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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.”

William G. Korver was a Reporter-Researcher for until August 2008.


LEO Satellite Technology Should Be in All Schools, Gigabit Libraries Network Says

Satellites, at the very least, can act as backup connections, webinar heard.



Don Means from the Gigabit Libraries Network

October 21, 2021 – Low earth orbit satellites, which are expected to help connect a portion of people who live in remote regions of the country, should be available to all libraries – even if it’s just for redundancy, the director of Gigabit Libraries Network said Thursday.

Don Means, the director of the organization that has a deal with SpaceX’s Starlink beta service to connect a “handful” of libraries, said the technology can be used as backup in the event of a disaster.

“We think this should be in every library, even if it’s a place that has a connection – this would be very valuable as a backup because consider any kind of lights out scenario in a community,” Means said. “With this system, it bypasses the local infrastructure, and if you have a power source and you have a [satellite] dish, you’re connected.”

Earlier this month, Means said libraries will need various ways to stay connected and provide access to public Wi-Fi. While the “cheapest, most equitable, most economical way to connect every community with next generation broadband is to run fiber to all of the 17,000 libraries,” Means said previously, other solutions will need to be considered where geography doesn’t allow for a direct fiber connection.

The LEO constellation is unique compared to other kinds of satellites because it hovers closer to earth, theoretically meaning it provides better connectivity and lower latency, or the time it takes for the devices to communicate with the network.

The House is waiting to vote on an infrastructure bill that will pour billions into broadband. People have debated what kinds of technology the money should go toward, with some arguing for hard wiring and others saying wireless technologies have a space at the table.

Despite having a deal with Starlink, Means said he encourages LEO satellite technology in general and not just Starlink in particular.

“We’re not advocates or agents for Starlink,” Means said, “it’s just they’re the first ones out there with this technology. There are others coming…this is a new thing, a burgeoning thing.”

Starlink said this summer it had shipped 100,000 terminals to customers.

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Google, Reliant On Success of 5G, Says It Wants Government-Funded Test Beds for Open RAN

Company says that the next generation of its products depend on 5G progress.



Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai

WASHINGTON, October 20, 2021 — Google made its case for regulators to make room for greater public-private collaboration in the wake of 5G and more research into open radio access network technologies.

Speaking at the FCBA’s “What’s New and Next in Wireless” session on Tuesday, Michael Purdy from Google’s product and policy team emphasized Google’s interest in the emerging 5G landscape, but wants a “collaborative environment” for innovation.

“5G is exciting because of Google’s products depend on 5G,” he said. “[Our] products can’t come to market without it.” Google’s recent product launches include smart-home technologies. Purdy says their products’ benefits are enhanced as 5G is deployed.

Google, like the technology sector at large, is building on the innovation that the “app economy” produced using existing 4G technology and plans to expand their software capabilities with 5G. “The app economy benefited consumers,” Purdy says. “Our lifestyles are going to depend on 5G.” For telehealth, “real time medical advice needs low latency [and] high speeds.”

However, Google hopes for better regulatory conditions during 5G deployment. “We haven’t been as focused on the FCC [for guidance] . . . we want stability to determine spectrum policy.”

Purdy said the company hopes to work collaboratively with government to find solutions for wider 5G deployment. “[We] want to know what position the government takes in creating an open RAN environment.”

The company said it wants government funded-test beds for open RAN, research into development to ensure that “the downside costs are defrayed.” In overcoming these challenges to 5G deployment, Purdy said Google wants the government to foster a “collaborative environment” to develop open RAN. “We don’t want government picking winners and losers in the innovation process” he said.

Purdy added that spectrum sharing between licensed and unlicensed users “can be good for consumers and for industry.”

The Federal Communications Commission has pushed for ways to develop open RAN to minimize network security risk, as the movement has gained significant momentum. FCC Acting Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel has described open RAN as having “extraordinary potential for our economy and national security.”

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Huawei Avoids Network Security Questions, Pushes 5G Innovation

Huawei’s CTO avoided questions about concerns over its network infrastructure security as countries ban its products.



Huawei carrier business CTO Paul Scanlan.

WASHINGTON, October 19, 2021 — Huawei’s chief technology officer did not address questions Monday about the company’s network security practices during a session on how 5G drives economic growth, but said the focus should be on the evolutionary technology instead.

Paul Scanlan, Huawei’s CTO in the carrier business group, focused his presentation at the Economist Impact Innovation@Work conference on the promise of 5G technology and ignored concerns about network safety.

“We can service more customers with 5G” to start bridging the digital divide, he said. The pandemic has given the company an insight into customer behavior to better channel its data traffic needs. “5G performs better for the types of services we use now” he says, such as video streaming and user-generated content.

Scanlan avoided specific questions about his company’s technology and steered the conversation toward providing faster speeds for the health care industry. “Give me some use instances where the company has introduced 5G and helped companies be efficient” asked the moderator, Ludwig Siegele. “I’d like to stick on the health care sector, that’s more topical as you can imagine,” Scanlan responded.

“People are missing [innovation in 5G] because of geopolitical issues around the world,” said Scanlan. “Being able to collect the data and analyze it is where the business benefit lies . . . 5G adoption through the [standardized network] ecosystem is very important and we see this with 5G” for interoperability with other companies and providers.

Huawei’s promotion of their telecommunications products continues as the U.S. maintains national security sanctions against the tech giant. The impact of U.S. sanctions results a drop in sales for the company in 2021. The FCC has also recommended that Huawei’s equipment be listed as “high risk” to U.S. network security. Huawei told the FCC it cannot show the company’s equipment is a threat to U.S. networks.

Huawei’s global head of cybersecurity said this summer that President Joe Biden‘s executive order banning investments in Chinese companies is a “policy misstep” that will not only lose the U.S. a huge market, but will just make the company more self-sufficient.

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