Spectrum

Electromagnetic frequencies used for wireless communications

As the Digital Divide Grows, An Untapped Solution Languishes

Too many students still scrounge for the vital internet access their classmates (and technology-enamored school reformers) take for granted. Dozens of interviews—along with reviews of tax disclosures, Federal Communications Commission filings, and court records related to the Educational Broadband Service (EBS)—show that this educational spectrum is, at least, woefully underutilized. It's a public resource born of good intentions but wasted by a broken system.

There are lots of ideas for fixing EBS. JH Snider of iSolon said the FCC could reclaim leased EBS licenses when they expire and reallocate them, although he can’t imagine them taking such a bold step. The FCC could also issue new spectrum licenses for the rural areas not yet covered by EBS, under the condition that license holders use the spectrum for public purposes rather than lease it. The national association of EBS license holders sent the FCC a proposal along these lines in 2014, but the agency has not formally responded. As for the current leases that dominate EBS, EveryoneOn founder Zach Leverenz said that the FCC could do a lot to “correct the shadiness in the system” just by clarifying the vagueness of legacy rules tying EBS to its original mission—such as defining what 20 hours per week of educational use means and ensuring that the 5 percent of spectrum “reserved” from the leases is actually used for educational purposes.

The FCC needs to implement a 'rocket docket' for wireless spectrum, and fast

[Commentary] Newly-minted Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai has repeatedly stated that one of his top priorities is to “increase infrastructure and innovation.” Taking the chairman at his word, developing an efficient, transparent and expedited process to allow existing license holders to convert their spectrum in underutilized bands to a higher-value use should be at the top of his “to do” list. In so doing, we short-circuit the laborious task of identifying, clearing and auctioning potential “greenfield” bands of government spectrum (although as spectrum is always in short supply, those efforts should certainly continue) and provide a powerful incentive for existing license holders to convert their spectrum through relatively quick regulatory changes for use in enterprise partnerships; consumer-focused commercial endeavors; or sold in the secondary market for other purposes. Under these scenarios, more high-value commercial spectrum would be available for advanced wireless services which, in turn, will lead to more investment, innovation and infrastructure deployment.

If Chairman Pai is truly serious about increasing infrastructure and innovation, then he needs to send a loud and clear signal that the FCC is “open for business” for repurposing spectrum from low to high value uses. The Commission has a unique opportunity to bring much-needed spectrum for commercial use on its own motion without having to deal with the bureaucracy of the rest of the federal government. It need only seize it.

[Lawrence J. Spiwak is the president of the Phoenix Center for Advanced Legal and Economic Public Policy Studies]

5G networks: Will technology and policy collide?

Despite being still under development, it is envisaged that 5G networks will provide a ‘fibre-like’ experience to mobile users. As such, they are expected to accommodate services with very different requirements in terms of latency, bandwidth and reliability, among others, for the vertical sectors. However, the European Union has just approved the Telecommunications Single Market Regulation, which enshrines the network neutrality principle and guarantees that ‘all traffic through the Internet is treated equally’.

This article explores the potential conflict between net neutrality regulation and future 5G services, particularly regarding network virtualisation. We present a discussion on the challenges of building net neutrality upon judgements on whether traffic optimisation is objectively necessary. This proves complex in a technological environment that envisions network ‘slices’ created and priced on-demand according to the Quality of Service (QoS) required by specific applications at any given time. In addition, we argue that the ‘anything-as-a-service’ paradigm might turn into an important source of innovation for the future Internet infrastructure layer, and thus for the ecosystem as a whole.

Mechanisms to incentivise shared-use of spectrum

A key concern with the Licensed-shared access (LSA) approach currently being developed by European regulators is that leaving incumbents and secondary users to agree to bilateral arrangements may be insufficient to incentivise an optimal level of sharing. We propose an efficient auction mechanism to incentivise incumbent users to offer shared access to the spectrum they use. The mechanism consists of two stages. In the first stage, LSA licences are auctioned. In the second stage, the incumbent is provided with a choice of either granting access under an LSA agreement to the winner of the auction or not. If the incumbent accepts, its existing licence fee is reduced, whereas, if it rejects, its existing licence fee is increased. The change in the licence fee is such that a rational incumbent always opts to share when it is efficient to do so, i.e. when the cost of sharing is below the value to the secondary user. We also explore how this simple mechanism can be extended to situations in which there is more than one incumbent in a band. Our proposed approach involves package (combinatorial) bidding and linear reference prices.

