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In A Debate Over Municipal Rights-Of-Way, Industry and Public Representatives Attempt to Find A Path Forward

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December 15, 2020 — In a spirited debate about one of the central policy issues surrounding the deployment of 5G and small cell deployment, Wednesday’s Broadband Breakfast Live Online featured both municipalities and wireless industry officials each expressing concerns and grievances.

To realize the promise of 5G, far more base stations, or wireless infrastructure facilities, will be necessary to deploy due to limitations associated with mid-band spectrum and faster promised throughput.

Representatives for the municipalities said that their rights-of-way aren’t being respected. Industrial officials said that cities were over-complicating the need for rapid deployment.

5G facilities and towers may not be as big as previous generations of wireless technology. Still, the need for far more facilities has already created tensions between municipalities and wireless providers over rights-of-way.

Earlier in his term as chairman, the current Federal Communications Commission under Ajit Pai issued a wireless infrastructure order that attempted to “remove regulatory barriers” that inhibit the deployment of 5G infrastructure.

The FCC also took action, prompted by a petition from the Wireless Industry Association, under Section 6409 of the 2012 Spectrum Act, to allow wireless service providers to collocate wireless infrastructure, or allow industry to add one or more antenna to pre-existing towers.

“The FCC has tilted the table too much in favor of industry and not enough for communities,” said Gerry Lederer, partner at the law firm Best Best & Krieger. “We’ll see whether a new FCC will level that table more.”

Cities claim that wireless providers are pushing too hard, too fast

Angelina Panettieri, legislative director of technology and communications at the National League of Cities, which represents more than 19,000 cities, towns, and villages across the U.S., said that she was working hard to overturn the FCC’s preemption order.

“I don’t think the issue is local governments not doing enough to speed processes,” said Panettieri, “this is a consequence of our collective failure as a nation to ensure we have adequate infrastructure and affordable access, which has ended up falling on local leaders.”

“At the same time, these communities are facing a faster and deeper cratering of local government funding than we’ve seen since the Great Depression. Many city halls are closed on Friday’s to save money,” she said. “Next year, without significant federal aid, there will be a hollowing out of the local public sector workforce, that will take a decade or more to recover from.”

“Cities and school districts have really moved mountains, shaken the change out of their couch cushions, and partnered with internet service providers to get devices and subsidized internet connections out to students and families,” said Panettieri.

She said that 5G is a tool and not a silver bullet, and that cities need to encourage fiber deeper into the neighborhoods as much as possible.

“We need to stop the fib that 5G is going to address the rural divide,” added Lederer. “If you don’t have fiber, you aren’t going to get 5G; 5G is not the near-term answer.”

Industry counters that speed is necessary to win the 5G deployment race

In response, industry representatives maintained that a speedy turnaround is necessary to win the race to 5G deployment against China.

John Howes, counsel of government affairs for the Wireless Infrastructure Association began his remarks by highlighting another recent FCC achievement: Kicking off the C-Band auction on December 8, generating $1.9 billion in proceeds in its first day. It is the FCC’s largest auction of midband spectrum to date, offering up 280 megahertz of important swaths of 5G spectrum in the 3.7-3.98 GigaHertz (GHz) band.

“The auction is critically important to furthering 5G connectivity across the U.S.” as it offers a relatively quick timeline for potential 5G deployments in the next few years, he said

Part of the effort, he said, involves collaboration. “We have to work with state and local government partners,” said Howes. “There is a race to 5G and it is critical we lead the way.”

To give a sense of the work required to roll out these advanced networks, Timothy Vogel, senior managing associate of general counsel for Verizon Wireless, detailed the company’s attempt to roll out networks around Phoenix.

“Just looking around Pheonix, we see Avondale, Scottsdale, and Paradise Valley — we see the 26 localities that surround Phoenix. To have to come up with different processes in each of the 26 — different fees [and] different rules slows down the process and drives capital to other areas.”

Finding a path to move forward with fiber and 5G deployment

“Certainly there are disagreements,” said moderator Drew Clark, editor and publisher of Broadband Breakfast, but “How can the process be improved? What are successful cities doing now?”

Vogel championed matching the needs of communities with the reality of business to align expectation and understanding, improve existing processes, and address stakeholders’ concerns.

Panettieri pushed back on the idea that the deployment process should be completely universalized, saying that it would likely not be achievable. She instead called for industry to embrace regional collaboration, as has worked with similar utilities and older technologies.

Pannettieri said cities that have thought proactively about street-scape, design, and digital equity are of the best positioned to manage 5G deployment. “Cities like San Jose, which have undergone serious planning around digital equity, know where the need is greatest and what is causing their digital divide — infrastructure, tech literacy, devices, or affordability,” she said.

