News Feature | December 17, 2021

The Week in 5G — Beijing Winter Olympics All-In On 5G, Former Chairs Tell FCC To Hurry Up

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By Abby Proch, former editor


Something new is coming to the Winter Olympics Games in 2022 — and, no, it’s not another event. The Beijing 2022 Olympics and Paralympic Winter Games are slated to be the “most 5G-driven sports event ever held,” according to a report by Global Times. Attendees and athletes can identify themselves, confirm registration, and have their temperature taken using facial recognition. 5G also has implications for real-time weather measurements, self-driving shuttle buses, and video and virtual reality content. China Unicom is the sole telecommunications provider, and it says it will have between 3,000 and 4,000 workers available to resolve any outages or issues.

Another week closer to the Jan. 5 rollout, and the aviation and telecom industries dustup over 5G continues. In a Dec. 6 filing with the FCC, the Aerospace Industries Association rebuffed what they say are “inadequate and far too narrow” concessions proposed by AT&T and Verizon. The two telecoms proposed a series of accommodations to allay safety concerns that 5G deployment would interfere with airplane altimeter performance. The telecoms offered the provisions despite widespread reports that interference is not currently occurring with existing 5G operations around the world, and they have agreed to delay rollouts until the beginning of January. In its response, the AIA has proposed more stringent restrictions and greater oversight in helicopter operations. The telecoms have yet to respond, but other have. 

Following the AIA filing, a group of six former FCC chairs penned a letter decrying the the aviation industry efforts, specifically those by the FAA, to delay 5G rollouts, according to U.S. News and World Report. The letter urged current FCC officials to work quickly with aviation and telecom officials to resolve the issue, making special note that a public squabble could “[undermine] consumer confidence" in 5G.

Halfway around the world, the U.S., Japan, and Australia are together funding an advanced 5G network in the South Pacific — all in an effort to stave off Chinese control, according to an MSN report. The trio is reportedly concerned that Chinese influence and operation within the region could result in information theft or disruption. The three apparently agreed to partner after funding an undersea internet cable to connect Micronesia, Nauru, and Kiribati. Australia is contributing $1.6 billion to buy the Pacific division of Digicell, which is fronting the project, with the U.S. and Japan supporting through public-private partnerships.  

South Korean venture company Kreemo has partnered with MixComm to create a high-performance 5G module that pairs Kreemo’s stacked patch antenna with 360-degree coverage and MixComm's ultra-high frequency integrated circuit technology. The module will support high-speed, demanding applications like augmented reality (AR), gaming, and more. Sivers Semiconductors agreed to acquire MixComm for $135 million in October. The deal is expected to close in early 2022.

Finally, in spectrum news, Nigerian Minister of Communication and Digital Economy Professor Isa Ibrahim Pantami declared the country would have the largest 5G coverage area in Africa in 2022. Pantami made the prediction after Nigeria’s first round of a spectrum auction overshot its reserve with a total $197.4 million in bids. According to Vanguard, the auction for 10-year licenses on the 3.5 GHz band yielded three qualified bidders: two top telecommunications providers and a local telecom, Mafab Communications. Pantami said 5G is expected to improve the country’s security measures.