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Susan Miller and Mike Nawrocki: Promoting U.S. Leadership on the Path to 6G Technologies

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The authors of this Expert Opinion are Susan M. Miller, president and CEO, ATIS, and Mike Nawrocki, vice president, Technology and Solutions, ATIS

As investments in 5G technologies impact the U.S. market with the next generation of networks, devices and applications, the timeline for 6G development has already begun. While innovation is sometimes triggered in reaction to current market needs, technology leadership at a national level will require an early commitment to a common vision and set of objectives.

This commitment across government, industry, and academia will extend the benefits of 5G commercialization within the U.S. to a 6G world that delivers innovative services and customer experiences beyond network boundaries, physical environments and geographic constraints. This is the promise of 6G.

Emerging slowly from the global pandemic, the U.S. continues to face unprecedented challenges to economic stability and public health.  Expansive communications networks have become the fabric that connects healthcare patients to providers, businesses to clients and customers, governments to citizens, and individuals to family and friends.

While governments have collaborated with industry to address these challenges and expand critical services for this new world, there is no option but to move forward and take the necessary steps to position the U.S. as the leader in telehealth, smart agriculture, distance learning, digitized commerce and artificial intelligence. This will require deliberate, collaborative steps and an aligned commitment from government and industry.

A holistic approach that begins with innovative research and relies on a commitment to standards and development — and which addresses U.S. needs — is likely to result in the introduction of 6G services and technologies that position the U.S. as the global leader for the next decade and beyond.

While the realities of different geographies, populations, economies and government oversight will always influence global market demands, it is the leadership of ideas coupled with the commitment of the public, private and academic sectors that will deliver the power and benefits of U.S. technological leadership.

Innovation should in no way be limited to meet a common goal, but there is a national advantage in defining a set of core technologies that will drive U.S. ingenuity and rapid development in the information and communications technology sector. These core technologies include:

  • AI-enabled advanced networks and services
  • Advanced antennas and radio systems
  • Multi-access network services
  • Healthcare
  • Agriculture

Defining the breakthroughs that can lead the U.S. to sustainable technology leadership requires a vision for the next decade and a commitment to a series of incentivized steps that will spur early investment, speed to market, and wide-scale commercial adoption. Although free market principles should guide the thinking, the U.S. is competing with regions of the globe that greatly subsidize private sector development, violate intellectual property rights and sometimes introduce unfair trade barriers.

From an industry perspective, the federal government can best counter these technology barriers by adopting a national plan for technological excellence that relies on a set of committed principles and actions:

  1. Make available additional R&D funding focused on a core set of technological breakthrough areas where the U.S. can lead.
  2. Expand R&D tax credits to encourage massive investment in a core set of technologies that will promote U.S. leadership.
  3. Work with industry to develop a consumer- and business-centric solution to wireless spectrum challenges by creating a national spectrum policy.
  4. Explore innovative ways to promote widespread commercial adoption of U.S. developed and produced hardware and software through financial incentives to public and private sectors.

With a history of bringing together tech and communications companies to solve the industry’s biggest challenges, the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions is committed to working with its industry members to address this critical undertaking with government. The industry is ready and willing to work with government to establish the U.S. as the unparalleled technology leader for the next decade of technology advancements.

This opportunity comes at a critical time, as the country tackles new global security and competitive challenges, while confronting the global COVID-19 pandemic. Unarguably, 5G will change how the U.S. defends the homeland, and the path to 6G will undoubtedly present new challenges and opportunities that can best be undertaken with strong government and industry collaboration.

Embarking on the next decade of unimaginable opportunity, successful U.S. leadership will require a national commitment to technology leadership and excellence. Our future depends on it.

Susan M. Miller is president and CEO of the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions. Under her leadership, ATIS has redefined the manner in which priorities are identified and standards are developed. Mike Nawrocki is vice president, technology and solutions for ATIS. He provides direction on emerging technology trends for next-generation networks. This piece is exclusive to Broadband Breakfast.

BroadbandBreakfast.com accepts commentary from informed observers of the broadband scene. Please send pieces to commentary@breakfast.media. The views reflected in Expert Opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Broadband Breakfast and Breakfast Media LLC. 

Broadband Breakfast is a decade-old news organization based in Washington that is building a community of interest around broadband policy and internet technology, with a particular focus on better broadband infrastructure, the politics of privacy and the regulation of social media. Learn more about Broadband Breakfast.

5G

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.

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Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai

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.”

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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.

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Huawei carrier business CTO Paul Scanlan.

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.

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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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