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Infrastructure

Path To Gigabit Found In Pole Access and Government Program Design, Says WISPA CEO

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Photo of Claude Aiken from April 2018 by New America used with permission

March 25, 2021 – Wireless broadband providers need more regulatory support to meet broadband gigabit needs on a large geographic scale, including access to poles and expanding federal programs to more providers, said Wireless Internet Service Providers Association CEO Claude Aiken.

Aiken took to the webinar stage Wednesday to discuss WISPA’s new ‘path to gigabit,’ a proposal that defines needs and goals for providing wireless broadband in the gigabit speed tier across America. It comes at a convenient time just days after three large funding bills were introduced it the House of Representatives.

For infrastructure, all the money available won’t do much good if providers can’t get into a right of way or onto a pole or a tower, Aiken said. Companies need more infrastructure support from all levels of government to lower costs and increase speed of deployment, he said, including allowing all broadband providers access to poles and rights of way.

He also argued for the removal of the requirement for broadband providers to become “eligible telecommunications carriers” for access to infrastructure or qualifying for government programs. ETCs are approved service providers through the Universal Service Administrative Company for certain government programs.

He also said “dig once” rules – those that allow providers to ride on existing infrastructure — should be required during road construction and upgrading to prevent overlap of construction projects, he said.

The ‘path to gigabit’ will also require digital adoption and inclusion, Aiken said. It should include reimbursement programs for low-income consumers and programs for digital literacy, he said.

This isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, its multifaceted, its more than just dollars, Aiken said. “What encapsulates our membership are those who provide solutions, who innovate, and who are nimble and flexible bringing their communities what they need, when they need it,” he said. Our companies will use whatever technology and means they need to serve customers, he said.

Our fixed wireless can do gigabit speeds today in certain contexts, but in order to deliver it on a much broader geographic basis, we need that kind of support, he said.

Critics of gigabit on fixed-wireless

Last year, the Federal Communications Commission held the first phase of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund reverse auction, in which companies bid on the lowest funding they’d be willing to receive from the government to expand broadband access in rural areas, conditioned on certain speed tiers, as Broadband Breakfast explains here.

Since that auction concluded, however, some criticism has been raised that some of the winning bidders won’t be able to meet the conditions of their connection speeds. In response to that criticism, Aiken said that from a technical and financial standpoint, gigabit fixed wireless is a viable option both for current spectrum availability and for new bands that will be available in the future.

He did not comment on the technical capabilities of any specific company to deliver speeds in the gigabit tier, saying that he was confident in the FCC’s ability to determine each winner’s qualification.

Policy areas of focus for gigabit

Beside infrastructure and inclusion, to get to gigabit, Aiken described other areas of policy, including localized spectrum and subsidy program design.

Localized spectrum aims to increase accessible bands by allocating at least 200 megahertz of mid-band spectrum for non-auctioned point-to-multipoint use, on either shared or licensed-by-rule basis, he said.

It also includes shared millimeter-wave spectrum for providers to relieve congested bands in urban areas, and additional auctions for designated spectrum areas for small geographic areas available to small providers, he said. It should also mandate ‘use it or share it’ stipulations for unused licensees.

Subsidy programs should “incentivize and leverage” current providers to deliver broadband to consumers who currently lack access, Aiken said. The programs should be technology-neutral so that one form of broadband is not favored over another, based on an “evolving level” of service considered essential for education, health, safety, and based on the subscription of a “substantial majority” of residential consumers, he said.

Subsidies should prevent government-funded overbuilding, he said, and also favor small providers that can deliver service more quickly in a given residential area.

If we want to think big about solving the broadband digital divide, we need to start thinking small—meaning small companies—to deliver internet to those unserved areas, he said.

Updating broadband maps, which are the datasets that detail where service is available across the country, should be “supercharged,” Aiken said, because they are essential to spending government funds in an intelligent manner.

The FCC is currently in the process of updating the broadband mapping system from Form 477 to a new Broadband Serviceable Location Fabric, also called the Digital Opportunity Data Collection.

Expert Opinion

Leo Matysine: The Impact of C-Band on Advancements in Mobile and Fixed Broadband

As technology is more advanced and connected to everything, the need for higher capacity networks will continue to grow exponentially.

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The Author of this Expert Opinion is Leo Matysine, Co-Founder of MatSing

When consumers think of 5G, often their minds automatically think mobile connectivity. The official C-Band launch this past January brought the idea of increased spectrum connectivity into the limelight. While this had been something anticipated by the telecommunications industry for years, finally seeing it come to fruition allowed the mainstream media to become invested in the benefits this 5G spectrum could offer.

When 5G was first introduced five years ago, it caught the attention of many who soon learned the challenge in speedy implementation due to strict infrastructure requirements. The introduction of C-Band provides a solution, enabling 5G upgrades while simultaneously addressing the coverage and capacity needs.

This heightened implementation will allow users to start seeing improvements across the board, but not just in the form of mobile connection. Outside of the benefits for mobile carriers, the advancements C-Band provides will enter in a new era for fixed broadband access especially in rural communities.

The need for fixed broadband was magnified during the pandemic as users need for internet access from home drastically increased. This exposed the digital divide rural communities are facing, causing it to gain traction with the White House. As a result, a new infrastructure bill aimed at improving the underlying network infrastructures was developed as fiber-to-the-home and fiber-to-the-premise in rural settings have proven to be too expensive and impractical for wide implementation.

C-Band provides an alternative option allowing for wireless fixed broadband access through antennas. The mid-band frequency spectrum (1GHz to 6GHz) can provide rural users, both businesses and households, with options in providers and services they’ve been unable to experience previously.

