Connect with us


Google President Calls for Access Beyond the Wire

Regulatory and political policies, and not technological barriers, are inhibiting the spread of wireless broadband, said Google co-founder Larry Page.



WASHINGTON, May 22 – Regulatory and political policies, and not technological barriers, are inhibiting the spread of wireless broadband Internet, Google co-founder Larry Page said Thursday.

Page said that vast swaths of the broadcast television band lie fallow because of the vacant channels wedged between the station frequencies that are used. These so-called “white spaces” could be redeployed by using them for broadband, or high-speed Internet transmissions, Page said.

Page spoke at an event, “Google Unwired,” hosted by the non-profit New America Foundation. Page, who co-founded Google with Sergey Brin, is president of products. Company CEO Eric Schmidt is the incoming chairman of New America’s board.

Page called it a “totally simple brain-dead thing” to use spectrum-sensing technologies that would “know” their geographic location and connect to the Internet only when such transmissions would not interfere with television broadcasts.

Doing this “makes a lot of sense,” and would put the nation on “a path where we are using 99 percent of our spectrum, rather than 3 percent,” Page said at the event, which was titled “Google Unwired.”

Page decried the opposition of the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), whose members currently control the television spectrum. The National Cable Television Association (NCTA) has also opposed the move to redeploy channels toward broadband because of concern of interference with cable television reception.

But a group of technology giants, including Dell, Intel, Microsoft, Phillips and Google, maintain that wireless broadband technologies do not interfere with television reception. Page said that prototypes developed by Phillips and other companies have successfully avoided interference with licensed channels.

Refusing to allow vacant channels to be used for broadband could lead America to fall further behind in international broadband rankings, Page said.

In addition to the opposition from the NAB, the makers of wireless microphones, as well as the sports leagues that use wireless transmission during live events, oppose the tech companies’ push into white spaces. Page said he is “totally convinced” that the fears of the NAB are unfounded. The FCC has a “great record” of assuring that no harmful interferences take place, he said.

Public safety officials can also benefit from wireless communications over the vacant channels, said Page. Wireless broadband is more resilient and offers superior services in times of distress than the alternative wired network that is centralized in one location. Corpus Christi, Texas, is one such city, said Page.

Although the United States ranked among the top three or four countries in broadband penetration as recently as 2001, the United States has since fallen to 16th because of what Page characterized as its reluctance to trailblaze. Many countries might follow America’s lead if the United States were to standardize wireless broadband access over the vacant channels.

Page also noted that advancements in technology drive down costs over time. These lower prices, together with other steps to improve connectivity, could enhance economic growth.

Speaking about Google’s other ventures into wireless spectrum, including bidding on other frequencies made available by the transition to digital television and offering broadband access in Mountain View, Page said: “Organizing the world’s information is a pretty big task.” While the company would prefer to avoid providing connectivity, “if we are forced to do access, we will do it.”

While Google is one of the leading champions for the change from broadcast to broadband, Page said his company does not have a direct self-interest in the switch from broadcast to broadband. However, since an increase in broadband availability “translates into more revenue” for Google, Page also said that his company would benefit from increasing the ability of American residents to have access to wireless Internet.

Also addressing concerns about Google’s attempt to structure a joint venture with Yahoo, and to forstall Microsoft’s efforts to acquire Yahoo, Page said: “When you have 90 percent of communications in one company, that is a pretty big risk, especially one with a history of doing bad stuff.”

Expert Opinion

Dave Wright: Shared Relocation Fund Will Make More of Finite Spectrum Resource

‘Wireless connectivity is one of the most vital aspects of our digital infrastructure.’



The Author of this Expert Opinion is Dave Wright, president of OnGo Alliance and head of global wireless policy at Hewlett Packard Enterprise

In order to meet the gaps in broadband connectivity that persist throughout the country, we must have a more comprehensive view for the necessity of all available spectrum – whether shared, licensed or unlicensed – understanding that they are complementary and independently important to our nation’s future.

As we figure out how we will meet the needs of an increasingly wireless world, it is critical that we think collaboratively on how we can free up and share spectrum, working closely and cooperatively with the federal agencies responsible for our nation’s spectrum resources, the Federal Communications Commission and the National Telecommunication and Information Administration.

With recent confirmed leadership appointments in the NTIA and FCC, and renewed focus on collaboration and collegiality between these organizations, there is hope for renewed effectiveness in America’s overall management of our spectrum resources.

From a policy perspective, the OnGo Alliance is working to shed light on the incentives that inherently exist around the way spectrum is made available today. For terrestrial uses, there are two long established methods for making spectrum available – via a licensing process including an auction of the frequencies, or via an unlicensed allocation where spectrum is made available on a license-exempt basis.

Licensed bands have given rise to our cellular connectivity, while unlicensed spectrum has enabled innovations like the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth solutions that we know and depend upon today. The near ubiquitous presence of these technologies speaks to the efficacy of these approaches. The US 3.5 GHz Citizens Broadband Radio Service is the first spectrum access framework that combines aspects of licensed (protected access) and unlicensed (opportunistic access) spectrum within a single, dynamically managed access paradigm.

Congress has increasingly been looking to licensed spectrum auctions as a source of revenue to cover the funding requirements for new programs. And Federal users who are occupying spectrum and then make the spectrum available for auction can take advantage of monies made available through the Spectrum Relocation Fund to cover the costs associated with transitioning their systems.

