.
[5] See WISPA Comments at 6-7 citing NPRM statements of Chairman Pai and Commissioners Carr, O’Rielly, and Rosenworcel.
[6] Broadcom Comments at 1
[7] NPRM statement of Commissioner Rosenworcel at 1.
[8] DSA Comments at 3, Comments of Starry, Inc., ET Docket No. 18-295 (filed February 15, 2019) (“Starry Comments”) at 2.
[9] See WISPA Comments at 10.
[10] Id.
[11] DSA Comments at 15.

GeoLinks Installs 88 High-Tech Cameras in Southern and Northern California to Provide Critical Insight in High Risk Fire Areas

In collaboration with ALERTWildfire, UC San Diego, University of Nevada Reno, CENIC, SCE and PG&E, in three months GeoLinks has installed 88 cameras to improve confirmation and response efforts in combatting California wildfires.

CAMARILLO, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–GeoLinks, a California-based telecommunications provider and competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC) public utility, has successfully installed and provided high speed, low latency, symmetrical data connections to 88 high-definition, pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras throughout Southern and Northern California to provide critical situational awareness during wildfire events. In collaboration with ALERTWildfire, University of California San Diego, University of Nevada, Reno, CENIC, Southern California Edison (SCE), and Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), the multi-hazard camera technology provides data related to fire ignition points critical in informing situational awareness and wildfire response.

This state-of-the-art camera network, developed and managed by UC San Diego and the University of Nevada, Reno, connects firefighting agencies with real-time imagery and environmental data enabling first responders to allocate and scale resources appropriately. Situated on GeoLinks’ vertical solar and wind-powered assets, the collected data is transmitted via GeoLinks’ ClearFiber™ network then handed off via a strategic partnership to CENIC’s private research and educational network to reach the universities, fire officials, utilities, and other users. This vital information allows involved parties to confirm ignition locations, verify 911 reports, image fire behavior, and ultimately deploy informed response and public warning.

“To give a little more context on GeoLinks involvement, we really dove head first in state disaster recovery efforts when hundreds of our clients, neighboring anchor institutions, and team members became displaced during the 2017 wildfires,” said GeoLinks Co-Founder and CEO Skyler Ditchfield. “When vital communications towers were destroyed by the fast-moving wildfire, our team worked around the clock to restore critical connectivity throughout affected counties. The same responsiveness transpired during 2018’s wildfire season; this included providing the same-day installation of a high capacity circuit for key Red Cross shelters free of charge. I realized what a difference we could make in this space with our unique capabilities of building rural and urban networks in off-the-grid locations where these are needed. Our dedication, passion, agility, and unique capabilities in supporting disaster recovery, initiated our involvement with our university collaborators.”

State, private, public and first-responder support for the expansion of this camera system is persistent and irrefutable. “The safety of my firefighters and the communities they protect is my priority, so having more information about a fire before we encounter it is an added safety measure that benefits our first responders,” said former San Diego Fire-Rescue Chief Brian Fennessy. “Having access to a live view of our highest fire risk areas will greatly improve situational awareness and our coordination with CAL FIRE. In turn, that allows for quicker response times, better response strategies and faster evacuation orders to ensure our communities are better prepared in the face of a wildfire. During the ignition of the Church Fire, I could watch the smoke on my iPhone, the color, the direction, and immediately knew the resources that I needed to deploy and the time they would be engaged. Furthermore, the crews could watch how the fire progressed on their iPads as they approached the fire, real-time situational awareness — these fire cameras are a game changer.”

The 88 new cameras are located throughout high fire-risk areas throughout California. SCE and PG&E, along with public agencies and the general public, have access to the camera feeds around-the-clock through the www.alertwildfire.org website to monitor wildfire activity. Up to 160 cameras are expected to be installed by GeoLinks throughout SCE’s service area by 2020, which will allow approximately 90 percent coverage in high fire-risk areas. Similar efforts are underway at PG&E to cover their service area.

“I see this project as more of a mission than just a new line of business. None of this would be possible without the amazing work of Dr. Neal Driscoll of UC San Diego and Dr. Graham Kent of UNR who have been the pioneers of this work,” continued Ditchfield. “Our collaboration is now to super charge their founding efforts. Also, big kudos to the utilities for getting this underway; it truly shows their dedication to making a difference in future fire mitigation. The effects of this work will be nothing short of lifesaving.”

