Federal executive departments and agencies will review their spectrum usage and report to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), on their anticipated future bandwidth requirements, according to a memo signed by President Donald J. Trump.
While the government will need continued access to spectrum in the future, the memo called on agencies to continue expanding the opportunities for sharing spectrum with the private sector.
According to the memo, “Developing a Sustainable Spectrum Strategy for America’s Future, ”The U.S. Government will also continue to encourage investment and adoption by federal agencies of commercial, dual-use, or other advanced technologies that meet mission requirements, including 5G technologies”
Within 180 days of the memo, and then annually, the NTIA, and in coordination with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the FCC, will submit a report on the status of existing efforts and planned spectrum repurposing initiatives.
The reason for the spectrum strategy is its relationship to the technologies that are needed for the economy and for security.
“Wireless communications and associated data applications establish a foundation for high‑wage jobs and national prosperity,” the memo said. “While American industry continues to extract greater and greater value from spectrum, each technological leap also increases demands on its usage.”
In the future, spectrum will be needed for use cases such as autonomous vehicles and precision agriculture, commercial space operations, and the Internet of Things, as well as 5G, the document said.
“Moreover, it is imperative that America be first in 5G wireless technologies — wireless technologies capable of meeting the high-capacity, low-latency, and high-speed requirements that can unleash innovation broadly across diverse sectors of the economy and the public sector,” according to the memo.
There is something for everyone in H.R 4986, the Repack Airwaves Yielding Better Access for Users of Modern Services, or RAY BAUM’S Act, which passed the House of Representatives this week. The bipartisan compromise included key provisions of the MOBILE NOW act, the House took steps to make sure more spectrum will be available for 5G technology deployment and streamlined siting of wireless infrastructure in federal lands.
“I would say that, as an infrastructure provider, we commend this effort to streamline deployments and expedite future spectrums auctions and hope to see the Senate pass this as well,” Carrie Ortolano, general counsel, CTI Towers, said. “In particular, CTI Towers applauds the effort to streamline and make uniform the process to place infrastructure on federal property and hopes to see more federal property available for infrastructure development as a result once this bill is passed.”
In particular, the bill directs the FCC to find 255 megahertz of federal and non-federal spectrum for mobile and fixed wireless broadband use, and it set a two-year deadline for the commission to authorize mobile or fixed terrestrial wireless use between 42000 MHz and 42500 MHz. Additionally, the FCC is charged with evaluating the feasibility of commercial wireless between 3100 MHz and 3550 MHz and between 3700 MHz and 4200 MHz.
“Specifically, by including both MOBILE NOW and the Spectrum Deposits Act in today’s compromise, it provides an important technical fix and lays important groundwork for the FCC to proceed with key spectrum auctions,” FCC Comm. Michael O’Reilly said in a statement. “Once this becomes law there are several large-scale spectrum auctions for mid-band and millimeter wave spectrum – especially the upper 37 GHz (37.6-38.6 GHz) – that the Commission needs to conduct in the very near future.
The bill reauthorizes the FCC for FY2019-FY2020 (the first time in 28 years) and sets new expectations for the agency in terms of transparency and more efficient processes.
Congress designated an independent inspector general to watch over the agency, elevated the role of Chief Information Officer to handling planning, and took actions concerning the fees charged by the Commission. The FCC was also directed to improve its wireless coverage maps.
The legislation combines an effort to streamline processes and increase transparency to the FCC to “maximize opportunities for public participation and efficient decision making” and establish a fund in the U.S. Treasury to pay for costs incurred by the broadcast TV repack.
FCC is also required evaluate the broadband coverage in Indian country and carry out rulemaking to address unserved tribal areas.
There is even something for the consumers in this law, helping the FCC and law enforcement protect them from fraudulent telephone calls, and to educate Americans about how to stop illegal calls. It will now go the Senate for a vote.
J. Sharpe Smith
J. Sharpe Smith joined AGL in 2007 as contributing editor to the magazine and as editor of eDigest email newsletter. He has 27 years of experience writing about industrial communications, paging, cellular, small cells, DAS and towers. Previously, he worked for the Enterprise Wireless Alliance as editor of the Enterprise Wireless Magazine. Before that, he edited the Wireless Journal for CTIA and he began his wireless journalism career with Phillips Publishing, now Access Intelligence.
UPDATE — Cell service in the area affected by Harvey continued to dramatically improve over the long Labor Day weekend. Cells out of service now stand at 73 down from 150 on Sunday and down from 296 last Thursday, according to the FCC’s Disaster Information Reporting System.
Additionally, the FCC and the Federal Emergency Management Agency reduced the number of counties in Harvey’s disaster area to 13 — Texas: Aransas, Calhoun, Chambers, Hardin, Harris, Jefferson, Matagorda, Nueces, Orange, Refugio, San Patricio, Victoria and Wharton — down from a high of 70 counties.
“As the storm raged on, our network continued to withstand the severity of the storm’s impact, with more than 98 percent of our sites in service,” said Lowell McAdam, CEO at Verizon. “To connect those in need, we’re offering free voice, and data to our postpaid customers and an extra 3GB of voice, and data to our prepaid customers in South Texas counties impacted by the hurricane through September 15th.”
Drone Companies Stand By to Help
Chris Moccia, executive vice president of Measure, the Drone as a Service Company, said his company has drone pilots in Texas and would be offering to the carriers to help get the cell towers back on the air, including generators, realtime video, trucks and supplies.
