June 11, 2021 — STL, the broadband industry integrator of digital networks, announced steps to advance its wireless networking and open networking capabilities through the launch of its Technology Advisory Council for its Access Solutions business.
Founded in India in 1988, STL has expanded far beyond its historical focus on fiber optics for connectivity. For example, the company’s expansion into wireless technologies, with an emphasis on 5G and open radio access networks, brings digital network solutions for telecommunications companies, cloud companies, public citizen networks as well as enterprise customers.
The Technology Advisory Council is designed to implement systems that will provide superior customer service, research and development. STL announced June 2 that it had appointed Hank Kafka, Guy Lupo and John Medamana as experts in open radio access networks, software networking, and passive optical networks to the council.
“The council is a way of getting sage advice from people who’ve been there and done that,” said Chris Rice, the new CEO of STL’s Access Solutions division. He said that the council would provide the perspective of potential clients.
Rice, a 25-year veteran of AT&T, and joined STL in March. In this position, he is tasked with addressing issues related to open RAN and 5G networks and deployment.
Open RAN, 5G networks, and sustainable deployment
In an interview with Broadband Breakfast, Rice spoke about STL’s view of the future of 5G and open radio access networks: “Open RAN and 5G are going to be key areas that we participate in and want to center our products around.”
STL wants to complement existing entities in the sector, such as Mavenir, and serve as a scaled radio supplied to the existing network of companies producing radio and CPU baseband units, Rice said.
Rice’s vision is for STL to form the basis of a third-party ecosystem. STL wants to be a part of the movement for disaggregation, in an effort to increase competition and allow consumers to pick and choose the best-in-class applications and hardware for their various needs.
In addition to disaggregation, Rice emphasized sustainability.
STL approaches the subject from a dual-pronged perspective, he said. Under the classic view of sustainability, even though STL contracts out much of the physical production, STL requires sustainability plans by those contractors.
Additionally, there is a “sustainability adjacent” perspective beginning with product design. “We’re trying to differentiate [our products] on things like size, cost, power deployability and maintainability,” he said, “That’s less strain on the grid—it’s that much better. If a product is smaller size and it takes up less space, it does not require as much effort to go put it in place.”
Current standards for broadband, globally, are not sustainable for modern consumers’ needs, he said. The pandemic highlighted how insufficient current broadband standards are. Rice said STL supports initiatives designed to raise the standard of broadband.
“The reality is [that standards should increase] with time and increase with technologies created,” he said.
Adjustable standards that account for new technology and innovations, such as 5G and open RAN, will ultimately encourage greater growth and competition, Rice said.
STL is a sponsor of Broadband Breakfast.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
Kevin Ross: The Time is Now to Expand Internet Access with Fixed Wireless Broadband at Gigabit Speeds
New approaches must leapfrog the slow pace of extending fiber to the home and high costs of 5G and satellite.
The COVID-19 pandemic has altered our behaviors in bandwidth consumption and driven enormous demand for reliable, high-speed internet access. Even before the pandemic spiked, high school and college students nationwide experienced this need for speed and continue to face this challenge today.
Broadband access also remains a critical need for millions of employees seeking to increase their productivity while working from home. According to ABI Research, “many business are allowing remote working for some of their employees after the pandemic, which will boost the need for home broadband services even further.” Fast, reliable broadband access is critical for file sharing, Zoom meetings, streaming content and other bandwidth-intensive applications. This business imperative will continue in the post-COVID-19 era as the home is now the new office.
High-speed uplink connectivity is another growing concern for at-home workers, not only for web-based conferencing applications but also for sharing large files and rapid uploads. This need puts increasing pressure on upload links.
Symmetrical broadband connections, enabling equally fast uplink and download speeds.
With symmetrical access, there is no “speed discrimination” based on the direction of data traffic. End users receive the same network speed for both uploads and downloads. Businesses and work-at-home employees who rely on cloud applications, fast data transfers and non-stop, high-speed connectivity ultimately will benefit from balanced, symmetrical internet connections.
However, a major issue with most broadband services is the prevalence of asymmetrical internet access speeds, reaching hundreds of megabits per second on the downlink but much slower on the uplink. As a result, upload speeds are significantly slower than download speeds, throttling business operations and employee productivity with unnecessarily slow upload speeds. According to Speedtest, the median download speed for fixed U.S. fixed broadband subscribers in October 2021 was 131.16 Mbps, while median upload speed was 19.18 Mbps.
To help close the digital divide, we need innovative, new approaches to broadband deployment that leapfrog the slow pace of extending fiber to the home or the high cost of current conventional 5G wireless and satellite internet options.
Fixed wireless access networks, enabled by new mmWave based FWA technologies, provide an ultra-high-speed alternative to fixed-line broadband service. Although wireless internet service providers have traditionally focused on rural areas, some are deploying services in metro areas using next-generation FWA networks based on ultra-fast millimeter wave technology. FWA has been around for years but with the rollout of mmWave alternatives, FWA networks are commercially viable and speed-competitive with traditional fiber deployments.
In fact, mmWave networks are so fast they are dubbed wireless fiber, bypassing miles of underground fiber and cable infrastructure with faster, easier deployment while delivering multi-gigabit uplink and downlink speeds. The rapid rise of mmWave networks is a game-changer for WISPs and FWA networks, enabling ultra-high-speed broadband services at symmetrical gigabit speeds to residential subscribers and enterprise customers and providing a competitive alternative to fixed-line DSL, cable and fiber as well as emerging satellite broadband access.
Given the complexities of America’s broadband access needs, we’ll see an optimal mix of fiber, mmWave FWA wireless and satellite deployments based on infrastructure requirements. FWA service, for example, makes sense for denser urban and suburban environments where it can provide high-speed wireless broadband to homes and businesses at up to gigabit speeds, connecting the unconnected and expanding and improving broadband access.
This alternate FWA approach is much quicker and less expensive to deploy than traditional fiber-to-the-home or conventional 5G, and unlike Low earth orbit satellite, it has sufficient capacity to deliver gigabit service with significant penetration in densely populated areas. With the steady expansion of mmWave wireless networks, gigabit-speed FWA service will also make symmetrical connectivity a must-have feature and market imperative.
Now and in the future, mmWave-based FWA networks will help drive digital transformation in homes and offices and give at-home workers greater freedom of choice. This trend is even more important today as the COVID-19 pandemic has permanently changed the balance of work and school from home.
Kevin Ross is founder and CEO of WeLink, a rapidly-growing, next-generation broadband provider. Kevin is pioneering the use of mmWave technologies and small cell micro-pop network architectures, combined with a crowdsourced site acquisition model, that reduces small cell deployment costs and time to market by greater than a magnitude of order. This piece is exclusive to Broadband Breakfast.
Broadband Breakfast accepts commentary from informed observers of the broadband scene. Please send pieces to email@example.com. The views reflected in Expert Opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Broadband Breakfast and Breakfast Media LLC.
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