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Ajit Pai Discusses 5G in Geopolitical Context, TIA on 5G Supply Chain, Benton Institute’s Vision for 2020s

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Screenshot of Ajit Pai on Fox News on November 5, 2019

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai calls for more spectrum and fiber

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai said that the US is “poised” to seize 5G opportunities at the Council of Foreign Relations Tuesday, the agency reports. Despite the benefits that 5G will provide, Pai said in his remarks, such as more spectrum and the increased deployment of fiber, network security remains a challenge.

Huawei, he said, threatens the integrity of the communications supply chain. The recent influence that the Chinese government has exerted on tech companies such as Apple and Blizzard, for example, could raise a broader concern about US security and open the door to potential espionage.

That’s why it’s imperative, Pai continued, that the government makes sure the equipment going into 5G networks is from trusted vendors and that existing wireless networks are secured. Moreover, he added, the US needs to remind its allies that decisions impacting 5G security need to be made with the long term in mind.

“America’s current leadership in 5G, and our support of virtualized networks of the future, demonstrate that the choice between 5G development and security is a false one—now and going forward,” Pai said.

Telecommunications Industry Association wights in on ‘supply chain’ issues in 5G

A reliable telecommunications network is critical for both 5G wireless service and national security, Telecommunications Industry Association’s David Stehlin writes. As the benefits of 5G’s applications increase, so will opportunities for malicious actors to attack deployed networks to disrupt critical economic and transportation infrastructure.

Equipment manufactured by foreign adversaries, Stehlin continues, is one of the biggest threats to network integrity, as vendors could be obligated by their governments to aid in espionage or other hostile acts. The Federal Communications Commission as well as Congress and the White House are all actively working to push 5G supply chain security legislation, he said.

But government regulations, Stehlin added, will never be able to reach the level of detail needed to ensure a completely safe supply chain while leaving room for innovation and growth.

That’s why clear-driven industry standards are needed to verify the integrity of the Information and Communications Technology supply chain and challenge companies to continually innovate and improve their supply chain processes, said Stehlin. These standards can provide both government and consumers the assurance that the U.S. vast telecommunications network is reliable and secure.

Benton Institute for Broadband & Society releases ‘A Vision for the 2020s’

The Benton Institute for Broadband & Society released last week the report, “Broadband for America’s Future: A Vision for the 2020s”, says Next Century Cities. Written by Benton Senior Fellow Jonathan Sallet, the report offers an account of the policy landscape while conveying a sense of urgency for broadband infrastructure to be a national priority.

The report’s main takeaways focus on the continuation of broadband deployment where adequate connectivity does not exist, and to ensure that the service is affordable and easy to adopt. Competition among providers as well as the role of schools, libraries and other anchor institutions, is key to facilitating ubiquitous broadband access.

Broadband plan in Rains County, Texas

The Rains County, Texas Broadband Committee is partnering with Connected Nation Texas to increase high-speed internet access in the area, Connected Nation reports.

Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, said he is committed to closing the staggering gaps of coverage impacting many rural Texans.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to partner with Connected Nation to help expand wireless broadband capabilities for people in Rains County through targeted, localized efforts and community engagement,” he said.

The Broadband Committee will use CN Texas’ Connected Community Engagement Program to collect surveys, analyze the data, and develop structured and community-specific plan for Rains County.

“Once we get input from those living and working in Rains County, our committee can more effectively develop a plan of action,” said Rains County Court Judge Wayne Wolfe, “It will help ensure we have the most accurate, up-to-date information.”

Broadband Roundup

Biden’s Involvement in 5G, Residential 5 Gbps in Northwest, New Technology Advisory Council

The president urged wireless carriers to comply with the aviation industry’s requests for further delays on new network launches.

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January 21, 2022 – President Joe Biden says he pushed wireless carriers to accommodate aviation companies’ concerns about the networks’ launch of 5G that occurred Wednesday.

Biden encouraged carriers to give airlines even more time to examine their aviation equipment for possible interference with 5G before the new network updates were launched.

Verizon and AT&T announced Tuesday that they would limit 5G service around some airports, giving in to some of the aviation industry’s concerns.

Both companies had initially planned to launch their network changes on January 5 but further delayed launch at the request of airlines. January 5 was already a delayed launch date, with the companies having earlier planned rollout for 2021.

“What I’ve done is pushed as hard as I can to have the 5G folks hold up and abide by what was being requested by the airlines until they could more modernize over the years, so 5G would not interfere with the potential of a landing” said Biden following the events of Wednesday’s launch.

He says he spoke with Verizon and AT&T on the same day the launch took place.

The president did not mention any government fixes to the conflict, saying it was an argument between “two private enterprises,” despite speculation that following the messy fight the administration may develop a national spectrum strategy or the Federal Communications Commission and National Telecommunications and Information Administration may release updated memoranda on the issues.

Ziply Fiber offers 5 Gigabit per second residential service

Internet service provider Ziply Fiber announced it has begun offering ultra-high-speed 5 Gigabit per second (Gbps) and 2 Gbps residential fiber internet service to customers in several cities across the Northwest.

The expansion in Washington state, Oregon and Idaho makes Ziply Fiber the first company to introduce a 5 Gbps speed for residential services, the company said.

In its announcement Thursday, the company says the expansion will bring service to nearly 170,000 residential customer addresses across 60 cities and towns.

Ziply Fiber began building out fiber in Northwest markets in 2020 and has announced construction of 57 fiber projects since then.

The company plans to introduce its 5 Gbps and 2 Gbps service in Montana later in Q1 of 2022.

FCC sets stage for new TAC membership

The FCC has appointed a new group of members to serve on its Technology Advisory Council and set a February 28 date for its first meeting with the new class.