In defense of maintaining cities’ aesthetics, Lederer accused the private sector of lying about the omnipresence of 5G wireless infrastructure equipment, saying “It would be nice if industry would tell the truth about size. Small cells are not ‘small’, stop going to state legislatures and city councils will small boxes and saying ‘this is a small cell’, and forgetting about the other 28 cubic feet that” come along with it.

In the end, the industry and the municipal representatives agreed that a nationalized approach to 5G deployment would not work.

“We’ll never get to the point where everyone is doing the same thing. People care about how their cities look, that’s why they want to live there,” said Panettieri, adding that it is “important to maintain the authority of the city,” as they have the potential to be good conveners.

The discussion is just one of six events in the event series, “A No-Nonsense Guide to 5G,” that is sponsored by Samsung Electronic America.

‘A No-Nonsense Guide to 5G’ 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 13, 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? 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?

SUBSCRIBE to the Broadband Breakfast YouTube channel. That way, you will be notified when events go live. Watch on YouTubeTwitter and Facebook

See a complete list of upcoming and past Broadband Breakfast Live Online events.

5G

5G Connected Traffic Structures Will Facilitate Safer, Environmentally Friendly Travel: Industry

The release of more spectrum will help move autonomous vehicles forward.

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Screenshot of Joe Moye, CEO of Beep

WASHINGTON, September 13, 2022 – 5G-connected street infrastructure, such as traffic lights, will make commuter travel environmentally friendly and safe, said a panel at a Punchbowl News event Thursday, and it can be facilitated by the release of more spectrum.

The move toward autonomous vehicles will require vehicles and road structures communicating with each other. Some vehicles on the road include sensors that detect objects to avoid collisions – but these vehicles still require someone behind the wheel.

Nick Ludlum, senior vice president and chief communications officer of the event’s sponsor, CTIA, spoke about the environmental benefits of autonomous transportation and said vehicles and road systems can “all work together…to make more efficient transit patterns…so people aren’t sitting and idling in cars with, [producing] all the emissions.”

But Ludlum noted that the Federal Communications Commission can facilitate such autonomous travel by auctioning off more spectrum. “More spectrum means better networks, and better networks means bigger innovations,” he said.

Joe Moye, CEO of autonomous transportation company Beep, said that his company’s specialty is autonomous shuttles – with capacities of 12–14 passengers.

“The vehicles have to interface with infrastructure like a human would,” said. Beep’s CEO argued that 5G-enabled real-time communication between vehicle and infrastructure is “absolutely critical to the safety and effectiveness of these types of vehicles.” Moye also explained that with 5G technology, Beep is developing systems by which a remote operator can take control of an autonomous vehicle and maneuver it out of an emergency.

Moye said he believes that adoption of autonomous mass transit could also significantly reduce commute-driven emissions.

“If we’re gonna really transform mobility as we know it,” Moye said, “we need to have a convenient, safe alternative to our personal vehicles.”

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Open Radio Access Networks Can Save Energy, Say Panelists at Industry Summit

Broadband players in both the fiber marketplace and 5G space are pushing for energy-efficient networks.

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Screenshot of Paul Challoner, vice president of Network Product Solutions at Ericsson

September 8, 2022 – Open radio access networks allow administrators to utilize software that save energy, said Paul Challoner, vice president of Network Product Solutions for Ericsson, at Fierce Wireless’ Open RAN Summit on Wednesday.

Radio access networks connect personal devices – such as phones and computers – to core networks through radio waves. Open RANs’ components, unlike those of traditional RANs, are “interoperable” – a single network can function with pieces made by different manufacturers.

A crucial part of an Open RAN is the RAN Intelligent Control, a software component which enables users to obtain and run native as well as third-party software.

For instance, to eliminate energy waste during periods of light traffic, these sophisticated controls employ artificial intelligence software to direct signals to designated base stations only . This allows other base stations to hibernate. Traditional RANs lack the software capacity of O-RANs and therefore must run all base stations at all times.

Energy initiatives across telecom industry

Elsewhere in the telecom industry, broadband players are pushing for energy-efficient networks as well. Federal Communications Commission Commissioner Geoffrey Starks regularly calls for sustainable, net-zero carbon emissions. “We must continue to find ways to do more while using less,” he said in June.

Additionally, the Fiber Broadband Association recently released a report that found that fiber to the home technology creates less CO2 than either DSL or cable broadband. What’s more, the report found that since FTTH users are disproportionately likely to work from home, FTTH also results in less commute-driven CO2 emissions.

