An article about rural Internet access in Rural Messenger, a weekly newspaper, piqued my interest recently. It started with a landowner a
couple of miles out of Great Bend decrying the fact that even though a fiber optic cable for high speed Internet crossed his land, he had no access to it. Instead, when his family needed more bandwidth to
accommodate virtual schooling and work at home during the CoVid19 pandemic, they had to buy a second $200 cellphone hotspot with a 15 GB/month data cap, for usable Internet. If they exceed their allocation, data
speeds throttle down to 600KBs, roughly 2% of the federal definition of broadband Internet. Streaming just one two hour movie would take 6 GB of that 15 GB allowed. The access he wanted from the point-to-point fiber
optic line was not to be, because it was not designed for that purpose when installed, nor was it economically feasible. If they granted him access, they would have to do the same for each landowner they crossed.
Some 130,000 rural Kansans share his lack of broadband Internet access. Fiber Optic line costs roughly $27 K per mile to install. That can be made to pay out when the density of users is high, but not when most
Kansas rural property has only an average of 31 persons per mile.
A solution may be developing, sooner than one might think. Elon Musk (SpaceX) is proposing space flights and even populating colonies on places
such as Mars, but realizes that even those brave souls will need broadband access. His solution involves broadband Internet via satellite distribution and yes, that is being done at present via a belt of Low Earth
Orbit (340 mile out) satellites near the US/Canadian border. So far, SpaceX has launched nearly 1,000 LEO's there for an Internet service called Starlink, and has announced plans to launch another belt of LEO's
further south over the Midwest as soon as later this year! The service may be available for a price point of less than $100/month, and is technically possible because the velocity of propagation through space is
about twice as fast as through fiber optics. Backers of they idea see satellite service serving 15-20% of the U.S. populace, and project that the service would be viable at the $100/month charge, figuring a network
cost of $10 Billion. It would service not only rural America, but some of Europe and ships at sea. SpaceX now has federal approval to launch 12K satellites, and has already filed for approval of another 30K LEO's!
Wouldn't geo-synchronous satellites reduce the number of required birds to accomplish the desired service? Keep in mind that the latency of that network would increase by some 53 times since they orbit at 18K miles.
SpaceX is not the only one interested. Jeff Bezos is working on his own network (Project Kuiper), hiring an ex-SpaceX guy to help him. However, the sleeping giant may have been awakened. This action of SpaceX is now
being challenged by those who foresee the expansion of LEO's, to the point they would interfere with humanity's view of the stars in the night sky - the very reason many people move away from light polluted cities.
They want their kids to be able to observe the wonders of the night sky without having to view it through a grid of moving LEO's. Keep abreast of developments on this item!
The problem with my HP laptop has been resolved! As I described last month, I had been dealing with HP warranty repair since mid-November of
2020, the computer sent in early in December, and that repair was on hold until their out-of-stock hinge supply could be replenished. Finally, toward the end of January, a lady named Carlene called me unannounced,
saying she was with HP, and in charge of an executive escalation of my repair case. She said in light of the delay, HP would send me a new computer if I desired, rather than wait for the hinges to arrive. Yes!
Although they could not match exactly the model I had, she gave me three options, and once I researched the specs for each option and announced my choice, she cut an order for it and forwarded a tracking number for
Fed Ex shipment to me by Thursday February 11. Finally, I was talking to an empowered person who was cognizant of my time and need for the tool that had been denied me for an inordinate amount of time. She was
polite, gave me choices, and did what she said she would do when she said it would be done. She was careful to update me on each phase of what she was doing along the way, confirming our phone conversations with
e-mails. She confirmed delivery and checked to make sure I was satisfied with the solution provided. Among the dross, HP has a jewel here. I hope they are aware of her excellence, and reward her well enough they can
retain her services, because she is one of those persons who will be successful wherever she is employed. Carlene represents HP Customer Service very well, and in the manner I knew HP in the past.
NewTek sent me an interesting offer the other day, It was an ebook download on the subject of 1.) how to create a better streaming program, 2.)
how to measure the quality of your creation, 3.) How to use the Tri-Caster to accomplish the above and keep your audiences. By tying and recording the number of persons connected to the streaming program time base,
it has created a real time rating service. You can then analyze where and when you lose your streaming audience, allowing you to improve the quality of your product as you strive for excellence. The tools used for
broadcasting have grown more and more complex, with precious little written information available on how to best apply and use them. I applaud NewTek. The book is only about six pages long, but puts forth good
suggestions and tells you how to implement them. Some are as simple as trying differing transitions between scenes. The Tri- Caster 2 Elite has a 60x45 router built in, with many new features including cropping on
all inputs of their router. A built-in proc amp helps with keying These are not features you will find on most routers, It's definitely worth checking out! All these items help to improve the excellence of your
streaming video. I know many think the Tri-Caster is kind of an emergency studio, or at best, a poor boy's switcher, but they have come along way from their beginnings, and can no longer be considered using the
above criteria. If your organization streams programming at all, you may want to acquire this informative book for your library. It was not a surprise that one of the topics of discussion before the last chapter
meeting opened, was how power outages, cold weather, and rolling blackouts had affected each person.
Jeff Gibson said the affiliates of KWCH had several outages, covered in most cases by their standby generators, except for Dodge City, whose
generator did not start. Needless to say, Chief Steve Reiter was making rounds in western Kansas during our meeting, keeping those stations on the air. Dale Morrell, KAKELAND Chief, had a short outage at KUPK-TV ch.
