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U.S. Window of Opportunity for Open Radio Access Networks is Closing, Say Panelists



Photo of Diane Rinaldo from Open RAN Policy Coalition

February 24, 2021—Some experts suggest that the future of wireless connectivity is in open radio access networks, but the window of opportunity for the U.S. to lead the way in this endeavor is closing.

Radio access networks comprise physical pieces of equipment – such as antennae or other hardware – that facilitates communication between user equipment and a network.

Open RAN is a movement to standardize those components for more companies to compete—as opposed to concentrating those components in a handful of large companies that own proprietary components—to increase competition and deliver better products, prices, and services.

Flynn Rico-Johnson, legislative director in the office of Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Calif., was a panelist for a discussion about open RAN at the Connect X policy summit on Tuesday.

He said for the U.S. to remain competitive in this effort, the federal government would need to take funding development and deployment of open RAN more seriously.

“We want to see [this funding] in the president’s budget—we think we’ve got a great shot for an infrastructure package.”

Rico-Johnson added that while the U.S. needs to begin to take these steps, other countries have already been moving in the right direction.

“Europe is moving forward—Germany has made clear investment goals in Open RAN,” he said. “If the U.S. doesn’t make aggressive moves early, we’ll fall behind.”

This sentiment was shared by Rico-Johnson’s fellow panelist Diane Rinaldo, the executive director for the Open RAN Policy Coalition, which is made up of 48 members including Verizon, Nvidia, Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and many other companies at the forefront of technology and innovation.

Diane Rinaldo was a guest on the Broadband Breakfast Live Online event in October 2020 about national security and trusted partners. See “Global Concern About 5G Security Has Become a Bipartisan Cause, Say Broadband Breakfast Panelists,” Broadband Breakfast, November 17, 2020

“Time is of the essence,” Rinaldo said. “If we want to incorporate Open RAN [into our infrastructure], we need to act.”

Rinaldo argued that Open RAN is going to be the future of RAN regardless of what action the U.S. decides to take, but it will be the decisions that U.S. policy makers make in the upcoming months and years that determine whether the U.S. will be leading the pack or trailing behind it.

“A big part of the conversation is international cooperation and collaboration,” Rinaldo said. “President Biden has said he wants to build international collaboration around the world.”

She explained that while working to deploy ORAN technology in the U.S. and in other first-world countries is an avenue that the current administration could exploit, the U.S. should also look to developing nations that they can assist in modernizing their broadband infrastructure.

Thierry Maupilé, executive vice president and chief of strategy and product management at Altiostar, said that as a technological hegemon, it is expected for the U.S. to pioneer ORAN. Headded if the U.S. wants to be able to compete with foreign countries, it needs to be able to implement ORAN technology.

“[The U.S. needs] to create an environment platform, which is going to make it much easier, much more attractive for investment to come in,” Maupilé said. “And that’s one of the major benefits that we see with this Open RAN.”

As a child of American parents working abroad, Reporter Ben Kahn was raised as a third culture kid, growing up in five different countries, including the U.S.. He is a recent graduate of the University of Baltimore, where he majored in Policy, Politics, and International Affairs. He enjoys learning about foreign languages and cultures and can now speak poorly in more than one language.


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



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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FCC’s Rosenworcel On Need to Accelerate Movement Toward 5G and Beyond

The acting chairwoman said the country needs to move quickly to adopt 5G for future technologies.



Acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel.

WASHINGTON, October 12, 2021 – At the 10th annual Americas Spectrum Management Conference on Tuesday, Federal Communications Commission Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said the nation must move rapidly toward 5G to lay the groundwork for future technologies, including 6G.

Rosenworcel stressed the need to use this moment to “build a foundation for new growth and new opportunity in the post-pandemic world by increasing “the momentum toward 5G” and setting the stage for 6G “and beyond.”

