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Tag Archives: Ajit Pai

Open RANs Help to Overcome Huawei Security Concerns

By Ajit Pai


Next-generation 5G wireless networks will be embedded in almost every aspect of our society and economy — from businesses to homes, hospitals to transportation networks, manufacturing to the power grid.

Over the past few years, the FCC has aggressively executed our 5G FAST plan to secure American’s leadership in 5G. This strategy features three key parts: freeing up commercial radio-frequency spectrum, promoting wireless infrastructure and encouraging fiber deployment.

This strategy has yielded significant results. For example, we have completed multiple spectrum auctions that have repurposed huge swaths of spectrum for 5G. Also, we have seen record-breaking capital investments in infrastructure essential for next-generation networks.

However, our focus is not limited to promoting networks that are strong. We also are committed to making sure that they are secure.

For years, U.S. government officials have expressed concern about the national security threats posed by certain foreign communications equipment providers. To address this concern, we have aimed to protect the integrity of the communications supply chain — that is, the process by which products and services are manufactured, distributed, sold and, ultimately, integrated into our communications networks.

Specifically, the FCC has prohibited the use of money from our Universal Service Fund to purchase or obtain any equipment or services produced or provided by companies that the Commission determines pose a national security threat, namely Huawei and ZTE. We also initiated a process to identify and catalog insecure equipment used in USF-funded communications networks so that we can, hopefully, implement a program to remove and replace it once Congress appropriates funds for this purpose.

Looking to the next generation of wireless technology, much of the equipment at the heart of 5G networks currently comes from just a few global suppliers. Three of the most prominent are Sweden’s Ericsson, Finland’s Nokia and South Korea’s Samsung, but the largest of them is the Chinese company Huawei.

Carriers building out 5G networks rightfully worry that Huawei equipment could expose them to security risks. Huawei’s market power, aided by generous subsidies from the Chinese Communist Party, often might seem to make that company the cheapest and thus best option for network equipment. Nevertheless, the Chinese National Intelligence Law requires companies like Huawei to cooperate with, and keep secret, State intelligence work. The law also creates opportunities for Chinese intelligence agencies to compel access to an organization’s facilities, including communications equipment, in certain cases. In short, many are recognizing that you get what you pay for, and that the long-term costs of using insecure equipment are most likely to outweigh any short-term savings.

In addition to these security issues, carriers may be concerned by a relatively consolidated marketplace. Some have told me, both here and abroad, that vendor diversity is useful in terms of price competition, avoiding the lock-in problem and ensuring a backup supplier, among other things.

Technological innovation has opened up a new path to address these concerns. That technology is Open Radio Access Networks, or Open RANs.

Open RANs could transform 5G network architecture, costs, and security.

Traditionally, wireless networks rely on a closed architecture in which a single vendor supplies many or all the components between network base stations and the core. But Open RANs can fundamentally disrupt this marketplace. We could see an exponential growth in the number and diversity of suppliers. We could see more cost-effective solutions. Also, critically, we could see the keys to security in the hands of network operators, as opposed to a Chinese vendor. All this may explain why some telecom companies are beginning to develop and deploy open, interoperable, standards-based and virtualized radio access networks.

As an added bonus, many of the leading firms in the Open RAN space are based in the United States or in countries generally aligned with our vision of 5G security.

How this marketplace will evolve is difficult to predict with certainty. However, here is what I can say with confidence: Innovation and competition make for a stronger, healthier telecom ecosystem. That is why so many are excited about Open RAN’s potential.

The FCC wants to encourage research and development into innovative network solutions. One way to do that is by convening the top experts in the field to discuss the benefits of Open RAN, the challenges of implementing it and the lessons learned from deployments thus far — as we have done by convening our Forum on 5G Open Radio Access Networks on Sept. 14, 2020.

Ajit Pai is chairman of the FCC. Edited for length and style, this article comes from his remarks at the FCC’s Forum on 5G Open Radio Access Networks on Sept. 14, 2020.

FCC Order Seeks to ‘Restore Internet Freedom’

by J. Sharpe Smith

In a highly controversial proceeding, the FCC voted 3-2 today to reverse the Title II regulation of broadband internet access service, known as Net Neutrality, implemented in 2015. Additionally, the FCC instituted transparency requirements that will protect consumers by empowering the Federal Trade Commission to act when broadband providers engage in anticompetitive and deceptive acts.

