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WiMax is Dead. Long Live WiMax?

WASHINGTON, August 5, 2010 – WiMax has always been seen as one of the ideal solutions to bring high-speed internet access to rural America, but it has yet to achieve its full potential. With the majority of mobile providers choosing long term evolution, or LTE, as their preferred 4G technology, WiMax seems to have lost its momentum. However the technology has become increasingly popular in Asia.

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WASHINGTON, August 5, 2010 – WiMax has always been seen as one of the ideal solutions to bring high-speed internet access to rural America, but it has yet to achieve its full potential.

With the majority of mobile providers choosing long term evolution, or LTE, as their preferred 4G technology, WiMax seems to have lost its momentum. However the technology has become increasingly popular in Asia.

The recent announcement that Clearwire, one of the few nationwide WiMax providers, will begin LTE trials has added another nail in the WiMax coffin. However, on Wednesday the Department of Agriculture awarded 10 grants to Maryland-based Utopian Wireless, which is based on WiMax technology.

WiMax is able to provide high-speed access of up to 144 megabits per second downstream and 35 mbps up over a coverage area of 3,000 square miles.

Clearwire has been making partnerships with Sprint, BestBuy and Comcast and its announcement to test LTE is a bit of a shock.

The firms said in a statement that it plans to conduct the tests in collaboration with Huawei Technologies, the same infrastructure provider which deployed the world’s first commercial LTE network in Europe, using the same spectrum band and flexible base station platform that Clearwire utilizes in the United States

Clearwire also will be testing LTE on Samsung Electronics’ common base station platform, which it currently uses for its mobile WiMAX deployments. During the trials, Clearwire says it will collaborate with Beceem and other partners to determine the “best methods for enabling end-user devices to take advantage of a potential multi-mode WiMAX/LTE network.”

The first trials will begin next year in Phoenix.

Meanwhile, Utopian Wireless is planning to expand its coverage area. The announcement by the Department of Agriculture will allow the firm to expand its network in seven states.

“This funding will allow Utopian to immediately begin providing services to many people who have been left out of the broadband revolution,” said Utopian Chairman and CEO Rudy Geist. “It will also serve as a basis for our continued growth as an emerging 4G wireless provider, enabling Utopian to deploy more markets covered by our considerable 2.5 gHz spectrum position.”

The firm currently holds the rights to the 2.5 gigahertz band of spectrum in 24 states and plans to deploy a large-scale nationwide network.

In Asia, WiMax has grown increasingly popular, a recent report by TeleGeography shows 1.7 million pre-WiMAX and WiMAX customers in Asia at the end of March 2010 compared to 1.4 million in the United States and Canada.

With the global 4G subscriber total standing at more than 5.7 million, the Asia-Pacific region now accounts for 29 percent of the overall market, up from 22 percent a year earlier and just 6 percent at the end of 2006, according to TeleGeography.

Due to the low cost of deployment and wide coverage, it has become a preferred method of distribution for operators in Asia where last mile connections are expensive.

“There is massive potential for high speed internet access in Asia, and WiMAX broadband wireless networks are witnessing strong demand. Growth is coming not just in developing markets like India, but also in more developed markets such as Japan where broadband internet penetration is already relatively high,” said TeleGeography Analyst Peter Bell.

While it has taken a number of years for the promise of WiMax to become a reality, it is finally being implemented. Clearwire is continuously adding new cities to its network and Utopian also will be expanding beyond the sites for which it has received grant funding.

According to statements by Verizon, LTE will not be available for widespread use in the United States until 2012 at the earliest.

Robb Henshaw, director of marketing at Proxim Wireless, does not see a single 4G winner but rather a set of technologies from which consumers can choose.

“In some locations, people will only have access to WiMAX for 4G access. In others, they will only have the option of LTE for 4G access. And in some locations – in 2012 to 2013 – consumers will be lucky enough to have the option to choose either WiMAX or LTE networks. In those cases, just as we see with today’s 3G networks, people will make their choices based on which provider they trust most or which service they’ve received the best recommendations for – but it is highly unlikely that either will displace each other.”