C-Band also allows for higher speed and capacity

On top of the fixed broadband perspective where C-Band frequency spectrums are enabling rural connectivity, it allows for higher speed and capacity. The spectrums being utilized in the past while generating mobile coverage, had disadvantages in capacity and experience.

The mmWave spectrum (24GHz +) can transmit data at hyper speeds but only from limited distances, requiring line-of-site installations, whereas sub-1GHz offers the opposite. The mid-band spectrum C-Band falls under acts as a perfect balance, transmitting data at high speeds and capacities while providing the coverage needed to cover vast areas. Deployed with lens antenna technology, the additional capacity can be enabled with fewer antenna locations as compared to other antenna types, leading to financial advantages.

From a more localized vantage point, C-Band is now being integrated into marquee venues and stadiums. Within these smaller spaces, improved bandwidth and superior performance is essential given the concentrated number of users seeking connection and the inherent need for more content sharing. In order to support the mobile experience fans now expect from these venues, carriers and venue owners have turned to C-Band deployments.

Deployed atop the 4G/LTE foundation, the C-Band antenna builds off this functionality while adding the increased speed and capacity accustomed to the mid-band spectrum. Several venues will see increased results with these implementations allowing fans to experience a more reliable and overall better experience at their game days or concerts in the upcoming months.

Looking ahead, these milestones only mark the beginning of where C-Band implementation will take the telecommunications industry. As technology continues to become more advanced and connected to everyone and everything, the need for higher capacity networks will continue to grow exponentially.

Leo Matysine is the Co-Founder and Executive Vice President of company MatSing, the worlds leading manufacturer of large size, light weight RF lenses. MatSing introduces a new age of antenna design for the Telecommunications industry. 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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Digital Inclusion

FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel Emphasizes 100 Percent Broadband Adoption

‘It’s about making sure wireless connections are available in 100 percent of rural America,’ said the chairwoman.

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Photo of Kelley Dunne, CEO of AmeriCrew, leading panel on workforce issues at the Rural Wireless Infrastructure Summit by Drew Clark

PARK CITY, Utah, June 28, 2022 – The Federal Communications Commission is making progress towards bringing “affordable, reliable, high-speed broadband to 100 percent of the country,” Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said at the Rural Wireless Infrastructure Summit here on Tuesday.

Rosenworcel pointed to the $65 billion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act now being deployed across the country, with a particular focus on unconnected rural and tribal areas.

Although the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration will take the lead with these funds, the FCC’s new broadband coverage maps will be important in implementing state digital equity plans.

In her remarks, Rosenworcel also discussed how the upcoming 2.5 GigaHertz spectrum auction will involve licensing spectrum primarily to rural areas.

At the July FCC open meeting, said Rosenworcel, the agency is scheduled to establish a new program to help enhance wireless competition. It is called the Enhanced Competition Incentive Program.

The program aims to build incentives for existing carriers to build opportunities for smaller carriers and tribal nations through leasing or partitioning spectrum. Existing carriers will be rewarded with longer license terms, extensions on build-out obligations, and more flexibility in construction requirements.

“It’s about making sure wireless connections are available in 100 percent of rural America,” she said.

She also indicated her commitment to work with Congress to fund the FCC’s “rip and replace” program to reimburse many rural operators’ transitions from Chinese-manufactured telecommunications equipment. She also touted the role that open radio access networks can plan in more secure telecommunications infrastructure.

In other news at the conference, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr addressed the role of funding broadband operations in rural America, the challenges of workforce training, and ensuring that rural carriers have access to high-cost universal service support.

In a session moderated by AmeriCrew CEO Kelley Dunne, panelists from the U.S. Labor Department, the Wireless Infrastructure Association and Texas A&M Extension Education Services addressed the need to offer a vocational career path for individuals for whom a four-year degree may not be the right choice. AmeriCrew helps U.S. military veterans obtain careers in building fiber, wireless and electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

Broadband Breakfast Editor and Publisher Drew Clark contributed to this report.

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5G

5G Will Help Enhance Environment Protection and Sustainability, Conference Hears

The technology has already been used by companies to monitor and make more efficient systems to reduce emissions.

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Photo of Bourhan Yassin, CEO of Rainforest Connection

WASHINGTON, June 28, 2022 – Because of its facilitation of real-time monitoring and more efficient use of systems, 5G technology will help tackle climate change and beef up environmental sustainability, an Information Technology and Innovation Foundation event heard Tuesday.

5G technology’s ubiquitous connectivity and lower latency enables climate technology that decarbonizes manufacturing plants, enables rainforest monitoring, and limits greenhouse gas emissions from transportation.

5G also enables real-time traffic control and monitoring that can help minimize carbon footprint, said John Hunter from T-Mobile, which has a large 5G network thanks in part to its merger with Sprint.

Finnish 5G equipment supplier Nokia has invested in smart manufacturing relying on the speed of 5G in its plants, which it said has resulted in a 10 to 20 percent carbon dioxide reduction and a 30 percent productivity improvement with 50 percent reduction in product defects.

Non-profit tech startup Rainforest Connection has used 5G technology to implant sensitive microphones into endangered rainforests in over 22 countries around the world. These microphones pick up on sounds in the forest and transmit them in real time to personnel on the ground.

These highly sensitive machines are camouflaged in trees and can pick up sounds of gunfire from poaching and chainsaws from illegal logging activity from miles away. The technology has proven to be significant in rainforest conservation and will enable researchers and scientists to find innovative solutions to help endangered species as they study the audio.

“By being able to integrate technologies such as 5G, we can accelerate that process… to achieve the mission [of mitigating climate change effects] sooner than we expected,” said Rainforest Connection CEO Bourhan Yassin.

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