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Forget the Hype About 5G, Wi-Fi 6 Is Already Here, Say Panelists at New America Event

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WASINGTON, June 4, 2019 – Next generation Wi-Fi – sometimes called Wi-Fi 6 – will boast many of the capacities of the hype-driven 5G wireless standard, except that the capabilities of Wi-Fi 6 are already ready to deploy, said speakers at an event on Monday.

The event, entitled “Next Generation Wi-Fi: Accelerating 5G For All Americans,” was hosted by the New America’s Open Technology Institute.

Although some proponents of 5G question whether Wi-Fi will become obsolete with the rise of 5G networks, Broadcom Vice President Vijay Nagarajan said the answer to this was a “resounding no.” According to Nagarajan, the next generation of Wi-Fi will not just co-exist with 5G but actually be essential for its success.

Currently, approximately 80 percent of mobile traffic takes place over Wi-Fi. 5G will not necessarily change this figure; wireless data channels operating on higher frequencies will cover a smaller area, meaning that coverage will not be seamless without an extremely high cost.

Nagarajan’s answer to this is Wi-Fi 6 in every building, providing a cost-effective cover for cellular 5G deployments.

“5G is a wonderful technology, but [it’s] predominantly outdoor tech and Wi-Fi is predominately indoor,” explained Comcast Vice President David Don. Cellular devices all connect to subscription-based mobile carriers, of which there are many, but Wi-Fi connects to a neutral host, so anyone with the password can use the network.

Without Wi-Fi, every interior space would require a 5G connection for every single carrier, which is unlikely to happen anytime soon.

5G is expected to provide high data rates, IoT support, low latency, fixed wireless access, high mobility, and spectrum efficiency. Wi-Fi 6 will provide these same benefits: High speed, low latency, more coverage, higher capacity, and power efficiency. According to Nagarajan, cellular 5G and Wi-Fi are “complementary to each other in offering these services seamlessly.”

Many of the speakers focused on the potential to open up the 6 Gigahertz (GHz) band for unlicensed spectrum, which would add seven 160 Megahertz (MHz) channels. The current unlicensed spectrum is inadequate because there are already nine billion devices to Wi-Fi, and this number is expected to grow exponentially.

“In order to compete and provide low cost service to the people who need it most, we need unlicensed access,” said Wireless Internet Service Providers Association Vice President Christina Mason.

Opening up 6 GHz will double the bandwidth and throughput, give higher speeds over wider areas, and have the potential to be deployed in both dense areas and single-family homes. Nagarajan called it a “Wi-Fi superhighway” that would be critical to carrying traffic from 5G cellular networks.

FCC Commissioners Michael O’Rielly and Jessica Rosenworcel both spoke on the panel, providing a bipartisan show of support for opening up additional spectrum. While Rosenworcel was very optimistic about the future of Wi-Fi 6, O’Rielly was more cautious, pointing out that the schedule will be decided by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.

The main issue with opening up 6 GHz to unlicensed spectrum is that the band is currently populated with incumbents who worry about the interference risk. Rosenworcel pointed out that the 3.5 GHz band currently accommodates military data, licensed commercial use, and unlicensed use for Wi-Fi. This model could be exported to other bands.

She also emphasized the fact that Congress specifically directed the FCC to find 100 megahertz for use within the next few years, meaning that they are actively looking for solutions.

Susan Bearden, the Chief Innovation Officer for the Consortium for School Networking, spoke about the potential importance of Wi-Fi 6 in education, emphasizing the importance of “going the last mile.”

Schools are dependent on Wi-Fi, both for educational purposes such as streaming and downloading instructional materials and for security purposes like video cameras and other high impact network devices. Students should not have to choose between the quality of their education and their safety, Bearden said.

Wi-Fi 6 will also have a significant impact on libraries. In areas where many individuals lack internet access from their homes, libraries are key for online learning and job training.

These are more likely to be supported by Wi-Fi than by 5G, given the high cost of necessary network infrastructure combined with the low density of people in certain rural communities, creating a low return on investment for carriers.

Mason said that these carriers were “overselling their commitment to deploy,” particularly for areas that still don’t even have 4G coverage. Even if carriers do offer 5G connectivity, it might still be cost-prohibitive for many. Wi-Fi 6, she said, could fill that gap.

(Photo of Broadcom Vice President Vijay Nagarajan by Emily McPhie.)

Development Associate Emily McPhie studied communication design and writing at Washington University in St. Louis, where she was a managing editor for campus publication Student Life. She is a founding board member of Code Open Sesame, an organization that teaches computer skills to underprivileged children in six cities across Southern California.

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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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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Celebrating Progress on 5G, the FCC’s Brendan Carr Urges Broadband Mapping

5G crusader Commissioner Brendan Carr voiced pride in the FCC’s focus on 5G over the past four years

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Photo of Brendan Carr from the Tennessee Star

WASHINGTON, October 15, 2021–Federal Communications Commissioner Brendan Carr on Friday celebrated U.S. progress in 5G wireless investment and urged the completion of the agency’s broadband mapping initiative.

Speaking a the Free State Foundation gala luncheon, Carr argued that the United States has progressed in its 5G investments and is catching up to foreign networks. ”Years ago we imaged the U.S. would be left behind in 5G,” he said.

He touted his and former FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s efforts to “remove the red tape.” Enabling the private sector has paid off, he said: The U.S. has jumped 20 places on the country internet speed index, signaling the installation of more robust U.S. 5G networks.

Further, the FCC should complete its broadband mapping process and take caution with the federal money allocated toward broadband deployment, he said, adding that he asked the FCC earlier this year to complete its map by fall 2021.

“There’s planning that can take place when the maps are completed” he said, reflecting a desire from the public and private sector for better, more accurate broadband maps.

He also said that federal money allocated toward the FCC’s efforts to bridge the digital divide should be used carefully, and that money to connect unconnected Americas should not be wasted.

Carr celebrated American investment in 5G progress earlier this year, calling U.S. leadership in 5G “one of the greatest success stories in of the past four years.” In that time, the FCC opened up more than six gigahertz of spectrum for 5G services.

Former FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly also gave remarks at the event, expressing concern about the federal Made In America policy’s implications on the telecommunications sector.

The Made in America policy refers to President Biden’s push to increase American made content in supply chains. O’Rielly, who left the Commission in December 2020, argued that the policy limits telecommunications companies to the kinds of products that can be made available to consumers.

The Free State Foundation’s Randy May at the Friday event

He also questioned “what it means to be an American manufacturer” because foreign companies are “in essence, being punished by law” for having “investments in the U.S. with U.S. workers as part of a U.S. subsidiary.”

In O’Rielly’s view, the location of the companies headquarters does not impact its national security risk to the U.S.

The remarks by Carr and O’Rielly were at the 15th anniversary celebration for the free-market think tank. Carr said that the foundation has been an “invaluable resource” and has been cited more than 200 times in FCC decisions.

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