13 near Garden City with loss of electricity due to rolling blackouts. He had no damage due to tower ice. Robert Nelson said his home Generac performed flawlessly during an outage. Ron Jones, who fortified his
Topeka home with solar panels, said he had seen no problems. I did hear at one point, that power distribution from the wind turbine farms in Texas, was set up to transport power to the north, but those lines could
not be used to bring power south. At first that didn't make much sense, but when I got to thinking about it, that is the case with the Elk River wind farm located near Beaumont, KS. It was built by Empire Power and
Gas located in Joplin, MO, who built a transmission line from Beaumont to Joplin to bring the wind power generated to their switch point in Joplin There is no tie from the Beaumont end back into a power grid to the
west of that location. Neither did I realize the power coop in which Evergy is a partner, is so large it covers territory from the Canadian-US border south to much of northern Texas. What ever the case, it is
apparent there is considerable work needed on transmission and distribution lines in our power grids. Another thing I thought was true earlier, was that any capacity gained by installation of wind generators still
had to be covered by traditional generation methods to allow for days when the wind did not blow enough to operate the alternate source. Is that no longer so?
These and many other questions remain to be answered by executives of our energy companies and their regulators. The problem this has
caused is spiking prices on the open commodity market for natural gas and electricity. People in Texas that dumped local electric utilities in favor of spring up companies that sold cheaply from the open
market, didn't read the fine print, and were astounded to find their monthly bills hundreds of times greater than they were the previous month. Municipalities who bought electricity and natural gas off the open
markets were faced with the same problems, and have little resources to avoid passing that cost on to their consumers. The problem may well bankrupt small towns if a solution is not found, Yes, it likely will be
prevented if the Feds step in with relief, but that will simply get tacked on to the federal deficit, which must be dealt with eventually. I have noticed last fall and winter, seasoned firewood is selling for over
$100 to $120 per rick! When I was burning hedge wood as little as six years ago, hedge was selling for half that. If we do not have predicted rising temperatures with the predicted climate change, I don't know how
we are going to afford to heat our homes in the winter. If not, there may be mass migrations of people moving toward the tropics!
The Kansas Corporation Commission has finally ruled against Evergy, who wanted to charge those with solar arrays on their home, and were using
Evergy at least some of the time, an extra $3 per KWH. Ron Jones, SBE-3 member whose Manhattan home is 95%+ energy sufficient with solar panels, had likened this action to Kroger charging their customers who had
home gardens an extra fee to shop at their stores. Not a bad analogy at all. Barring the first order, Evergy had also sought to charge all customers a $35 per month minimum charge for connecting to their grid.
Neither ruling was allowed by the KCC. They cannot apply for another rate increase for two years, but it will be interesting to see what they come up with at that time. It does seem the utilities are leaning toward
fixed fees which do no drop if you use less of their product, and they do love to itemize. There are basic connection fees, Energy use fees*, Fuel used in generation*, Property tax surcharge, Transmission fees*, and
Energy Efficiency (whatever that is). Starred items above are variable, based on usage. I'm a little surprised they don't charge a usage fee for the meter on the house. The KCC, regulatory overseer, received more
than one thousand comments, mostly against the proposed rate increases, and the Kansas Supreme Court had ruled in April of 2020 that the proposed rate increase would have been discriminatory to both solar panel and
wind turbine owners. I'm not sure why it took the KCC nearly a year to officially decline the rate hike request. Solar advocates cheered the ruling, and said the power company's efforts were not conducive to
expanding green practices and reducing carbon emissions. It is beginning to look, however, as though solar array and wind turbine owners are going to have to increase the capacity of their solar systems, or buy
their own standby generators to be able to tell Evergy to "get off my property", and escape the power supplier's greed.
I know it may seem a bit odd to both blast and praise the electric utilities in the same issue of the newsletter. I understand the need of the
utilities to avoid buying on the open market in stressed times, and I've seen sweat break out on the brow of those charged with running the company during high use times when it looked as though they would have to
buy power to cover an emergency situation. I do not think punishing those consumers who have taken measures to reduce the load the utilities must produce is the correct way to increase their revenues After all, most
all of the electric utilities have interests in wind turbines, and some in solar voltaic arrays themselves, which makes it seem hypocritical. New SAE standards are being developed for no-plug-in charge for electric
vehicles. There are three overlapping ranges of vehicle ground clearances from 100 to 250 mm (3.9 to 9.8") and three levels of grid input to the GA up to 11.1 kVA. Parking tolerances are ±75 mm (3.0") in
the direction of travel and ±100 mm (3.9") in the lateral direction. You simply park your car over the charging unit to recharge. These could be installed for home use or in company parking lots. If installed
in public parking lots, a way to swipe your credit card to activate the charger would have to be installed. Either a standard for uniform placement of the charging receiver on vehicles would have to be made, or
wheel guides for each make of vehicle would have to be devised. March is here with with it come spring thunderstorms. How long has it been since you have checked your facility's grounding system, including ground
rod connections? I was shopping at the Yard surplus store recently and noticed some 3/4" braided tinned copper strapping that could be used to make grounding straps, or use copper sheet strips if you need to replace
faulty connections found during an inspection. 30