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Robert Kubik, John Godfrey and Derek Johnston: After a Decade of Progress, What’s Next for 5G?

A decade after the advent of LTE, the next-generation 5G will be, and already is, a critical resource for Americans.

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The authors of this Expert Opinion are Samsung Electronics America officials Robert Kubik, John Godfrey and Derek Johnston

Now, a year after the COVID-19 pandemic first took hold in the U.S., it remains abundantly clear that access to high-speed internet is no longer a luxury, but a necessity across all aspects of our lives. For the majority of Americans with access to either fixed or mobile broadband, technology has been a lifeline — enabling them to work remotely, attend school virtually, video call loved ones across the globe and share crucial data needed by healthcare workers fighting the virus and to scientists finding the cure.

Tragically, for those without high-speed internet, the digital divide has never felt more acute. A decade after the advent of LTE, the next generation of wireless technology, 5G will, and already is, a critical resource when it comes to ensuring that more Americans have access to the information and services they need to survive in today’s ultra-connected society. With the ability to serve a larger, less densely populated area without the expense of laying cables and fibers, wireless infrastructure can be faster and cheaper to deploy than wireline in areas that have been chronically underserved — especially rural communities.

Broadband Breakfast Live Online hosted a six-part series, “A No-Nonsense Guide to 5G” in sponsorship with Samsung Electronics America. Links to each episode in the series are posted are at the bottom of this Expert Opinion.

Moreover, 5G brings the capabilities of fiber to wireless. 5G is like having fiber in your pocket, on the go. With its promise of ultra-low latency experiences for wireless applications, extremely fast mobile broadband connectivity, and reliable connectivity for IoT devices, 5G will spur a new era of digital innovation, revolutionizing life as we know it.

Thankfully, both imperatives — closing the digital divide and spurring innovation — can be advanced by supercharging the deployment of 5G which, while off to a strong start, still requires additional investment in, and creative thinking around, the use of new wireless spectrum bands.

5G is gaining momentum on all fronts. According to S&P Global, the pace of 5G deployments accelerated in 2021 despite the disruptions due to the pandemic: as of May 11, there are now 158 local operators with active 5G networks in 67 markets worldwide.

Over the past decade, improvements in antenna, transport, and use of multiple radio access technologies to provide higher bandwidth have each moved 5G further ahead. Per the latest statistics from the Global Suppliers Association (GSA), there are at least 468 devices commercially available worldwide, (an increase of over 30 percent since January) available in the market across multiple bands with a focus on mid-band development. This has all been made possible through a process of public-private collaboration and innovation.

A crucial component of this is spectrum. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), recognizing promise of 5G kick started the movement towards 5G when it enabled the use of higher bands for mobile services. Most recently, the FCC made significant progress opening mid-band spectrum when it auctioned C-band, which resulted in record setting financial commitments from wireless carriers with them committing over $81 billion to acquire the spectrum. This is good progress.

Samsung has long championed, and spearheaded, the path forward for 5G innovation. As early as 2012, we demonstrated possibilities with millimeter wave 5G by achieving 1 Gbps speed in a fixed wireless environment. In 2018, Samsung’s 5G portfolio became the first end–to-end solution to receive regulatory approval from the FCC. Shortly thereafter we brought to market the very first end-to-end 5G fixed wireless access solution operating in 28 GHz. And by May 2019, we had one of the first 5G phone (Galaxy S10 5G) approved by FCC. Since then, we have continued to demonstrate very high speeds in highly mobile environments, to recent achievements of 5.23 Gbps.

Moreover, to address the digital divide, Samsung with network operators and other industry partners have started to deploy 5G networks for fixed wireless broadband delivery in under-served communities in rural and urban areas. Samsung collaborations have leveraged their 5G mmWave network solutions in underserved communities in Houston, TX as well as 5G-ready CBRS networks in rural areas like Tennessee and Ohio, to deliver broadband to households.

Today, we’re proud to have 5G available in all with our Galaxy A-series 5G devices, many of which are under $500. This includes the Galaxy A52 5G, which supports eight 5G bands, including C-band, and will soon become operational in carrier networks, as well as the Galaxy A32 5G, which is available for under $300.

We are now closer than ever to making widespread 5G deployment a reality. The question now is: what else needs to happen to usher in 5G’s widespread deployment across the United States? Henceforth, more effective spectrum and government policies will be required to drive 5G growth.

