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Tag Archives: Mobile World Congress

Mid-band Spectrum Tops FCC Wish List for 5G

By J. Sharpe Smith, Senior Editor


The FCC has auctioned the 24 and 28 GHz millimeter wave bands for commercial use and will hold the 37/39/47 GHz auction in December. A record amount of spectrum. Not to mention the auction of priority access licenses in the 3.5 GHz band, set for June of next year. But there was no time for the agency to rest on it laurels. The drum beat for more mid-band spectrum to be freed up for 5G was heard loud and clear in several sessions and FCC Commissioner keynotes at the Mobile World Congress, held this week in Los Angeles, known as MWC19.

During her keynote, FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel opined that 16 countries have already auctioned mid-band spectrum for 5G, while the United States has focused bringing only high-band spectrum to market.

“And while we put all our early energies into these millimeter-wave auctions, the rest of the world has left us behind,” she said. “I fear our slow pace of bringing mid-band spectrum to market for 5G will only deepen the digital divide… because commercializing high-band spectrum will not be easy or cheap, given its propagation challenges.”

Scott Bergman, SVP, regulatory affairs, CTIA, who moderated the panel, “Wireless Policy from the Inside: The FCC and NTIA Advisors’ Views,” said the association’s analysis shows that bringing 400 megahertz of licensed mid-band spectrum to market would increase the GDP by more than $270 million and create 1.3 million new jobs.

3.1 GHz-3.55 GHz

During the wireless policy panel, Derek Khlopin, senior advisor, Office of the Assistant Secretary, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, agreed that high-band spectrum was low-hanging fruit, but the NTIA is supportive of efforts to free up mid-band spectrum. The Mobile Now Act requires the NTIA to look at the 3.1 GHz to 3.55 GHz.

“Our initial analysis showed that the 3.4 GHz to 3.55 GHz holds the most promise, because it has similar characteristics to the CBRS band.” Khlopin said. “We understand the pressure to look for more mid-band spectrum. A lot of federal agencies use spectrum. It’s very complicated. Mid-band spectrum is very challenging. It will take a collaborative effort and a lot of hard work.”

Commissioner O’Reilly was critical of the progress that the Department of Defense (DoD) has made so far in freeing up the 3.1 to 3.55 GHz band, saying that the process has been “painfully drawn out.”

“After signaling that they would relinquish the upper portion of the band from 3.45 to 3.55 GHz, the DoD, instead, did an unnecessary sharing feasibility study,” O’Reilly said. “This is spectrum that should have already been turned over for commercial use, and DoD should have been studying the lower 3.1 to 3.45 GHz, but that appears to have not even started yet.

O’Reilly argued that the top 100 megahertz should be reallocated immediately, and a study of the lower portion of the band should be done quickly, so the FCC can understand what protections will be needed.

2.5 GHz Band

Speaking before the CBRS Alliance’s OnGo Workshop, FCC Chairman Pai said the FCC plans to hold an auction in the 2.5 GHz band, following the 3.5 GHz band auction.

“With almost 200 megahertz [of spectrum], this is the largest contiguous band of terrestrial, flexible use spectrum below 3 GHz in the United States,” Pai said. “But it’s dramatically underused today—existing licenses cover only about one-half of the country, and the spectrum often vacant west of the Mississippi River.”

C-band Spectrum

The commissioners’ offices have working hard freeing up mid-band spectrum in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band, commonly known as the C-Band, which is encumbered by satellite users. Aaron Goldberger, legal advisor to Chairman Pai, predicted that a C-Band item will be voted on by the Commission by the end of the year, and Erin McGrath, legal advisor to Commissioner O’Reilly, agreed.

“The good news is we are actually getting very close. We are at the point of tying it up in a nice package that we can move,” McGrath said. “We have made quite a bit of progress and we are now down to the final details, such as how much spectrum (300 megahertz seems to be the sweet spot), designating the assignment mechanism and the deciding on the plan for accommodating the existing users.”

Chairman Pai said the C-band involves a “complicated array of legal, policy, and factual issues,” and that he had not made his final decision it.

“First, we must make available a significant amount of spectrum for 5G.  Second, we must make this spectrum available for 5G quickly. Third, we must generate revenue for the federal government.  And fourth, we must ensure that the services currently using the C-band will continue to be delivered to the American people,” he said.

