Google Fiber Going Wireless?

Google has applied to the FCC for permission to begin wireless spectrum tests in the San Francisco area. According to Reuters, the company’s looking into a rarely-used millimeter wave frequency that is capable of transmitting large amounts of data, but only if the receiving equipment is in the line-of-sight.

Google reportedly may offer a fast wireless service in markets where it offers Google Fiber Internet and TV service. By beaming Internet services directly into homes, Google would open a new path now dominated by Comcast, Verizon and AT&T.

The Google wireless test, beginning Nov. 13, will apparently include three sites in the San Francisco Bay Area, including one in San Mateo county and two locations a half-mile apart which appear to be on Google’s Mountain View, California campus. It will use the 5.8 GHz frequency, the 24.2 GHz frequency and the millimeter wave bands of 71-76 GHz and 81-86 GHz, according to the application.

The FCC’s meeting on Friday discussed the use of wireless spectrum above 24 GHz for mobile services, including ways the agency can facilitate the development and deployment of technology. Their Notice on Inquiry looks at utilizing frequencies above 24 GHz for mobile use and “5G” applications. The FCC also adopted a Report and Order to facilite and clarify the use of public infrastructure for wireless transmitters.

Google bought Alpental Technologies in June, a stealthy Seattle startup led by ex-Clearwire researchers. Apparently Alpental will utilize 60 GHz 802.11ad and mesh networking.

The FCC loosened some rules governing the 60GHz band last year, saying that it could be used to provide wireless connections of up to a mile at speeds up to seven gigabits per second.

A wireless broadband network is cheaper than fiber. Rather than digging up roads and laying cables to each individual home, transmitters on nearby buildings could enable Google to bring Gigabit internet to more places in less time. Craig Barratt, the former Atheros Communications CEO, is now head of the Google Access and Energy division. He signed off as the authorized person submitting Google’s FCC application.

Sprint WiMax: RIP Nov 2015

Sprint confirmed to Fierce Wireless that it will shut off service on its mobile WIMAX network on or around Nov. 6, 2015. The date was first unearthed in an internal company email posted by Android Central.

In April, Sprint said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that it would “cease using WiMAX technology by the end of 2015.”

It will also mean that Sprint will be decommissioning at least 6,000 of their 55,000 towers in the process. Sprint is going to take their new combined assets with Clearwire and continue building out their new LTE-Advanced “Spark” network.

According to Open Signal, T-Mobile is the fastest network in the US, with average speeds of 11.5 Mbps. Sprint performs worst of all US networks, according to Open Signal, posting LTE speeds that are scarcely faster than existing HSPA+, with their average speed of 4.3Mbps ranking as one of the slowest networks worldwide.

Sprint Spark combines Sprint’s 800 MHz, 1900 MHz and 2.5 GHz spectrum to offer devices faster speeds while minimizing tower infrastructure. Sprint is deploying 8T8R antennas, using 8 transmit and 8 receive antennas, that are expected to boost range and speed some 1.5 times in the 2.6 GHz band. Sprint hopes to make coverage similar to its LTE network on their 1.9 GHz PCS band, which is currently limited to 5×5 MHz bandwidth.

Sprint is rolling out 8T8R in its latest 2.5GHz installations. Sprint, however, has said that it no longer expects to put the 2.5 GHz band on every tower, instead focusing on urban centers.

Sprint Spark is expected to cover 100 million POPs by year-end. Sprint Spark coverage is a long way from the 250 million of AT&T and Verizon. Sprint says its LTE is available in 488 cities covering approximately 254 million people (pops), but only in their narrow (5×5 MHz) PCS spectrum slice and their newly repurposed 800 MHz band. Lots of Sprint’s LTE bandwidth is also spoken for by wholesale providers.

Even T-Mobile now covers 230 million POPs with its LTE network. The carrier plans to cover 250 million POPs with LTE by the end of 2014. T-Mobile’s CTO Neville Ray noted in June that T-Mobile is now offering “Wideband LTE,” with 15×15 MHz service, in 16 U.S. markets.

AT&T Mobility says the company’s LTE network now covers nearly 290 million POPs in more than 500 markets across the country. AT&T bought Leap Wireless (Cricket) for $1.2 billion, largely for their AWS spectrum. Leap’s PCS and AWS spectrum covers approximately 137 million potential customers

Verizon Wireless’ 700 MHz LTE network covers around 306 million POPs. The carrier has also been busy deploying its LTE service on its AWS spectrum to bolster its network capacity. Verizon bought 122 AWS licenses from cable giants for $3.6 billion.

Sprint rolled out WiMAX, called “Xohm” in August 2007 in Baltimore and in Portland in January, 2009. But WiMax coverage was limited by the high frequency and the delay bringing it to market didn’t help. Only one year later, 700 MHz LTE was launched by Verizon and AT&T, with vastly better coverage. Phones and tablets soon adopted the telco-developed LTE standard and WiMax, using a single channel Time Division data transmission became an also ran.