The SRF is in turn funded based the resulting auction revenues. These are examples of the current incentives in the system which are either directly or indirectly tied to auction revenues of licensed spectrum. These incentives inherently bias the policymaking processes toward licensed spectrum, at the expense of unlicensed and/or opportunistic spectrum like we have in the CBRS General Authorized Access tier.

This bias is not helpful in our quest to provide accessible broadband throughout the nation as unlicensed and GAA are key components in most solutions, from Wi-Fi as the “last meter” connection to a fixed broadband network to GAA’s prominent role in rural fixed wireless offerings.

CBRS is an optimal framework for putting mid-band spectrum to intensive uses for a wide variety of uses. In the only two years since CBRS commercial operations were approved by the FCC, over 225,000 CBRS base stations have been installed nationwide.

Collaboration between cloud players, system integrators, radio vendors and operators has reached critical mass, building a vibrant, self-sustaining ecosystem. CBRS has allowed enterprises and rural farms alike the opportunity to install private 4G and 5G networks that are connecting IoT devices – from factory robots to autonomous farm equipment. School districts, airports, military bases and logistics facilities, factories, hospitals, office buildings, and public libraries are only but a few of the limitless facilities where connectivity has been enabled by CBRS spectrum.

Wireless connectivity is one of the most vital aspects of our digital infrastructure, and we must use all of the available resources in order to make broadband as ubiquitous as any other utility. Our policymaking, and the incentives around it, must account for the fact that all types of spectrum are important – whether licensed, unlicensed or shared – and that it is vital to ensure that there are proper allocations of each type to meet the relentless demand. We must work together to make the most of what we have.

Dave Wright played an instrumental role in the formation of the OnGo Alliance (originally known as the CBRS Alliance), collaborating with other founding members to create a robust multi-stakeholder organization focused on the optimization of LTE and 5G services in the CBRS band. He served as the Alliance’s first Secretary from its launch in August 2016 and was elected as the President of the Alliance in February 2018. He advocates for unlicensed, licensed, and dynamic sharing frameworks – recognizing the vital role that all spectrum management regimes play in our increasingly wireless world. This piece is exclusive to Broadband Breakfast.

Broadband Breakfast accepts commentary from informed observers of the broadband scene. Please send pieces to The views expressed in Expert Opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Broadband Breakfast and Breakfast Media LLC.

Continue Reading


Optional Security Features for 5G Technology Poses Risks

The next generation wireless technology is being touted as the most secure yet.



Photo of Dan Elmore of the Idaho National Labratory

WASHINGTON, July 28, 2022 – 5G technology can still present security concerns despite being touted as the most secure of the cellular generations, said Dan Elmore of the Idaho National Laboratory at a 5G Future event Thursday.

In response to the emerging challenge of validating 5G security protocols and data protection technologies, the Idaho National Laboratory established its Wireless Security Institute in 2019 to coordinate government, academic, and private industry research efforts to foster more secure and reliable 5G technology.

While 5G network offers a “rich suite” of security features in the standards, most of it is optional for manufacturers and developers to choose to implement in their system or device, said Elmore, who is the director for critical infrastructure security at the INL. This poses a significant challenge for 5G, particularly for critical infrastructure applications, as consumers may not know how standards are implemented, Elmore said.

Elmore urged consumers, especially federal agencies, to ask the hard questions and consider “what vulnerabilities might be present in how they [manufacturers and developers] employ those standards that could be exploited.”

5G is designed to allow cellular devices to connect at higher speeds with lower latency, the delay in loading requests, than previous generations. Already, wireless carriers are incorporating it into devices and working on national 5G networks.

Because of its facilitation of real-time monitoring, 5G technology is expected to help tackle critical issues like climate change and environmental sustainability.

Continue Reading


Ookla Names T-Mobile Fastest, Most Consistent Mobile Service Provider

68.5 percent of T-Mobile customers spent a majority of their time on 5G networks during the quarter, Ookla said.



Photo of T-Mobile Headquarters in Bellevue, WA

WASHINGTON, July 18, 2022 – A market report released Monday by performance metrics company Ookla named T-Mobile as the fastest and most consistent mobile operator in the United States during the second quarter of 2022, with a substantial percent of its customers spending the majority of time on its 5G network in that period.

The latest report for April, May and June showed that T-Mobile achieved a median download speed of 116.54 Mbps with its competitor Verizon Wireless averaging at 59.67 Mbps and AT&T at 54.64 Mbps.

The company also scored the highest in upload speeds, averaging at 11.72 Mbps with Verizon and AT&T trailing at 9.14 Mbps and 7.00 Mbps respectively. Median latency – the time it takes the device to communicate with the network – for T-Mobile was 31 milliseconds, with Verizon at 32 ms and AT&T at 34 ms.

According to company’s Speedtest Intelligence data, T-Mobile also had the highest consistency in the U.S. with 85.7 percent of results showing at least 5 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload speeds.

T-Mobile continues to take the cake for the fastest median 5G download speeds in the U.S. at 187.33 Mbps, a slight decrease from the first quarter results. According to the Ookla report, 68.5 percent of T-Mobile customers spent a majority of their time on 5G networks during the quarter compared to 31.2 percent of Verizon customers.

T-Mobile was named the fasted mobile provider in the first quarter of 2022 and was reported to be the leading provider in 5G performance last month.

The report named Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra as the fastest popular device in the United States and the District of Columbia as the top spot for fastest median mobile download speeds at the state level.

Ookla is a sponsor of Broadband Breakfast.

Continue Reading


Signup for Broadband Breakfast

Get twice-weekly Breakfast Media news alerts.
* = required field