AWS-3 Auction: Now $43.8 Billion

The FCC’s AWS-3 spectrum auction has now racked up provisional winning bids now topping $43.8 billion. There are also signs that the auction will end shortly, reports Fierce Wireless. The auction for 65 MHz of spectrum, some of which would be shared by incumbant users, started Nov. 13.

At the close of round 94 today, the total provisional winning bid amount came in at $43.814 billion. The auction will continue until there are no new bids or waivers in a given round.

The auction has already quadrupled its reserve price and tripled some pre-auction estimates. According to analysts at Jefferies, after 91 rounds, the paired spectrum in the AWS-3 auction was at $2.65 per MHz-POP and unpaired spectrum at 50 cents per MHz-POP.

Proceeds will pay for FirstNet, the interoperable first responder network as well as for deficit reduction.

The success of the AWS auction bodes well for Treasury, and the big broadcast TV auction next year (FCC NPRM). That auction will put some 120 MHz of UHF TV channels (near Channels 30-50) on the auction block. The FCC more recently indicated it was planning on selling only 84 MHz. TV group owners (who never really “owned” the spectrum in the first place), will get a piece of the action for selling their slot and moving their channel to UHF Channel 29 or below.

The FCC proposed this month that the TV auction would meet an average price per MHz-POP benchmark of $1.25 for “Category 1 licenses” in the 40 largest license areas by population, with about 84 MHz of spectrum being cleared in the auction.

The FCC earlier assumed 100 MHZ of spectrum would sell at about $1.50 per megahertz POP with a forward auction revenue of $45 billion. That figure now looks overly conservative. The TV auction could have nearly twice the amount of paired spectrum as the current AWS auction (100 MHz vs 50 MHz) and generate twice the Mhz/Pop.

The MHz/pop figure is derived by multiplying the number of megahertz associated with a license by the population of the license’s coverage area. For nation-wide coverage you’d multiply times 300 million Americans.

Will next year’s TV auction generate in excess of $100 billion? Perhaps. But somebody’s going to have to pay for it.

Qualcomm Buys Silicon Radio, Huawei Buys Neul

Qualcomm is buying British Bluetooth chipset specialist CSR for $US 2.49 billion. Qualcomm said the deal will give it access to CSR’s products, channels and customers in the connect car and Internet of Things markets.

CSR, which is short for Cambridge Silicon Radio, is a pioneer in Bluetooth and its silicon is in portable audio speakers and Apple-owned Beats headphones. CSR rejected a takeover bid from Microchip Technology in August. CSR’s deal with Qualcomm is expected to close by the end of the summer of 2015.

Classic Bluetooth and Bluetooth Low Energy chips are quickly getting commoditized, but CSR is a pioneer of the short-range wireless technology and is now pushing CSRmesh, a ZigBee-like mesh technology built on Bluetooth. CSR sees CSRmesh as a linchpin for its foray into the IoT market, reports EE Times.

In July Qualcomm bought WiGig chipmaker Wilocity, a move designed to enable Qualcomm to easily integrate the 60 GHz Wi-Fi technology into its mobile platforms to enable wireless streaming of 4K video for mobile and settop devices. Qualcomm also developed AllJoyn, an open-source platform that allows devices to share information with other nearby devices.

White space technology in the UK was among the first of its kind in Europe. Their pilot projects utilize unused terrestrial TV broadcasting channels (from 470 MHz to 790 MHz).

The Weightless specification, an open wireless standard, was originally developed for television White Spaces (unused channels in the television band). The Weightless-W spec works in TV White Spaces, but TV channels are not available everywhere and sometimes the full feature set is unnecessary.

For this reason the Weightless SIG is developing a variant called Weightless-N. The two variants of the Standard, Weightless-W (for White Spaces) and Weightless-N (for the unlicensed ISM band) will coexist offering benefits to developers and users according to their specific use cases. Weightless-N will typically be deployed in unlicensed spectrum in the region 800-900MHz such as the 868MHz band in Europe and the 900MHz ISM band in the US. It is also designed to work in licensed spectrum around these frequencies.