Meanwhile, on the other end of the continent, the eyes of Congress were also on the C-Band. A bill called the Clearing Broad Airwaves for New Deployment (C-BAND) Act (HR 4855), which would require a public C-band auction (as opposed to one run by the incumbent satellite carriers) was introduced this week by U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA), chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Communications and Technology Subcommittee, Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA), Subcommittee vice-chair, Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH), and Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-MT).

“I am pleased to introduce the bipartisan C-Band Act, which would require the FCC to promptly conduct a public auction to provide more much-needed mid-band spectrum,” Congressman Doyle said.  “This bill would ensure a transparent and fair process that would generate billions of dollars in revenue to address the urgent needs of millions of Americans such as building out broadband internet service in rural America while protecting users of incumbent services.”

Mobile World Congress: Enough Bang for the Buck?

By Ernest Worthman, AWT Executive Editor, IEEE Sr. Member

Of late, I have seen more and more of the over-watchers of this industry come out with realistic perspectives of what is happening in it.  And, in the pre-show glow of MWC Barcelona, I have watched them take the hyperbole to task. I applaud their efforts, even if it challenges the almighty advertising dollar.

It really does not enlighten the user, nor does it help the vendors when they put out marginal, bounded, theoretical, or possible devices, technologies, use cases, applications solutions, etc., as real world. Our industry has done that as long as I can remember. And the bottom line is that the real-world case usually falls short of the lab, or test case results. So I am glad I have started to see more honest assessments versus the fabled “emperor has no clothes” scenarios.

However, that vector is very narrow. For the last couple of weeks, I have been bombarded with MWC messages that beg me to “look here, see my new 5G sensor,” followed by “no, look over here, mine is faster and smaller, and then “wait, come over here, we have mmWave enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) hardware.” The pitches continued on, seemingly, endlessly.

Now that the show has started, for the next few days there will be endless diatribe about who is doing what, with what, when, where and how. There will be a ton of “mine is best” and debunking what has been said by various industry players since the last MWC. And honestly, most of it is still hype.

There will be demos of finely tuned, precisely aligned systems, that haven’t a prayer of working in the real world, that touch the edges of 5G or other emerging platforms and technologies. Such demonstrations are so contained and the companies are so enthusiastic that it is real world that it almost becomes embarrassing.

After reviewing day one feeds, it was, pretty much, what I saw six months ago, in San Francisco, which was, pretty much what was shown in Barcelona last year, which was… Same show, same 5G, Internet of Anything/Everything, AI, “X” reality, the usual slew of smartphones, etc., just new ways of spinning it.

There is also the usual how to do everything tracks; make money off of China, fund your startup, how to be an entrepreneur, where to invest, how to win customers. The list goes on. Most of these are simply incubated ideas that will, likely, never come to fruition.

Where does this cynicism come from? Truthfully, I have been to these bleeding-edge trade shows for, going on, 25+ years. I recall the same hyperbole with 3G and 4G. The names change, the game remains the same.

I am truly surprised that large trade shows have maintained such momentum. Perhaps it has something to do more with tradition than demand. As a couple of friends of mine have mentioned to me, and more than once, it is not about showing up, it is about not showing up. So vendors keep throwing money at them simply because if they do not go, it is noticed. For young and smaller companies, they get to say, “look, we are important enough to be in MWC.”

So, do deals get made? Of course, but I have been told over and over that the cost of the trade show, now-a-days, is rarely is worth the business generated. In this with ubiquitous connectivity and web presence, these large trade shows make less and less sense to me. But then, I am only one lowly editor.

Ernest Worthman
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]

Ericsson and Swisscom demonstrate network slicing for critical communications

Swisscom and Ericsson are collaborating on end-to-end network slicing for critical communications in a joint project to deploy and explore new use cases for 4G and 5G. The project is based on Ericsson radio access and core networks, and one of the first steps is to test how the functionality can support critical communications over public networks, for example, in the public transport sector.

At Mobile World Congress 2018, the two companies will demonstrate how end-to-end network slicing can be implemented on Ericsson’s 4G and 5G network solutions. The demonstration will use commercially available features in the Ericsson radio access network, such as RAN slicing and Quality of Service control, combined with Ericsson’s core network functionality and Operations Support Systems offering, securing the reliability and performance of applications for critical communications.

Heinz Herren, Chief Technology Officer and Chief Information Officer, Swisscom, said: “With Ericsson’s network slicing functionality and complementing features, we can leverage existing infrastructure and assets. In addition to offering mobile broadband services, we will be able to configure dedicated network slices for various industries, meeting the needs of manufacturing, railway, and public safety companies.”

