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US Cellular, Qualcomm, Ericsson, Inseego Address Digital Divide with Multigigabit Extended-range 5G Milestone Over mmWave

US Cellular, Qualcomm Technologies, Ericsson and Inseego have achieved a 5G wireless communications extended-range milestone over millimeter-wave (mmWave) on a commercial network. The milestone was accomplished at a distance of 7 kilometers km (4.34 miles), the farthest 5G mmWave fixed wireless access (FWA) connection in the United States, with sustained average downlink speeds of ~1 Gbps, sustained average uplink speeds of ~55 Mbps and instantaneous peak downlink speeds recorded at greater than 2 Gbps.

Additionally, at a distance of 1.75 km (1 mile) with no line of sight, the companies achieved sustained average downlink speeds of ~730 Mbps and sustained average uplink speeds of ~38 Mbps. The test operators achieved the results in Janesville, Wisconsin, on US Cellular’s commercial network by applying Ericsson’s extended-range software to commercial Ericsson hardware Antenna Integrated Radio (AIR) 5322, along with an Inseego Wavemaker Pro 5G outdoor CPE FW2010e powered by the Qualcomm 5G fixed wireless access platform gen 1 featuring the Qualcomm Snapdragon X55 5G modem-RF system and a Qualcomm QTM527 mmWave antenna module. The achievement demonstrated the impressive range and connectivity speeds 5G mmWave can provide to homes and businesses everywhere.

Why It’s Important

With its massive capacity, in particular achieving gigabit speeds at this wide range, 5G mmWave is a robust and crucial solution to meet the increasing traffic demand and expand broadband services to help bridge the digital divide throughout rural, suburban and urban communities. 5G mmWave will enable new business opportunities in FWA by providing a cost-effective and future-proof way for communication service providers to deliver high internet speeds. 5G FWA will address the last-mile connectivity challenges by allowing operators and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to deploy 5G connectivity to homes and institutions such as schools and hospitals. FWA provides the bandwidth required to support high-definition video streaming that can improve remote education and healthcare experiences in suburban and rural environments.


Executives Speak

“We believe that every household and business deserves access to reliable Internet access no matter where they are located, and the results we achieved in this latest mmWave test further confirm that wireless technology is key to providing high-speed broadband service in both urban and rural areas,” said Mike Irizarry, executive vice president and chief technology officer at US Cellular. “By collaborating with companies like Ericsson, Qualcomm and Inseego, we will continue to drive innovation with extended-range technology to ensure that wireless customers across rural America have an exceptional wireless experience designed for their communities.”

Manish Tripathi, vice president of engineering at Qualcomm Technologies, said his company was pleased with its s collaboration with US Cellular, Ericsson and Inseego.

“This milestone continues to highlight the growing momentum we’re seeing across the industry to bridge the digital divide,” Tripathi said. “Our innovations in 5G FWA will help operators and OEMs offer flexible and cost-effective, low-latency, extended range, multigigabit 5G broadband to their customers. The Qualcomm 5G fixed wireless access platform gen 1 was designed to deliver the first fully integrated extended-range mmWave solution to deploy 5G connectivity to homes, small businesses, schools, hospitals and town halls.”

Ashish Sharma, president of IoT and mobile solutions at Inseego, referred to the Inseego Wavemaker Pro 5G outdoor CPE FW2010e as an exciting, high-performance product within the company’s growing portfolio of 5G fixed wireless access solutions.

“In addition to providing long-distance millimeter wave connectivity, we’re delivering the exceptionally high throughput that’s essential for enterprise, SMB and home internet users,” Sharma said. “This performance will get even better with other features we support in our Wavemaker PRO FW2010e 5G solution. It’s truly a game-changer for the FWA market.”


The Companies

Chicago-based US Cellular is the fourth-largest full-service wireless carrier in the United States. It provides national network coverage and innovations designed to elevate the customer experience.

Qualcomm is a wireless technology innovator and a force behind the development, launch and expansion of 5G.

Ericsson enables communications service providers to capture the value of connectivity. The company’s portfolio spans networks, digital services, managed services and emerging business, and is designed to help customers go digital, increase efficiency and find new revenue streams.