Measure was involved with the Verizon’s recovery following Hurricane Matthew last year, but catastrophic nature of Harvey brings a whole new scope to the services that will be needed.
“We anticipate having crews in the market for a while,” Moccia said. “There is a lot of flooding and a lot of damage to the infrastructure itself.”
DataWing Global is another drone company that is positioning itself to help in the aftermath of Harvey. DataWing drone pilots were scheduled to depart from the company’s San Antonio headquarters this morning to establish a mobile command center in Mathis, Texas, according to Jimmy Taylor,” senior vice president, business development, DataWing Global.
“We anticipate adding Part 107 pilots, aircraft and additional personnel to the area as the demand and need for resources develop over the next few weeks,” he said. “Until the weather clears and authorities allow access to the areas of devastation, DataWing will stand by collecting intelligence necessary to conduct tactical operations in a safe, prompt and legal manner.”
J. Sharpe Smith is senior editor of the AGL eDigest. He joined AGL in 2007 as contributing editor to the magazine and as editor of eDigest email newsletter. He has 27 years of experience writing about industrial communications, paging, cellular, small cells, DAS and towers. Previously, he worked for the Enterprise Wireless Alliance as editor of the Enterprise Wireless Magazine. Before that, he edited the Wireless Journal for CTIA and he began his wireless journalism career with Phillips Publishing, now Access Intelligence.
July 19, 2016 — The Obama Administration launched a $400 million public/private Advanced Wireless Research Initiative this week, in which the National Science Foundation and more than 20 technology companies and private-sector associations will invest $85 million in four city-scale, public-private testing platforms to support fundamental research on advanced wireless technologies.
The fundamental research supported on these platforms—including $350 million in NSF academic research over the next seven years that can utilize the testing platforms—will allow academics, entrepreneurs, and the wireless industry to test and develop advanced wireless technology ideas at-scale, some of which may translate into key future innovations for next-generation, 5G networks and beyond.
“As part of this Initiative, cities and communities will collaborate with university researchers and technology companies to research, develop, and deploy cutting-edge technologies in their communities using the new research platforms as a catalyst, which in turn will help drive new opportunities for innovation, high-skilled jobs, high-growth startups, and smart, connected community services,” the White House wrote.
The funding initiative is designed to build on the FCC’s Spectrum Frontiers order, which made the United States the first country in the world to make high-frequency millimeter wave spectrum available for both licensed and unlicensed use.
If $400 million seems like a lot of money. To put that into perspective, the European Union just pumped $768.84 million into the 5G Public Private Partnership, which is charged with advancing the next generation wireless technologies. Another $3.3 billion of private money is expected to be invested into the partnership.
FCC Chairman Thomas Wheeler called on the Commission to approve his plan to allocate spectrum for 5G in a speech before the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. yesterday. Last October, the FCC proposed to authorize mobile operations in the 28 GHz band and the 39 GHz band, Part 15 unlicensed operations in the 64-71 GHz band and a hybrid licensing scheme in the 37 GHz band.
“High-band spectrum will be the focus of our decision next month,” he said. “These bands offer huge swaths of spectrum for super-fast data rates with low latency, and are now becoming unlocked because of technological advances in computing and antennas.”
Wheeler noted that 5G-type hardware and firmware are being tested by the OEMs and carriers are set to trial next generation technology in the field in 2017, with the first commercial deployments at scale expected in 2020. (Not to mention final 5G standards)
“This timeline requires that we act to pave the way today,” Wheeler said. “With the new rules I am proposing in our Spectrum Frontiers order, we take our most significant step yet down the path to our 5G future.”
The Chairman drew a distinction between this approach and the tact taken by other countries that plan to study 5G before allocating spectrum.
“Turning innovators loose is far preferable to expecting committees and regulators to define the future,” he said. “Instead, we will make ample spectrum available and then rely on a private sector-led process for producing technical standards best suited for those frequencies and use cases.”
This approach is designed to allow U.S. companies to take a leadership role in 5G similar to the policies that allowed the United States to be a world leader in 4G, according to Wheeler.
“If the Commission approves my proposal next month, the United States will be the first country in the world to open up high-band spectrum for 5G networks and applications. And that’s damn important because it means U.S. companies will be first out of the gate,” Wheeler said.
Wheeler said that the FCC traditionally lets technology drive policy, not the other way around. In the case of 5G that is very important because of the different of the different visions people have for the next generation of wireless technology.
“The marriage of Moore’s Law and wireless connectivity involves smart antenna systems, new more-efficient transmission formats, low-energy systems, network virtualization, and much more,” he said. “And on the spectrum side, these technologies require new access to spectrum in multiple bands – the wireless future will not be a one-size-fits-all future.”
To meet the varied needs of 5G, according to Wheeler, spectrum will be needed in the 600 MHz band, known as low band; the AWS-3 and new Citizens Broadband Radio service in the 3.5 GHz band, known as mid-band); and high-band spectrum at 28 GHz, 39 GHz, 64-71 GHz, and 37 GHz band, which will be the voted on by the FCC next month.
“Our 5G proposal is the final piece in the spectrum trifecta of low-band, mid-band, and high-band airwaves that will open up unprecedented amounts of spectrum, speed the rollout of next-generation wireless networks, and re-define network connectivity for years to come,” he said. “I’m confident these actions will lead to a cornucopia of unanticipated innovative uses, and generate tens of billions of dollars in economic activity.”