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Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg Describes 5G-to-the-Home Vision, Claiming U.S. Leads in 5G Deployment

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Screenshot of Verizon Communications CEO Hans Vestberg

July 8, 2020 – The United States is leading in the deployment of 5G, claimed Verizon Communications CEO Hans Vestberg on Wednesday.

Vestberg updated the public on the rollout of 5G and Verizon’s response to COVID-19, among other matters, in a virtual conversation with David Rubenstein, president of the Economic Club of Washington D.C.

Vestberg, a native of Sweden, quickly rose in the ranks at Verizon, becoming CEO and chairman after working at the company for just one year, during which he designed the company’s 5G strategy.

Rubenstein inquired about the state of 5G, asking Vestberg, “Why is the United States so far behind in 5G manufacturing and deployment?”

“I think your statement is wrong — the U.S. is first in the world for 5G,” Vestberg responded.

Vestberg noted that while 5G is being deployed and utilized in the country, much of it is by industry.

“The reason consumers don’t think we’re far ahead in the U.S., is because there is such a high penetration of Apple phones and Apple has not yet built a 5G capable device,” he said.

Vestberg elaborated on his vision of 5G to the home, saying he sees it as a replacement for fiber to the home.

He also said that the biggest complaint he receives from customers is that Verizon does not offer Fios, their fiber optic network services, to their homes.

“We’re only serving seven states with Fios,” Vestberg said, resisting the idea of expanding the program.

Instead, he said, these customers “will soon have 5G wireless service in their area.”

Ironically, Vestberg noted the importance of having both 5G and fiber at his personal home, claiming these services were responsible for the high-quality connection of the Zoom call.

In response to COVID-19, Vestberg reported that he has been running Verizon remotely for about 18 weeks.

The company never fully closed due to the pandemic, although currently only 30 percent of Verizon stores are open.

“We have tried to keep the network open for all subscribers, and the network has performed excellent in crisis,” Vestberg claimed.

About 150,000 employees are currently working from home, while 20,000 continue to work on the ground as field engineers.

Vestberg reported taking safety measurements for Verizon field engineers, explaining that much of the job can be done without going into the homes of customers at all.

Rubestein questioned Vestberg about Verizon’s recent decision to pull advertising from Facebook.

According to Vestberg, the act was not a political statement, nor part of the Stop Hate for Profit ad boycott, but was instead due to a breach in the commercial contract between the two companies.

“We have a brand that we want to protect, and we were made aware of posts that broke commercial contract,” said Vestberg, insinuating that Facebook was contractually removing users’ posts reflecting poorly on Verizon in the past.

“We did the same with YouTube two years ago,” Vestberg added.

When Rubenstein asked Vestberg if he was thinking of getting deeper into the content business, Vestberg responded no, stating that the company “[feels] really good about the online services we offer — we’re not interested in long form content as there are other areas we can grow.”

While he claimed to be uninterested in the content market, Vestberg went on to highlight Verizon’s content partnerships with Disney+ and Apple music.

“We can attract the best brands to work with us, because we offer the best service,” he said.

Former Assistant Editor Jericho Casper graduated from the University of Virginia studying media policy. She grew up in Newport News in an area heavily impacted by the digital divide. She has a passion for universal access and a vendetta against anyone who stands in the way of her getting better broadband. She is now Associate Broadband Researcher at the Institute for Local Self Reliance's Community Broadband Network Initiative.

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 Federal Communications Bar Association’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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