Inseego offers smart device-to-cloud solutions that extend the 5G network edge, enabling broader 5G coverage, multigigabit data speeds, low latency and strong security to deliver highly reliable internet access.

Source: US Cellular

FCC Completes RDOF Reverse Auction

Phase I Auction Allocates $9.2 Billion to Close the Digital Divide in 49 States and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands

The FCC released the results of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund auction, which show that bidders won funding to deploy high-speed broadband to over 5.2 million unserved homes and businesses, almost 99 percent of the locations available in the auction.  Moreover, 99.7 percent of these locations will be receiving broadband with speeds of at least 100/20 Mbps, with an overwhelming majority (over 85 percent) getting gigabit-speed broadband.  CCO Holdings, LLC (Charter Communications) was assigned the most locations, just over 1.05 million.  A total of 180 bidders won auction support, to be distributed over the next 10 years.

A broad range of providers successfully competed in the Phase I auction, including cable operators, electric cooperatives, incumbent telephone companies, satellite companies, and fixed wireless providers.  And the FCC’s structuring of the reverse auction yielded significant savings, as competitive bidding among over 300 providers yielded an allocation of $9.2 billion in support out of the $16 billion set aside for Phase I of the auction.  Importantly, the $6.8 billion in potential Phase I support that was not allocated will be rolled over into the future Phase II auction, which now can draw upon a budget of up to $11.2 billion in targeting partially-served areas (and the few unserved areas that did not receive funding through Phase I).

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said, “We structured this innovative and groundbreaking auction to be technologically neutral and to prioritize bids for high-speed, low-latency offerings.  We aimed for maximum leverage of taxpayer dollars and for networks that would meet consumers’ increasing broadband needs, and the results show that our strategy worked.  This auction was the single largest step ever taken to bridge the digital divide and is another key success for the Commission in its ongoing commitment to universal service.  I thank our staff for working so hard and so long to get this auction done on time, particularly during the pandemic.”

The auction used a multi-round, descending clock auction format in which bidders indicated in each round whether they would commit to provide service to an area at a given performance tier and latency at the current round’s support amount.  The auction was technologically neutral and open to new providers, and bidding procedures prioritized bids for higher speeds and lower latency.

The auction unleashed robust price competition that resulted in more locations being awarded at less cost to Americans who pay into the Universal Service Fund.  The 5,220,833 locations assigned support in the auction had an initial reserve price of over $26 billion over the next decade; through vigorous competition among bidders, the final price tag to cover these locations is now just over $9 billion, with the vast majority of locations receiving gigabit broadband—far above the 25/3 Mbps minimum level of service that providers could bid on in the auction.

Providers must meet periodic buildout requirements that will require them to reach all assigned locations by the end of the sixth year.  They are incentivized to build out to all locations as fast as possible.

The Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Phase I auction is part of a broader effort by the FCC to close the digital divide in rural America and focus limited universal service funds on unserved areas that most need support.  In October 2020, the Commission adopted rules creating the 5G Fund for Rural America, which will distribute up to $9 billion over the next decade to bring 5G wireless broadband connectivity to unserved areas in rural America.

More information on the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Phase I auction is available at https://www.fcc.gov/auction/904, including complete auction results and a map of winning bids.

Carriers Fail to Provide Rural Coverage; FCC Unconcerned

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

Ern’s Perspective


The more things change, the more they stay the same

One would think that as often as the carriers get caught with their hand in the cookie jar, at some point they would get wise. However, it appears some mega-corporations might have lying and cheating woven into their DNA.

What brought on this missive, you ask? Well, it was the business as usual with Verizon, T-Mo and US Cellular.

One year ago, the agency launched an investigation into whether one or more major carriers violated the Mobility Fund Phase II reverse auction’s mapping rules and submitted incorrect coverage maps.  The investigation uncovered some disconcerting news. These three were found to have misled the FCC on their 4G rural footprint coverage.


Why this matters is two-fold. First, it is your money being stolen. Second, it is a crystal-clear indicator of the companies’ moral compass. What makes this even worse is that the FCC will do nothing!  Talk about inbreeding among the FCC and the carriers.

To be fair, the FCC has slapped the hand (and trust me, it has never been more than a slap) of carriers from time to time. But the slap was so mild, the carriers barely flinched. This has shown the carriers that, in the event they do get caught, the penalty is laughable, and does nothing to curtail such future behavior.