To introduce applications for specific industries, Swisscom is planning to evolve its network and infrastructure to support requirements that are different and more stringent compared to traditional mobile broadband needs.

Joakim Sorelius, Head of Product Area Network Systems, Ericsson, said: “Network slicing is crucial to guarantee the performance of critical communications, and it is a key enabler to maximize the full business potential of 5G. Together with Swisscom we are creating innovative solutions that optimize existing networks and lay the groundwork for advanced 4G- and 5G-enabled applications.”

5G technology addresses the increasing need for speed, capacity, and low latency. It brings new levels of performance and functionality to cellular networks and enables critical applications, including emerging Internet of Things use cases. One example is remote monitoring and control of machines or vehicles, which requires extremely low latency, high reliability, and top prioritization in the network.

Investments in digital industrialization are expected to generate an estimated USD 619 billion revenue opportunity for telecom operators by 2026, according to the 5G Business Potential report published by Ericsson. The report also notes that service providers will profit from an additional 36 percent revenue potential by 2026 from 5G-enabled market opportunities.

Ericsson’s end-to-end network slicing is readily available on 4G networks for operators to start exploring new opportunities with various industries while gearing up for commercial 5G services.

We Need a Reality Check on Our 5G Expectations

By Ernest Worthman

A couple of issues ago I had discussed some of the hype and reality of 5G. One of the topics was pulling up the new radio (NR) specifications release date. I want to drill down a bit more on that. If you were at the Mobile World Congress, the hype made you think that 5G was the panacea for everything, and the perfect solution for the future. OK, I get that. There is a lot riding on that. If one believes some of the hype, it will be the most revolutionary technological leap in modern history. Nevertheless, so far, as I have said more than once, it is still blue sky in all but test and lab scenarios.

What we are talking about is something called the non-standalone specification. Let’s talk about that for a minute. The term that is getting thrown around a lot, and somewhat sneakily trying to masquerade as a 5G standard, is called the non-standard new radio (NS-NR for this conversation) specification. But the reality is that this NS-NR is really based on knowledge of 4G use cases, extrapolating them to 5G.

It is not THE 5G standard, which implies full user and control plane capabilities for 5G NR. The NS-NR specification is simply a platform that will run over existing LTE frequencies as an enhanced Mobile Broad Band (eMBB) overlay. In NS mode, the connection is anchored in LTE using 5G NR carriers to boost data-rates and reduce latency. Essentially, NS-NR is a bit of a beta Platform.

The final specification isn’t expected until late 2018, but that assumes everything goes as planned with the NS-NR specification as well as a number of other elements. With all the pressure to hit the deadlines, my concern is that the specification may end up missing, or compromising some KPIs.

Qualcomm is one of the most vocal proponents of NS-NR. They have a lot riding on it. In fact, they are one of the first out the gate with a “5G” product. However, what exactly is the difference between the non-standalone (NSA) and standalone (SA) technologies? Well, here is how Qualcomm spins it.

Non-Standalone (NSA) 5G NR technology will utilize the existing LTE radio and core network as an anchor for mobility management and coverage while adding a new 5G carrier. This is the configuration that will be the target of early 2019 deployments (in 3GPP terminology, this is NSA 5G NR deployment scenario Option 3).

Standalone (SA) 5G NR technology implies full user and control plane capability for 5G NR, utilizing the new 5G core network architecture also being done in 3GPP.

So, it is difficult to find out what, exactly, the technical specs of NSA are but they are supposed to utilize eMBB, which is defined as a key part of 3GPP 5G SMARTER (Services and Markets Technology Enablers). eMBB is a broad platform that forms the underpinnings of 5G. Things like:

·      Bandwidth (100 megahertz bandwidth below 6 GHz; 800 MHz to 2 GHz bandwidth above 6 GHz)

·      mmWave frequencies (candidate bands: ~28 GHz, ~39 GHz, ~70 GHz) for high data rate applications, edge computing and small networks of various types

·      Highly directional beamforming antennas and MIMO

·      New signal waveforms (Scalable OFDM)

·      Latency (1millisecond down to a nanosecond eventually)

·      And more

So bits and pieces eMMB are showing up in NS-NR. I guess it can be used as a platform to see if and how devices can meet the eMBB bounds; that is a good thing.

