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Spectrum

In Call For Open Radio Access Network, FCC Chairwoman Points to Security and Cost Savings

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Photo of Jessica Rosenworcel from January 2015 by the Internet Education Foundation used with permission

March 18, 2021—The FCC on Wednesday launched its first official inquiry into the status and trajectory of open radio access network technology, with the acting chairwoman suggesting the search for new network vendors must ramp up.

The open RAN movement has gained significant momentum since Huawei was banned over the past 18 months.

Proponents of the movement argue that it may increase competition in the market surrounding radio access network hardware, particularly for silicon chips, because it allow more companies to enter the space traditionally locked out due to proprietary technologies held by few companies.

5G deployment is one of the FCC’s top priorities over the next couple of years. One of the ways the FCC prioritized accomplishing this is the use of spectrum auctions. However, this new inquiry indicates that the FCC is seeking other avenues to accelerate 5G deployment.

The primary goal of the notice is to “seek comment on the current status of Open RAN development and deployment in American networks and abroad,” according to an agency press release. It attempts to determine the role of incumbent hardware manufacturers, new entrants, and the standards for the architecture of the network.

Additionally, the agency is inquiring about the challenges and considerations that various government and private sector stakeholders face as they pursue manufacturing, integration, and deployment of open RAN technology.

During a talk hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies on Thursday, Acting Chairwoman of the FCC Jessica Rosenworcel outlined key elements of the FCC’s strategy in expediting the roll-out of 5G.

In her concluding remarks, she stated that while slowing down the progress of what she called “untrusted” hardware vendors, such as Huawei, has been the priority for the FCC in recent years, the organization must shift its focus to pursuing new vendors simultaneously.

She pointed to the previous day’s inquiry as a first step toward addressing this goal. “If we can unlock the [radio access network] and diversify the equipment in this part of our networks, we may be able to increase security, reduce our exposure to any single foreign vendor, [and] lower costs.” She also stated that prioritizing open RAN would overall benefit the U.S. economy.

Recalling the FCC’s spectrum auctions, Rosenworcel continued: “Of course, our network equipment is only as good as the spectrum it runs on.  So, we are not slowing down there either.” She stated that the 3.45-3.55 Gigahertz band auction that was just authorized would play a crucial role in supporting open RAN technology and the implementation of 5G.

Reporter Ben Kahn is a graduate of University of Baltimore and the National Journalism Center. His work has appeared in Broadband Breakfast, Washington Jewish Week, and The Center Square, among other publications. He primarily covers Big Tech and spectrum policy.

Spectrum

Rosenworcel Proposes Funding Infrastructure and 911 Transition with Spectrum Auction Money

The FCC’s chairwoman spoke on the future of spectrum during a Tuesday CTIA event on 5G’s climate impacts.

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Photo of FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel by T.J. York

WASHINGTON, May 11, 2022 – Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel on Tuesday proposed using funds raised in upcoming spectrum auctions held by the commission to fund infrastructure projects and the transition to a next-generation 911 system.

The proposal came as part of a list of potential future areas of focus on spectrum from the commission during Rosenworcel’s session at wireless trade association CTIA’s 2022 5G Summit focusing on 5G’s impacts on climate.

Rosenworcel has stated in the past that she would like spectrum auction proceeds to go towards updating the national 911 system.

Proposed upgrades include allowing 911 callers to send first responders photos, videos and text messages rather than just calls. A bill also exists in Congress to upgrade 911, the Next-Generation 911 Act, authorizing federal grants to go towards the upgrades.

In March the FCC announced that in July it would auction 2.5 GHz band licenses for 5G services.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., also speaking at Tuesday’s event, added to the calls for upgrades to the national 911 system.

Rosenworcel also spoke about the possibility of legislation targeting mid-band spectrum and development of next-gen wireless networks, work on updates to the Commercial Spectrum Enhancement Act that governs allocation of spectrum to the commercial sector, as well as a greater focus on receiver performance and procurement practices rather than just examining transmitters.

She emphasized that the commission is always actively working on spectrum policy through the Affordable Connectivity Program, the freeing up of spectrum with a particular focus on mid band, advocating for a national spectrum plan, and broadband data collection via the provisions of the Broadband DATA Act. She stated that the commission is actively involved with National Telecommunications and Information Administration head Alan Davidson on freeing up spectrum.

Additional speakers at Tuesday’s event included director of the White House’s National Economic Council Brian Deese, who noted that in the coming weeks and months there will be many more announcements on broadband funding from the administration on money to come from new and existing sources, and Rep. Brett Guthrie, R-Ky.

