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Broadband Roundup: CBRS on a Roll, Innovation Fund in Rural California, Another Verizon 5G Announcement

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Photo courtesy CBRS Alliance

The CBRS Alliance announced on Monday that the Federal Communications Commission has approved commercial deployment in the 3.5 GHz CBRS Band. Known as the “Innovation Band,” it is valued at $15.6 billion and opens the door to a huge market opportunity for operators, enterprises, industrial players, and the broader U.S. economy.

Leading organizations such as AT&T, Charter Communications and Verizon have already developed solutions and services to support the use of OnGo shared spectrum solutions. The FCC’s ICD realizes the vision for the innovative shared spectrum model, introducing new commercial services while protecting existing federal users.

“Bringing OnGo to market required close industry and government collaboration. There’s been an unprecedented amount of coordination and joint development to implement the FCC’s framework, prepare the industry for imminent deployments and certify components and devices,” said Dave Wright, president of the CBRS Alliance.

“CBRS spectrum is a critical piece to our rollout of next-generation fixed wireless, and we’re excited to bring this service to consumers across the country,” said Hank Hultquist, vice president of federal regulatory at AT&T.

“In the hands of operators, CBRS spectrum provides a tremendous opportunity in a very creative way to share spectrum with existing users within the U.S.,” said Adam Koeppe, senior vice president of network planning at Verizon.

This historic event opens the door for companies like Charter to deploy next generation wireless technologies, including 5G, Rural Broadband and service to the Internet of Things, said Craig Cowden, senior vice president of wireless technology for Charter Communications.

BroadbandNow highlights extent of digital divide with donation to Stockton, California, innovation fund

BroadbandNow on Monday made a $15,000 donation to the Community Foundation of San Joaquin’s Economic Innovation Fund in the city of Stockton, California.

“The digital divide is larger than ever. The future is bridging it to drive forward communities, including Stockton, across America,” said Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs.

“A broadband internet connection, along with programs that support digital inclusion, are critical for cities to compete in today’s world,” said John Busby, managing director at BroadbandNow. Busby presented the check to the mayor in conjunction with the launch of the Girls Who Code app. Created in partnership with the CODE Stack Academy and Girls Who Code Stockton, the app’s purpose is to help close the gender gap in technology and to change the image of what a programmer looks like and does.

“Thanks to private investments, such as BroadbandNow’s $15,000 check today, we are able to fund innovation, such as students to work on real projects, including the Girls Who Code developed app, which will play a key role in our Stockton Regional Summit later this week,” said Tubbs.

Verizon announces plan for widespread 5G home broadband deployment

Ars Technica reports that Verizon plans to deploy 5G home internet service to every market where it deploys 5G mobile service. Although Verizon’s initial 5G deployments have limited availability, the telecom company plans to launch 5G mobile in parts of 30 cities by the end of 2019.

5G Home became available in parts of four cities, Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Sacramento late last year. The service costs $70 per month with no data caps and typical download speeds of 300Mbps.

“You should expect that every market that opens a 5G mobility market will in due course be a 5G fixed wireless [market] because it is one network,” said Ronan Dunne, CEO of Verizon Consumer Group last Wednesday at an investor conference. After testing the home service in the four pilot cities, Dunne said Verizon is “ready to go mass market” with 5G Home.

5G can work on any frequency, but the biggest speed gains come on millimeter-wave spectrum bands because there’s simply more spectrum available in those higher frequencies. However, carriers have admitted that millimeter-wave coverage won’t scale beyond densely populated urban areas.

Given that information, consumers shouldn’t necessarily expect to get Verizon 5G home Internet even if they reside in one of the upcoming launch cities. However, nearly 80 percent of new 5G Home deployments rely on an antenna inside a customer’s home instead of outside, like on the roof, making it easier for customers to set it up themselves.

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CES 2022: 5G, Aviation Crisis a Problem of Federal Coordination, Observers Say

The hope is coordination problems will be relieved when the Senate confirms NTIA head.

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John Godfrey, senior vice president of public policy and acting head of U.S. public affairs at Samsung

LAS VEGAS, January 6, 2022 – The possible near collision of 5G signals and aircraft altimeters emerged out of a lack of coordination on the federal government’s part to bring all relevant information to the Federal Communications Commission before it auctioned off the spectrum that has now been put on hold for safety precautions, observers said Thursday.

This week, Verizon and AT&T agreed to delay the rollout of their 5G services using the C-band spectrum surrounding airports after the Federal Aviation Administration raised the alarm for months about possible interference of the wireless signals with aircraft, which use their own radios to safely land planes.

But the issue could’ve been resolved back in 2020, when the FCC proposed to repurpose a portion of the band to allow for wireless use, some said on a panel discussing 5G Thursday in Las Vegas.

“After the FCC had adopted the rules, auctioned off the spectrum, raised over $80 billion and deployment began and then additional information that apparently had not been brought to the FCC before comes over…that’s not good for the country,” said John Godfrey, senior vice president of public policy and acting head of U.S. public affairs at Samsung, a sponsor of Broadband Breakfast.