Quickly, the Government Mobility Fund is a resource that is used to support the stratification of 4G services in rural and underserved areas. In theory, the fund offers cash to carriers to offset the losses so often present in providing service to low-density deployment areas. That allows such area to gain access to the services offers in denser (and profitable) markets. Written into the agreement is the caveat that telcos receiving funds must provide accurate coverage maps to ensure the funds were being used for the exact purpose intended.

However, true to these particular carriers’ DNA they lied. The investigation, prompted by smaller, rural telcos complaining the nationwide players were exaggerating coverage maps, found that the aforementioned carriers, indeed, exaggerated footprint numbers. I suspect they were spending some of it on what it was supposed to be spent on. The bottom line is that these telcos were, simply, lying to the FCC and the general public (what a shock!).

The news that they fudged and lied about it does not surprise me. The fact that the FCC is not entertaining any penalties is a bit surprising, but not, altogether, unexpected. What really angers me is that the FCC has allowed these three bumpkins to simply develop another initiative to apply for another government hand-out to the tune of $9 billion! To quote a source that wishes to remain anonymous, “This is perhaps the latest example of a toothless watchdog [the FCC], with the bureaucrats in possession of the same spine as a lifeless slug.”

Adding insult to injury, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai was quoted as saying, “We want to make sure that rural Americans enjoy these benefits, just as residents of large urban areas will. In order to do that, the Universal Service Fund must be forward-looking and support the networks of tomorrow. And, in true government style, he added that “I will move forward as quickly as possible to establish a 5G Fund that would bring next-generation 5G services to rural areas…”

You have got to be kidding me. The fact that the FCC simply glossed over this and has no intention of any punitive measures is just ridiculous. However, are any of us really surprised that the accused 800-pound gorillas will be able to thumb their noses at these regulators and the tax-paying public and get away with spending taxpayer’s money in such an irresponsible manner? Apparently, the FCC is just ignoring all of this as well as doing nothing to ensure that such abuses do not reoccur.

Apparently, some carriers are comfortable enough to carry out such transgressions at their whim. Why not? Even if they get caught, fines are nothing more than a minor nuisance.  Obviously, they have no fear of government regulators, the FCC in particular.

Two things come from this scenario. First, if carriers cannot be trusted to do what is right with the original billions of dollars, what makes anyone think they will not just rinse, and repeat the same program with the next $9 billion. Such flagrant disregard for both regulation and honesty is appalling and simply encourages the telcos to keep on lying and cheating without fear of reprisal.

Second, the fact that the FCC has chosen to simply ignore this and then has the audacity to add MORE money to the coffer, again, without ANY repercussions of the perpetrators, is also appalling.

How long it will take for these and other telcos to find another way to scam tax dollars and what will the FCC’s response will be?

GCI Upgrades Networks in Rural Alaska

ANCHORAGE, Alaska, June 10, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — This summer, General Communication, Inc. (GCI) (NASDAQ:GNCMA) will upgrade its networks in rural Alaska. These upgrades will support increasing demand for terrestrial broadband service and substantially improve mobile wireless service in numerous rural communities.

First, GCI will increase the backbone capacity of TERRA, its terrestrial broadband network, from Levelock to Bethel by deploying new microwave radio technology. Second, GCI will deploy 3G wireless data service in 28 rural Alaska communities (listed below).

Upgrade work began on June 8 and is expected to continue throughout the summer.

“The TERRA and 3G upgrades confirm GCI’s ongoing commitment to rural Alaska,” said Greg Chapados, GCI’s executive vice president. “The upgrades will fortify the TERRA backbone, increase network efficiency and enable faster Internet speeds for wireless customers. Access to up-to-date communications technology increases opportunity for rural Alaska residents and businesses.”

The TERRA upgrade is expected to be complete by June 19. During the upgrade, GCI Internet customers on the TERRA backbone from Levelock to Kotzebue may notice some slowdown in upload and download speeds. As a courtesy, GCI customers in the affected communities will be mailed a voucher for $25 off their monthly bill. Mobile wireless voice and data services should not be affected during the TERRA upgrade.

