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Federal Communications Commission Proposal for Unlicensed Spectrum in 6 GHz Band Widely-Praised

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Screenshot of Ajit Pai from C-SPAN

April 1, 2020 – Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai announced on Thursday an effort to open the 6 GigaHertz (GHz) band to unlicensed sharing of radiofrequency spectrum by Wi-Fi devices. The goal of the effort is to accommodate a dramatic increase in internet use.

The proposed rules would make 1,200 megahertz of spectrum available for unlicensed use. FCC officials said that the proposal could decrease the digital divide across America and bolster future technologies like Wi-Fi 6 and 5G.

“From Wi-Fi routers to home appliances, Americans’ everyday use of devices that connect to the Internet over unlicensed spectrum has exploded,” said Pai.

“To accommodate that increase in Wi-Fi demand, the FCC is aiming to increase the supply of Wi-Fi spectrum with our boldest initiative yet: making the entire 6 GHz band available for unlicensed use,” Pai explained.

“By doing this, we would effectively increase the amount of spectrum available for Wi-Fi almost by a factor of five,” announced Pai.

WISPA CEO Claude Aiken responded favorably to the announcement, as did a number of others.

“There has not been a significant release of unlicensed spectrum for two decades, and this new spectrum will provide the rocket fuel to truly enrich and realize the dreams of rural 5G, as well as other wireless innovation yet to be invented,” said Aiken.

“The 6 GHz band offers an unprecedented opportunity to increase both the broadband capacity to the home using higher capacity fixed wireless, and Wi-Fi capacity in the home by using wider channels,” said Jon Pederson, Midco chief technology officer.

“A varied group of communications providers, including WISPs, cable companies, rural telcos, and their customers, would benefit greatly from the ability to use the 6 GHz band,” said Pederson.

Public Knowledge released a statement of support, saying freeing up the 6 GHz band would greatly aid the next generation of Wi-Fi.

“Opening the whole 6 GHz band for unlicensed use both through fixed high-power outdoor use and low-power indoor use will bring faster Wi-Fi to both rural and urban communities struggling to connect, helping to close the widening digital divide that we find ourselves in,” said Public Knowledge Policy Counsel Bertram Lee.

“The nationwide coronavirus shut-in has exposed the urgent need to connect every community, especially those in hard to reach areas,” said Francella Ochillo, executive director of Next Century Cities. “Cities, towns, and counties that are still waiting for fixed broadband connections could immediately benefit from wireless solutions that ultimately depend on access to spectrum.”

The FCC plans to vote on the rules on April 23, 2020 at their open meeting.

Adrienne Patton was a Reporter for Broadband Breakfast. She studied English rhetoric and writing at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. She grew up in a household of journalists in South Florida. Her father, the late Robes Patton, was a sports writer for the Sun-Sentinel who covered the Miami Heat, and is for whom the press lounge in the American Airlines Arena is named.

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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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FCC’s Rosenworcel On Need to Accelerate Movement Toward 5G and Beyond

The acting chairwoman said the country needs to move quickly to adopt 5G for future technologies.

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Acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel.

WASHINGTON, October 12, 2021 – At the 10th annual Americas Spectrum Management Conference on Tuesday, Federal Communications Commission Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said the nation must move rapidly toward 5G to lay the groundwork for future technologies, including 6G.

Rosenworcel stressed the need to use this moment to “build a foundation for new growth and new opportunity in the post-pandemic world by increasing “the momentum toward 5G” and setting the stage for 6G “and beyond.”

She offered five principles for the delivery of 5G across the U.S. She illustrated how the FCC is dedicating more spectrum for 5G in order to demonstrate the viability of mid-band spectrum in the 3.45-3.55GHz bands for private carriers. The FCC is also working on expanding the reach of fiber facilities. Referencing Biden’s infrastructure plan that includes $65 billion for broadband deployment, Rosenworcel noted that “it’s terrific to see that building more broadband is at the heart of the legislative discussions we are having about infrastructure in this country.”