Expanding Access to More High, Mid and Low-Band Wireless Spectrum

For 5G adoption to accelerate early on, it needed new spectrum bands, which lead Samsung to develop the millimeter wave spectrum. At the time, the FCC was offering 28 GHz spectrum that was used for fixed wireless access. It had two great advantages – a lot of bandwidth available (it offered 825 MHz license compared to the standard 5 MHz channels per license that the industry was using) and leverage better antenna technologies.

Then, between 2014 and 2018, the FCC and a lot of carriers got very active and excited about the possibilities of 5G and the FCC opened mmWave bands for mobile and fixed service. To fully realize a ubiquitous 5G vision, we had to lean on other bands. Today our latest mobile devices support 5G in up to 11 different bands from 600 MHz to 40 GHz.

The effective implementation of 5G and the services it will support still requires access to more spectrum of all types, but especially mid-band frequencies.

We are calling on the FCC and other government leaders to focus on delivering on the many ongoing spectrum work items they have already started. First is finishing C-band clearing and ensuring the market deployment is not delayed. Next is enabling a smooth auction in October this year of 3.45-3.55 GHz and implementing spectrum access methods with DoD shared users in the band. In the longer term, focus should be on bringing 3.1-3.45 GHz into the marketplace. We applaud the FCC’s recent actions on these bands, and we stand in full support of these developments and urge government leaders to do likewise.

Government Policy in Reducing Barriers to Deployment

At the same time as meeting the insatiable need for spectrum, we must reduce barriers to deployment. Many of these barriers can be reduced by government policy addressing infrastructure siting barriers, reducing costs of broadband deployment through programs like the FCC’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund and 5G Rural Fund as well as meeting a growing demand for educational gaps in our society. The FCC has already this year taken great steps in reducing the costs of acquiring services and devices to close the homework gap by acting quickly on deploying the emergency connectivity fund. Industry is doing its part by and quickly and effectively building out networks using low, mid and high spectrum bands. As more spectrum becomes available, the need for a variety of base stations of different sizes and specifications becomes necessary, further pressing the need for reform on the deployment front which can best be addressed by government policy.

What’s Next

We are proud of our work in developing forward looking innovations in both devices and network solutions, but industry can’t do it alone – we also need effective spectrum and government policies to drive 5G growth.

Policymakers can chart the course forward on these policies and in doing so, ensure the U.S. sits at the forefront of 5G adoption, connecting more Americans to high-speed internet and laying the groundwork for future innovations that will enable better experiences for all. If government and industry continue to collaborate effectively, we can bring the full power of 5G to bear sooner than we think.

The authors of this Expert Opinion are Samsung Electronics America Senior Policy Director Robert Kubik, Senior Vice President of Public Policy John Godfrey and Head of Marketing 7 5G Business Development Derek Johnston. 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.

‘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 27, 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? Are there 5G use cases that could help close the digital divide by elevating broadband utilization among communities of color and low-income populations? 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?

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

CES 2022: 5G, Aviation Crisis a Problem of Federal Coordination, Observers Say

The hope is coordination problems will be relieved when the Senate confirms NTIA head.

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John Godfrey, senior vice president of public policy and acting head of U.S. public affairs at Samsung

LAS VEGAS, January 6, 2022 – The possible near collision of 5G signals and aircraft altimeters emerged out of a lack of coordination on the federal government’s part to bring all relevant information to the Federal Communications Commission before it auctioned off the spectrum that has now been put on hold for safety precautions, observers said Thursday.

This week, Verizon and AT&T agreed to delay the rollout of their 5G services using the C-band spectrum surrounding airports after the Federal Aviation Administration raised the alarm for months about possible interference of the wireless signals with aircraft, which use their own radios to safely land planes.

But the issue could’ve been resolved back in 2020, when the FCC proposed to repurpose a portion of the band to allow for wireless use, some said on a panel discussing 5G Thursday in Las Vegas.

“After the FCC had adopted the rules, auctioned off the spectrum, raised over $80 billion and deployment began and then additional information that apparently had not been brought to the FCC before comes over…that’s not good for the country,” said John Godfrey, senior vice president of public policy and acting head of U.S. public affairs at Samsung, a sponsor of Broadband Breakfast.

“The time to have that information be disclosed and discussed and analyzed is when the FCC is conducting the rulemaking,” Godfrey said, adding the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration should, as federal telecom rep, be spearheading coordination efforts between the FAA and the FCC on telecommunications matters.

“I think it’s their job as the leaders of telecom policy in the administration to facilitate bringing the full federal government to the table in a timely manner,” Godfrey added.