Rahul Gaitonde has been writing for BroadbandBreakfast.com since the fall of 2009, and in May of 2010 he became Deputy Editor. He was a fellow at George Mason University’s Long Term Governance Project, a researcher at the International Center for Applied Studies in Information Technology and worked at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. He holds a Masters of Public Policy from George Mason University, where his research focused on the economic and social benefits of broadband expansion. He has written extensively about Universal Service Fund reform, the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program and the Broadband Data Improvement Act

Mobile Broadband

Policymakers Urge Better Broadband Maps, Seek Funding for ‘Rip and Replace,’ and Tout Open Radio Networks

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Screenshot of Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi

October 23, 2020 — Policymakers called for more accurate broadband maps, continued progress against robocalls, and the use of an open radio access network for advanced wireless communications at the Competitive Carriers Association’s policy forum on Wednesday.

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi, emphasized new broadband maps in his speech. Wicker noted that Congress recently passed Broadband Data Act, which he authored, requiring the FCC to change the way broadband data is collected.

“Current data claims Mississippi has 98 percent mobile broadband coverage,” said Wicker, adding that the claim is “ridiculous.”

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, D-New Jersey, addressed the achievements of the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act in battling robocalls in his keynote. He thanked CCA members for their help in passage of the measure.

Pallone also called for the passage of the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act, which aims to fund small providers replacing Chinese-made telecommunications equipment in their networks. The program is often dubbed “rip and replace.”

“Replacing Chinese-made gear is going to cost billions, anywhere from to $1.6 to 1.8 billion,” said Pallone, “Congress needs to provide monetary assistance” to small carriers.

Federal Communications Commission Commissioner Brendan Carr championed the use of open radio access networks during his keynote, saying that for CCA members, the unbundling that open RAN technology requires will result in increased competition in the marketplace.

Competitive Carriers Association represents more than 100 wireless carriers and stakeholders.

CCA CEO Steven Berry thanked CCA members for rising to the circumstances presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. He said many members extended service to users and waived fees to keep consumers connected.

Berry said wireless connectivity “has given people exactly what they need” during these times of hardship.

“Small carriers serving remote and rural areas need to have a seat at the table in Washington D.C.” to influence government policies that directly affect industry operations, such as the ability to access spectrum, said Berry.

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Broadband Roundup: Mobile World Congress Cancelled, Yang Bows Out, Ajit Pai at Wind River Tribe

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Photo of Ajit Pai at Wind River Indian Reservation by the FCC

The world’s largest trade show for mobile communications was canceled Wednesday due to the organizers’ uncertainty that it could guarantee the health of its attendees, according to a CNBC article.

The move was prompted by high-profile dropouts from the conference announced earlier in the day.

Amazon, Sony, Nokia, and Intel were among the biggest names to announce that they would ultimately not be sending representatives to the Barcelona-based conference because they were not willing to risk the health of their employees.

“With due regard to the safe and healthy environment in Barcelona and the host country today, the GSMA has cancelled MWC Barcelona 2020 because the global concern regarding the coronavirus outbreak, travel concern and other circumstances, making it impossible for the GSMA to hold the event,” GSMA said in a statement.

The conference was originally scheduled to begin on Monday, February 24.

2020 hopeful and tech whiz Andrew Yang bows out of presidential race

2020 hopeful and former tech CEO Andrew Yang ended his contest in the 2020 presidential election after disappointing results in Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary.

Yang built a small but loyal following referred to as the “Yang Gang.” They and others supported his flagship platform of providing a “freedom dividend,” or universal basic income, of $1,000 for every American family every month.

“We have touched and improved millions of lives and moved this country we love so much in the right direction. And while there is great work left to be done, you know, I am the math guy, and it is clear tonight from the numbers that we are not going to win this race,” he told supporters on Tuesday night.