“The framework adopted by the Commission today will protect consumers at far less cost to investment than the prior rigid and wide-ranging utility rules,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said. “Restoring a favorable climate for network investment is key to closing the digital divide, spurring competition and innovation that benefits consumers.”

Adding to the tension surrounding the FCC vote, federal protective service interrupted the meeting and cleared the room in the middle of Chairman Pai’s statement. The meeting came back to order minutes later. It was later divulged that the break was the result of a bomb scare.

Comm. Mignon Clyburn, who dissented, characterized the FCC’s action as the “destroying Internet Freedom” order. In her “eulogy,” she described the Net Neutrality rule as a “carefully crafted” attempt to strike a balance between protecting consumers and enabling investment in the internet. She noted the high probability that the issue will be decided in the courts.

“What saddens me the most is that the agency that is supposed to protect you is actually abandoning you,” Clyburn said. “What I am pleased to say is that the fight to save Net Neutrality does not end today. The agency does not have the final word. Thank goodness for that.”

Comm. Jessica Rosenworcel had a finger on the pulse of why the FCC received 22 million comments in the Net Neutrality proceeding, not to mention the countless protests that occurred.

“The future of the internet is the future of everything,” she wrote in a dissenting statement. “That is because there is nothing in our commercial, social and civic lives that has been untouched by its influence or unmoved by its power.”

The Restoring Internet Freedom order eliminates the net neutrality rules, which have both survived challenges in the courts and now enjoy popularity among the American people, according to Rosenworcel.

“Today we wipe away this work, destroy this progress and burn down time-tested values that have made our internet economy the envy of the world,” she wrote.

New York AG to Sue Government over Internet Freedom Order

The next stage of the drama is already set. Among others, New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman plans to lead a multistate lawsuit to stop the rollback of net neutrality.

“The FCC’s vote to rip apart net neutrality is a blow to New York consumers, and to everyone who cares about a free and open internet,” he said in a press release. “The FCC just gave Big Telecom an early Christmas present, by giving internet service providers yet another way to put corporate profits over consumers. Today’s rollback will give ISPs new ways to control what we see, what we do, and what we say online. That’s a threat to the free exchange of ideas that’s made the Internet a valuable asset in our democratic process.”

Opinion: Opposition to Net Neutrality Raises its Ugly Head (again)

By Ernest Worthman, IEEE Senior Member

Well, for those of us who thought Net Neutrality was a good idea, President Trump, trumps again. Why am I surprised? It’s just another notch in the shift of wealth to mega-corporations, which has become the mantra of Trump, and in general, the Republican Party.

The Trump slogan of “if President Obama did it, I will undo it” is alive and well. (Am I beginning to sound like an anarchist?) To wit, the appointment of Ajit Pai as chairman of the FCC, who, from the onset, was anti-net neutrality. So was there any real doubt Pai that would not his choice for chairman?

Despite the partisan effort that put the order in place a couple of years ago, cooler heads prevailed and it became a policy. Not because Obama championed it, but because it is a good idea. Otherwise, why did virtually every large telecom, content provider, large ISP, and others fight so hard against it then, and are now fighting so hard now to have it dismantled? As it is noted by Hackernoon* “Pro-Net Neutrality is not Anti-Free Market.” Having net neutrality did nothing more than level the playing field. Something the greedy and monopolistic players really dislike.

The list of net neutrality opponents reads like a who’s who of corporate America; Cox, Comcast, Charter, Time Warner, etc. Then throw in Google, Facebook, Netflix, yada…yada…and one can readily see the self-interest of the anti-neutrality conglomerates. If these companies are such good corporate citizens (how many times have they been fined for illegal activities, or cheating on bills, etc.), what would they have against it?

Net Neutrality was a weapon to prevent ISPs like Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, and now other peripheral players from blocking, throttling, or prioritizing lawful internet traffic within their networks for financial gain – period. It also prevented ISPs from slowing down services like Netflix, or YouTube, or any other service or give other websites and apps preferential treatment and prevents charging internet companies for faster access.

