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FCC Begins Field Tests of 'White Space' Prototypes, Motorola Passes 'Without a Hitch'

ELKRIDGE, MARYLAND, July 16 – The FCC on Wednesday began field testing wireless internet devices that transmit signals over broadcast television frequencies by examining the reliability of prototypes designed by Motorola and Philips Electronics at a state park here.

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By William G. Korver, Reporter, BroadbandCensus.com

ELKRIDGE, MARYLAND, July 16 – The Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday began field testing wireless internet devices that transmit signals over broadcast television frequencies by examining the reliability of prototypes designed by Motorola and Philips Electronics at a state park here.

The tests are part of an FCC proceeding to consider allowing low-power internet devices to use vacant television frequencies, or “white spaces.” About 12 sites will be tested over a period of four weeks, according to the FCC. Laboratory tests have already been taken on several of these devices.

On this first day of field testing, Motorola’s device appeared to perform better than did Philips’. The Motorola device took less time to scan for available frequencies, and did not transmit signals over frequencies reserved for other uses.

Both devices were tested twice from two separate locations in the Avalon parking area of the Patapsco Valley State Park here, about three-quarters of the way from Washington to Baltimore.

The measurements were taken in a van in the parking lot. An antennae was placed 30 feet in the air to simulate a residence and to measure television signal strength.

Tests were not taken on devices designed by Adaptrum and I2R on Wednesday because of an FCC error. Those tests will likely be completed on Thursday or Friday. Microsoft’s device was not tested at the request of Microsoft.

Motorola officials expressed satisfaction with these preliminary results.

The testing “went off without a hitch,” according to one Motorola engineer, who refused to identify himself to this reporter.

A second engineer, who also refused to identify himself, said that his prototype’s use of geolocation – in addition to frequency sensing – helped to distinguish itself from the competition.

One of the engineers said that, with an FCC regulation governing design parameters, Motorola would be able to have a working model on the market within eight months.

The Philips device falsely located channel 37 as available white space, an FCC official said. Channel 37 is reserved for radio astronomy and medicial telemetry.

Major technology companies, including Google and Intel, as well as Microsoft, Motorola and Philips, want to make use of the “white spaces” to provide additional spectrum for broadband, or high-speed internet technologies.

Because of the wide spacing between television channels (a product of interference concerns under 1952-era television technology), many broadcast frequencies are unused within a given area.

But these vacant channels differ in different locations. In the Washington area, channels 20 and 26 are occupied by broadcasters, for example. In Baltimore, channels 22 and 32 are occupied. To avoid interfering with television signals, devices need to be able to “sense” their location, either via a global positioning system (GPS) or through radio-frequency analysis, or both.

During the testing, Motorola’s prototype took several minutes to scan for possible “white spaces.” Philips’ device took around 15 minutes.

Because the power was accidentally turned off twice, Adaptrum and I2R will likely complete their tests on Thursday or Friday.

Satellite

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

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

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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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5G

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.

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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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5G

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.

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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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