She offered five principles for the delivery of 5G across the U.S. She illustrated how the FCC is dedicating more spectrum for 5G in order to demonstrate the viability of mid-band spectrum in the 3.45-3.55GHz bands for private carriers. The FCC is also working on expanding the reach of fiber facilities. Referencing Biden’s infrastructure plan that includes $65 billion for broadband deployment, Rosenworcel noted that “it’s terrific to see that building more broadband is at the heart of the legislative discussions we are having about infrastructure in this country.”

The agency has been putting those words into practice, moving to release spectrum as it began an auction last week for critical mid-band spectrum in the 3.45 Gigahertz band said to be important for 5G. The commissioners from the agency have also talked up the need to focus on the squeezing “every drop” of the mid-band, following the massive C-band auction.

Rosenworcel described 5G as “an essential part of unlocking technologies that we’ve been talking about . . . the internet of things, telemedicine, virtual and augmented reality, smart transportation networks, [and] smart energy grids.” She views these technologies as the future of industry and expands the potential for artificial intelligence.

This was the first time Rosenworcel addressed the conference in her capacity as acting chairwoman, as she reviewed the agency’s progress toward closing the digital divide for all Americans. That includes administering a number of big broadband programs to tackle affordability and accessibility, including the Emergency Broadband Benefit program and Emergency Connectivity Fund, from which the FCC on Tuesday said it committed $1.1 billion in a second wave of funding.

Late last month, the FCC approved 72 telehealth applications to ensure patients have continuous care during the pandemic. Rosenworcel said healthcare centers across the U.S. “are receiving $140 million in support to assist with efforts to expand telehealth,” a service that could connect Americans unable to travel for in-person medical care.

Rosenworcel also described the beginning of the FCC’s “rip and replace” program to help prevent equipment harmful to the nation’s security “from ever reaching our shores and to encourage better security practices across the board.”

Finally, Rosenworcel described efforts to develop international standards for technology to cultivate more international innovation and democratize access to modern communications. The acting chairwoman and colleagues have previously noted the importance of open access technologies, like open radio access networks, for security, innovation and low cost.

Looking to 6G and beyond, Rosenworcel illustrated the need to refocus America’s cyber defense resources on developing strategies for greater protection in cyberspace. She urged conferencegoers to “take the lessons of the past few years to put us on smart course for the next generation of wireless technology.”

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WISPAPALOOZA Show Reopens in Las Vegas With Celebrations of Can-Do Broadband Connectivity

Many WISPs are no longer merely “wireless” internet service providers, but offer fiber-optics in a hybrid solution.



Photo of a packed event center for breakfast at Bally's in Las Vegas as WISPAPALOOZA opened by Drew Clark

LAS VEGAS, October 12, 2021 –  The Wireless Industry Service Provider Association on Tuesday reopened its flagship trade show, WISPAPALOOZA, through Thursday at the Paris Hotel and Bally’s.

Not held since 2019 due to the pandemic, WISPAPALOOZA brings the community-based internet innovators ecosystem together at a single spot for education, trade show exhibits and ISP community engagement.

“This WISPAPALOOZA is a celebration on a number of levels,” said Claude Aiken, CEO of WISPA.  “Our community hasn’t gotten together at this scale for two years, and we’re just excited as heck to get back and see old friends.”

At Broadband Breakfast Live Online on October 6, 2021, Broadband Breakfast previewed the Wispapalooza trade show.

He also touted the WISP community for its service during pandemic. ”They kept people connected, safe and working.  And they did it because it was the right thing to do.”

Other analysts and attendees agreed. “Fixed wireless offers a much-needed substitute for addressing broadband need in underserved rural and suburban markets where other solutions are too cost-prohibitive or take too long to deploy,” said Mobile Experts principal analysis Kyung Mun. The consultancy predicts that globally, there are 80 million subscribers to fixed wireless (20% year-over-year growth) will take off to 200 million by 2026, or a compound annual growth rate of 70%.

WISPAPALOOZA is set to feature:

  • More than 90 panels filled with more than 200 internet access innovators, featuring updates on the state of technology, operational tips and practices, human resources, and the regulatory landscape, among others.
  • More than 160 exhibitors, demoing their best hardware, software, services and know-how.
  • A full 2,000 WISP industry attendees, enabling tons of networking opportunities.