“I am not someone who wants to accept donations and support in a race that we will not win. And so tonight I am announcing I am suspending my campaign for president.”

Prior to running for president, Yang founded Venture for America, a nonprofit that matched recent graduates with startups. Prior to that, he was CEO of a test preparation company called Manhattan Prep., which he sold to Kaplan and for which he made millions.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai monitors tribal broadband growth during visit to Wind River Reservation in Wyoming

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai met with leaders of the Arapaho Tribe in Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming to see firsthand the areas in which the FCC is investing $4.1 million for gigabit-speed broadband deployment.

These funds come from the Connect America Fund Phase II auction that is providing speed service to 849 homes and businesses in the reservation.

“Bringing high-speed connectivity to rural Tribal lands can be a game-changer,” said Chairman Pai.  “That’s why bridging the digital divide is my top priority.”

During his visit, Chairman Pai also discussed with Arapaho leaders the Tribal Priority Window.  The FCC opened up the Tribal Priority Window earlier this month to enable federally recognized tribes to apply for spectrum in the 2.5 GigaHertz (GHz) band.

This band—the single largest band of contiguous spectrum below 3 GHz—offers favorable coverage and capacity characteristics for next-generation mobile services, such as 5G.  Through this priority window, tribes can obtain 2.5 GHz spectrum without charge before a commercial auction.  The Rural Tribal Priority Window will close on August 3, 2020.

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Mobile Broadband

Wireless 5G Broadband and Everywhere Connectivity is the Buzz at the Consumer Electronics Show

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LAS VEGAS, January 9, 2018 – Here at the Consumer Electronics Show, it’s impossible to avoid being bombarded by the energy – real and imagined – surrounding the 5G wireless standard that is just beginning to be deployed.

Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg made the communications company’s efforts to nurture, promote and deploy 5G the sum and substance of his Tuesday afternoon keynote at the show.

And in a series of panel discussions on Wednesday, leaders from the technology, media, education and other industries emphasized just how pumped they are for this next generation of wireless connectivity.

Verizon boasts the first commercial deployment of 5G in October 2018, when it went live with fixed-wireless deployments using a 5G networks in Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Sacramento.

AT&T followed in December, with what it called the first mobile 5G deployment, to parts of 14 cities including Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville (Fla.), Louisville, Oklahoma City, New Orleans, Raleigh (N.C.), San Antonio and Waco.

The 5G wireless standard includes transmission both at higher-band frequencies, in the so-called “millimeter wavelength” bands above about 25 Gigahertz (GHz), and in the frequencies below 6 GHz. AT&T deployment was in this latter bandwidth.

Vestberg’s keynote showcased 5G as the “fourth industrial revolution.” In it, he introduced what he called the eight “currencies” of 5G that make it — in his view — more than just another technology standard:

His eight currencies are:

  • Speed and Throughput: Peak data rates of 10 gigabits per second and mobile data volumes of 10 terabits per second per square kilometer.
  • Mobility, Connected Devices and Internet of Things: Mobile devices traveling at up to 500 kilometers per hour can potentially stay connected on a 5G network, and up to one million devices can be supported by 5G in a square kilometer
  • Energy Efficiency and Service Deployment: 5G network equipment and devices will consume only 10 percent of the energy consumed by 4G network equipment and devices, and specialized services that will operate on the 5G network will take much less time to implement.
  • Latency and Reliability: Five millisecond end-to-end travel time of data from the mobile device to the edge of the 5G network – faster than the blink of an eye, and 5G will be more than 99.999 percent  reliable

The very first 5G customer, Houston resident Clayton Harrison receiving Verizon fixed wireless service, made a cameo appearance during Vestberg’s keynote. During the demonstration, he conducted a live speed demonstrating service at 690 Megabits per second (Mbps), which he described as the “low end” of the 600 Mbps to 1.6 Gigabits per second broadband speed that he normally receives.

(Photo of Hans Vestberg at CES2019.)

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