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Lawmakers Push to Understand Spectrum Needs of Public Safety Officials

WASHINGTON, June 18, 2010 – Lawmakers on Thursday reviewed different ways to treat spectrum, including auctioning it to the private sector and allocating it for public emergency services.



WASHINGTON, June 18, 2010 – Lawmakers on Thursday reviewed different ways to treat spectrum, including auctioning it to the private sector and allocating it for public emergency services.

Witnesses and lawmakers on the House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet discussed the Next Generation 9-1-1 Preservation Act.

Subpanel Chairman Rep. Rick Boucher, D-Va., called the opportunity to address the spectrum issue a “historic opportunity.”

Communications equipment for emergency first responders isn’t interoperable nationwide, spurring a host of problems. For example, New York firefighters in the World Trade Center towers during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks weren’t able to hear members of the New York Police Department via radio saying the buildings were going to collapse, resulting in almost 200 deaths.

If spectrum is auctioned off, lawmakers hope that the proceeds will be used to build a nationwide interoperable network.

But, emergency situation first responders say they need more spectrum to enable their networks to become interoperable.

However, if the “D Block” spectrum is auctioned with restrictions, companies are likely to bid less for it, reducing the pot of money for building the interoperable networks.

Joseph Hanley, vice president of technology planning and services for Telephone and Data Systems, which includes U.S. Cellular, defended auctioning of the D Block.

“A commercial auction of reasonably-sized D Block licenses followed by negotiated public/private partnerships will help meet both public safety and commercial broadband goals for the spectrum,” he said.

Ranking member Rep. Cliff Stearns of Florida asked if the first responders could rent the spectrum from the private sector.

Deputy Chief of the New York City Police Department Charles Dowd said, “Next in line, first in queue is not sufficient to do the work that we need to do.”

Dowd said they need the equipment to work all the time, especially in mission-critical situations, and relying on private sector service was not good enough.

He defended the needs of public safety first responders: “We urgently request that Congress take immediate action to reallocate and assign the 700 MHz D Block of broadband spectrum directly to public safety, rather than a public auction.”

James Barnett, chief of the public safety at the Homeland Security Department, said the average number of users, per megahertz of spectrum, of public safety-first responders is about 21,000 compared to almost 530,000 users in the private sector.

Barnett said that on an average day, 10 MHz is enough spectrum, but on some heavily used days, even 20 MHz isn’t enough.

Boucher pressed Dowd, who is also commanding officer of the New York City Police Department’s communications division, in regard to how much spectrum the first responders actually need.

Dowd said first responders use their radio systems in a way that, if you compare it to commercial use, is inefficient. Dowd also said this was because the average first responder needs more spectrum than the average cell user.

Steven Zipperstein, legal and external affairs and general counsel for Verizon Wireless, said, “As additional spectrum is available, however, it is critical that it not be burdened with restrictions or onerous conditions [like] ownership restrictions or auction limitations.”

Stearns recommended to Dowd that he find a fallback request because if they moved ahead with the D Block, they wanted first responders to be on board with whatever decision would be made.

David Cup is working at through an internship with the National Journalism Center. A student at the Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, he is pursuing the majors of Political Science and Journalism. He has worked on his school yearbook and written for the Franciscan Sports Information Department.

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Sen. Mark Warner Says He’ll Push to Make ‘Rip and Replace’ Funding a Priority

$1.5B Innovation Fund money must focus on O-Ran, senator says.



Photo of Senator Mark Warner, D-VA.

WASHINGTON, March 28, 2023 – Senator Mark Warner, D-Virginia, said Thursday that Congress needs to do more to ensure a fund intended to replace technologies in the country’s communications networks deemed a national security risk is replenished.

“We need more,” Warner said, responding to a question during his keynote speech at an event hosted by law firm Hogan Lovells about open radio access networks. Warner is the chair of the Senate select committee on intelligence and subcommittee on national security, and is a member of the budget committee and global competitiveness.

“[I’m] trying to make sure that that becomes enough of a priority,” Warner added. “We need to do it.”

The Federal Communications Commission was granted $1.9 billion for the rip and replace program as required by the Secure Networks Act. The program is intended to reimburse providers for removing perceived problematic gear, largely from Chinese companies like Huawei and ZTE, from their networks.

But the FCC has already identified a roughly $3 billion shortfall in the funds because requests from applicants far exceeded the amounts available. In January, the commission said in a report that nearly half of respondents required to submit status reports on their replacement efforts complained about a lack of funding.

