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Andrew Drozd: Monetizing Spectrum Sharing, in Addition to Network Utilization, is Key to 5G



The author of this Expert Opinion is Andrew Drozd, CEO of ANDRO Computational Systems

As a basis for rolling out 5G and beyond, most carriers have been focused on network utilization and optimization to better monetize services, but have been limited in their ability to optimize spectrum utilization for the same purpose.

While 5G holds great promise for delivering higher network speeds and network utilization, unfortunately, the cost to deploy a full network solution across the U.S. will be enormous and perhaps only marginally feasible.

A significant barrier is regulatory limits on spectrum utilization and access. Carriers, mobile network operators, and spectrum access system providers are bound by limited spectrum resources that are governed by static frequency policies at the federal level.

From that context, an impediment to a truly successful 5G rollout is the industry “vertical” model of centralized cloud service, internet provider, and eNodeB large carrier cell towers. (eNodeB is the “evolved” element of an LTE radio access network.)

Instead, a distributed small cell with peer-to-peer or multi-access mobile edge computing architecture, that adjudicates spectrum in real time via an intelligent spectrum brokering approach, will offer true democratization of spectrum and a pathway toward monetization of ubiquitous 5G and beyond services. This approach also makes a sound economic case for carriers, federal agencies, and consumers.

Here are five ways the industry could get there:

1. Lightweight hypercloud and micro slice management

Real-time dynamic spectrum access systems enable efficient and secure wireless communications at levels previously unseen. By integrating a new spectrum approach within existing architectures, we can move from a stop-and-go or discrete micro slice architecture with inherent latencies to continuous micro slicing, where data flow is based on the whims of dynamic spectrum performance. In an artificial intelligence-driven, dynamic frequency model, the frequencies and related mesh network applications are continually updated in real time.

Key will be automated frequency coordination, a relatively new framework that facilitates a data cost card structure acting as a real-time, agile spectrum broker. This is where a horizontal model can deliver usage-based-pricing per segment (e.g. banking, content delivery, telehealth, smart cities, education).

2. Device rules of engagement

Devices will need to automatically negotiate with the spectrum and mesh network fabrics they operate within. 5G devices will need to be semi-autonomous in their ability to operate without human intervention to the extent necessary (with humans on, not necessarily in, the loop). Can we build smart algorithms that are service-level agreement driven?

How can we best leverage AI and machine learning to enable wireless devices to be “self aware,” self-adjust, and negotiate the ever-changing policy limits and environmental conditions they encounter?  Can devices be trained not to hog up spectrum when they shouldn’t and release it to others as necessary and to develop monetized “rewards” for such actions?

3. Pay-as-you-go versus flat fee monetization

Pay-as-you-go models would by proxy include spectrum policy enforcement. Here, the industry could create economic “good citizen” incentives (“good corporate entities will pay less and be rewarded for using the spectrum in the right way”), automated with some form of human-on-a-loop.

Consumers at the edge will see lower latency which becomes critical in life-saving situations. With better and faster service on demand, the consumer becomes their own small cell or mini tower, leasing or owning the spectrum for the period of time that they need it, when they need it.  Government stakeholders at the Federal Communications Commission and the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration) are satisfied because they will see increased spectrum utilization, yes; but more critically, the gap for underserved, edge users located in rural markets will be closed.

4. Open standards

Open standards are critical to expand the community of adopters and users, who only interact with the communications process when needed. Heterogeneous devices will connect to “us” or “us to them” via an open standard interface. This ‘play fair and share’ model incentivizes all to fractionalize the wealth across more users, operating under a framework of the more users you have, the greater the potential for overall revenue growth.

Carriers and Spectrum Access System operators that have technological advantages will most likely want to offer hybrid solutions or “plus” solutions that go beyond standard/open options. Tread cautiously: as the market matures it may be wise to heed the advice of “Don’t cut off your network to spite your devices.”  An open standard model may seem counterintuitive at the outset, but in the long run the open architecture notion it creates and supports opens the door to expanded revenues.

5. Autonomous AI-driven policy-based approach

Edge and IoT applications must be geared toward (1) “cognitive” spectrum awareness, (2) achieving high efficiency transmissions with low latency, (3) maintaining reliable quality of service, and (4) defending against malicious cyber activity.  AI and machine learning-driven dynamic spectrum access, link-aware spectrum governance and management, cognitive routing, and secure waveform development also provide for resilient links that seek out safe, optimum routes for data transmissions to prevent mishaps.

Andrew Drozd, chief scientist and CEO of ANDRO Computational Systems, was previously president of the IEEE EMC Society from 2006 to 2007 and is an IEEE Fellow. He was on the Board of Directors of the Applied Computational Electromagnetics Society from 2004 to 2010. He is an iNARTE certified EMC Engineer and has authored over 160 technical papers, reports, and journal articles. This piece is exclusive to Broadband Breakfast.

Broadband Breakfast accepts commentary from informed observers of the broadband scene. Please send pieces to The views expressed 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.


Innovation Fund’s Global Approach May Improve O-RAN Deployment: Commenters

The $1.5 billion Innovation Fund should be used to promote global adoption, say commenters.



Illustration about intelligent edge computing from Deloitte Insights

WASHINGTON, February 2, 2023 – A global approach to funding open radio access networks will improve its success in the United States, say commenters to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

The NTIA is seeking comment on how to implement the $1.5 billion appropriated to the Public Wireless Supply Chain Innovation Fund as directed by the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022. The grant program is primarily responsible for supporting the promotion and deployment of open, interoperable, and standards-based radio access networks. 

