News Feature | July 16, 2019

The Week in 5G: 7/16/2019 — Israel Uses Tender and Novel Spectrum Auction Approach to Encourage 5G Rollout, FCC Takes Aim at Mid-Band and LFA Fees

By Ed Biller


Count the United States Air Force among commercial 5G’s early adopters. The USAF has enlisted 5G wireless network providers to install commercial network infrastructure on 10 bases to start, with plans to add more later. That wireless connectivity “will be used to support secure mission applications,” reports Air Force Magazine.

The magazine reports that Verizon trumped AT&T to serve the first group of bases, and that the Senate Armed Services Committee has recommended funding to start the initiative at two bases in the 2020 defense policy bill.

Earlier this month, AT&T and Samsung unveiled their "Innovation Zone" in Austin, Texas earlier this month (as reported in the last edition of The Week in 5G), and AT&T took another step toward cornering the 5G manufacturing market by joining MxD, a nonprofit that seeks foster innovation in U.S. manufacturing.

Per the company’s announcement, “AT&T will install 5G millimeter wave (mmWave) technology to cover parts of MxD’s 22,000 square foot factory floor. AT&T also expects to bring industry related technologies, applications, and new collaborations to the research space to test manufacturing-related 5G use cases such as Industrial IoT, predictive maintenance, remote machine monitoring, autonomous robots, mixed reality training and spatial computing.”

Also in the U.S., T-Mobile, Qualcomm, and Ericsson claim to have achieved the “first-ever low-band 5G data session on a commercial 5G modem,” reports ZDNet. The partners conducted their data session at 600 MHz, on which T-Mobile plans to launch its nationwide network.

In the United Kingdom, members of the UK’s Parliament who sit on the Science and Technology Committee have found no technological grounds to justify banning Huawei from UK’s 5G telecommunications infrastructure, reported Forbes last week.

Reaching a similar conclusion as previous inquisitions into the Chinese telecom, the committee, stated that banning Huawei would severely handicap the UK’s 5G rollout. Further, Vodafone, EE, Three and O2 already have inked contracts to work with Huawei on their 5G networks.

Further, last week Monaco became the first EU nation to launch a 5G mobile phone network based on Huawei technology.

Meanwhile U.S. regulators voted last week to auction a portion of the 2.5 Ghz spectrum for 5G wireless network use, scrapping requirements that it be used for education. That have been in place since the 1960s. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission had reserved the mid-band spectrum for the Educational Broadband Service.

As reported by VentureBeat, the U.S. Department of Education “asked the FCC to maintain an ‘educational use requirement’ for that spectrum and suggested setting aside revenue from license sales to help students who lack the internet access required to do their homework.” However, the FCC’s 3-2 majority imposed no such restriction in its decision to dump what Chairman Ajit Pai called “burdensome restrictions.”

Next on the FCC’s deregulatory agenda is a proposed order to be voted on at the commission’s August meeting which would remove franchise fees paid to local government entities known as a local franchising authorities (LFAs). Currently, operators seeking to build cable systems in the local rights-of-way said fees, but the FDA wants to clear those restrictions to increase investment and speed cable broadband rollout, reports AEIdeas.  

Israel this week launched a tender for 5G cellular frequencies; frequencies between 700 MHz and 2100 MHz are slated for auction, as well as the 2600-3800 MHz. The latter frequency range is earmarked exclusively for 5G applications.

As part of the tender, Israel’s Communications Ministry is offering incentives of up to 500 million shekels ($141 million), and granting operators deferred license payment until 2022. The Israeli government has stipulated that grants will go only to operators who deploy at least 250 5G antennas, reports Reuters.

Additionally, reports that the Israeli government will use the Vickery method to auction off 5G frequencies.

“A Vickery auction is a blind auction where the highest bidder wins the prize, but the second-highest value is actually paid,” explains writer Jamie Davies. “Although this approach is uncommon, for some it is believed to be fairer as it attempts to attract bids closer to the value of the asset but does not punish competition for inflated prices.”

Elsewhere, while 5G technologies are making significant strides, resistance to overheating is not among them, reports ArsTechnica. In fact, the culprit – Qualcomm’s 5G X50 chip – is a step backward from the company’s 4G chips, writes Ron Amadeo.

“A modern 4G LTE smartphone packs everything into a single main chip, which houses all of the usual computer components along with the LTE modem,” he writes. “Today's 5G design requires that same chip, along with a separate chip for the 5G mmWave modem and several more chips for the mmWave antenna modules. The result is that 5G takes up a lot more space and generates a lot more heat than 4G, and when this heat gets to be too much, all that 5G circuitry just shuts off.”

In brighter technology news, Vodafone has launched a 5G wireless router to turn its new 5G network into Wi-Fi. Dubbed the Gigacube, the router is portable and usable anywhere Vodafone offers 5G coverage. Gizmodo reports that the Gigacube has a 90-meter range and is capable of 1 Gbps speeds.