China Mobile, India, Sprint and others are now utilizing TD-LTE, with the latest revisions allowing larger carrier aggregation, MIMO, and direct, device-to-device communications.

Related Dailywireless articles include; Clearwire’s Launch Party in Portland, Clearwire Portland Launch: Jan 6th, Clearwire in Portland, Clearwire: Let’s be “Clear”, Green Light for New Clearwire, iPCS Withdraws Injuction Against Sprint WiMAX, Clearwire: Show Us the Money, Xohm Marks the Spot, Chicago Xohmed Next?, WiMAX Doomed? Not., Mobile WiMAX: Fast, Cheap and Out of Control?, Mobile WiMAX Cooking- But Still in the Kitchen, WiMAX Roundup, Australia Unwired, Australian Blowup, BT’s European WiMAX Plan, Backhaul Delays Xohm Rollout, Hesse on WiMAX, Sprint’s WiMAX Rollout?, Sprint-Clearwire Deal Dead, Sprint Considering WiMAX Spinoff?, Sprint Forces Forsee Out, WiMAX Demoed on Chicago River, The Launch, ICO Wants Its Mobile TV – via DVB-SH, Google Apps for Clearwire, Sprint WiMAX: It’s Called “Xohm”, Xohm “Partners”?, Death to WiMAX?, Verizon: It’s LTE, and Sprint: It’s WiMAX!

FCC Prepares for AWS-3 and 600 MHz Spectrum Auctions

The FCC claims there are no limitations on bidding eligibility for the upcoming AWS-3 auction, scheduled to start on Nov. 13th. The AWS auction will be the most significant airwaves auction since the 700 MHz auction in 2008. Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile, as well as Dish Network are on the list of bidders released by the FCC. A total of 80 entities submitted initial applications.

There is currently 50 megahertz of spectrum set to be auctioned off for commercial services in those proceedings, which have garnered interest from most commercial operators. The spectrum license will include three 5×5 megahertz options, leaving just a single 10×10 megahertz license covering the country.

The FCC adopted rules to allocate another 15 MHz and license the 1695-1710 MHz band for uplink/mobile operations on an unpaired shared basis with incumbent Federal meteorological-satellite (MetSat) data users.

RCR Wireless News spoke with CCA President and CEO Steve Berry at the Competitive Carrier event in Las Vegas to get his view on how the FCC was handling the auction proceedings.

In July, the FCC and the NTIA issued a 43-page public notice outlining coordination procedures for the AWS-3 bands.

Meanwhile, FCC continues to make progress on crafting rules for the planned 600 MHz incentive auction (pdf), this week rolling out an information package (pdf) targeted at television broadcasters, RCR Wireless News.

The auction is scheduled for mid-year 2015, but several parties, including the National Association of Broadcasters, have challenged the auction in court, which could potentially push back that timetable.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has said the greatest challenge for the planned 600 MHz incentive auction process will be in convincing broadcasters to participate in the “reverse” auction process, noting at a recent speech that the opportunity was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to garner financial compensation for underutilized airwaves.

NAB’s members say they will lose coverage area during the auction’s repacking and reassignment process, or be forced to participate in the auction (and relinquish broadcast spectrum rights),” the NAB lawsuit stated.

Broadcasting & Cable calculated $38 billion would wind up in TV broadcasters pockets after the FCC funded the FirstNet emergency responder network and paid the auction costs as well as the TV stations moving expenses as they relocated to new frequencies.

The auction is estimated to generate as much as $45 billion. Some $19.5 billion was raised in the 2008 auction of 700 MHz spectrum. But the 2008 auction was for nearly half the spectrum and before the smartphone’s huge impact on bandwidth.

Wheeler took to the stage at the recent Competitive Carriers Association and CTIA trade shows to encourage mobile operators to participate in the 600 MHz proceedings, which are currently scheduled to begin in mid-2015.

If everything does goes according to the FCC’s plans, about 100 MHz of airwaves would be freed up for commercial mobile broadband services like LTE. The remaining 26 MHz would become guard bands between broadcasters and uplink and downlink transmissions, but that spectrum would also be made available for white space broadband uses.

FCC: Better Rural Broadband & 5G Spectrum

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler wants to see to the program that provides subsidies for Internet service in public schools and libraries known as E-Rate address broadband access by schools and libraries in rural areas, reports Roll Call.

In prepared remarks for an education technology event in Washington on Monday, Wheeler said that “75 percent of rural public schools today are unable to achieve the high-speed connectivity goals we have set.” He pointed to lack of access to fiber networks and the cost of paying for it when it’s available.

