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'Big Bang'

Satellite/Mobile Phone Push Critical to Safety, Rosenworcel Tells GSMA

FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel highlighted the FCC’s proposal for the commissioners' March 16 open meeting to approve a mobile satellite service allocation to some terrestrial flexible-use bands (see 2302230059). Speaking Monday to the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Rosenworcel also noted the FCC’s work on the 12.7 GHz band, the topic of an October NPRM (see 2210270046).

The satellite item is about wireless connectivity and safety, Rosenworcel said, noting more than 5 billion mobile phones are in operation “at any given moment, [but] 15% of them are not connected.” No one at MWC will be surprised so many phones aren’t connected, she said: “All of us know that connecting everyone, everywhere is a hard task. There are remote areas where our networks do not reach and rural places where signals are scarce. This is true in so many places, including the United States.”

Rosenworcel cited a December incident in the Angeles National Forest, just north of Los Angeles, in which a couple was driving through the park when their car ran off the road. “This story could have happened in lots of places” and “it could have ended for this couple right there, but it did not,” she said: “They survived, with some grit, some luck, and some new technology. They had a phone that had a new feature -- the ability to connect directly to satellite.”

A message reached first responders with the exact location and within 30 minutes the couple was being airlifted to a hospital, Rosenworcel said. “What is so striking about this story is that it demonstrates how bringing satellite and terrestrial wireless capabilities together can accomplish what neither network can do on its own,” she said.

The FCC appears to be the first regulator to tackle the issue, Rosenworcel said. To deliver the technology “at scale … regulators will need to develop frameworks that support its development,” she said. “There are challenges with access to airwaves, frequencies that are not all globally aligned, possibilities for interference that must be managed, and standards work that could help grow these capabilities,” she said. “What is clear is that with the growing interest in the possibilities of convergence of satellite and terrestrial services, an ad-hoc, case-by-case approach to these new ventures is not enough,” she said.

Rosenworcel discussed the 12.7 GHz band but not the 12.2-12.7 GHz band, which has the focus of the 5G for 12 GHz Coalition (see 2301300043). By focusing on mid-band spectrum, the FCC has made “real progress in our effort to bring faster 5G to everyone, everywhere in the United States,” she said. “To keep it going, we are now exploring making 550 MHz of prime mid-band spectrum available in the 12.7-13.25 GHz band,” she said. An official with the 5G coalition cautioned against making too much of the omission.


In a keynote, GSMA Director General Mats Granryd forecast more attention on the metaverse, intelligent connectivity and Web 3.0, the next generation of the web. “We really are at a unique moment in time,” Granryd said: “There is a new excitement in the air, a conviction again that anything is possible with imagination. I believe that we are at the beginning of a new era of exploration. Those that dare can lead the way.”

Granryd said such predictions may seem “almost impossible” in an “uncertain and unfortunately very polarized world, but look around you.” Over the past 30 years, “our industry has achieved something previously unimagined” with 5.4 billion connected people globally, almost 70% of the world’s population, he said. “We have already transformed the way the world operates, and now I believe we have a chance to do it all again,” he said.

The wireless industry is living through a “big bang” era of change, said Jose Maria Alvarez-Pallete Lopez, GSMA chairman and CEO of Telefonica. “Each new ground-breaking achievement sets many others in motion, in an exponential process that feeds itself,” he said: “Such technology is impactful enough to alter the course of history and mark the beginning of a new era.” The new era will be driven by the intersection of telecom, computing, AI and Web 3.0, Alvarez-Pallete said. Providers no longer offer just a telecom network, he said. “It is a massively decentralized and distributed supercomputer, probably the most powerful one -- a supercomputer that is available to everyone,” he said.

“We need to leave behind our long-standing perception of the way networks operate, the way they are structured, the way users connect and intersect,” said Thierry Breton, EU commissioner for the Internal Market. “Today we are seeing the real world and the virtual world converging,” he said. Breton urged more work on low-latency networks capable of fast calculations. “The networks of today are simply not up to date with the massive transformation taking place now,” he said.

Mobile World Congress Notebook

GSMA unveiled an “Open Gateway” initiative designed to “provide universal access to operator networks for developers.” Launched with the support of 21 mobile operators, the initiative is "a paradigm shift in the way the telecoms industry designs and delivers services in an API [application programmable interfaces] economy world,” GSMA said. Among signatories are AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile parent DT. GSMA said several demonstrations of how the gateway works will be held at MWC, including “an immersive concert experience from Axiata, using [application programming interface] for Device Location, Carrier Billing and Authentication; a live ‘jam session’ from the 5G Future Forum with musicians around the world, supported by the Edge Site Selection API; and an immersive gaming, and high definition video showcase, from Orange, Telefonica, Vodafone and Ericsson/Vonage based on the Quality on Demand API.” The telecom network “is the last infrastructure frontier that was not available as code -- we are changing that paradigm,” Telefonica’s Alvarez-Pallete said. “By applying the concept of interconnection for operators to the API economy developers can utilize technology once, for services such as identity, cybersecurity or billing, but with the potential to be integrated with every operator worldwide,” Granryd said.

GSMA published its annual Global Mobile Economy Report Monday, which predicts 5G will overtake 4G in 2029 “to become the dominant mobile technology, with 5G adoption at over 85% in the top 5G markets by 2030.” The report projects 5 billion 5G connections by the end of the decade, 1.5 billion by year-end. Most providers expect private wireless networks to generate as much as 20% of their total enterprise revenue, “driven by improvements in 5G capabilities.” The momentum of the metaverse “continues to grow, in tandem with advancements in enabling technologies like 5G, AI and wearables,” GSMA said.

Deutsche Telekom announced its first deployment of open radio access network technology with multiple partners. “For the next phase of its open RAN journey, Deutsche Telekom will partner with Nokia, Fujitsu and Mavenir among others for initial commercial deployments across its European footprint,” the provider said. Nokia and Fujitsu were chosen for an initial commercial ORAN introduction in Germany starting this year: “Customers in the Neubrandenburg area will receive 2G, 4G and 5G services from the deployment in the ‘brownfield’ network environment of Telekom Deutschland.” Mavenir has also been chosen as a partner for the initial multivendor deployment in DT’s European footprint, DT said. “We are committed to open RAN as the technology of choice for future networks and as a catalyst to take Europe forward in the digital era, so we are making it happen with partners,” said Claudia Nemat, board member-technology and innovation.

Cisco and Japan’s NTT announced plans to collaborate “to drive Private 5G adoption” in the automotive, logistics, healthcare, retail and public sectors. “NTT and Cisco plan to co-innovate and jointly bring to market the technology and managed services that will enable enterprise customers to deploy Private 5G successfully and achieve better business outcomes,” the company said.