O-RAN as a 5G player

Many believe that open RAN technology will play a substantial role in creating an alternative to proprietary telecommunications equipment. As concerns mount about Chinese telecom manufacturer Huawei – including its connections to the Chinese Communist Party –O-RAN has emerged as a viable alternative to provide 5G coverage.

To safeguard O-RAN networks, networks must employ a bottom-to-top approach to cybersecurity, said Douglas Gardner, chief technologist for the Analog Devices’ CTO Office Security Center of Excellence, at Wednesday’s Open RAN Summit. Gardner argued that every part of the network – down to the chip level – must be constructed with potential cyberthreats in mind.

Ultimately, Gardner believes that expensive up-front investments in cybersecurity prevent far more expensive breaches down the road: “Good security costs vendors money. Get over it.”

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David Flower: 5G and Hyper-Personalization: Too Much of a Good Thing?

5G, IoT and edge computing are giving companies the opportunity to make hyper-personalization even more ‘hyper’.

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The author of this Expert Opinion is David Flower, CEO of Volt Active Data

It’s very easy for personalization to backfire and subtract value instead of add it.

Consider the troubling fact that we may be arriving at a moment in hyper-personalization’s journey where the most hyper-personalized offer is no offer at all. Nobody likes to be constantly bombarded by content, personalized or not.

And that’s the paradox of hyper-personalization: if everyone’s doing it, then, in a sense, nobody is.

5G and related technologies such as IoT and edge computing are giving companies the opportunity to make hyper-personalization even more “hyper” via broader bandwidths and the faster processing of higher volumes of data.

This means we’re at a very interesting inflection point: where do we stop? If the promise of 5G is more data, better data, and faster data, and the result is knowing our customers even better to bug them even more, albeit in a “personal” way, when, where, and why do we say, “hold on—maybe this is going too far.”?

How do you do hyper-personalization well in a world where everyone else is doing it and where customers are becoming increasingly jaded about it and worried about how companies are using their data?

Let’s first look at what’s going wrong.

Hyper-personalization and bad data

Hyper-personalization is very easy to mess up, and when you do mess it up it has the exact opposite of its intended effect: it drives customers away instead of keeping them there.

Consider an online ad for a product that pops up for you on a website a couple days after you already bought the thing being advertised for. This is what I call “noise”. It’s simply a nuisance, and the company placing that ad—or rather, the data platform they’re using to generate the algorithms for the ads—should already know that the person has already bought this item and hence present not a “repeat offer” but an upsell or cross-sell offer.

This sounds rudimentary in the year 2022 but it’s still all too common, and you’re probably nodding your head right now because you’ve experienced this issue.

Noise usually comes from what’s known as bad data, or dirty data. Whatever you want to call it—it pretty much ruins the customer experience.

Hyper-personalization and slow data

The second major issue is slow data, which is any data being used way too slowly to be valuable, which usually includes data that has to the trip to the data warehouse before it can be incorporated into any decisions.

Slow data is one of the main reasons edge computing was invented: to be able to process data as closely to where it’s ingested as possible in order to use it before it loses any value.

Slow data produces not-so-fun customer experiences such as walking half a mile to your departure gate at the airport, only to find that the gate has been changed, and then, after you’ve walked the half mile back to where you came from, getting a text message on your phone from the airline saying your gate has been changed.

Again, whatever you want to call it—latency, slow data, annoying—the end result is a bad customer experience.

How to fix the hyper-personalization paradox

I have no doubt that the people who invented hyper-personalization had great intentions: make things as personal as possible so that your customers pay attention, stay happy, and stay loyal.

And for a lot of companies, for a long time, it worked. Then came the data deluge. And the regulations. And the jaded customers. We’re now at a stage where we need to rethink how we do personalization because the old ways are no longer effective.

It’s easy—and correct—to blame legacy technology for all of this. But the solution goes deeper than just ripping and replacing. Companies need to think holistically about all sides of their tech stacks to figure out the simplest way to get as much data as possible from A to B.

The faster you can process your data the better. But it’s not all just about speed. You also need to be able to provide quick contextual intelligence to your data so that every packet is informed by all of the packets that came before it. In this sense, your tech stack should be a little like a great storyteller: someone who knows what the customer needs and is feeling at any given moment, because it knows what’s happened up to this point and how it will affect customer decisions moving forward.

Let’s start thinking of our customer experiences as stories and our tech stacks as the storytellers—or maybe, story generators. Maybe then our personalization efforts will become truly ‘hyper-personal’— i.e., relevant, in-the-moment experiences that are a source of delight instead of annoyance.

David Flower brings more than 28 years of experience within the IT industry to the role of CEO of Volt Active Data. Flower has a track record of building significant shareholder value across multiple software sectors on a global scale through the development and execution of focused strategic plans, organizational development and product leadership. 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.

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