The Weightless connectivity platform was developed by Neul (the Gaelic world for ‘cloud’). It was first targeted at the TV white spaces (TVWS) spectrum, but extending the spec to 900MHz and other bands (including licensed) requires some modificiations. The unlicensed bands are narrower than those found in TVWS, and that required some changes to the air interface which are found in Weightless-N. Neul itself has released the first commercial chipset to support the would-be standard, called Iceni.

The Narrowband IoT is designed to work at sub-gigahertz frequencies as part of future 3GPP cellular standards for connecting low data rate devices that have exceptionally long battery life. There is great spectrum efficiency using just 200kHz. It will work at the 450, 850 and 900MHz frequencies used by GSM and at the lower frequencies that some LTE uses.

The CEO of the Weightless special interest group, Professor William Webb, offered up some comment on the launch of Weightless-N, saying “Enabling the vision of 50 billion connected devices requires chipset costs below $2, battery life of 10 years or more and a range of 5km or more to ensure ubiquitous coverage from a low cost network.

Chinese giant Huawei bought Neul for $125m last month. Huawei will reportedly build a “center of excellence” around Neul in the UK.

Weightless will likely compete with IEEE white space standards such as 802.11af and IEEE 802.22 for wireless white space networks.

The 802.11af standard, based on Wi-Fi like protocols, is designed for ranges up to 5 km, while the 802.22 standard is based on WiMax chipsets and incorporates polling, for wireless regional area networks with ranges up to 100 km.

Beyond LTE: Rysavy Explains Broadband Explosion

A new white paper, Beyond LTE: Enabling the Mobile Broadband Explosion, and its accompanying slide presentation (pdf), was created in collaboration with Rysavy Research and member companies at 4g Americas.

It’s a handy summary of mobile broadband networks, past, present and future. Mobile broadband is becoming one of the most successful and fastest-growing industries of all time.

According to Rysavy, computing itself is transitioning from a PC era to a mobile era. Many users will never interact with a PC.

The wireless industry is addressing exploding data demand through a combination of technologies.

Newer releases of LTE will feature more efficient technology, denser deployments, small cells, HetNets, self-configuration, self-optimization, use of unlicensed spectrum with Wi-Fi, and the LTE operation in unlicensed bands.

Initial LTE deployments have been faster than any wireless technology previously deployed.

LTE Release 12, with completion expected by the end of 2014, will feature improved small cells/HetNets, LTE multi-antenna/site technologies (including Active Antenna Systems), Dual Connectivity, enhancements for interworking with Wi-Fi, support for emergency and public safety, device-to-device communication (also referred to as proximity services), addition of Web Real Time Communication (WebRTC) and more flexible carrier aggregation.

Mobile broadband has become the leading edge in innovation and development for computing, networking, and application development.

The explosive success of mobile broadband mandates ongoing capacity increases. The industry has responded by using more efficient technologies, deploying more cell sites, off-loading onto Wi-Fi, and working with government on spectrum-sharing.

In the U.S., a number of initiatives could improve industry prospects—AWS-3, television incentive auctions for 600 MHz spectrum, the 3.5 GHz small-cell band, more unlicensed spectrum at 5GHz.

Rysavy concludes that obtaining more spectrum remains a critical priority and that LTE/LTE-Advanced will be the most widely chosen technology platform for the remainder of this decade.

OnBeep: StarTrek Communicator?

OnBeep, a San Francisco startup, has raised a series A funding round worth $6.25 million. The money will be used to fund the creation of a new hardware device to make it easy for groups of people to communicate with one another, without having to fiddle with a smartphone.

OnBeep’s product is said to be similar to a “Star Trek” communicator, according to GeekWire. Users can wear it or clip it on, and be able to immediately get a hold of people they want to reach.

The company will combine wearables, bluetooth and smartphones to offer push-to-talk (PTT) capabilities, according to GigaOm.

OnBeep is built to help groups communicate with one another in real time, like families at an amusement park, or a team of people working on an event.