Asad Ramzanali, legislative director for Democratic California Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, said that the fallout of the aviation issue has shown that, “Looking backwards, I do think this is a failure. This is a failure in government to be able to coordinate at the right time…when there’s a process, those impacted should be participating — that is the role of the NTIA.”

NTIA head confirmation ‘should be a priority’

And the hope is that such coordination issues can be averted in the future with the confirmation of a permanent head of the NTIA, said Ramzanali. President Joe Biden nominated Alan Davidson in October to be the next permanent head of the agency, which has had temporary figures fill in the role since the resignation in May 2019 of the last full-time head, David Redl.

“That should be a priority,” Ramzanali said of pushing Davidson through. “The NTIA is doling out $42.5 billion of that $65 billion [from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act]. The NTIA is supposed to deal with those types of issues. They have brilliant people there, but this is the kind of leadership that they should be in the middle of.

“And this isn’t a recent NTIA thing,” Ramzanali added. “This has lasted many years, especially in the prior administration where the NTIA wasn’t doing this part of it — coordinating with other agencies.

“I’m hopeful with Alan Davidson presumably getting in soon that we won’t see that kind of issue.”

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CES 2022: Educating Consumers About 5G Will Encourage Wider Adoption

Currently, consumers are not being provided the information they need to make the leap, a consultant said.

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Sally Lange Witkowski, founder of business consulting firm Slang Consulting

LAS VEGAS, January 6, 2021 – Educating consumers about 5G is necessary to achieving wider adoption in its upcoming deployment in the United States.

At Wednesday’s CES “Path to A Better 5G World” session, industry leaders discussed how 5G will change the digital landscape by offering new experiences for businesses and consumers.

Sally Lange Witkowski, founder of business consulting firm Slang Consulting, said that companies should educate consumers about the benefits of 5G.

“Some consumers don’t even know 5G exists,” she said. “They believe faster is better,” but said that consumers don’t know about 5G’s wider applications. “Consumers should want to have [5G] because of how innovators and entrepreneurs will use the technology.”

Slang’s research shows that consumers are only willing to pay up to $5 more per month for 5G service. “It’s not about the hype, it’s about the usability,” Witkowski added. She noted that people are living longer and older Americans are growing old without the necessary digital skills to thrive in our new ecosystem.

“A child born today has a one in two chance of living till 100,” she said.  Educating consumers about 5G’s benefits can help the elderly prepare to participate in the revolution.

Witkowski also said closed hardware software ecosystems, sometimes referred to as “walled gardens,” prevent consumers from discovering new experiences.

“The really large organizations have a hard time innovating. Big corporations are built to scale. The ability to reach out to entrepreneurs to access creative thinking is important,” Witkowski added. “The pandemic changed a lot [for technology companies]. They are going to have to embrace something they don’t normally embrace,” like the fact that another company may be better positioned to create solutions.

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FCC Commissioner Carr Details Steps Needed for 5G, Says Talk of 6G ‘Almost Too Early’

The commissioner also said he thinks Biden will support Big Tech contributions to the Universal Service Fund.

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Commissioner Brendan Carr

WASHINGTON, December 9, 2021 – Federal Communications Commissioner Brendan Carr says that proper planning on increased spectrum release and infrastructure reform is necessary for the FCC to ensure a smooth rollout of 5G technology.

Carr specifically critiqued the current infrastructure reform approaches of President Joe Biden’s administration, saying that the administration’s current plan seems to be to make large sums of funding available without planning extensively for infrastructure modernization.

At Thursday’s Media Institute event during which Carr spoke, the commissioner also said he thinks it is “almost too early” to start thinking about 6G rollout that newly re-confirmed Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel has said is on the table sooner rather than later. Carr emphasized that focusing on 6G too early could distract from planning necessary for 5G’s success.

Regardless, Carr expressed that the U.S. is in a good shape to effectively harness 5G and compete with China’s use of the technology, owing to an American 5G platform that he called the strongest in the world as well as to American innovation in the area.

In terms of what else is unresolved with regard to 5G, Carr says it is not yet clear what the flagship new application development will be with 5G. He believes this may become much clearer as very low power Wi-Fi technology begins to allow for creative uses of 5G.

Big Tech contribution to Universal Service Fund?

Also during Thursday’s event, Carr said that he believes the Biden administration will support requiring big tech corporations to contribute to the Universal Service Fund, citing lead Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee Sen. Ben Ray Luján’s support for the proposal. Carr as well as key Republicans have also demonstrated support for this proposal in the past, which would provide monetary support for a fund that provides basic telecommunications services to remote and low-income communities.

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