The 3G upgrade is supported by an award from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) called Tribal Mobility Fund Phase 1. As part of the award, GCI will deploy 3G and 4G wireless services to a total of 48 rural Alaska communities by 2018.

GCI is the largest Alaska-based and operated integrated telecommunications provider offering voice, data and video services statewide. Learn more about GCI at www.gci.com/about.
Rural Alaska communities to receive 3G wireless data service in 2015:

Alakanuk Aniak
Chefornak Chevak
Eek Emmonak
Goodnews Bay Hooper Bay
Kipnuk Kongiganak
Marshall Kwigillingok
Mountain Village Mekoryuk
Nightmute Newtok
Nunam Iqua Pilot Station
Pitkas Point Quinhagak
Russian Mission Scammon Bay
Shaktoolik St. Marys
Togiak Toksook Bay
Tuntutuliak Tununak

CONTACT: David Morris, GCI, (907) 265-5396, [email protected]

Opinion: Multiple Strategies Critical for 4G Rural Build Out

By J. Sharpe Smith —

J. Sharpe Smith


May 7, 2015 — I had the honor of moderating a panel on “The Changing Economics of the Rural Broadband Build Out” at last week’s Wireless Infrastructure Show. I found it helpful to begin the conversation with a look at how rural cellular operators make economic sense of providing the 4G services that make LTE towers a necessity.

Nationwide LTE roaming agreements with the major carriers are a signature cornerstone, giving regional operators access to vital spectrum and to phones that allow them to compete with the Big Four carriers. For example, Ketchikan Public Utilities, in April, launched a 4G network in Ketchikan, Alaska, a major cruise ship port, as a participant in the Verizon Wireless’ LTE in Rural America program.

Started in 2010, the program currently has 21 participants, 18 of which have launched 4G LTE networks covering more than 2.2 million people and 62,000 square miles. Rural carriers lease 700 MHz Upper C block spectrum from Verizon Wireless and build and operate their own 4G LTE radio networks. Verizon also throws in access to its evolved back core in with the deal, which I will touch on more below.

Last September, 15 rural network carriers were added Sprint’s Rural Roaming Preferred Provider program, giving them low-cost access to Sprint’s nationwide 4G LTE network and access to an expanded line of the latest, smartest phones. The program now includes 27 carriers, extending coverage in 27 states, over 565,000 square miles and a population of more than 38 million people.

Hosted and Managed Services

If roaming agreements are the cornerstone, hosted and managed services are the brick and mortar for  rural operators, giving them access to network core equipment that would cost millions dollars to own. This brings 2G, 3G and high speed LTE broadband to areas with little population. Shared Evolved Packet Core is available from NewCore Wireless, NetAmerica Alliance, GlobeComm and ClearSky Technologies, among others others.

Small Cell as a Service (SCaaS), offered by ClearSky Technologies, allows regional wireless operators to cost-effectively address a number of operational coverage challenges with small cells, usually thought of as only an urban solution. The more services that can be offered over the infrastructure the better for rural operators. Hosted managed services also provide asset management and vehicle tracking, as well as WAP, SMS, MMS and voicemail. Additionally, hosted M2M services allow operators to provide enterprise-specific services in areas that have more cows, rows of corn or oil derricks than people.

Ericsson Brings LTE to Rural Alaska

A great example of hosted services bringing big city data speeds to the hinterlands, General Communication, Inc. has just signed a deal with the wireless technology and services side of Ericsson, to bring high-speed fixed and mobile connections to the oil fields of Alaska’s North Slope. GCI has begun construction and installation of a wireless data network, which will include a total of nine sites spanning more than 3,738 square miles, an area larger than the size of Delaware and Rhode Island combined. The new LTE network puts GCI on the leading edge of technology with downloads of 30 Mbps, supporting advanced oil field data requirements.

“Ericsson is proud to help GCI bring LTE to the most remote and isolated oil producing area in North America. We believe that the high-speed data network that GCI is building will greatly improve the productivity, safety and reliability of oilfield operations,” said Angel Ruiz, head of Ericsson North America, said in a press release.

According to the consensus at the Wireless Infrastructure Show, without broadband build out rural America will disappear. That makes hosted and manage services, as well as data roaming agreements lifelines to the future of our rural areas.