But please, we all know there is a lot at stake. 5G will be a composition of many different platforms. In the past, this industry has not always played nice amongst themselves.

We are no strangers to the mobile industry’s habit of developing a new radio standard, with vendors and carriers jockeying for position, pushing the new-standard hype machine into overdrive. This has happened every time in the cellular ecosystem as cellular standards went from 2G to 4G. Today, we are witnessing it in LTE, mmWave, unlicensed and more.

First, the 40+ companies that are part of the NS-NR group give cause for hope. But there are also some important players missing who should be on board; notably Nokia and Orange, and, to a lesser degree, Apple and Google. There are others, as well. That is a bit of a red flag.

Second, there are many ways to describe the current state of the state, but the best one I have yet heard is what a contemporaty of mine penned, “the companies who support the NS-NR are calling the tune before the band is assembled” – aptly put!

I still think this has a ways to go. It looks good on paper, but as I said earlier, what exists is not real world and is very sparse. Lots of deals being made for trials but not much of that has started yet.

I believe 5G should start small, make sure it works and let it mature smartly. There is plenty of business to go around. After all, making what promises to be the biggest global technological leap isn’t something that should be rushed into.

Ernest Worthman is the Executive Editor of Applied Wireless Technology magazine. A Life Member of the IEEE, 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.

OEM Fulfilling Carriers’ Wi-Fi Desires

by J. Sharpe Smith —

J. Sharpe Smith


March 12, 2015 — In the last year, allowing users to make voice calls and send and receive text messages via a Wi-Fi network has gained momentum among carriers. Perhaps the most aggressive on this front has been T-Mobile, making it a part of its ad campaign, but Sprint has also provided Wi-Fi calling for more than a year. Carriers with the best coverage and supposedly the least need for Wi-Fi coverage, AT&T and Verizon, will follow the trend sometime this year. The seminal event bringing Wi-Fi into the cellular fold was Apple’s release of its iOS 8 platform last fall, which allows Wi-Fi calling on iPhone 6.

“Blending the capabilities of Wi-Fi and cellular to achieve performance gains beyond standalone networks, we can embark on new, exciting discussions around the go-to-market strategy for in-building wireless that embraces both technologies while improving the consumer and enterprise experiences,” said Peter Jarich, VP of Consumer and Infrastructure Services, Current Analysis.

With 80 percent of tablet-based devices having a Wi-Fi connection and a huge amount of cellular data offloaded to Wi-Fi, carriers need another way to tie users to their networks. As carriers embrace Wi-Fi, it only makes sense that equipment providers will follow suit and several made their intents known at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona earlier this month.

Ted Abrams, Wi-Fi Wireless CTO, said the OEM’s announcements fit into his company’s vision of the future of purpose-built carrier grade Wi-Fi networks that are set out for the next generations of licensed-spectrum use.

“Probably the best example is the way T-Mobile is paving the way toward License Assisted Access,” Abrams said. “Their plan to offload traffic to the 5 GHz Wi-Fi frequencies is right in line with our game plan to build our networks with high-band [5.8 GHz] first, and then low-band only opportunistically. The convergence of Wi-Fi and LTE is the solution to the problem of capacity and subscriber need for speed.”

Alcatel-Lucent announced its ‘Wireless Unified Networks’ strategy that blends the upload and download of Wi-Fi and cellular to increase system capacity in high-traffic or low-signal locations.

As opposed switching users between cellular and Wi-Fi to load-balance the network, Alcatel-Lucent’s “Wi-Fi boost” technology combines the downlink of Wi-Fi with the uplink of cellular. Using LTE Wi-Fi Aggregation (LWA), download speeds can be more than doubled compared with standalone network capabilities. Wi-Fi boost capabilities will be trialed in the second quarter of 2015 with commercial availability in the second half of 2015.

Alcatel-Lucent is developing “cellular boost” technology, which uses unlicensed spectrum bands to enhance the cellular network. Standards are being developed to allow LTE users to coexist with Wi-Fi users on the unlicensed spectrum, known as LTE-Unlicensed (LTE-U) and Licensed Assist Access (LAA), which will guide Alcatel-Lucent’s small cell development. The LTE-U standard provides the carriers with some network management control on the unlicensed frequencies.

The OEM plans to support trials in the second half of 2015 and to commercially introduce the technology in early 2016.


J. Sharpe Smith is the editor of AGL Link and AGL Small Cell Link.