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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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Optional Security Features for 5G Technology Poses Risks

The next generation wireless technology is being touted as the most secure yet.

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Photo of Dan Elmore of the Idaho National Labratory

WASHINGTON, July 28, 2022 – 5G technology can still present security concerns despite being touted as the most secure of the cellular generations, said Dan Elmore of the Idaho National Laboratory at a 5G Future event Thursday.

In response to the emerging challenge of validating 5G security protocols and data protection technologies, the Idaho National Laboratory established its Wireless Security Institute in 2019 to coordinate government, academic, and private industry research efforts to foster more secure and reliable 5G technology.

While 5G network offers a “rich suite” of security features in the standards, most of it is optional for manufacturers and developers to choose to implement in their system or device, said Elmore, who is the director for critical infrastructure security at the INL. This poses a significant challenge for 5G, particularly for critical infrastructure applications, as consumers may not know how standards are implemented, Elmore said.

Elmore urged consumers, especially federal agencies, to ask the hard questions and consider “what vulnerabilities might be present in how they [manufacturers and developers] employ those standards that could be exploited.”

5G is designed to allow cellular devices to connect at higher speeds with lower latency, the delay in loading requests, than previous generations. Already, wireless carriers are incorporating it into devices and working on national 5G networks.

Because of its facilitation of real-time monitoring, 5G technology is expected to help tackle critical issues like climate change and environmental sustainability.

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5G Will Help Enhance Environment Protection and Sustainability, Conference Hears

The technology has already been used by companies to monitor and make more efficient systems to reduce emissions.

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Photo of Bourhan Yassin, CEO of Rainforest Connection

WASHINGTON, June 28, 2022 – Because of its facilitation of real-time monitoring and more efficient use of systems, 5G technology will help tackle climate change and beef up environmental sustainability, an Information Technology and Innovation Foundation event heard Tuesday.

5G technology’s ubiquitous connectivity and lower latency enables climate technology that decarbonizes manufacturing plants, enables rainforest monitoring, and limits greenhouse gas emissions from transportation.

5G also enables real-time traffic control and monitoring that can help minimize carbon footprint, said John Hunter from T-Mobile, which has a large 5G network thanks in part to its merger with Sprint.

Finnish 5G equipment supplier Nokia has invested in smart manufacturing relying on the speed of 5G in its plants, which it said has resulted in a 10 to 20 percent carbon dioxide reduction and a 30 percent productivity improvement with 50 percent reduction in product defects.

Non-profit tech startup Rainforest Connection has used 5G technology to implant sensitive microphones into endangered rainforests in over 22 countries around the world. These microphones pick up on sounds in the forest and transmit them in real time to personnel on the ground.

These highly sensitive machines are camouflaged in trees and can pick up sounds of gunfire from poaching and chainsaws from illegal logging activity from miles away. The technology has proven to be significant in rainforest conservation and will enable researchers and scientists to find innovative solutions to help endangered species as they study the audio.

“By being able to integrate technologies such as 5G, we can accelerate that process… to achieve the mission [of mitigating climate change effects] sooner than we expected,” said Rainforest Connection CEO Bourhan Yassin.

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Tech-Backed Infrastructure Firm Says Private Financing Needed for Shared 5G Facilities

Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners representative says investors must step in as large carriers are burdened by high costs of 5G rollout.

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Photo of Drew Clark, Andrew Semenak, Darrell Gentry and Joe Plotkin at Broadband Communities by Benjamin Kahn

HOUSTON, May 3, 2022 – A representative of an infrastructure firm affiliated with Google’s parent company Alphabet on Monday emphasized  the need for private financing in funding open access networks for 5G expansion.

Noah Tulsky, partner at Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners, participated in a panel on private financing of broadband infrastructure projects as part of Broadband Breakfast’s Digital Infrastructure Investment during the Broadband Communities annual summit here.

Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners is an independent company. Alphabet is one of many investors in SIP, alongside Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and StepStone Group.

Photo of Shrihari Pandit and David Barron (on Zoom), and, Drew Clark, Andrew Semenak, Darrell Gentry, Joe Plotkin

Tulsky stated that at the present, private investment into shared broadband infrastructure networks is particularly necessary in large part because it is capital intensive for large cellular carriers to expand their rollout of 5G networks.

The market climate of the moment makes it difficult to charge cellular customers higher data rates for 5G implementation as consumers are largely unwilling to pay such fees.

Broadband Breakfast’s event also focused heavily on ideal strategies for fiber builds with additional input from advisory firm Pinpoint Capital Advisors’ managing director Andrew Semenak, internet service provider Next Level Networks’ CEO David Barron and Chief Technology Officer Darrell Gentry, and ISP Stealth Communications’ CEO Shrihari Pandit as well as its Business Development Director Joe Plotkin.

Pandit summed up the central question on discussion, stating “Will throwing more money at broadband help to solve key issues like closing the digital divide and making broadband access more affordable for millions?”

Tulsky has written previously in Broadband Breakfast on the symbiotic relationship fiber has with wireless, stating that “wireless broadband can complement fiber technology, which drive down consumer costs and help close the digital divide.”

He stated Monday that funding from Congress’ bipartisan infrastructure bill is likely the best way to build conduit and predicted that in less wealthy, low-density areas conduit will be funded by the government as opposed to private investors, while small and medium fiber companies will be consolidated into larger companies that focus on city-based fiber deployments.

Information about the presentations made during the “Private Financing” panel are available at the Digital Infrastructure Investment page.

T.J. York contributed reporting to this article.

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