FCC Sets AWS-3 Auction Rules

The FCC voted today on rules for the AWS-3 spectrum auction later this fall. The Report and Order sets flexible-use regulatory, licensing, and technical rules for 65 megahertz of spectrum in the AWS-3 band, which includes the 1695-1710 MHz, 1755-1780 MHz, and 2155-2180 MHz bands.

The FCC adopted rules to allocate and license the 1695-1710 MHz band for uplink/mobile operations on an unpaired shared basis with incumbent Federal meteorological-satellite (MetSat) data users.

The other 40 MHz block is more traditional. They will assign AWS-3 licenses by competitive bidding, offering 5 megahertz and 10 megahertz blocks that can be aggregated using Economic Areas (EAs).

The Order will make 40 megahertz (of the total 65 megahertz) of the AWS-3 spectrum available for commercial use. The 15 MHz chunk will be available on a shared basis with federal incumbents.

(NOTE: Thanks DW reader Tin for pointing us to the proper FCC docket).

The FCC said its AWS-3 band plan “makes spectrum available in a mix of spectrum block and geographic license area sizes to meet the needs of large and small wireless providers.”

Verizon Wireless and AT&T will likely be major bidders of AWS-3 spectrum, but the two dominate carriers did not get their wish to have two chunks of 10Mhz X 2. Instead, the auction will include three 5×5 megahertz options, and just a single 10×10 megahertz license covering the country, notes RCR Wireless.

While the FCC release did not specify the size of geographic size of those licenses, comments indicated that the 5×5 megahertz licenses would include two sized to economic area dimensions and one sized to commercial market area dimensions. There are no spectrum caps, good news for the duopoly, especially AT&T, which is short on AWS, after giving much of it to T-Mobile after their failed merger attempt.

According to Commissioner Mignon Clyburn (Democrat),

“In the 2006 AWS-1 auction, 104 bidders won 1,087 licenses. Now, four carriers hold 1,000 of those licenses.

After carefully considering all the arguments on the band plan, I was more persuaded by the view that smaller block sizes and license areas could enhance competition, and yes, I would have preferred a different band plan.”

According to Commissioner Ajit Pai (Republican),

“We’re using the right type of auction to sell off the right spectrum. On the former point, we are maintaining open eligibility and uncapped participation, consistent with the Commission’s firmly-rooted standard that sets a high bar to any bidding restrictions.”

FierceWireless reports that Steve Berry, president of the Competitive Carriers Association was not impressed.

“Unfortunately, the FCC did not go far enough. The FCC’s decision today to license only one paired 5×5 MHz block in smaller Cellular Market Areas (CMAs) is certainly disappointing for most competitive carriers.”

“The use of the larger Economic Areas (EAs) will likely curtail participation among smaller carriers, who have neither the resources nor the scale to bid on license areas of that size.”

Congress has mandated the AWS-3 spectrum be auctioned by February 2015.

The FCC also chose to require that AWS-3 spectrum be interoperable with AWS-1 spectrum, which many carriers already use for LTE services. AWS-1 runs from 1710-1755 MHz and 2110-2155 MHz, notes Fierce Wireless.

The FCC also left it up to carriers to voluntarily have AWS-3 be interoperable with AWS-4 (MSS) spectrum, which Dish Network controls. Dish argued to the FCC earlier this month for an interoperability requirement for AWS-4. That will likely mean the big carriers will shut out Dish.

Related Dailywireless articles include; AWS-3 Auction Rules: Who Benefits?, Dish Wins Everything in H-Block PCS Auction, Verizon Activates AWS Band , DOJ Sets Conditions for Verizon AWS, Verizon Getting AWS Spectrum Says WSJ, T-Mobile Okayed to Test Spectrum Sharing, Verizon’s Spectrum Deal: Tough Nut, AT&T Buys 2.3 GHz from NextWave, AT&T Wants 2.3 GHz for LTE, FCC to Okay Verizon/Cable Spectrum Buy, FCC Wants More Data on AWS Verizon Buy, T-Mobile Gets AWS Spectrum from Breakup, Verizon Buying Nationwide AWS Spectrum from Cable, 300 MHz Expected from Refarming and TV Spectrum, AT&T Wants 2.3 GHz for LTE and T-Mobile USA Upgrades to LTE

FCC Authorizes High Power at 5.15 – 5.25 GHz

The FCC has voted to make the lower 100 MHz of 5 GHz spectrum more useable, reports Fierce Wireless.