Industry associations, including the Competitive Carriers Association and the Rural Wireless Association, have raised the issue to the FCC for months. The fact that the omnibus spending bill didn’t include rip and replace funding apparently “stunned” the Telecommunications Industry Association.

Warner’s comments came during a discussion on open and interoperable radio access networks, or O-RAN, which experts and officials said would lead to better security for the country’s networks. O-RAN is expected to allow providers use different vendors in their radio networks instead of relying on proprietary technologies from specific companies.

Specifically, Warner touched on the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s $1.5 billion Innovation Fund grant program, which is principally intended to promote open technologies and to seek alternatives to Chinese wireless products, which are attractive because of their relatively lower prices. The funds were provided by the Chips and Science Act of 2022.

But Warner warned that funding could get lost in other priorities.

“We need to make sure that this money is spent on O-RAN deployment and not simply cyber training under a different name, so I still got work to do with the administration,” Warner said. “I need your help and support on that,” he told the crowd of experts, which included global telecoms.

Warner said there needs to be more American company involvement in international standard-setting bodies, especially for O-RAN, so that there are existing alternatives to problematic company products.

He also said there needs to be more test sites for O-RAN, such as in India. “We need more markets to try this out,” he said of O-RAN.

“We need to push, both domestically and around the world, on more test beds to try out this technology as we see it rolled out…we need to test it.

“The [Chinese Communist Party] is not playing for second place.”

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John Cinicolo: The Benefits of Deploying Small Cells in the Next Phase of 5G

The true benefits of 5G are delivered with millimeter wavelength frequencies of 24 GigaHertz and above.



The author of this Expert Opinion is John Cinicolo, who leads Tillman Digital Cities’ Technical Operations.

The digital divide continues to grow, but a solution may be here: small cells. As we enter into the next phase of 5G, cell carriers need to understand the importance of deploying small cells to increase connectivity and help close the digital gap that many Americans are facing. Here’s how small cells can help bridge the digital divide and what impact they will have on communities and the overall infrastructure market.

While 5G can be deployed across all frequency bands, the true benefits are delivered with mmWave (24 GigaHertz and above) frequencies.  These frequencies support increased data bandwidth and speed over a smaller, dense user environment.  In this context, 5G mmWave small cells are ideal as a targeted overlay for high bandwidth areas where 4G provides only the foundation of service.

At these frequencies, the benefits of 5G mmWave small cells include:

  • High data rates/bitrate
  • Very low latency
  • Wide channel bandwidth for higher data capacity
  • Small sized advanced antenna systems to implement high performance Massive-MIMO, RF Beamforming and Radio Frequency Beam Steering

However, the tradeoffs of 5G mmWave small cells include:

  • Smaller coverage area due to Radio Frequency propagation characteristics, i.e. poor wall penetration
  • Fronthaul requirements for high data capacity and throughput
  • Handset designs required to support Radio Frequency benefits, i.e. Massive-MIMO antenna.

As 4G evolved, many enhancements were implemented such as MIMO and carrier aggregation, which improved performance. The additional performance improvements of 5G are somewhat dependent on frequency bands. At low bands (sub 3 GHz) the performance benefits over 4G are relatively minor since these bands have narrower channel bandwidth with a slower data rate.  Coverage area is larger at these frequencies which is a benefit for use on macro towers.  However, since antenna designs are a function of frequency, Massive-MIMO features require a relatively large and heavy antenna array which is not generally practical, so there are limitations in the implementation of those Radio Frequency enhancements.

The availability of Midband frequencies (3-6 GHz) has improved this, which includes C-Band and Auction 110 frequencies in the 3.4 GHz to 4 GHz range in the U.S.  These frequencies offer a balance of coverage and performance including a wide channel bandwidth, but do not match the low latency and high data rate characteristics of mmWave.  5G deployment in this frequency range is practical in areas where total data throughput demand is high and coverage area requirements are moderate, so fewer small cells are required in this frequency compared to mmWave.

mmWave small cells provide the highest performance of 5G and are ideal for concentrated areas of high traffic and/or low latency requirements.  The hardware is smaller in size due to the Radio Frequency design characteristics which reduces deployment restrictions and aesthetics.  Due to its small coverage area this service would typically be targeted as an overlay of 4G service.

Overall, the implementation of 5G small cells must consider the frequency bands and their capabilities in order to meet the performance needs of the targeted area.

