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STL Announces Technology Advisory Council to Advance Wireless and Open Networking

Founded in India in 1988, STL has expanded far beyond its historical focus on fiber optics.

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Photo of Chris Rice, the new CEO of STL’s Access Solutions division

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.

Spectrum

FCC Spectrum Authority Expires on September 30, Agency Seeks Renewal

FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel’s proposal for increased auction authority would allow the agency to support infrastructure investment.

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WASHINGTON, September 26, 2022 – Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel urged Congress last week to extend the agency’s authority to conduct spectrum auctions, which is set to expire this week.

“The FCC has held the authority to hold spectrum auctions for about three decades,” Rosenworcel said during a National Telecommunications and Information Administration spectrum policy symposium on September 19.

“It has been a powerful engine for wireless innovation and economic growth.
In fact, using this authority the FCC has held 100 auctions and raised more than $233 billion in revenue”

September 30 will mark the end of Congress’s fiscal year and the expiry of the FCC’s authority. In July, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce passed the Spectrum Innovation Act of 2022, H.R. 7624, which includes an extension of the auction authority through to March 2024.

Spectrum and Next Generation 911

The Spectrum Innovation Act was passed in July of this year, which required the FCC to host a spectrum auction to use $10 billion of allocated funds towards Next Generation 911, an Internet Protocol-based system to replace the analog 911 system.

Implementing NG911 in states and counties nationwide will require the coordination of emergency, public safety, and government entities. 

Urgent Telecommunications reported last week that the Public Safety Next Generation 911 Coalition, a coalition of public-safety associations, said that NG911 would not be available for years.

The coalition requested that NG911 funds could be borrowed immediately from the U.S. Treasury, which would be repaid when the proceeds from the 3.1-3.45 GigaHertz (GHz) spectrum auction are made available.

 

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Spectrum

Senate Indian Affairs Committee Chair Takes FCC to Task for Communication With Tribes

‘You need to get a little better about talking to and listening to native communities,” the chairman told the FCC.

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Screenshot of Sen. Brian Schatz, D-HI, chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.

WASHINGTON, September 23, 2022 –Senate Indian Affairs Committee Chairman Brian Schatz on Wednesday urged the Federal Communications Commission to consult more regularly with Tribal leaders on the spectrum-licensing processes.

“Some of [the problems voiced native panelists at the roundtable] could simply be avoided by better, more aggressive, more continuous, more humble consultation, and you’re going to save yourselves a ton of headache,” said Schatz, a Hawaii Democrat. “I’m wondering if you need to get a little better about talking to and listening to native communities at every step in the process.”

“Chairman, I think you put that extremely well,” responded Umair Javed, chief council for the office of FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel.

Tyler Iokepa Gomes, deputy to the chairman of the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, told the committee of difficulties faced by native Hawaiians in obtaining spectrum licenses. Since the DHHL is a state entity, not a Tribal government, Gomes said, it was forced to compete against two local, native communities in a waiver process. Gomes said that his agency’s competition with the other waiver applicants caused considerable friction in Hawaii’s native community at large.

Low digital literacy is also a problem for some native communities attempted to secure spectrum licenses. “When it comes to technology, a lot of people seem to be scared of it,” said Keith Modglin, director of information technology for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, a federally-recognized Indian Tribe.

Modglin argued that education initiatives to raise digital literacy and explain the intra- and intercommunity benefits of spectrum would benefit his band greatly.

The land of the Mille Lacs Band is a “checkerboard,” meaning that Tribal lands are interspersed with non-tribal lands, said Melanie Benjamin, the tribe’s chief executive officer. According to Benjamin, navigating government’s failure to account for this status caused substantial delays for her tribe.

In addition to improving communication, Schatz called on the FCC to take affirmative actions to ease regulatory burdens on small tribes. “There are some really under resourced native communities, and it shouldn’t be a labyrinth to figure out what they’re eligible for,” he said. “Try to figure out some one-stop shop, some simple way to access the resources that they are eligible for under current law.”

Javed acknowledged a need for the FCC improve its communication with native communities, but he said the FCC is making strides in other areas. “While spectrum is one piece of that puzzle, I think we are making a lot of progress in some of our programs like the Affordable Connectivity Program, updates to the E-Rate program, some of our mapping efforts as well,” he said.

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WISP

Wisper Internet CEO Takes Issue With Federal Government Preference for Fiber

Wisper CEO Nathan Stooke said the attitude to connect more Americans should be to let the “best technology win.”

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September 13, 2022 – The CEO of a wireless internet service provider took a shot at the federal government’s preference for fiber infrastructure, saying the attitude to connect more Americans should be to let the “best technology win.”

Officials from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, a Commerce agency that is handling $42.5 billion for broadband infrastructure, have said that they prefer fiber builds because of their claimed ability to stand the test of time.

But Nathan Stooke of Wisper Internet said during an Ask Me Anything-style interview with Broadband.Money on August 26 that the government shouldn’t “dictate the technology.”

“What is their goal?” Stooke asked in an exchange with Drew Clark, Broadband Breakfast Editor and Publisher. “I mean they keep saying it’s to get people who don’t have service, service. We have to bridge the digital divide by forcing it to be fiber. You’ve now shrunk down the number of people you can serve right because it’s just the reality of it.

“I think there should be some fiber projects there. I’m never advocating for ‘don’t exclude anything.’”

A similar sentiment was expressed last month during a panel at the TPI Aspen Conference, in which representatives from private industry, trade associations and academia urged the government to give alternative technologies – like fixed-wireless and satellite – a chance to show their potential. That came after the Federal Communications Commission denied SpaceX’s Starlink satellite broadband service nearly $900 million from the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund because it is still a developing technology.

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