The FCC’s new 5 GHz rules increase allowable power levels to 1 watt and allow outdoor operation. The order protects incumbent satellite users by placing limits on the amount of energy that can be directed up toward satellites.

At issue is the 5150-5250 MHz portion of the Unlicensed National Information Infrastructure (UNII) band, where use was restricted to indoor operations at low power.

The FCC voted 5-0 to make 100 MHz of the 5 GHz UNII-1 band “more useful for consumers and businesses, and reduce the potential for harmful interference to certain incumbent operations.”

According to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s statement:

“We are not stopping here when it comes to unlicensed spectrum.

We are committed to making more spectrum available for unlicensed use in our incentive auction proceeding and our 3.5 GHz proceeding, and will continue to carefully study technical analyses that could further expand access to spectrum in up to 195 additional megahertz of spectrum in two other portions of the 5 GHz band.”

The IEEE backed the proposal, saying unlike today’s U-NII-1 band, the U-NII-3 band is a successful home for Wi-Fi because it enables devices to operate both indoors and outdoors using 1 Watt of transmit power.

The FCC also wants to expand use of Wi-Fi in the mid-band at 5.35-5.47 GHz and above the current 5 GHz high end, at 5.85-5.925 GHz bands.

Expanding Wi-Fi power in the lower 5 GHz band, at 5.15-5.25 GHz, will likely make Comcast and mobile phone operators happy since they can make use of 802.11ac networks, both indoors and out, even utilizing all four channels for up to 1 Gbps wireless networking.

Qualcomm also wants to use the 5 GHz unlicensed band for LTE networks.

The FCC will require companies to notify the commission if they are deploying more than 1,000 access points in the UNII-1 band.

Related Dailywireless articles include; Ad-Sponsored WiFi Initiatives from Gowex & Facebook, Comcast Creates Hotspot 2.0 National Network, FCC Moves to Add 195 MHz to Unlicensed 5 GHz band, FCC Paves Way for 3.5 ghz, WiFi & Hotspot 2.0 at MWC, NYC & Cable Provide Hotspot 2.0 Service , Free WiFi: It’s a Right!, Cities of San Jose and Santa Clara Get Free WiFi, Free Google WiFi for NYC Chelsea Neighborhood, Time Warner Cable to Double WiFi Hotspots in 2013, AT&T: 40,000 Small Cells,

Gigabit Squared: DOA?

According to the Chicago Sun Times, the state of Illinois is now trying to get $2 million in grant money back from Gigabit Squared, the company that promised 1 Gigabit fiber optic connectivity to the city of Chicago.

A $2 million grand from the state for Gigabit Squared’s pilot project was matched by the University of Chicago providing $1 million and committing to work with various organizations – community-based and philanthropic – to raise an additional $1 million for this effort, which leveraged a $5 million private commitment from Gigabit Squared’s Gigabit Neighborhood Gateway Program.

In its first phase, the project promised to bring gigabit speed fiber to over 4,825 residents, businesses, schools, and healthcare institutions and will create more than 50 new jobs.

Gigabit Squared, a Cincinnati-based company that last May touted the high-speed project in nine South Side communities, “has lied repeatedly” about its intentions and may have spent only $250,000 of the grant money for legitimate purposes, said David Roeder, spokesman for the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, which issued the grant.

Gigabit Squared’s response is much like its response to the problems it encountered in Seattle, notes DSL Reports:

“Gigabit Squared’s new leadership team has a proactive, open, and honest dialogue with the State of Illinois to move towards a positive resolution of the project. This has included access to the company, its records, leadership, and meeting every deadline provided as part of the State’s normal review process.”

“We are particularly puzzled by the comments regarding our delaying the process which is contrary to both verbal and written comments from the State indicating its appreciation for our openness and cooperation during this process,” the statement said.