“The advisory council provides technical expertise to the Commission to identify important areas of innovation and develop informed technology policies,” according to the FCC.

Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel announced the new membership Wednesday with the commission’s press release calling them “a diverse group of leading technology experts.”

Dean Brenner, a former Qualcomm executive, will serve as chairman of the council, Michael Ha, chief of the policy and rules division in the Office of Engineering and Technology, will continue to serve as the designated federal officer and Martin Doczkat, chief of the electromagnetic compatibility division in the OET, is the alternate designated federal officer.

Rosenworcel highlighted that the council will work on advancing 6G research as well as numerous other issues such as examining both supply chain vulnerabilities and global standards development.

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Broadband Roundup

USDA Hires Lumen, Ligado Marketing Services, IRS Facial ID, New Public Knowledge Hire

The Department of Agriculture awarded Lumen a $1.2-billion, 11-year contract for data services.

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Lumen President and CEO Jeff Storey

January 20, 2022 – On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a $1.2-billion network services contract with telecom Lumen Technologies.

The 11-year contract will provide the department with data transport service with remote access and cloud connectivity, leveraging Lumen’s fiber network to connect 9,500 USDA locations across the country and abroad to better manage agriculture in the country, the press release said.

“Lumen is bringing modern technology solutions that will make it easier for the USDA to accomplish its mission of promoting the production of nutritious food that nourishes our people, providing economic opportunity to rural Americans, and preserving our nation’s natural resources through smart forest and watershed conservation,” said Zain Ahmed, Lumen’s public sector senior vice president.

The contract was granted under the General Services Administration’s $50-billion Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions program.

Ligado Networks and Select Spectrum to strengthen critical networks

Mobile communications company Ligado Networks and spectrum brokerage and advisory firm Select Spectrum announced an agreement on Tuesday that will market and sell Ligado’s mid-band spectrum services for critical infrastructure.

“We know the critical infrastructure sector has an urgent need for dedicated access to licensed spectrum, and our mid-band spectrum, with both satellite and terrestrial connectivity, is uniquely positioned to meet this need and empower companies to operate private networks on a long-term basis,” said Ligado Networks’ CEO Doug Smith in a press release.

According to the agreement, Select Spectrum will search for those seeking to use Ligado’s licensed spectrum in the 1.6 GHz band in order to provide 5G capabilities to projects like power grid modernization and advanced transportation initiatives.

IRS to require facial recognition for taxes access

According to a Wednesday Gizmodo article, starting this summer online tax filers will have to submit a selfie to a third-party verification company called ID.me in order to make payments or file taxes online. Along with facial identification, users will also have to submit government identification documents and copies of bills to confirm their identity.

ID.me will use the selfie and compare it to the government identification document to verify the user. If the system fails to match the two documents, the user can join a recorded video to provide verification to the user.

Gizmodo’s article claimed that both the IRS and ID.me could not provide a method to access user accounts without providing a face scan. This could be problematic for tax filers that don’t have access to certain technologies.

Public Knowledge hires new senior policy analyst

Non-profit public interest group  Public Knowledge announced Tuesday that it has brought on Lisa Macpherson as senior policy analyst.

According to a press release, Macpherson’s “experience driving digital marketing transformation on behalf of brands led to concerns over the broader impacts of digital technology on individual well-being, civil society, journalism, and democracy.”

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Broadband Roundup

National Privacy Law, Digital Infrastructure Firm’s $8B Raise, Wicker Wants Spectrum Cooperation

Business groups are asking Congress to supersede state laws by passing privacy legislation that sets a national standard.

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Senator Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi

January 19, 2022 – As states begin to pass their own privacy laws, business groups are asking the federal government to pass legislation that would mitigate confusion by creating a national standard, reports MediaPost Communications.

The Association of National Advertisers, Interactive Advertising Bureau, and the U.S. Chamber of Congress are just a few of the business groups that are asking for a national privacy law.

“As the Federal Trade Commission considers a privacy rulemaking that would add a further layer of complexity to the state patchwork, it is critical that Congress pass one single national standard”, the groups stated in a letter that was signed by 15 national organizations and then by local business groups from across the country, the MediaPost report said.

California, Virginia, and Colorado are just a few of the states that have passed their own version of a privacy law, and while they all serve a similar purpose, they have various nuances that the business groups said they believe will be difficult to navigate for their businesses and for consumers across state lines, MediaPost reports.

In addition, there are members of Congress who are also asking for a national plan for consumer privacy.

Digital infrastructure firm DigitalBridge raises over $8 billion

DigitalBridge Investment Management, an investment firm in digital infrastructure, raised a higher-than-expected $8.3 billion, according to a Wednesday press release, illustrating interest in projects including fiber builds.

“The Fund has already invested in nine portfolio companies across towers, easements, hyperscale data centers, edge infrastructure, indoor DAS infrastructure and fiber, running reliable, mission-critical network infrastructure for many of the world’s leading hyperscale cloud providers and mobile network operators,” the release said.

The round comes as the federal government pushing billions of dollars into infrastructure, including broadband and as the pandemic has shown a need for remote capabilities driven by broadband.

Republican lawmaker calls for NTIA-FCC cooperation on spectrum

Senator Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi, sent a letter earlier this month to the head of the Federal Communications Commission and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration asking them to consider a renewed agreement to work together on spectrum management.

The January 13 letter to FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel and new NTIA head Alan Davidson said their “relationship can be strengthened” on matters related to the shared use of radiowaves between federal and non-federal users by refreshing the memorandum of understanding that was last updated in 2003.

“In light of recent disputes over spectrum allocations, it is more important than ever that the [FCC and NTIA] work together to promote spectrum policy that best serves the dual goals of furthering commercial innovation and enabling the mission-critical operations of federal agencies,” the letter said.

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