“The time to have that information be disclosed and discussed and analyzed is when the FCC is conducting the rulemaking,” Godfrey said, adding the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration should, as federal telecom rep, be spearheading coordination efforts between the FAA and the FCC on telecommunications matters.

“I think it’s their job as the leaders of telecom policy in the administration to facilitate bringing the full federal government to the table in a timely manner,” Godfrey added.

Asad Ramzanali, legislative director for Democratic California Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, said that the fallout of the aviation issue has shown that, “Looking backwards, I do think this is a failure. This is a failure in government to be able to coordinate at the right time…when there’s a process, those impacted should be participating — that is the role of the NTIA.”

NTIA head confirmation ‘should be a priority’

And the hope is that such coordination issues can be averted in the future with the confirmation of a permanent head of the NTIA, said Ramzanali. President Joe Biden nominated Alan Davidson in October to be the next permanent head of the agency, which has had temporary figures fill in the role since the resignation in May 2019 of the last full-time head, David Redl.

“That should be a priority,” Ramzanali said of pushing Davidson through. “The NTIA is doling out $42.5 billion of that $65 billion [from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act]. The NTIA is supposed to deal with those types of issues. They have brilliant people there, but this is the kind of leadership that they should be in the middle of.

“And this isn’t a recent NTIA thing,” Ramzanali added. “This has lasted many years, especially in the prior administration where the NTIA wasn’t doing this part of it — coordinating with other agencies.

“I’m hopeful with Alan Davidson presumably getting in soon that we won’t see that kind of issue.”

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CES 2022: Educating Consumers About 5G Will Encourage Wider Adoption

Currently, consumers are not being provided the information they need to make the leap, a consultant said.

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Sally Lange Witkowski, founder of business consulting firm Slang Consulting

LAS VEGAS, January 6, 2021 – Educating consumers about 5G is necessary to achieving wider adoption in its upcoming deployment in the United States.

At Wednesday’s CES “Path to A Better 5G World” session, industry leaders discussed how 5G will change the digital landscape by offering new experiences for businesses and consumers.

Sally Lange Witkowski, founder of business consulting firm Slang Consulting, said that companies should educate consumers about the benefits of 5G.

“Some consumers don’t even know 5G exists,” she said. “They believe faster is better,” but said that consumers don’t know about 5G’s wider applications. “Consumers should want to have [5G] because of how innovators and entrepreneurs will use the technology.”

Slang’s research shows that consumers are only willing to pay up to $5 more per month for 5G service. “It’s not about the hype, it’s about the usability,” Witkowski added. She noted that people are living longer and older Americans are growing old without the necessary digital skills to thrive in our new ecosystem.

“A child born today has a one in two chance of living till 100,” she said.  Educating consumers about 5G’s benefits can help the elderly prepare to participate in the revolution.

Witkowski also said closed hardware software ecosystems, sometimes referred to as “walled gardens,” prevent consumers from discovering new experiences.

“The really large organizations have a hard time innovating. Big corporations are built to scale. The ability to reach out to entrepreneurs to access creative thinking is important,” Witkowski added. “The pandemic changed a lot [for technology companies]. They are going to have to embrace something they don’t normally embrace,” like the fact that another company may be better positioned to create solutions.

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FCC Commissioner Carr Details Steps Needed for 5G, Says Talk of 6G ‘Almost Too Early’

The commissioner also said he thinks Biden will support Big Tech contributions to the Universal Service Fund.

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Commissioner Brendan Carr

WASHINGTON, December 9, 2021 – Federal Communications Commissioner Brendan Carr says that proper planning on increased spectrum release and infrastructure reform is necessary for the FCC to ensure a smooth rollout of 5G technology.

Carr specifically critiqued the current infrastructure reform approaches of President Joe Biden’s administration, saying that the administration’s current plan seems to be to make large sums of funding available without planning extensively for infrastructure modernization.

At Thursday’s Media Institute event during which Carr spoke, the commissioner also said he thinks it is “almost too early” to start thinking about 6G rollout that newly re-confirmed Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel has said is on the table sooner rather than later. Carr emphasized that focusing on 6G too early could distract from planning necessary for 5G’s success.

Regardless, Carr expressed that the U.S. is in a good shape to effectively harness 5G and compete with China’s use of the technology, owing to an American 5G platform that he called the strongest in the world as well as to American innovation in the area.

In terms of what else is unresolved with regard to 5G, Carr says it is not yet clear what the flagship new application development will be with 5G. He believes this may become much clearer as very low power Wi-Fi technology begins to allow for creative uses of 5G.

Big Tech contribution to Universal Service Fund?

Also during Thursday’s event, Carr said that he believes the Biden administration will support requiring big tech corporations to contribute to the Universal Service Fund, citing lead Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee Sen. Ben Ray Luján’s support for the proposal. Carr as well as key Republicans have also demonstrated support for this proposal in the past, which would provide monetary support for a fund that provides basic telecommunications services to remote and low-income communities.

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