In order to communicate with the outside world, the OnBeep will pair with a user’s smartphone. The company isn’t ready to release exact details on what the device looks like or how much it will cost, but insists it will be available later this year.

OnBeep was co-founded by Jesse Robbins, Greg Albrecht, who previously served as a Senior Software Engineer at Splunk, and Roger Wood, who led product design and marketing for Nextel.

Push-to-Talk Apps can turn your Smartphone into a Walkie-Talkie, notes ReadWrite. Cellular carriers also offer PTT functionality, although these software solutions are generally not as fast as the now obsolete and mostly unavailable Nextel Network which used the iDEN infrastructure (Integrated Digital Enhanced Network) for Push-To-Talk.

Vocera Communications Badge is a lightweight, voice-controlled, wearable device that enables instant two-way or one to many conversations using intuitive and simple commands.

It uses WiFi to communicate, but requires everyone be on a compatible WiFi network. It’s often used in medical facilities.

Using unlicensed 900 MHz or 2.4 GHz frequencies results in very limited range, unless multiple WiFi routers are linked. But 150 Mhz may be used for device to device communications.

GoTenna has developed a 6-inch-long antenna that connects to iPhones and Android phones via Bluetooth low energy. The antenna then transmits the data to other GoTennas as far as 9 miles away through proprietary protocols, at 151-154 MHz.

You can send text messages up to 160 characters as well as share your location on offline maps. The gadget is available for preorder at $150 for two devices, since it takes two devices to form a peer-to-peer network.

GoTenna uses the Multi-Use Radio Service (MURS), an unlicensed personal radio service in the 150 MHz band. The goTenna is dependent on FCC approval and is currently undergoing FCC testing. If it doesn’t pass, money would be refunded, says the company. According to GoTenna, you can send & receive messages for free for several miles, without using a cell antenna.

The 150 MHz VHF band, used by the Multi-Use Radio Service (MURS), propagates well outdoors. The 450 MHz UHF band is used by the Family Radio Service (FRS) has a maximum output of 500 mW while the General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS uses the lower 7 channels of FRS, in the 462 MHz range, with a maximum of 5 watts ERP. It requires a valid GMRS license, but propagates better in buildings and urban areas.

Standalone SIM-enabled smartwatches, that don’t need pairing with a cellphone to make a call, are likely to be coming from Samsung and others this year. Currently, Bluetooth pairing with a smartphone enables cellular connectivity while pairing with something like a GoAntenna may enable direct device to device connectivity (in the 150 or 450 MHz band).

Unlicensed white spaces, between 500-700 MHz, might be another option for device to device communications. Unlicensed LTE Advanced using the 5 GHz band, may also offer direct connections without going through a cell tower. Device-to-device connections is getting baked into the latest LTE-Advanced standard, and is especially useful for first responders.

Release 12, with Device to Device communications is slated for finalization this December.

See: GoAntenna: 10 Mile Cell Communications – Without Towers and Vocera + Wayport

Commercial Drone Integration by 2015 Unlikely

The FAA will likely miss their 2015 deadline to let companies fly drones, reports The Verge.

Last week the Department of Transportation found that the FAA is “significantly behind schedule” and that there are still “significant technological, regulatory, and management barriers” preventing the FAA from integrating drones into the national airspace.

Those barriers include: failing to create standards that would allow drones to detect and avoid other aircraft, as well as ensure reliable connections with their controllers; not yet determining regulatory requirements — such as certifications and air traffic procedures — for managing drones; and not ensuring that all issues with drones are reported and tracked.

The FAA says that it’s on track to issue a rule proposal for allowing flights of small drones this year.

Last summer, the FAA issued restricted category type certificates for commercial use in Alaska of the Insitu ScanEagle, a fixed-wing UAV, developed on the Columbia River Gorge and the Puma. On June 10th, 2014, the FAA approved the first commercial UAV use over land of the AeroVironment Puma.

Congress has instructed the FAA to integrate commercial drones into public airspace, where they will fly in coordination with conventional aircraft.