Wheeler says the FCC has set a clear target of $1 billion per year for Wi-Fi based internal networks for schools and libraries. “As a result, we will begin to see results in the next funding year, with expanded support for Wi-Fi to tens of millions of students and thousands of libraries”.

Wheeler’s speech comes after the FCC made changes to the E-Rate program this summer. Wheeler’s earlier plan to shake up the program was only partly successful — his FCC colleagues agreed to make more money available for Wi-Fi, as Wheeler proposed in June, but only if the money isn’t needed for basic Internet connections.

In other news, in announcing its agenda for its Oct. 17 open meeting, the FCC said it will vote on a Notice of Inquiry to “explore innovative developments in the use of spectrum above 24 GHz for mobile wireless services, and how the Commission can facilitate the development and deployment of those technologies.”

In a blog post, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler wrote that the inquiry is aimed at broadening the FCC’s “understanding of the state of the art in technological developments that will enable the use of millimeter wave spectrum above 24 GHz for mobile wireless services.”

“Historically, mobile wireless services have been targeted at bands below 3 GHz due to technological and practical limitations. However, there have been significant developments in antenna and processing technologies that may allow the use of higher frequencies – in this case those above 24 GHz – for mobile applications”, wrote the Chairman.

5G or 5th generation wireless systems is expected to be the next major phase of mobile telecommunications standards and use frequencies above 5-6 GHz (where more spectrum is available. 5G does not describe any particular specification in any official document published by any telecommunication standardization body, and is expected to deliver over 10 Gbps, compared to 1 Gbps in 4G. It is expected to be first utilized for backhaul to cell sites.

Currently, Ubiquiti’s AirFiber has set the standard in 24 GHz at $3K for 700 Mbps while SAF, Trango, and others have announced similar products at $5000 or less.

Regarding “net neutrality”, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler says financial arrangements between broadband providers and content sites might be OK so long as the agreement is “commercially reasonable” and companies disclose publicly how they prioritize Internet traffic.

Not everyone agrees. Netflix and much of the public accuses the FCC of handing the Internet over to the highest bidders. There is no deadline for the FCC to pass a new rule, and deliberations at the agency could continue into next year.

Proponents of government-owned broadband networks claim they introduce competition into the market, while critics say they are an inappropriate use of tax dollars and an example of government improperly competing with the private sector.

The 3G4G Blog, compiled by Zahid Ghadialy, is perhaps the most comprehensive site covering 5G technology news.

Australia’s Telstra Fires Up National WiFi Network

Australia’s largest telecommunications company, Telstra, will install two million public hotspots that will be available for free to Telstra subscribers as part of a plan to blanket public spaces with internet access.

Trials of the $100m project will begin by November, reports The Guardian, and will allow Telstra customers who agree to share their bandwidth to get free access to any hotspot. The data they use will be deducted from their home allowance.

Non-Telstra customers, and those who don’t share their home connection, will be able to connect for an as yet undisclosed fee.

Many of the hotspots will be repurposed public phones which are mostly located in busy areas.

The trial will include busy spots such as Bondi Beach in Sydney, Bourke Street Mall in Melbourne and Rundle Mall in Adelaide. Popular holiday spots and parts of Perth, Brisbane, Hobart, Canberra and Darwin will also be included.

Some 1,000 hotspots should be operational by Christmas at sites that will include Telstra shops and exchange buildings.

Australia’s National Broadband Network (NBN) is a nation-wide, wholesale-only, open-access fiber data network delivering fixed line and wireless broadband connections that are sold to retail service providers, who then sell Internet access and other services to consumers.

The 2.3 GHz and 3.4 GHz radio spectrum will be used to provide LTE fixed wireless covering approximately 4 per cent of the population outside the fibre footprint. NBN Co has also contracted with Space Systems/Loral to build and launch two Ka band satellites in 2015 at a total cost of A$2 billion, for more rural areas.

The cost, estimated at A$37.4 billion, will be financed by a combination of a Federal Government investment of A$30.4 billion and private investment for the remainder. NBN Co intends to begin paying dividends back to the Federal Government in 2021, and to have fully repaid the Government’s contribution by 2034.

The concept is similar to those planned by Comcast and AT&T in North America. AT&T has built a network of free hotspots for customers at thousands of places—including train stations, as well as Starbucks and McDonald’s locations across the country. Comcast’s Xfinity wireless network turns customer’s cable modems into public Wi-Fi hotspots accessible with an Xfinity account login.

In June, Comcast said its Xfinity WiFi footprint had expanded to about 3 million hotspots nationwide, getting it closer toward a goal of expanding that footprint to 8 million hotspots by the end of 2014.