The agency has been putting those words into practice, moving to release spectrum as it began an auction last week for critical mid-band spectrum in the 3.45 Gigahertz band said to be important for 5G. The commissioners from the agency have also talked up the need to focus on the squeezing “every drop” of the mid-band, following the massive C-band auction.

Rosenworcel described 5G as “an essential part of unlocking technologies that we’ve been talking about . . . the internet of things, telemedicine, virtual and augmented reality, smart transportation networks, [and] smart energy grids.” She views these technologies as the future of industry and expands the potential for artificial intelligence.

This was the first time Rosenworcel addressed the conference in her capacity as acting chairwoman, as she reviewed the agency’s progress toward closing the digital divide for all Americans. That includes administering a number of big broadband programs to tackle affordability and accessibility, including the Emergency Broadband Benefit program and Emergency Connectivity Fund, from which the FCC on Tuesday said it committed $1.1 billion in a second wave of funding.

Late last month, the FCC approved 72 telehealth applications to ensure patients have continuous care during the pandemic. Rosenworcel said healthcare centers across the U.S. “are receiving $140 million in support to assist with efforts to expand telehealth,” a service that could connect Americans unable to travel for in-person medical care.

Rosenworcel also described the beginning of the FCC’s “rip and replace” program to help prevent equipment harmful to the nation’s security “from ever reaching our shores and to encourage better security practices across the board.”

Finally, Rosenworcel described efforts to develop international standards for technology to cultivate more international innovation and democratize access to modern communications. The acting chairwoman and colleagues have previously noted the importance of open access technologies, like open radio access networks, for security, innovation and low cost.

Looking to 6G and beyond, Rosenworcel illustrated the need to refocus America’s cyber defense resources on developing strategies for greater protection in cyberspace. She urged conferencegoers to “take the lessons of the past few years to put us on smart course for the next generation of wireless technology.”

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Broadband Breakfast Interview About the Future of 5G with John Godfrey of Samsung

Greater availability of mid-band spectrum has kick-started 5G through better signal propagation, penetration and carrying capacity.

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July 11, 2021—As one of the world’s most prolific technology companies, Samsung is instantly associated with many information and communications technologies, including smartphones and semiconductors. Through both of these, and through other partnerships, Samsung is also driving the pace of change in 5G network equipment and in policy deployment.

In this interview with Samsung Electronic America’s Senior Vice President of Public Affairs John Godfrey, he and Broadband Breakfast Editor and Publisher Drew Clark discussed both the past and the future of 5G.

Godfrey explained that Samsung’s work on 5G goes back a decade. Indeed, now the world is on the precipice of a 5G-connected society through a combination of technological advances and policy choices.

Broadband Breakfast Live Online hosted a six-part series, “A No-Nonsense Guide to 5G” in sponsorship with Samsung Electronics America. Links to each episode in the series are posted are at the bottom of this Sponsored Video.

In particular, in the United States, the greater availability of mid-band radio frequency auctions in this spectrum has provided a “sweet spot” of good signal propagation, penetration, carrying capacity, and transmission speeds.

The hope, Godfrey says, is that 5G will subsume all cellphones, globally as well as in the U.S. More than 60 countries have deployed 5G networks today.

“By this time next year, you will not even need to think about whether your carrier has a 5G network or your phone supports 5G,” he said. “It will be so mainstream, thanks to this mid-band spectrum deployment.”

Godfrey described how the existing telecom landscape has changed over the years—and even over the past several months—with more 5G capable devices available than ever.

Samsung has been a part and parcel in this trend, designing affordable 5G phones such as the Galaxy A32 5G, with a price point as low as $200. Though the flagship models are more expensive, as 5G continues to become more common place, the financial barriers to entry to a 5G network will also continue to fall, he said.

While the world is only at the beginning of the 5G era, he said, as the technology becomes ubiquitous, new apps and services will become available. These will be the true test of the 5G era, he said.

