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NTIA Head Says Agency Is Currently Testing Military Equipment’s Sensitivity to 5G

Davidson said that he hopes to avoid inter-agency conflicts such as last month’s dispute with airlines over 5G interference.

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Screenshot of National Telecommunications and Information Administration head Alan Davidson from Wednesday hearing

WASHINGTON, February 16, 2022 – Head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration Alan Davidson said Wednesday that his agency is currently conducting lab testing in partnership with the Department of Defense on military equipment’s sensitivity to 5G wireless signals.

The information came as part of Davidson’s remarks during testimony before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce on the NTIA’s oversight of telecommunications policy such as enactment of the recently enacted bipartisan infrastructure bill.

The testing is being carried out in the NTIA’s facility near Boulder, Colorado.

Last month, several airlines threatened to ground flights following companies such as Verizon and AT&T’s refusal to further delay expanded launches of 5G networks and the companies’ subsequent launch of the networks.

The launch was already preceded by several delays made at the request of airlines, and though companies did not comply with airlines’ most recent request for a delay they did agree to limit 5G service in areas around airports.

Necessary delays in 5G rollout?

Several, including telecom providers, have raised skepticism that such delays were necessary and about the degree to which 5G interferes with planes.

A House hearing early this month heard that the crisis was largely caused due to a lack of coordination and information sharing between entities like the Federal Aviation Administration and telecom companies.

During Wednesday’s hearing with Davidson, Republican Rep. Bob Latta of Ohio said proactive NTIA oversight of such scenarios in the future is essential to prevent what he says was “fear mongering” from the FAA in concerns over 5G interference with flights.

In testimony Davidson vowed an “evidence based” approach to assess wireless interference risks and in the future prevent situations like last month’s.

“We’re going to coordinate on the science,” said Davidson.

Disbursement of $65 billion in funds under Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act

Plans for the NTIA’s disbursement of $65 billion allocated to broadband infrastructure in the bipartisan infrastructure bill also loomed large during Wednesday’s hearing.

Obstacles in training and staffing at the local-government level that complicate rollout of infrastructure bill were discussed – activities that will be overseen in part with federal program officers. Further grant programs for local government were suggested to combat these obstacles.

The infrastructure measure was hailed as central to international economic competition, as China makes the necessary investments in broadband to connect 1 billion people.

On Tuesday, a bipartisan group of 16 senators, all of whom voted for the infrastructure bill and many of whom represent swing states, sent a letter to Davidson emphasizing the urgency of the bill’s enactment.

The letter specifically called for work with the Federal Communications Commission to remedy its past overstatement of broadband coverage in the U.S. and create new, accurate maps of coverage.

Reporter T.J. York received his degree in political science from the University of Southern California. He has experience working for elected officials and in campaign research. He is interested in the effects of politics in the tech sector.

5G

CES 2023: Commissioner Starks Highlights Environmental Benefits of 5G Connectivity

Starks also said federal housing support should be linked to the Affordable Connectivity Program.

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Photo of FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks (left) and CTA’s J. David Grossman

LAS VEGAS, January 7, 2023 – Commissioner Geoffrey Starks of the Federal Communications Commission spoke at the Consumer Electronics Show Saturday, touting connectivity assistance for individuals who benefit from housing assistance as well as the potential environmental benefits of 5G.

The FCC-administered Affordable Connectivity Program subsidizes monthly internet bills and one-time devices purchases for low-income Americans. Although many groups are eligible – e.g., Medicaid and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program enrollees – Starks said his attention is primarily on those who rely on housing support.

“If you are having trouble putting food on your table, you should not have to worry about connectivity as well,” Starks said. “If we are helping you to get housed, we should be able to connect that house,” he added.

Environmental benefits of 5G

In addition to economic benefits, 5G-enabled technologies will offer many environmental benefits, Starks argued. He said the FCC should consider how to “ensure folks do more while using less,” particularly in the spheres of spectral and energy efficiency.

“This is going to take a whole-of-nation (approach),” Starks said. “When you talk to your local folks – mayors – state and other federal partners, making sure that they know smart cities (and) smart grid technology…making sure that we’re all unified on thinking about this is exactly where we need to go to in order to drive down the carbon emissions.”

