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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.



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 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.

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Crown Castle CEO Says 5G Plus Fixed Wireless Can Rival Fiber Connections

Experts say that 5G increases fixed wireless speed to be a competitor to wired networks.



Photo of Jay Brown, CEO of Crown Castle from Alter.

NEW ORLEANS, May 11, 2023 – Fifth generation mobile networks has enabled fixed wireless technology to be deployed in areas where it wouldn’t have been accepted otherwise, said Jay Brown, CEO of communications infrastructure company Crown Castle at a Connect (X) forum here on Wednesday.

Fixed wireless will never be a true replacement for a wired network, said Brown, but providers have been successful thus far because running 5G on a fixed wireless network brings speeds up to par with wired connections. “The speeds you get on a fixed wireless network [with 5G] are matching that of the wired solution,” he said.

We’ve seen that if given a choice, consumers will choose wireless over a wired connection, Brown continued, speaking at the Wireless Infrastructure Association trade show. Providers have noted an increase in demand for small cell towers that transmit wireless over a high frequency in a small geographic area, he claimed.

For many communities, managing aesthetic is singularly important and this desire fuels the deployment of small cells, he said.

Due to the faster speeds that 5G enables, providers are seeing deployment in areas that would not have accepted it otherwise due to its lower speeds, added Steve Vondran of American Tower, provider of wireless communications infrastructure..

This allows providers to enter previously untapped networks and connect people across rough terrain and in rural areas, he said.

“Fixed wireless is driving incremental returns but this is just the first application [of 5G],” said Brown. Our use cases haven’t evolved to utilize the full capacity of 5G, agreed Vondran.

Spectrum concerns

However, for wireless providers, spectrum allocations are a continuous concern. The Federal Communications Commission’s spectrum auction authority which allows it to auction spectrum for private use expired in March.

Vondran suggested that the government will need to work with the Department of Defense which holds a significant amount of spectrum to make more available privately.

“If the demand drivers are as predicted, we will need more spectrum made available,” said Jeff Stoops, CEO of SBA Communications.

Until more spectrum is released, industry leaders expect that spectrum shortages will lead to great densification of the networks, the process of increasing small cell towers in an area to address growing demand.

Leaders of the FCC urged lawmakers in a letter dated in April to extend the agency’s spectrum authority amid demands for more across the industry.

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T-Mobile Reiterates Need for FCC Spectrum Auction Authority, Touts 5G for Home Internet

T-Mobile touted the strength of its 5G wireless network for home internet.



Photo of T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert

April 27, 2023 – T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert urged Congress Thursday to restore the Federal Communications Commission’s spectrum auction authority amid the pure play wireless company’s goal of expanding its 5G network and driving down customer defections by showing Americans the quality of that network.

“Does this wireless industry have enough spectrum over the long-haul for American competitiveness? I’d say, never,” Sievert said on the company’s first quarter earnings conference call, noting the FCC lost its spectrum auction authority in March. T-Mobile has previously urged Congress to extend the auction authority.

“I think that it’s very important we get back on track with this and that auctions that are completed get put to use for the American consumer because there’s work that’s pending there and that the FCC regains its authority quickly to be able to lead in this space going forward the way they have done so well in the past.

“I think that’s very important for our company, for our competitors, but also for American competitiveness.”

The wireless company is banking on more spectrum so that it can continue its 5G expansion, which Sievert said is a key driver of its appeal.

Three years ago this month, the company closed its acquisition of Sprint. Since then, Sievert said the company has been on a journey to prove the value of its 5G-focused network for not just mobile wireless, but high-speed internet.

“We’re at a fascinating, historical moment in the history of our company,” Sievert said. “If you think about it, we have spent six years on the chapter of our company comprised of dreaming about and then completing and then integrating the merger that would allow us to leapfrog AT&T and Verizon from being last place in the LTE era to first place in the 5G era.

“And now we’ve generally gotten that done — we have the best network in the country, we have the best values, and we’ve generally completed that merger, and so now we have work to do to convince the American public that it’s true.”

Part of that 5G sell is the home internet capabilities. The company said 3.2 million T-Mobile customers are running their home internet over the 5G wireless network, with hundreds of gigabytes per month being consumed on it in the top 100 markets in the country. Home internet is what T-Mobile is calling a “big killer” application for 5G.