Chicago was the first recipient of the Gigabit Neighborhood Gateway Program where the University of Chicago, communities like Woodlawn, state, city and county government, as well as hospitals and schools combined with the private equity to fund the Gigabit Squared project.

Chicago is trying to encourage private investment in completing a high-speed fiber ring that would link existing and emerging tech centers and provide free WiFi in parks.

Gigabit Seattle, a broadband provider piggybacking on Seattle’s government network, said it would charge $80 per month for Gigabit service. It planned to begin offering broadband fiber in pockets of the city last fall.

Seattle’s fiber-network deal with Gigabit Squared is dead. Mayor Ed Murray has stated he’s seeking other companies with a “more realistic financing mechanism” to lease the fiber and move forward with the program.

The company said they would use a combination of licensed and unlicensed spectrum between 11 and 60 Gigahertz to deliver a gigabit between the rooftops, as well as fiber to homes and businesses.

Related Dailywireless articles include; Gigabit Seattle: Late Paying Bills, Seattle’s Gigabit Fiber CityNet, Gigabit Seattle: $80/mo, Chicago Announces Free WiFi in Parks, Chicago Gets 24 Broadband Proposals, Google Fiber Launches in Kansas City, Street light Provides Wi-Fi, Cell Coverage, Hotspot 2.0, Intel: Basestation in the Cloud,

Qualcomm Sells Indian 4G Spectrum to Airtel

India’s Department of Telecoms has given Qualcomm permission to divest its remaining stake in 2.3 GHz spectrum to the local operator Bharti Airtel.

Qualcomm paid $1.045 billion in the 2010 broadband auctions to obtain 20 MHz in the 2.3 GHz band in four major service areas of New Delhi, Mumbai, Kerala and Haryana.

Qualcomm brought in two Indian partners to maintain the mandatory cap of foreign investment not exceeding 74% and later sold the entire stake in the company to Bharti Airtel, India’s top mobile phone company.

Qualcomm, in an email statement told the Economic Times “Qualcomm has publicly stated that it will work with 3G operators to develop the 3G+LTE ecosystem, commercially deploy LTE TDD in the BWA spectrum, and then exit its India LTE Venture.

With the permission from the Indian regulator, Department of Telecommunications, Bharti Airtel can now have full ownership of the holding company.

Airtel now holds Qualcomm’s 4G spectrum in the four circles of Delhi, Mumbai, Kerala and Haryana apart from the circles of Punjab, Maharashtra, Kolkata and Karnataka where Airtel had previously bought from the auctions.

Bharti Telecom, which operates in 20 countries, owns 44 per cent, of Bharti Airtel. Airtel is the world’s second largest mobile telecommunications company by subscribers, with over 275 million subscribers across 20 countries as of July 2013.

Only nine million of India’s 1 billion people have access to broadband. India’s Department of Telecoms hopes the country will have 100 million by 2014. World-wide, mobile devices with integrated wireless broadband are expected to top 2 billion by 2014, according to research firm In-Stat.

Related Dailywireless articles include; India: We Need a $100 LTE Phone, Indian 1800 MHz Spectrum Auction Done, Bharti Airtel Activates TD-LTE in India, LTE-Advanced: Upsetting the Apple Cart?, China: 1 Billion Mobile Activations, India: HSPA King by 2016, India’s Broadband Auction: It’s Done, Qualcomm Gets Indian Partners, Vendors Scramble for Indian Backhaul, TD-LTE: It’s Alive!,

Aerohive Networks Does IPO

Enterprise Wi-Fi vendor Aerohive Networks debuted on the New York Stock Exchange on Friday, pricing its shares at $10 last night.

The company raised its original target of $75 million through the initial public offering.

Aerohive hotspots are different from the pack by not offering a hardware Wi-Fi controller, which would normally manage all of the nodes in a corporate wireless network.

Instead Aerohive has moved its controller to the cloud and sells it to businesses as a managed service.

The enterprise Wi-Fi market is dominated by Cisco and Aruba Networks but a dozen other specialist players, such as Ruckus Wireless, are vying for market share.