Hotspot 2.0 is a new set of protocols to enable cellular-like roaming. A variety of partnerships are developing nationwide and world-wide, including:

Infrastructure providers are also enabling small businesses and organizations to “roll their own” Hotspot 2.0 network:

Multi-User MIMO promises to handle large crowds better then Wave 1 802.11ac products since the different users can use different streams at the same time. Public Hotspots serving large crowds will benefit with MU-MIMO but enterprise and carrier-grade gear could be a year away, say industry observers.

The FCC has increased Wi-Fi power in the lower 5 GHz band at 5.15-5.25 GHz, making 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.

The FCC’s 5 GHz U-NII Report & Order allowed higher power in the 5.150 – 5.250 GHz band.

These FCC U-NII technical modifications are separate from another proposal currently under study by the FCC and NTIA that would add another 195 MHz of spectrum under U-NII rules in two new bands, U-NII 2B (5.350 – 5.470 GHz) and U-NII 4 (5.850 – 5.925 GHz).

Commercial entities, including cable operators, cellular operators, and independent companies seem destined to blanket every dense urban area in the country with high-power 5 GHz service – “free” if you’re already a subscriber on their subscription network

Related Dailywireless articles include; Comcast Buys Cloud Control WiFi Company, Gowex Declares Bankruptcy, Ruckus Announces Cloud-Based WiFi Services, Cloud4Wi: Cloud-Managed, Geo-enabled Hotspots, Ad-Sponsored WiFi Initiatives from Gowex & Facebook, FCC increases Wi-Fi power in the lower 5 GHz band at 5.15-5.25 GHz, Comcast Creates Hotspot 2.0 National Network,Cloud4Wi Annouces Cloud-Controlled WiFi , PowerCloud: Cloud-based WiFi: $100 a Pop , WiFi & Hotspot 2.0 at MWC, Hotspot 2.0 Moves Out, NYC & Cable Provide Hotspot 2.0 Service, Cities of San Jose and Santa Clara Get Free WiFi, Free Google WiFi for NYC Chelsea Neighborhood,Cloud-based WiFi: $100 a Pop , Meraki Cloud Managed Security

Verizon Adds 22 XLTE Markets

Verizon Wireless announced that it has launched XLTE in 22 new markets, bringing LTE to the AWS band (1700/2100 MHz), in addition to its 700 MHz LTE service. Verizon says that 4 out of 5 LTE markets, large and small, now have Verizon Wireless XLTE service.

According to Open Signal, T-Mobile is the fastest network in the US, with average speeds of 11.5 Mbps. Sprint performs worst of all US networks, according to Open Signal, posting LTE speeds that are scarcely faster than existing HSPA+, with their average speed of 4.3Mbps ranking as one of the slowest networks worldwide.

Open Signal collects data from users of their Android and iPhone application. This data is then stripped of any identifying information, uploaded to their servers, and made openly available.

T-Mobile has been pursuing spectrum license swaps and acquisitions (from AT&T and MetroPCS) to reach the goal of supporting the 20+20 MHz (40MHz) LTE bandwidth.

Sprint is rolling out 8T8R in its latest 2.5GHz installations (8 transmitters, 8 receivers). That results in better range and speed. Unfortunately, Sprint’s subscribers may not see much improvement since current WiMax subscribers utilize 30 MHz (10 MHz times 3 sectors).

Sprint has said they will utilize the same spectrum footprint with LTE, allocating it differently. With Sprint Spark, apparently, the same 2.5 GHz bandwidth will now be shared among both WiMax subscribers (10 MHZ across 3 sectors) and TD-LTE subscribers (20 Mhz across 3 sectors). The net result of this approach is still unclear. It may be that 2.5 GHz will not be the salvation Sprint had hoped.

Sprint doesn’t need 120 MHz of 2.5 GHz – but other carriers – especially AT&T – might find it useful for small cells. Sprint’s John Saw says the company wants to use Sprint Spark and TDD-LTE for small cell solutions to add capacity in densely populated areas.

Verizon is opened up to the possibility of selling its wireless towers, according to FierceWireless, because of AT&T’s agreement last year to sell and lease 9,700 of its cell towers to Crown Castle in a $4.85 billion deal. Verizon has between 12,000 to 15,000 towers and may be looking to sell about 12,500 sites.

Crown Castle acquired the rights to operate 7,200 T-Mobile towers for $2.4 billion in 2012. Tower operators like Crown Castle, American Tower and SBA Communications provide lease space to a variety of carriers.

Any Dish/Sprint or Dish/T-Mobile deal is reportedly unlikely — until after the 600 MHz auction. As a consumer, I’m partial to a move by Google or Facebook into telecommunications. Dish might be a good partner for Google – particularly if it could acquire 40 MHz of 2.5 GHz for small cells. Maybe Starbucks will be the next “carrier”.

4G Americas reports that in North America, LTE technology represented 33 percent or 127 million LTE connections of the total 391 million mobile connections in North America. It’s the largest market share for LTE (45%), compared to any country or region in the world.