WISPs are among the hardiest and those with the most can-do spirit in the communications industry. The group was loath to cancel their smaller trade show, WISPAmerica, in March 2020, and already held WISPAmerica earlier this year, in Grapevine, Texas.

In other words: Even the lingering spike of the Delta variant of COVID-19, which caused the National Association of Broadcasters and other groups to cancel their in-person shows, couldn’t keep WISP operators from gathering at this time.

Indeed, community-based access innovators have been integral to lifting the economy and helping Americans connect during the pandemic, delivering internet access to those in the farthest and toughest reaches of America.

Other wireless industry trends include hybrid networks, government funds

WISPAPALOOZA is also a celebration of the continual evolution of ISP technology and business models, too.

Over the course of two years, the landscape has changed significantly.  Many WISPs now have licensed spectrum, via the Citizens Broadband Radio Service auction completed last year.

Perhaps most significantly, many WISPs are no longer just “WISPs,” meaning that they are actively making use of fiber-optic technologies in their deployments.

While fixed wireless access has been the industry’s predominate delivery technology, today the majority of WISPs now employ other transmission modes, such as fiber to the home and business.  As an example, he cited the work on Nextlink: “They have proven the case that fixed-wireless and hybrid networks deliver” when fiber and wireless are harnessed together.

An additional significant change among the rank-and-file WISPA members: More and more WISPs are competing for and using public funding to grow their networks, while also reducing the digital divide.

“Our community-based providers use an all-the-above toolbox so all Americans get competitive, innovative and affordable internet access in their communities,” said Aiken.  He said that the exhibition floor will showcase WISPs ““resilience and continued evolution of an industry that’s future-proofing solutions for their customers and marketplace.”

WISPA is composed of about 1,000 members and provide broadband access to more than 4 million residential and business customers in the United States, often in exclusively rural areas.

Nextlink Internet voted “Operator of the Year” by colleagues, others recognized

Meanwhile, the Hudson Oaks, Texas, based Nextlink Internet, an internet service provider focused on rural communities across the central United States, announced that it has been named “Operator of the Year” by its colleagues in the ISP industry.

The company was recognized today at WISPAPALOOZA.

“Our team has been putting forth tremendous effort in expanding our service areas in 12 states across the country,” said Nextlink CEO Bill Baker. “We are also proud to be leading the way for our industry in terms of successful engagement in the Federal Communications Commission’s programs and in many public-private partnerships.”

WISPA also announced additional awards:

“Manufacturer of the Year” – Cambium Networks: “We are honored to be recognized as Manufacturer of the Year by WISPA network operators,” said Atul Bhatnagar, CEO. “Cambium Networks collaborates with WISPs to deliver customer-focused innovations in hardware, software and services to provide excellent quality of experience.”

“Product of the Year” – RF Elements: “Our third consecutive year winning the WISPA Product of the Year Award sends a very clear message about how game-changing our RF elements products really are,” said Juraj Taptic, Co-Founder and CEO.

“Service of the Year” – Aterlo Preseem: “We are humbled and honored to have been selected to receive this award for the third year running,” said Gerrit Nagelhout, CEO. “We are proud to serve the thriving WISP community by developing products that make their lives easier and help them grow.”

“Distributor of the Year” – ISP Supplies: “We celebrate the hard work of our employees and the close partnerships we enjoy with our customers,” said Steve Discher, Founder and CEO.

“Triumph Award” – All WISPs: “Never has robust and reliable connectivity been more essential than now,” noted Aiken of WISPA. “The industry’s selfless work during the pandemic with the FCC’s Keep Americans Connected pledge, the Emergency Broadband Benefit, and ensuring their networks were always up and running no matter the strain, for all.  Congrats, All WISPs, for your tremendous public service, unflagging spirit, and get it done attitude!”

Editor’s Note: This story was updated at 4:46 p.m. ET to reflect additional awards, besides those of Nextlink Internet.

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