How small cells can mitigate local concerns of larger towers being developed

Radio Frequency characteristics are a key factor for determining macro network densification.  For example, tall towers using low bands can serve a large coverage area, but that also means that its capacity is shared over that larger area. This is ideal for rural areas with low user density, but not so much for dense urban areas.  Small cells are needed to further densify the mobile networks in areas where the coverage area and corresponding traffic demand is in line with the solution being designed.

As the frequency range increases, the size of antennas decreases.  For example, a Massive MIMO antenna for a low band tower can be over 6 feet tall, yet the size of a postage stamp in a mmWave small cell is much smaller  Therefore, higher frequency small cells can be more easily concealed, especially with mmWave small cells, and can be more easily approved by local entities.

The cellular infrastructure market in 2023

Tillman Digital Cities is focused on supporting mobile carriers in densifying their networks where they need it most: indoors.  As we know, the majority of mobile calls are made indoors yet mobile coverage is generally more challenging.  This is further impacted by new building construction materials for energy efficiency and LEED certification where Low-E glass significantly attenuates Radio Frequency signal penetration, resulting in poor indoor signal levels from the outdoor towers.

The challenge for mobile carriers is how to solve this problem for the vast majority of buildings that fall below their priorities which are driven most often by venue size.  TDC’s approach to solve this indoor mobile coverage and capacity problem includes leveraging newer technologies that are more economical to deploy.  This allows us to offer innovative and cost-effective options to both the mobile carriers and the real estate owners where TDC owns and manages these solutions over their lifespan including upgrades to new technologies and services.  We see the increasing demand for indoor service, both coverage and capacity, across all venue types.

John Cinicolo leads Tillman Digital Cities’ Technical Operations function including solution architecture, technology strategy, program execution and technical services.  Cinicolo has more than 35 years of experience building mobile technology business around the world in leadership roles with global network infrastructure provides and entrepreneurial startups.  He holds a Bachelors of Engineering in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada. This piece is exclusive to Broadband Breakfast.

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

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Industry Dissent on Whether Spectrum Sharing is Sustainable

Experts disagree on the capabilities of spectrum sharing, particularly the CBRM model.



Photo of Colleen King of Charter Communications, John Hunter of T-Mobile, and Matthew Hussey of Ericsson (left to right)

WASHINGTON, March 22, 2023 – Industry leaders disagreed on the capabilities of spectrum sharing and its future in the United States at a Federal Communications Bar Association event Wednesday. 

Dynamic spectrum sharing – a technology that allows for 4G, LTE, and 5G wireless to be used in the same frequency bands – is essential to a successful national spectrum strategy, said Jennifer McCarthy of Federated Wireless.  

Establishing a combination of access points for one frequency band can open its availability for all prospective users, she continued, touting the success of the Citizens Broadband Radio Service established by the Federal Communications Commission in 2012. 

CBRS is the spectrum in the 3.5 GHz to 3.7 GHz band which is shared through a three-tiered framework. Access to the spectrum is managed by a dynamic spectrum access system where incumbent users have protected access, priority access users enter through competitive auction, and general authorized access is given to a broad pool of users when not in use by others.  

Representative of T-Mobile, John Hunter, disagreed, claiming that dynamic spectrum sharing means there is less power available for technologies, particularly on higher frequencies that don’t propagate very far despite power disparities. As such, deploying the CBRS framework at scale across the country is not cost-feasible, he said. 

We should not conclude to share just for the sake of sharing, he said, particularly because it will decrease utility of the band so much that it will decline quality of networks down the line. “In many cases, sharing just outright won’t work,” said Hunter.  

Colleen King, vice president of regulatory affairs at Charter Communications, pushed against the argument that dynamic sharing’s lower power will stop providers from providing great service, claiming that it instead allows for more carriers to provide great service. In fact, the CBRS auction had 228 winning bids, 10 times the amount of other spectrum auctions, she said. 

The FCC’s Communications Marketplace Report showed that in one market where Verizon is using the CBRS framework, the company is providing “much faster speeds” than its other markets, King cited. Charter will use the CBRS system for its spectrum uses, she said. 

Panelists nevertheless agreed on the importance of maintaining US leadership in the spectrum space by developing a national spectrum strategy to address sharing issues. 

The panel followed considerable debate over spectrum allocation, sharing, and expansion. Earlier this week, industry leaders suggested that the allocation process be updated in preparation for future disputes. Additionally, debate continues over whether 5G operations can be shared on the 12 GHz spectrum with satellite service providers.  

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