For media inquiries contact Lexie Smith, GeoLinks’ VP of Business Development, at [email protected].

About GeoLinks

GeoLinks, a Southern California based telecommunications provider and competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC) public utility, is recognized on both a state and national level for its unparalleled capabilities in supporting disaster recovery. Named “Most Disruptive Technology” in the 2018 Central Coast Innovation Awards, GeoLinks’ innovative proprietary network, ClearFiber™, utilizes a combination of terrestrial fiber optic backhaul, carrier-grade full-duplex fixed wireless equipment, and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) licensed spectrum, to deliver ultra-reliable high-speed broadband Internet access to businesses and anchor institutions throughout California. With the unique ability to build solar and wind-powered redundant telecommunications facilities “off the grid,” GeoLinks is able to deploy broadband to remote and unserved communities in a fraction of the time and for a fraction of the cost of fiber. Consequently, the company is recognized as a leader in closing the digital divide and proudly sits on an array of national boards, coalitions, and working groups, including: the Schools, Healthcare & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition; the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA); the Broadband Consortium of the Pacific Coast (BCPC); and the FCC’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee. Recently the Company received the Christina Haska Distinguished Service Award from CENIC for GeoLinks’ pro-bono services providing critical data circuits to institutions during California’s recent natural disasters.

About CENIC • www.cenic.org

CENIC connects California to the world — advancing education and research statewide by providing the world-class network essential for innovation, collaboration, and economic growth. This nonprofit organization operates the California Research and Education Network (CalREN), a high-capacity network designed to meet the unique requirements of over 20 million users, including the vast majority of K-20 students together with educators, researchers, and others at vital public-serving institutions. CENIC’s Charter Associates are part of the world’s largest education system; they include the California K-12 system, California Community Colleges, the California State University system, California’s Public Libraries, the University of California system, Stanford, Caltech, USC, and the Naval Postgraduate School. CENIC also provides connectivity to leading-edge institutions and industry research organizations around the world, serving the public as a catalyst for a vibrant California. For more information, visit www.cenic.org.

Get to know GeoLinks’ Director of Client Operations Matt Price

Matt Price - GeoLinks

1. Let’s start with the basics, what’s your role at GeoLinks?

As the Director of Client Operations, I am tasked with overseeing a large portion of our day-to-day client facing activities. This mainly includes service installations and customer service. In addition, I work heavily with my counterparts in our Support and Infrastructure Departments.

2. What’s your favorite part about working for GeoLinks?

The technology. I am amazed to see the things we can do with wireless and solar technology.

3. What got you to the position you are in today…what came before GeoLinks?

Attention to detail and team work got me to where I am today. So much of what we all do in modern life requires a fast pace. Taking time to plan, review, and discuss the details with my colleagues has been extremely helpful for me. Before GeoLinks I worked in hospitality while attending University and then in Medical Device Sales post University. While working for a medical focused IOT manufacturer, I was first exposed to the more technical side of Wireless technology – which I found very interesting. Learning how GeoLinks leverages similar and more powerful wireless technology was a huge part of my desire to join the team.

4. What’s something that most GeoLinks’ clients might not know about the company?

I think the one thing that most clients may not know about us is that we are local and live with our core operations and support taking place at our Camarillo Headquarters.

GeoLinks - Matt Price5. Outside of work…what is your favorite pastime or hobby?

My favorite activity outside of work is going to see live music.

6. What’s something most of your coworkers don’t know about you?

I am a big Sci-Fi and Fantasy Movie Buff.

7. What’s your favorite (either personal or work-related) tech product or device? Why?

My favorite tech product would be the Nintendo Switch. I often play games with my nephew.

8. You are allowed to do anything you want, anywhere in the world, for one whole day…what do you do and where do you go?

I would go to Europe. I studied History at University and would like to see some of the historic landmarks of England, Ireland, and Scotland up-close. I am not sure how much I could pack into just one day, but I would try my best.

9. Do you have a favorite quote or mantra you live by?

I would have to say the Golden Rule. Treat others the way that you would like to be treated.

10. What’s next…what are you most excited for when you think of your future with GeoLinks?

I am most excited for continuing my growth and furthering my career. I’ve learned a lot working here GeoLinks, and I am ready for more!