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

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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 commentary@breakfast.media. 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.

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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5G

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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