Weekly output: Starlink, spectrum coordination, flight delays (x2), T-Mobile and Verizon 5G home broadband, Mark Vena podcast

About one year later than I’d planned, I’m flying to Las Vegas Tuesday to cover the Black Hat information-security conference. Two big factors in my deciding to go ahead with that trip this year: My kid is now vaccinated and boosted, while I had Covid barely seven weeks ago.

8/2/2022: SpaceX’s Starlink has soared, but a course correction may be on the horizon, Fast Company

More weeks ago than I’d like to admit, one of my editors asked if I could do a more in-depth look at the progress of SpaceX’s Starlink low-Earth-orbit broadband constellation. A day after this piece ran, Reddit’s ever-informative r/starlink served up new evidence of capacity issues at this service: a new rate plan in France that cuts the monthly rate in half but imposes a 250 GB threshold for possible speed deprioritization.

8/2/2022: 2 Key Federal Telecom Agencies Promise to Play Nice With Wireless Spectrum, PCMag

Two federal offices about two miles apart in D.C. pledged to work better together in spectrum planning. That might seem like an obvious thing to do, but the Federal Communications Commission and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration last updated this memorandum of understanding in 2003.

Story as seen in Chrome on a Pixel 5a phone, showing its lead illustration: a photo of people waiting on line at an airport.8/3/2022: Don’t Get Stranded: How to Watch for Flight Delays and Get Around Them, PCMag

A discussion on PCMag’s Slack workspace about coping with travel hiccups led to me asking if I could write this story, and not just because I’d like to recoup my added travel costs from my unplanned extra night in Toronto in June.

8/3/2022: How Verizon ‘fixed wireless’ and T-Mobile home broadband is converting cable customers, USA Today

After a reality-check interview with an analyst who reminded me that fiber scales so much better to meet demand than fixed wireless can, this column on the progress of T-Mobile and Verizon’s 5G-based home broadband got a bit less enthusiastic about its potential.

8/4/2022: S02 E32 – SmartTechCheck Podcast, Mark Vena

My main contribution to this discussion was talking about my Starlink story, but if you watch the video of the podcast you can also see me scowl at a Lightning cable.

8/5/2022: DOT Moves to Strengthen Rules on Refunds for Flight Changes, Cancellations, PCMag

Speaking of travel delays, I returned to the subject to cover a set of proposed Department of Transportation rules that would clarify what counts as a significant schedule change and a cancelled flight–and require either non-expiring trip credits or straight-up refunds for travel canceled because of a future pandemic.

Weekly output: Google location-privacy lawsuit, C-Band 5G and aviation safety, Neil Young vs. Spotify, broadband nutrition labels, C-Band 5G explained

The traffic stats for my post about where I should move my home e-mail account once Google will start charging for it suggest I’m not alone in this confusion. Readers: story assignment received.

1/24/2022: Lawsuits Accuse Google of Surveilling Customers, Profiting From Their Data, PCMag

For once, a request for comment from a giant tech company accused of misconduct by multiple states yielded a data point I didn’t know before: At some recent point (Google hasn’t told me when), the company began limiting the accuracy of its location estimates for Web searches to a “general area” no smaller than one square mile.

Screenshot of Arirang's Global Insight page listing recent episodes, as seen on an Pixel 5a on T-Mobile 5G1/26/2022: What’s going on with 5G and flights?, Arirang TV

In what I’m pretty sure was my debut on Korean TV, this English-language news network had me on its Global Insight show to talk about the intersection of C-Band 5G wireless and aviation safety, as well as the broader picture for 5G in the U.S.

1/26/2022: Neil Young to Spotify: Since You Won’t Dump Joe Rogan, I’m Dumping You, PCMag

I would have written this faster if I hadn’t made a point of stuffing multiple references to Neil Young’s work into the post.

1/27/2022: FCC to Require ISPs to Post Broadband ‘Nutrition Labels’, PCMag

Almost six years after I wrote about an earlier attempt by the Federal Communications Commission to encourage Internet providers to list the basic parameters of their service in a nutrition-label format, the FCC voted to write rules making such a thing mandatory.

1/30/2022: What is C-Band? Here’s what a new 5G flavor means for AT&T and Verizon users, USA Today

This explainer about C-Band 5G offered advice about how to read Verizon’s 5G coverage map. It also shared some hope, possibly foolish hope, that these mid-band 5G frequencies can lead to a meaningful expansion of Americans’ choices in home broadband.