Guthrie voiced frustration with government agencies not designated authority on spectrum over the role they took in public debates on spectrum policy, largely related to the Federal Aviation Administration’s influence over cellular providers to make concessions on their rollout of 5G over safety concerns earlier this year.

“And we must always continue to address inter-agency coordination issues,” said Guthrie.

He stated the necessity of these agencies communicating concerns to the NTIA and FCC rather than directly involving themselves in policy discussions.

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Spectrum

In a Move to Aid Spectrum Efficiency, FCC Begins Inquiry on Receiver Interference Standards

The FCC makes advancements towards more efficient spectrum use throughout the country.

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Photo of Public Knowledge Policy Counsel Kathleen Burke from the advocacy group

WASHINGTON, April 26, 2022 — The Federal Communication Commission on Thursday voted to press forward on a proceeding designed to make spectrum transmissions in the United States much more efficient.

“By enabling more efficient use will facilitate the introduction of new and innovative wireless services that will benefit the American public,” said Paul Murray, associate chief of the Office of Engineering and Technology at the FCC, who introduced an inquiry titled, “Promoting Efficient Use of Spectrum through Improved Receiver Interference Immunity Performance.”

Receiver interference immunity performance refers to the ability of a radiofrequency receiver (as opposed to a transmitter) to reject interference. Typically, the agency focuses its rules on the transmitter side of radio systems.

But, the FCC said, “receivers and receiver interference immunity performance play an increasingly critical role in enabling more efficient spectrum use,” age agency noted in its fact sheet circulated prior to the meeting.

In it, the FCC highlighted how, increasingly, “the receiver interference immunity performance associated with incumbent services operating in spectral proximity to new users or services has been a major consideration.”

For example, the ability of incumbent service receivers to reject signals outside their intended band has been relevant to the timing and scope of the introduction of new services, such as the Ligado and the 3.7 GigaHertz (GHz) band proceedings, the agency noted. There, the FCC adopted operating conditions and rules to enable the introduction of new operations into frequency bands with various incumbent users operating under different service allocations in the same band, adjacent band, or other spectrally proximate frequency bands.

“If our telecommunications system is going to meet the modern needs of our nation, every aspect needs to operate efficiently,” said Kathleen Burke, policy counsel at Public Knowledge. She endorsed the agency’s beginning the proceeding.

Emergency alerts strengthened

During the meeting the commission also approved for the public to comment on proposals that will strengthen wireless emergency alerts. “This pandemic has made crystal clear how important it is to have good data in an emergency.   Accurate information is essential if we want to know what we need to do next.  That is also true with Wireless Emergency Alerts.  If we want to know where to go with this system next, we need to better understand it. That is why today we seek comments on how we can develop better data about the effectiveness of Wireless Emergency Alerts,” said Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel.

Rosenworcel also that Chief of Staff Travis Litman will be leaving the office and will be replaced by Narda Jones.

“We also welcome the uncommonly talented Narda Jones to the agency. She’s my new chief of staff,” Rosenworcel said. She comes to us from the Office of Science and Technology Policy at the White House.”

The FCC’s next Open Commission Meeting will be held on May 19.

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Spectrum

FCC Will Auction Slices of Mid-Band 2.5 GHz Spectrum for 5G in Late July

The slices of 2.5 GHz mid-band will be licenses for flexible use, including for 5G.

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Photo of Jessica Rosenworcel
Photo of Jessica Rosenworcel in 2018

WASHINGTON, March 22, 2022 — The Federal Communications Commission announced Monday it will hold an auction of 2.5 GHz band licenses for 5G wireless services on July 29, 2022.

The FCC said in a press release it has adopted application and bidding procedures for a slice of the band, which will be licensed on a flexible-use basis following “substantial public comment on various process proposals under consideration.”

During her speech to Mobile World Congress, FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said, “this is the single largest swath of contiguous mid-band spectrum we have below 3 gigahertz and the airwaves available in this auction are going to help extend 5G service beyond our most populated areas.”

In the same announcement, the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau and the Office of Economics and Analytics announced the launch of a mapping tool that can be used to help assess whether and to what extent there is unassigned 2.5 GHz spectrum available in any county nationwide.

The FCC is simultaneously working on improving mapping to determine areas without adequate coverage. Expert witnesses discussed the lack of accurate broadband maps and the importance of crowdsourcing for accurate maps during a congressional hearing about 5G and the future in wireless technologies on Thursday.

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