The industry has already heard about the value of fixed-wireless access. Verizon said this week that it is banking on the C-band spectrum to drive that segment beyond two million connections. Meanwhile, AT&T has said fixed-wireless isn’t a product that it is looking to heavily invest in as it targets more fiber connectivity.

T-Mobile executives noted that 5G in some rural areas is the first high-speed option that existed for them. The company covers 326 million people with its 5G network.

For the three months that ended March 31, and compared to the same period last year, the company added 523,000 net new customers on its high-speed internet option, 185,000 more than the year prior.

It added 1.32 million new postpaid wireless customers, lower than the 1.38 it added last year. That was attributed to “continued normalization of industry growth.”

Churn, the measure of the rate at which customers leave the company, was down to 0.89 percent compared to the 0.93 percent it endured in the same quarter last year. Total postpaid and prepaid customers at the end of the quarter sat at 114.9 million compared to 109.5 million in the same quarter last year.

Overall, it reported a 2.4 percent decline in revenues to $19.6 billion, but service revenues were up 3 percent year-over-year to $15.5 billion attributed partly to higher postpaid service revenue. Net income was up 172 percent to $1.9 billion attributed to lower merger-related costs.

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Innovation Fund’s Global Approach May Improve O-RAN Deployment: Commenters

The $1.5 billion Innovation Fund should be used to promote global adoption, say commenters.



Illustration about intelligent edge computing from Deloitte Insights

WASHINGTON, February 2, 2023 – A global approach to funding open radio access networks will improve its success in the United States, say commenters to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

The NTIA is seeking comment on how to implement the $1.5 billion appropriated to the Public Wireless Supply Chain Innovation Fund as directed by the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022. The grant program is primarily responsible for supporting the promotion and deployment of open, interoperable, and standards-based radio access networks. 

Radio access networks provide critical technology to connect users to the mobile network over radio waves. O-RAN would create a more open ecosystem of network equipment that would otherwise be reliant on proprietary technology from a handful of companies.  

Global RAN

Commenters to the NTIA argue that in order for O-RAN to be successful, it must be global. The Administration must take a “global approach” when funding projects by awarding money to those companies that are non-U.S.-based, said mobile provider Verizon in its comments.  

To date, new entrants into the RAN market have been the center for O-RAN development, claimed wireless service provider, US Cellular. The company encouraged the NTIA to “invest in proven RAN vendors from allied nations, rather than focusing its efforts on new entrants and smaller players that lack operational expertise and experience.” 

Korean-based Samsung Electrontics added that by allowing trusted entities with a significant U.S. presence to compete for project funding and partner on those projects, the NTIA will support standardizing interoperability “evolution by advancing a diverse global market of trusted suppliers in the U.S.” 

O-RAN must be globally standardized and globally interoperable, Verizon said. Funding from the Public Wireless Innovation Fund will help the RAN ecosystem mature as it desperately needs, it added.  

Research and development

O-RAN continues to lack the maturity that is needed for commercial deployment, agreed US Cellular in its comments. The company indicated that the complexity and costliness of system integration results from there being multiple vendors that would need to integrate but are not ready for full integration. 

Additionally, interoperability with existing RAN infrastructure requires bi-lateral agreements, customized integration, and significant testing prior to deployment, the comment read. The complicated process would result in O-RAN increasing the cost of vendor and infrastructure deployment, claimed US Cellular, directly contrary to the goals of O-RAN. 

Several commenters urged the NTIA to focus funding projects on research and development rather than subsidizing commercial deployments.  

The NTIA is already fully engaged in broadband deployment in unserved and underserved areas through its Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program, said Verizon. The Innovation Fund will better advance its goals by funding projects that accelerate the solving of remaining O-RAN technical challenges that continue to delay its deployment, it continued. 

US Cellular argued that the NTIA should “spur deployment of additional independent testing and certification lab facilities… where an independent third party can perform end to end testing, conformance, and certification.” 

The Innovation Fund should be used to focus on technology development and solving practical challenges, added wireless trade association, CTIA. Research can focus on interoperability, promotion of equipment that meets O-RAN specifications, and projects that support hardware design and energy efficiency, it said. 

Furthermore, CTIA recommended that the Administration avoid interfering in how providers design their networks to encourage providers to adopt O-RAN in an appropriate manner for their company. Allowing a flexible, risk-based approach to O-RAN deployments will “help ensure network security and stability,” it wrote. 

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