Sea Launch: 15 Years Later

Sea Launch, the rocket launching platform installed on a modified oil drilling platform, celebrated this week the 15 year anniversary of the successful maiden launch of the DemoSat spacecraft that occurred on March 27, 1999.

It was Sea Launch’s inaugural launch. The payload for the first mission was a dummy, designed to mimic the mass properties of a 4,500 kilogram spacecraft, the largest GEO satellite at the time.

Sea Launch was established in 1995 as a consortium of four companies from Norway, Russia, Ukraine and the United States, managed by Boeing.

The idea was to launch directly under the equator, near Hawaii.

The rocket and its payload are assembled on the Sea Launch Commander ship in Long Beach, California, while the self-propelled launching platform , the Ocean Odyssey, is moved to the equatorial Pacific Ocean for launch.

In June 2009 Sea Launch filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Energia, a Russian corporation, now owns and operates Sea Launch. Boeing retains 5 percent of the company’s shares in partnership with Aker Maritime, a Norwegian shipbuilder which provides Sea Launch’s marine vessels.

The chief executive of Sea Launch now says he would be open to a Russian government takeover of the company if it yielded greater access to the market for launching Russian satellites.

Sea Launch is relocating its corporate headquarters from Berne (favorite banking center of the Russian mafia), to Nyon Switzerland.

A competing international launch consortium, International Launch Services was formed in 1995 as a private spaceflight partnership between Lockheed Martin, Khrunichev and Energia. ILS initially co-marketed non-military launches on both the U.S. Atlas and the Russian Proton rockets. In May 2008, Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center, a Russian company, acquired all of Space Transport’s interest and is now the majority shareholder in ILS. Khrunichev’s main product is the Proton rocket.

The US-Russian joint venture has its headquarters in Reston, Virginia.

SpaceX is an American company making American rockets. Their next Falcon 9 launch is scheduled for the evening of Sunday, March 30 for a space station resupply.

Elon Musk told the Senate Appropriations Subcommitte this month; …”Had SpaceX been awarded the [EELV] missions ULA received under its recent non-competed 36 core block buy, we would have saved the taxpayer $11.6 billion.”

Space X competes with a heavily subsidized Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle from Boeing and Lockheed. Taxpayers subsidized duplicate EELV programs from Boeing and Lockheed until the companies were essentially forced to merge their vastly overbudget EELV programs to form the United Launch Alliance.

The US-based United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing, was formed in December 2006 after both companies racked up tens of billions in cost overruns on competing EELV heavy lifter programs.

Lockheed agreed to drop charges that Boeing spied on Lockheed, and to end the litigation both companies agreed to join forces to form the United Launch Alliance. ULA likes to launch the secretive US Air Force X-37B space plane on an Atlas 5.

Some 151 EELV launches are now expected for a program cost of $70 billion (or about $2 billion a launch), according to a Pentagon report released last year.

Many in Congress, on both sides of the aisle, have been skeptical about private space ventures like SpaceX and the Commercial Crew Program where astronauts are delivered to the International Spacestation. These lawmakers tend to favor Boeing and Lockheed’s Space Launch System and companion crew capsule Orion, which are being developed at an annual cost of nearly $3 billion.

Unlike the Commercial Crew Program, where industry is largely responsible for vehicle designs, SLS and Orion are being built under traditional government contracts using designs dictated by NASA.

The 2014 omnibus spending bill targets the U.S. Air Force’s EELV program for the biggest reductions. The satellite launching program, a major source of congressional heartburn in recent years due to soaring costs, is now slated to receive $368 million less in 2014 than the $1.8 billion requested by Barack Obama.

Near-space platforms at 12 miles (20K meters/65K feet) are 20 times closer than a typical 400-kilometer LEO satellite at 250 miles. High altitude UAVs can stare — 24/7 — without blinking or human needs. Mercury’s sigint computers are powered by nVidia GPUs and Intel processors for TeraFLOPS processing.

Some question how vital the NRO and Aerospace.org really are if UAVs can deliver faster, cheaper and better intelligence.

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