Some say that the market should respond to demand and the net should be allowed to ebb and flow with the market, sans regulation. In a perfect world, I wholly agree with that, if the playing field was level. Where I live, I only have two choices for ISP, Comcast or CenturyLink. In addition, isn’t it amazing how they both charge the same amount for the same bandwidth and speed? Somehow, that just does not seem like competition to me.

Oh, I get the argument that these companies invested heavily in the infrastructure and should be given preference to recoup some of these costs. OK, I can buy that, to some degree. But if they didn’t see the dollars at the back end, why did they invest in the front end, with or without incentives? Did they expect to have lifetime guarantees that they would have a corner on the market? Wasn’t there a similar argument back in the days of the telco breakups? And that worked out pretty well in the long run.

The market for content delivery is poised to become one of the most lucrative (although competitive) new opportunities, especially with 5G and the Internet of Everything/Everyone (IoX) – the M&As are proof of that. However, everybody should have a chance at obtaining their piece of the pie. Let’s hope not every Republican is on board that fast train to the Corporate States of America. Net Neutrality was a good idea back in 2015 and it is just as good an idea in 2017.


Ernest Worthman is the Executive Editor/Applied Wireless Technology. His 20-plus years of editorial experience includes being the Editorial Director of Wireless Design and Development and Fiber Optic Technology, the Editor of RF Design, the Technical Editor of Communications Magazine, Cellular Business, Global Communications and a Contributing Technical Editor to Mobile Radio Technology, Satellite Communications, as well as computer-related periodicals such as Windows NT. His technical writing practice client list includes RF Industries, GLOBALFOUNDRIES, Agilent Technologies, Advanced Linear Devices, Ceitec, SA, and others. Before becoming exclusive to publishing, he was a computer consultant and regularly taught courses and seminars in applications software, hardware technology, operating systems, and electronics. Ernest’s client list has included Lucent Technologies, Jones Intercable, Qwest, City and County of Denver, TCI, Sandia National Labs, Goldman Sachs, and other businesses.  His credentials include a BS, Electronic Engineering Technology; A.A.S, Electronic Digital Technology. He has held a Colorado Post-Secondary/Adult teaching credential, member of IBM’s Software Developers Assistance Program and Independent Vendor League, a Microsoft Solutions Provider Partner, and a life member of the IEEE. He has been certified as an IBM Certified OS2 consultant and trainer; WordPerfect Corporation Developer/Consultant and Lotus Development Corporation Developer/Consultant. He was also a first-class FCC technician in the early days of radio. Ernest Worthman may be contacted at: [email protected]

Chairman Pai Praises Tower Industry Hurricane Recovery Efforts

By J. Sharpe Smith

Cell towers were more resilient during Hurricane Harvey in South Texas than in previous storms, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai told an audience during his keynote at the Mobile World Congress Americas today in San Francisco. The news from Florida, however was not quite as upbeat with the affected disaster area losing service from more than 27 percent of the cell towers.

“About 5 percent of cell sites were down [in South Texas], as opposed to 25 percent for Hurricane Sandy,” Pai said. “That wireless connectivity was literally a lifeline for many.”

More than 96,000 calls were made to Houston’s main 911 emergency response center, many of which were from wireless phones.

“Many of the more than 11,000 people rescued by the Coast Guard were found because of wireless calls,” Pai said. “That includes one 14-year-old girl who was saved after telling Siri, ‘Call the Coast Guard.’” Smartphones were used to access social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to summon help and keep tabs on loved ones.

Pai applauded the “heroic efforts to quickly restore communications” of the technicians working to bring Houston and South Texas back online and on the air.

“When the rain was still coming down and the water was still rising, technicians braved the elements to fix service disruptions as quickly as possible,” Pai said.

A Tale of Two Hurricanes

Compared with Harvey, Hurricane Irma affected a much wider area striking with Category 4-force winds, as it steamed up the Gulf Coast of the state. Of the more than 14,500 cell towers located in the disaster area, nearly 4,000 cell towers had lost service as of Sept. 11.

Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands saw improvement on Monday with 21.5 of affected towers out of service, compare with nearly 27 percent on Sunday.

“Now, reports so far indicate that communications services in the path of Hurricane Irma have not fared as well due to staggering winds,” Pai said. “But we’re grateful for the hard work people are doing to keep wireless networks up and running for as many people as possible.”

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. 

More Cell Towers Back on the Air in Texas

By J. Sharpe Smith

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.