The FAA selected the University of Alaska’s proposal which contained Hawaii and Oregon UAV test range locations. In total, 58 companies and 13 test ranges are part of the Pan-Pacific UAS Test Range.

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Rising Tide Innovations, a UAS software developer, says Oregon’s test ranges will spawn jobs at tech centers and manufacturing operations.

Oregon Unmanned Systems Business Enterprise, a nonprofit now called SOAR, is designed to establish Oregon as a leader in the civilian uses of unmanned aircraft. The organization is launching with a two-year $882,000 state grant from the Oregon Business Development Department and the Oregon Innovation Council.

Initial grant recipients are:

  • Paradigm ISR of Bend for development of a system to collect and analyze pest management data for agricultural crops, $60,000.
  • NW UAV of McMinnville, in partnership with the VT Group of Tigard, for completion of a new, certifiable propulsion system for flight vehicles, $75,000.
  • Fordyce Design and Manufacturing of Gaston for a standardized servo system for flight vehicles, $14,000.
  • Insitu’s Advanced Programs Engineering Group of Hood River for development of flight navigation and communication systems to integrate manned and unmanned aircraft for missions such as firefighting and search and rescue, $75,000; and
  • Cloud Cap Technologies to integrate Sagetech’s next generation transponder for development of a new-generation transponder and autopilot for improved flight safety at test ranges and eventually in the general airspace, $103,000.

SoarOregon considered about 40 proposals from area companies in the first round of funding this April.

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Google’s Project Loon uses radio-equipped balloons to deliver internet access from 12 miles above the earth. It currently uses WiFi bands at 2.4 and 5.8 GHz which are available for anyone to use.

Google also plans to test unlicensed “TV white space” radios, using 512-602 MHz and 620-698 MHz. At 4 W per 6 MHz channel, they are expected to cover a radius of 5 miles from its Mountain View, California campus.

The Solara 50 solar-power UAV from Titan Aerospace carries 70 lb payloads to 20 kilometers (12 miles), and acts as an cellular base station providing an 18-mile coverage radius. DARPA’s Mobile Hotspots program aims to build mobile 70/80 GHz backhaul for UAVs, connecting at 1 Gb/s.

We Are The Pioneers from SkywardIO on Vimeo.

Jonathan Evans, CEO of Portland-based SkyWard.io, explains how the emerging aerial robotics network will operate.

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Aireon will use the Iridium NEXT for their ADS-B service, starting in 2015. Globalstar also plans a space-based air traffic management system that will compliment ground-based ADS-B. It’s a true over-the-horizon air traffic surveillance system capable of delivering Air Traffic Control (ATC) automation.

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OpenVX provides mobile developers with an industry standard API to deliver embedded computer vision and computational imaging chipsets that can keep UAVs on track.

Orbit Logic does Mission Planning for satellites and UAVs.

FAA-approved test sites, type certification for commercial use over certain restricted areas, ADS-B automation, flight-plan and mission planning software, embedded processing chips, FLIR, hyperspectral and Lidar cameras, and broadband wireless connections are coming together.

Applications in forest and terrain surveys, agricultural monitoring, public safety, maritime and transportation industries can save money and lives.

Tech Town Portland from Uncage the Soul Productions on Vimeo.

Domestic commercial drones could be a $13 billion industry by 2017, creating 70,240 jobs, according to the AUVSI. They estimate Oregon’s share at $81 million with about 400 high-skilled, high-paying jobs.

Here’s my Proposal for a Columbia River Drone Network.

WiMax Forum Objects to “Citizens Band” on 3.65-3.70 GHz

The WiMAX Forum, the global body that certifies and promotes products based on the 802.16 standard, is urging the FCC not to include the 3.65-3.7 GHz spectrum band in the anticipated 3.55-3.65 GHz Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS).

The 3.5G industry has already matured with 11 commercial networks globally, such as Relish in London, and the world’s first 3.5GHz Smartphone.