As more carriers shift from low-band to mid-band spectrum, then bandwidth throughput will jump significantly.

Further, continuing to open up millimeter wave spectrum for deployment in the U.S. will also facilitate greater capacity for these new innovative services and apps. For example, he said, Samsung now supports 5G in 11 distinct bands ranging from 600 MegaHertz (MHz) all the way to 40 GigaHertz (GHz).

But millimeter wave bands are not a silver bullet either. But it will be extremely valuable in specific areas in the U.S. that have cleared mid-band spectrum for 5G use. That said, the U.S. is unlikely to have millimeter wave networks deployed coast-to-coast.

See “Robert Kubik, John Godfrey and Derek Johnston: After a Decade of Progress, What’s Next for 5G?,” Broadband Breakfast, June 8, 2021

This Broadband Breakfast interview is sponsored by:

Events in A No-Nonsense Guide to 5G” include:

  • Wednesday, October 14, 2020, 12 Noon ET — “A No-Nonsense Guide to 5G: The Hype and the Reality of 5G
    • This opening panel will set the stage for Broadband Breakfast Live Online’s consideration of the policy, technology and practical questions around the 5G wireless standard. What is 5G, and why is there so much buzz about it? How much of an improvement is it over prior generations of wireless? In other words: What is real, and what is hype? How the issues of trusted partners, rights-of-way deployment, and spectrum policy interact? Where is 5G seeing early successes, and what are the stumbling blocks?”
  • Wednesday, October 28, 2020, 12 Noon ET — “A No-Nonsense Guide to 5G: National Security and Trusted Partners
    • This panel will consider the global landscape for the 5G equipment ecosystem. It will consider issues in core networks, radio access networks and in handset equipment. How has the global landscape changed? Will 5G benefit from – or suffer because of – a new Cold War with China? How are American companies reacting to federal government initiatives for trusted partners? Where can the U.S. turn for solutions and alternatives to Chinese manufacturers?
  • Wednesday, November 18, 2020, 12 Noon ET — “A No-Nonsense Guide to 5G: A Case Study of Transformative Apps in the Enterprise
    • 5G is seeing its first real successes in the enterprise marketplace. To glimpse the future more accurately, Broadband Breakfast Live Online will consider case studies of applications in enterprise environments. What technologies and processes bring 5G success to the business marketplace? What needs to happen to bring 5G successes to the consumer marketplace?
  • Wednesday, December 9, 2020, 12 Noon ET — “A No-Nonsense Guide to 5G: Wireless Infrastructure, Municipal Rights-of-Way and the 5G Rural Fund
    • To realize the promise of 5G, far more base stations — wireless infrastructure facilities — will be necessary. 5G facilities and towers may not be as big as in previous generations of wireless technology. Still, the need for far more facilities has already created tensions with municipalities over rights-of-way. How can these conflicts be minimized? What are smart cities already doing to expedite wireless infrastructure deployment? Can the process be improved?
  • Wednesday, January 27, 2021, 12 Noon ET — “A No-Nonsense Guide to 5G: The Adoption and Use of 5G Broadband
    • What are some of the likely drivers of 5G equipment and services? How have existing consumer use cases been received? Are there 5G use cases that could help close the digital divide by elevating broadband utilization among communities of color and low-income populations? What can we expect from 5G technology in 2021?
  • Wednesday, February 10, 2021, 12 Noon ET — “A No-Nonsense Guide to 5G: Spectrum Policies to Advance Better Broadband
    • More than simply the next generation of wireless technology, 5G deployments make use of radio frequencies from an extremely wide range. For example, some 5G deployment are using mid-band spectrum between 3.4 GigaHertz (GHz) and 6 GHz. But 5G networks also promise tap into spectrum between 24 GHz and 100 GHz. It deploys these millimeter bands using network slicing and other advanced wireless tools. What new spectrum policies are necessary for 5G to flourish?
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