T-Mobile Joins With Public TV In Repack

PBS, in coordination with America’s Public Television Stations (APTS), announced an agreement with T-Mobile to deliver universal service of both broadcast and wireless service to millions of Americans living in rural areas. T-Mobile has committed to covering the costs for local public television low-power facilities that are required to relocate to new broadcasting frequencies following the government’s recent spectrum incentive auction. They said the project will also result in increased wireless choice in these underserved areas as T-Mobile leverages the new spectrum that the company acquired in the auction to expand its wireless network.

“Public broadcasting has been one of America’s greatest and most enduring public-private partnerships,” said PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger. “We are thrilled that T-Mobile sees the value that public broadcasting brings to the American people and is helping to ensure that everyone—regardless of income or zip code—continues to have access to PBS, including vital emergency alerts and programs that help prepare children for success in school.”

Statement Of FCC Chairman Pai On T-Mobile's Agreement With Public Television Stations To Assist With Translator Repacking

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai issued the following statement after PBS and America’s Public Television Stations (APTS) announced an agreement with T-Mobile whereby T-Mobile will provide financial assistance during the post-incentive auction repack to translator stations that extend public television signals into hard-to-reach rural areas: “I commend PBS, APTS, and T-Mobile for developing a creative solution to assist millions of TV viewers during the post-incentive auction transition. The financial assistance provided by TMobile will help the many Americans who rely on public television, especially in rural areas. It will also help expand wireless connectivity in rural America. Today’s announcement is precisely the kind of cross-industry cooperation we need to ensure a smooth transition for broadcasters, wireless providers, and American consumers.”

Rep Doyle Draft of Bill Would Promote 5G

Rep Mike Doyle (D-PA) has circulated a discussion draft of a bill to accelerate the rollout of 5G wireless. The 5G Acceleration Act would mandate action items and deadlines for the Federal Communications Commission. They include: Auctioning 200 MHz of new spectrum below 7 GHz, with the auction required to begin by July 1, 2025; submitting a plan in coordination with the National Telecommunications & Information Administration by Jan. 1, 2024, to balance licensed and unlicensed spectrum; submitting a report to Congress by Jan. 1, 2018 identifying 300 MHz of different below-7 GHz spectrum. And in the near term, the FCC must issue a Notice of Inquiry on making spectrum available below 12 GHz.

Commissioner O'Rielly Remarks Before CITEL PCC.II Delegation

As you may have heard, within the United States we've been working actively to build upon the experience of WRC-15 and towards the decisions to be made at WRC-19. We've recently completed the world's first voluntary incentive auction, making the 600 MHz frequency band available for mobile broadband use, while still ensuring a vibrant broadcasting community.

Together with our neighbors in Canada and Mexico, we have worked to facilitate the success of both the TV and wireless bands and ensured a seamless transition at our shared borders. We applaud the leadership of our counterparts in Mexico and Canada at the ITU and encourage other administrations to consider 600 MHz as they seek additional spectrum for wide-area mobile broadband deployments.

Major Changes Sought in Nascent Citizens Broadband Radio Service

The Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) has not even been born yet, but already major industry players want to change its basic character. CBRS, as its name implies, was conceived and approved by the Federal Communications Commission a couple of years ago as a broadband service for locally-focused businesses. The regulatory paradigm included both a large swathe of generally authorized access (also termed “licensed by rule”) channels that would be made available opportunistically to any entity and licensed channels made available on a census-tract basis for generally non-renewable three year terms. This generated quite a bit of opposition from larger carriers who insisted that the small license areas and short, non-renewable terms would make the band unsuitable for significant investment.

Yet the FCC stuck to its vision for this “citizen”-oriented service and adopted rules which are now effective, though users cannot be up and operating until the spectrum managers begin administering access to the spectrum.

FCC's Pai Talks Wireless at White House Meeting

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai says he did not discuss his proposal to roll back Title II classification of Internet service providers at a meeting at the White House but did talk about the building blocks of a wireless future—spectrum and infrastructure. Asked about the meeting by a reporter following the FCC's public meeting—particularly given Chairman Pai's criticism of what he thought as too close ties between the White House and Tom Wheeler on that issue—the chairman said they had an "excellent conversation" with tech and telecom leaders and his input was sought on the rollout of 5G and the Internet of Things.He called it a "very fruitful" conversation about spectrum and infrastructure and the like and that he looked forward to working with all interested parties.

As to FCC independence, he said the FCC was still an independent agency, but there were ways to collaborate with others in the Administration, before launching into a string of nautical references to make his point. He said he wanted to make sure "we are steering in the right direction," calling them "all sailors in the same boat" and saying that it was an "all hands on deck effort" to make sure wireless innovators have the necessary tools.