The 3.5 GHz Interest Group promotes LTE TDD spectrum bands 42 and 43. Global harmonization of 3.5 GHz spectrum will enable sharing of costs, particularly for chipsets and terminals.

The FCC hopes to add an additional 50 MHz from 3650-3700 MHz, in the Citizens Broadband Service. That includes incumbent WiMax operators. The proposed Citizens Broadband rules cover the spectrum between 3550 MHz and 3650 MHz, and the FCC seeks comment on extending the proposed service to 3700 MHz.

The FCC hopes to make 150 MHz available in the 3.5 GHz band and proposed a three-tiered access and sharing model comprised of federal and non-federal incumbents, priority access licensees, and general authorized access users.

The general public would be allowed access to the band on an “opportunistic basis” within designated geographic areas, but they would have to live with the interference caused by other users. Because the federal use in this band occurs primarily around the coasts, the FCC sees it as an opportunity for testing shared wireless broadband.

Small cells are a big driver of the new band, according to the FCC.

Current users in the 3650-3700 MHz band would be reclassified as general authorized access users. Incumbents in the 3.65 GHz band include Utilities and Oil and Gas companies, and hundreds of small Wireless Internet Service Providers mainly serving rural users.

“There are over 2,000 registrants currently in the 3.65 GHz FCC database, with over 100 Utilities as incumbent operators in this band,” said Declan Byrne, President of the WiMAX Forum. “The FCC is embarking on an innovative, but untested plan for spectrum sharing through dynamic spectrum management and the auctioning of one-year licenses for the 3.55 -3.65 GHz CBRS band.

“We simply advise caution from proceeding too rapidly into untested waters. Sandbox the innovation to the 3.55-3.65 GHz band, where such a novel approach is clearly necessary. There is time down the road to expand the CBRS with the additional 3.65 GHz spectrum if the new rules and processes work out,” concluded Byrne.

Still, some 50-60 percent of the U.S. population will not be able to use the 3.5 GHz band which is often used by million watt ship and aircraft radar. That generally eliminates commercial use along coasts and near DOD training sites. The Navy’s Aegis Spy Radar operates in S-band, from about 3.1 to 3.5 GHz using a 400 MHz wideband waveform constructed from ten 40 MHz bandwidth pulses frequency jumping from 3.1 to 3.5 GHz.

The 3.5 GHz Interest Group promotes LTE TDD spectrum bands 42 and 43. The Citizens Broadband Radio Service would essentially expand unlicensed frequencies, using spectrum sharing, with database technology similar to that developed for White Spaces.

Deployment of public access small cells will rise from under 30,000 in 2011 to 11.3 million in 2016, amounting to a capex spend of almost $4 billion, according to Maravedis, and will be partly driven by the availability of more spectrum, including 100MHz in the 3.5GHz band.

Another band being eyed for sharing between government users and commercial interests is the 4.9 GHz band, which consists of a contiguous block of 50 MHz located at 4940-4990 MHz and is currently designated for public-safety fixed and mobile uses.

In July 2012, a Presidential Commission recommended that the Federal Government identify 1,000 megahertz of federal spectrum for shared use to create “the first shared use spectrum superhighways.”

Related Dailywireless articles include; FCC Opens 3.5 GHz for Shared Access, FCC Boss Wheeler Pushes for 3.5 GHz Spectrum Sharing, FCC Paves Way for 3.5GHz Band Nationwide, FCC Dishes Dirt, Talks Up 3.5 GHz, FCC Limits Dish on LTE Terrestrial Spectrum, Dish: On the Move, Dish and Sprint Battle over PCS band Extension, FCC Approves 2.3 GHz for AT&T, AT&T Likely to Get 2.3 GHz, Sprint’s Dish Compromise, MetroPCS Merges with T-Mobile USA, T-Mobile Gets AWS Spectrum from Breakup, FirstNet: The Asymetrical Threat, Spectrum War: Unlicensed, Shared and Auctioned, White Spaces: Nationwide by Mid January, FCC: TV Auction in 2014, Genachowski Lobbies for Unlicensed White Spaces, Universal Service Reform Passed