Today: FCC 5G Infrastructure Push

— Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) are today bringing back their STREAMLINE Small Cell Deployment Act, a measure aimed at speeding up 5G wireless buildout. The proposal drew fierce pushback during the last Congress from local governments that viewed it as federal overreach. Although the two sponsors had suggested they would take those concerns into account, the new version is no different than what they unveiled last summer. “Making 5G technology a reality has been a priority for me since I began serving on the Commerce Committee,” Thune said

Source: POLITICO Morning Tech

This has implication for all rural communities, especially those communities trying to preserve their historical charm. Experience has shown that mmWave 5G needs to have a small cell site on every block, see details HERE and HERE.

Chicago_Verizon 5G minitower
Ugly Chicago Mini-Cell Tower

Those providers that are using low band (600-800MHz) 5G will be more welcome in rural communities as fewer cell sites are needed, reducing line of site requirements. The downside is low band 5G cannot provide the mind-blowing speeds that mmWave 5G does. Will rural towns, cities, and neighborhoods get to pick their provider and the technology used to provide 5G under the STREAMLINE Small Cell Deployment Act, or do they get whoever shows up? Verizon is using a mmWave strategy, AT&T a mixed approach, while T-Mobile/Sprint is planning to use low band and existing 4G frequencies for their 5G services. More decisions will depend on the spectrum the FCC is offering for 5G services, both mobile and fixed.

This is going to be an ugly fight to keep ugly technology out of rural towns and villages. If I were responsible for 5G implementation, I would be working with designers to develop a classic mini-cell enclosure, to hide the ugly electronics and wire bundles.  Your thoughts?

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Picking Up The Broadband Tab

— Internet connectivity is back in the spotlight today as Trump meets with Democratic leaders to discuss how to pay for a possible $2 trillion infrastructure plan (which could help fund both rural broadband and AI). House Energy and Commerce, meanwhile, holds a hearing on Democrats’ legislation slating $40 billion for broadband. “The only way we’re going to get rural broadband deployment is with money,” telecom subcommittee chair Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) told John. “There just isn’t a business case to do it.” The big question: Where’s this cash coming from?

— Doyle expressed interest in auctioning C-band airwaves, which he says could generate tens of billions of dollars for broadband buildout. Former FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn (now a T-Mobile adviser) will testify that $40 billion is necessary and should go toward gigabit-speed internet.

Source: POLITICO Morning Tech

Note: The Infrastructure talks have broken up due to some name calling by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi:

Pelosi ratchets up rhetoric, says Trump may have committed ‘impeachable offense’ in ‘plain sight’

Trump walks out of the meeting after three minutes.   This is not how to get critical infrastructure plan in place.  Your thoughts?

Top Dem Launches Rural Broadband Task Force Amid Infrastructure Talks

House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) on Monday announced the creation of an all-Democrat task force on rural broadband, signaling his support for the inclusion of broadband funding in any infrastructure package.

The move comes as Democratic leaders pursue a potential $2 trillion infrastructure deal with President Trump, with both sides saying rural broadband would likely be included.

“It’s unacceptable in 2019 that many rural communities have limited to no access to the internet,” Clyburn said in a statement. “If rural America is to thrive in the 21st century information economy, it must have affordable and accessible internet service to every community.”

The group of 17 House Democrats aims to ensure federal funding for rural broadband is spent “effectively” and that legislation is passed to expand internet access to all Americans by 2025, according to a statement about the new coalition. Its members include lawmakers representing rural districts, as well as some progressive leaders like Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.).

“Majority Whip Clyburn and the President agreed on the need to include significant funding for rural broadband in the package,” the statement reads.

Continue Reading at The Hill

Trump promised to put rural broadband in his previous budgets and it did not happen. Let’s hope this time it is a real deal!

Broadband Hits The Floor

— House lawmakers will vote this week on the bipartisan ACCESS Broadband Act, H.R. 1328 (116), which would create an Office of Internet Connectivity and Growth within NTIA. It’s being considered under suspension of the rules, which is typically reserved for noncontroversial legislation. (The bill unanimously passed the House last summer as well.)

Source: POLITICO Morning Tech

Making 5G Sausage in Washington

CTIA SLAMS DEFENSE BOARD 5G STUDY

— The wireless industry trade group called a recent 5G study presented to the Defense Department a “missed opportunity to collaborate” and contended it includes flawed information about the technology, in a Thursday letter to Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan.

— The study from the Defense Innovation Board warned about the potential for Chinese dominance in 5G and recommended the Pentagon explore sharing its mid-band spectrum with wireless operators. It also suggested the U.S. was wrongly focused on high-band spectrum for 5G when the rest of the world is making lower-frequency airwaves available for next-gen networks.

— CTIA said the study would have benefited from outreach to the wireless industry. While acknowledging that midband is necessary for 5G, CTIA said the U.S. approach to supply a mix of airwaves is the right one, and that efforts to free up midband airwaves should be geared toward exclusive licenses — not sharing models.

BRING ON THE BROADBAND BILLS

— Senate Commerce Chairman Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) earned quick praise from telecom industry trade groups for his new Broadband Interagency Coordination Act, filed Thursday with Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.). The measure would compel an agreement among the FCC, NTIA and USDA to coordinate on federal broadband subsidies. A bipartisan group of senators including Klobuchar also reintroduced the Measuring the Economic Impact of Broadband Act, which would mandate a federal study on — what else — the impact of broadband on the U.S. economy.

Source: POLITICO Morning Tech

Speaking of Broadband Mapping

Senate Commerce Chairman Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) teased a forthcoming bill addressing broadband mapping accuracy during Wednesday’s hearing on the topic. “Improving the nation’s broadband maps starts with better coordination and information sharing among federal agencies responsible for administering broadband deployment programs,” Wicker said, stressing the need for coordination among the FCC, NTIA and USDA. “I hope we will soon have legislation.” Existing broadband maps put out by the FCC have been broadly criticized as inaccurate.

Source: POLITICO Morning Tech with a new headline.

The State Of Our Maps

— Senate Commerce holds a hearing this morning on the steps needed to improve the accuracy of broadband mapping data, particularly in rural communities where the lack of reliable information has become a source of frustration for lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. Panel Chairman Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) has criticized the FCC’s handling of the issue and, six months ago, contemplated the use of a congressional spending bill to force the commission to revisit the problem. “Flawed and inaccurate maps ultimately waste resources and stifle opportunities for economic development in our rural and underserved communities,” Wicker said in an opening statement shared with MT.

— Witnesses include USTelecom President Jonathan Spalter, who is leading his own mapping initiative. (Charter Communications and Microsoft both outlined their own concerns with the mapping process and suggestions for improvement in blog posts this past week.)

Source: POLITICO Morning Tech