WASHINGTON, October 9, 2019 – Proposals to allocate C-Band spectrum to terrestrial wireless providers are getting close to action decision-making. However, questions remains about whether to conduct a public or private auction for the right to use mid-band frequencies, as well as how much spectrum will be allocated for 5G deployments.
The Federal Communication Commission’s priority is to expedite the process and reallocate as much mid-band spectrum as possible, said Commissioner Michael O’Rielly at the Capitol Forum’s C-Band conference on Tuesday. He said that 300 megahertz of spectrum, would be an ideal amount for spectrum reallocation.
O’Rielly said that a C-Band private auction would be much like an auction conducted by the FCC. He said he was also optimistic about the agency’s other projects, such as the 2.5 Gigahertz (GHz) auction, the OnGo project of the Citizens’ Broadband Radio Service, and reallocation of Universal Service Fund dollars.
However, O’Rielly advised against providers getting “greedy” with expanding C-Band’s services. There are few things that the FCC has done without generating some backlash.
Panelists representing various telecom companies had conflicting opinions on the effectiveness of a public or private auction.
The future of connectivity rests in the hands of a bottom-up, market-led C-Band proposal, said Peter Pitsch, head of advocacy and government affairs at C-Band Alliance, or CBA. He argued that a private auction would ensure one accountable entity to preserve consumers’ economic interests and make spectrum more useful.
Small satellite providers don’t have to lose for 5G to win, Pitsch said. The C-Band Alliance can increase the 200 megahertz allocation in a timely and efficient manner. The alliance’s approach would allow C-Band to quickly enter the market equipped with a mechanism that determines its causes and effects on society.
The FCC has a long way to go before it can clear spectrum and make internet users whole, said Ross Lieberman, senior vice president of government affairs at ACA Connects. ACA’s 5G Plus would not only allow users to participate in the auction but provide reimbursements and incentive payments for the parties involved.
Without the fiber backbone necessary for mid-band spectrum, he said, 5G wireless service would be difficult to provide.
It’s an unavoidable fact that C-Band spectrum is critical for 5G mobility, said Colleen King, vice president of regulatory affairs at Charter Communications. More fiber will provide the path to reallocate spectrum for 5G and protect incumbents in the process.
Yet there is a lot of risk regarding the critical band of untested spectrum, she said. Private sales could raise objections and ultimately slow down reallocation.
Michael Calabrese, director of the Wireless Future Project at New America’s Open Technology Institute, said that a private auction is hardly in anyone’s interest, save for a few major carriers.
Any type of private sale, Calabrese said, would violate section 309(j)(1) of the Communications Act and would be a “horrible” precedent for policy purposes.
The FCC doesn’t need an elaborate auction to reallocate 200 megahertz of spectrum, he said. Advancing to future bands will require an auction to pay incumbents.
Some of the representatives of major cellular carriers have their doubts about the FCC’s ability to provide oversight in a public auction.
Other countries, especially in Asia, have already started allocating mid-band spectrum for 5G, said Brian Hendricks, vice president of policy at Nokia. It’s time for 5G action on America’s part.
The FCC is not poised to make improvements for 5G’s “sweet spot,” said Patrick Welsh, assistant vice president of wireless policy development at Verizon. What’s important is that CBA is uniquely situated to auction and clear spectrum.
A private auction with the necessary guardrails, he said, is essential for timely deployment of the C-band. If there is no incentive auction, small satellite providers would be unable to participate.
On the other hand, private companies have significantly fewer resources than the FCC, said Grant Spellmeyer, vice president of federal affairs and public policy at US Cellular. Even though a private auction could be shorter, what matters is that the bidding process maintains integrity and that sellers have an adequate chance of receiving spectrum.
Hence why the FCC needs to prioritize a straightforward, ascending clock auction, Spellmeyer said.
Moreover, the need for regulation doesn’t go away during a private auction, said Steve Sharkey, vice president of government affairs at T-Mobile. The CBA has been very vague about the details of their auction and will likely allow excess selling of spectrum, he said.
Until CBA makes clear how additional spectrum will be available, Sharkey said, a private sale doesn’t seem like a viable opportunity.
The main issue, Hendricks said, is how long the auction takes. But ultimately, it’s not a binary choice between the FCC having complete oversight and the agency having no role in the process. The FCC’s capability of understanding spectrum issues, he said, will prove beneficial in either a public or private reallocation.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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
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.
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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