Radio access networks provide critical technology to connect users to the mobile network over radio waves. O-RAN would create a more open ecosystem of network equipment that would otherwise be reliant on proprietary technology from a handful of companies.  

Global RAN

Commenters to the NTIA argue that in order for O-RAN to be successful, it must be global. The Administration must take a “global approach” when funding projects by awarding money to those companies that are non-U.S.-based, said mobile provider Verizon in its comments.  

To date, new entrants into the RAN market have been the center for O-RAN development, claimed wireless service provider, US Cellular. The company encouraged the NTIA to “invest in proven RAN vendors from allied nations, rather than focusing its efforts on new entrants and smaller players that lack operational expertise and experience.” 

Korean-based Samsung Electrontics added that by allowing trusted entities with a significant U.S. presence to compete for project funding and partner on those projects, the NTIA will support standardizing interoperability “evolution by advancing a diverse global market of trusted suppliers in the U.S.” 

O-RAN must be globally standardized and globally interoperable, Verizon said. Funding from the Public Wireless Innovation Fund will help the RAN ecosystem mature as it desperately needs, it added.  

Research and development

O-RAN continues to lack the maturity that is needed for commercial deployment, agreed US Cellular in its comments. The company indicated that the complexity and costliness of system integration results from there being multiple vendors that would need to integrate but are not ready for full integration. 

Additionally, interoperability with existing RAN infrastructure requires bi-lateral agreements, customized integration, and significant testing prior to deployment, the comment read. The complicated process would result in O-RAN increasing the cost of vendor and infrastructure deployment, claimed US Cellular, directly contrary to the goals of O-RAN. 

Several commenters urged the NTIA to focus funding projects on research and development rather than subsidizing commercial deployments.  

The NTIA is already fully engaged in broadband deployment in unserved and underserved areas through its Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program, said Verizon. The Innovation Fund will better advance its goals by funding projects that accelerate the solving of remaining O-RAN technical challenges that continue to delay its deployment, it continued. 

US Cellular argued that the NTIA should “spur deployment of additional independent testing and certification lab facilities… where an independent third party can perform end to end testing, conformance, and certification.” 

The Innovation Fund should be used to focus on technology development and solving practical challenges, added wireless trade association, CTIA. Research can focus on interoperability, promotion of equipment that meets O-RAN specifications, and projects that support hardware design and energy efficiency, it said. 

Furthermore, CTIA recommended that the Administration avoid interfering in how providers design their networks to encourage providers to adopt O-RAN in an appropriate manner for their company. Allowing a flexible, risk-based approach to O-RAN deployments will “help ensure network security and stability,” it wrote. 

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CES 2023: Commissioner Starks Highlights Environmental Benefits of 5G Connectivity

Starks also said federal housing support should be linked to the Affordable Connectivity Program.



Photo of FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks (left) and CTA’s J. David Grossman

LAS VEGAS, January 7, 2023 – Commissioner Geoffrey Starks of the Federal Communications Commission spoke at the Consumer Electronics Show Saturday, touting connectivity assistance for individuals who benefit from housing assistance as well as the potential environmental benefits of 5G.

The FCC-administered Affordable Connectivity Program subsidizes monthly internet bills and one-time devices purchases for low-income Americans. Although many groups are eligible – e.g., Medicaid and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program enrollees – Starks said his attention is primarily on those who rely on housing support.

“If you are having trouble putting food on your table, you should not have to worry about connectivity as well,” Starks said. “If we are helping you to get housed, we should be able to connect that house,” he added.

Environmental benefits of 5G

In addition to economic benefits, 5G-enabled technologies will offer many environmental benefits, Starks argued. He said the FCC should consider how to “ensure folks do more while using less,” particularly in the spheres of spectral and energy efficiency.

“This is going to take a whole-of-nation (approach),” Starks said. “When you talk to your local folks – mayors – state and other federal partners, making sure that they know smart cities (and) smart grid technology…making sure that we’re all unified on thinking about this is exactly where we need to go to in order to drive down the carbon emissions.”

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CES 2023: 5G Will Drive Safer Transportation

More comprehensive data-sharing is made possible by the reduced latency of 5G, CES hears.



Photo of Aruna Anand, Durga Malladi, and Derek Peterson (left to right)

LAS VEGAS, January 5, 2023 – Panelists at the Consumer Electronics Show 2023 on Thursday touted the potential for 5G to make transportation safer by enabling information sharing between vehicles and with infrastructure.

5G is expected to expand connectivity by attaching small cell connectivity equipment on various city infrastructure, including traffic lights and bus shelters. 

More comprehensive data-sharing is made possible by the reduced latency of 5G, said Aruna Anand, president and CEO of Continental Automotive Systems Inc., referring to connectivity communications times. Anand argued that making relevant information available to multiple vehicles is key to improving safety.

“We give more information about the surroundings of the vehicle to the car to enable [it] to make better decisions,” Anand said.

Durga Malladi, senior vice president and general manager for cellular modems and infrastructure at chip maker Qualcomm, described a 5G-enabled “true ubiquitous data space solution” in which vehicles and smart infrastructure – e.g., traffic lights and stop signs – communicate with one another.

Asked for predictions, Malladi forecasted an increased “blend” of communications and artificial intelligence technologies. Anand said 6G is expected to emerge by 2028 and make its way to vehicle technology by 2031.

Both realized and predicted innovations in 5G-enabled technologies have driven calls for expanded spectrum access, from private and public sectors alike. The Federal Communications Commission and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the respective overseers of non-federally and federally-used spectrum, in August agreed to an updated memorandum of understanding on spectrum management

Although relatively new, this agreement has already been touted by officials.

The FCC, whose spectrum auction authority Congress extended in December, made several moves last year to expand spectrum access.

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