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5G

CES 2023: 5G Will Drive Safer Transportation

More comprehensive data-sharing is made possible by the reduced latency of 5G, CES hears.

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Photo of Aruna Anand, Durga Malladi, and Derek Peterson (left to right)

LAS VEGAS, January 5, 2023 – Panelists at the Consumer Electronics Show 2023 on Thursday touted the potential for 5G to make transportation safer by enabling information sharing between vehicles and with infrastructure.

5G is expected to expand connectivity by attaching small cell connectivity equipment on various city infrastructure, including traffic lights and bus shelters. 

More comprehensive data-sharing is made possible by the reduced latency of 5G, said Aruna Anand, president and CEO of Continental Automotive Systems Inc., referring to connectivity communications times. Anand argued that making relevant information available to multiple vehicles is key to improving safety.

“We give more information about the surroundings of the vehicle to the car to enable [it] to make better decisions,” Anand said.

Durga Malladi, senior vice president and general manager for cellular modems and infrastructure at chip maker Qualcomm, described a 5G-enabled “true ubiquitous data space solution” in which vehicles and smart infrastructure – e.g., traffic lights and stop signs – communicate with one another.

Asked for predictions, Malladi forecasted an increased “blend” of communications and artificial intelligence technologies. Anand said 6G is expected to emerge by 2028 and make its way to vehicle technology by 2031.

Both realized and predicted innovations in 5G-enabled technologies have driven calls for expanded spectrum access, from private and public sectors alike. The Federal Communications Commission and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the respective overseers of non-federally and federally-used spectrum, in August agreed to an updated memorandum of understanding on spectrum management

Although relatively new, this agreement has already been touted by officials.

The FCC, whose spectrum auction authority Congress extended in December, made several moves last year to expand spectrum access.

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FCC Permit ‘Shot Clocks’ Provides ‘Predictability’ to Wireless Infrastructure Builds: T-Mobile

Shot clocks are important to industry players, argued T-Mobile’s Tim Halinski.

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Photo of Nancy Werner, partner at Bradley Werner, LLC.

WASHINGTON, November 8, 2022 – Panelists on a Federal Communications Bar Association web panel discussed Monday whether benefits of the Federal Communications Commission’s “shot clocks,” which limit how long states and local governments can review wireless infrastructure applications, outweigh the increased pressures they place on state and local governments.

A shot clock’s deadline puts pressure on city officials’ negotiations with providers over the terms of infrastructure projects, said Nancy Werner, partner at Bradley Werner, LLC, a telecommunications legal and consulting firm. They also “put a lot of pressure on local governments…to make sure (they) have a reason to deny” a provider’s application if an agreement cannot be readily reached, Werner added.

Tim Halinski, corporate counsel for T-Mobile, argued Monday that shot clocks are important to industry players, although he acknowledged the validity of Werner’s concerns. T-Mobile and other providers benefit from expeditious permitting processes, as they look to accelerate the build out of 5G wireless technology.

“There’s no one size fits all,” Halinski said, “But it’s at least the starting point and provides that predictability in deployment that we need.”

The comments come as the FCC fields comments on new standards that would streamline the division of costs between third party attachers and pole owners. Critics say the financial and time delay burden in getting access to these poles have slowed and will slow the expansion of broadband in the country.

In 2018, the FCC instituted shortened shot clocks for small wireless infrastructure projects: “60 days for review of an application for collocation…using a preexisting structure and 90 days for review of an application for attachment…using a new structure.” The commission said the new, limited timeframes would facilitate the deployment of wireless infrastructure.

The FCC’s revised shot clocks for small wireless deployments was but one portion of the agency’s so-called “Small Cell Order” of 2018, which aimed to promote the expansion of 5G. To accomplish this goal, however, the order sought to eliminate regulatory roadblocks by limiting state and local governments’ authorities over wireless infrastructure permitting and their own rights of way. This tactic drew criticisms from many experts and local officials.

Nonetheless, in August 2020, the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals largely upheld the order in City of Portland v. United States.

“(The Ninth Circuit’s) decision is a massive victory for U.S. leadership in 5G, our nation’s economy and American consumers,” said then–FCC Chairman Ajit Pai shortly after the ruling. “The court rightly affirmed the FCC’s efforts to ensure that infrastructure deployment critical to 5G…is not impeded by exorbitant fees imposed by state and local governments.”

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