Wednesday, April 27, 2011

NAB’s Spectrum Paper Misses the Mark

NAB released a study that claims there is no spectrum crisis. Too bad the study doesn’t contain any quantifiable analysis. The study relies on (1) procedural attacks on the FCC, (2) a discussion of networking technologies without sufficient technical or economic analysis, and (4) an argument that the FCC should find spectrum somewhere else.

NAB’s procedural argument attacks the FCC’s own analysis as well as its reliance on evidence produced by independent analysts. NAB complains that the FCC’s decision was based on the forecasts of independent analysts and that the FCC’s technical paper supporting the need for additional spectrum took too long. NAB does not, however, claim that the forecast of the independent analysts were wrong or explain why the FCC’s delay in issuing its technical analysis is relevant to its substance.

In any event, NAB’s sole focus on the findings of the FCC is too narrow. The international community recognizes there is a spectrum crisis as well based on a rigorous technical analysis. According to the calculations of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), 1,280 MHz to 1,720 MHz (including spectrum already in use or planned to be used) will be needed to support new mobile wireless broadband technologies. (See ITU report here.) Compared to the ITU’s estimate, the FCC’s plan to make available 500 MHz of spectrum in the next ten years is conservative.

NAB’s recitation of potential new network technologies fails because it doesn’t quantify the overall potential capacity benefits of these technologies or their cost. There are limits to cellularization of networks based on physics, economics, backhaul availability, and environmental concerns. The NAB study doesn’t discuss any of these issues. It also doesn’t discuss the extent to which spectrum forecasts have already taken these potential capacity increases into account. Compiling a list of potential network technologies doesn’t qualify as quantifiable analysis.

NAB’s claim that mobile service providers are warehousing spectrum also rings hollow. NAB uses cable operators as its poster children for this argument. But the statements of one set of licensees that hold a mere 10 MHz of spectrum in certain markets do not mean there is no spectrum crisis. Here NAB commits the fallacy of “proof by example” – if one licensee is warehousing spectrum (no matter how little), all licensees are warehousing spectrum. That fallacy won’t fly.

Finally, NAB argues that, if the FCC just made all spectrum in its pipeline available, the crisis would be solved. But the FCC and ITU analyses have already taken this spectrum into account.

Everyone agrees there is a spectrum crisis except the broadcasters – the group from which the spectrum would come. But if NAB really believes there is no spectrum crisis, it wouldn’t worry about incentive auctions. Service providers won’t pay for spectrum they don’t need. Of course, NAB never paid for it either.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Clearwire and Sprint (peanut butter and jelly, peas and carrots…you get the idea)

By Clearwire

We’re pretty proud of the Sprint and Clearwire match – it’s a partnership that’s been one of the most productive in the U.S. wireless market to date. Together we’ve deployed the first true 4G network in North America and made 4G a household word. So, we’re happy to report that this partnership continues with an updated long-term wholesale agreement between Clearwire and Sprint.

There are a number of details that you can read about here, but the really big news for Clearwire is that Sprint will commit a minimum of $1 billion in cash to Clearwire for 4G wholesale services. This money will be used to support Clearwire’s ongoing operations, and it underscores the interdependent and strategic relationship we have with Sprint.

Our all IP-network is Sprint’s 4G network. (It’s also the same 4G network used by Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Best Buy, Cbeyond, Mitel, and Locus Telecommunications to offer mobile broadband to their customers.) Our unmatched spectrum provides Sprint with a strategic advantage in terms of network capacity. As data usage rises, the need for a rich spectrum portfolio will become even more acute.

With the only 4G wholesale network in the country, coverage for more than 120 million people, and a growing customer and revenue base, we look forward to continuing our partnership with Sprint to deliver outstanding 4G service.

This article is reprinted from the Clearwire blog.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

WCAI Responds to NAB President Gordon Smith’s Keynote

WCAI President and CEO Fred Campbell released the following statement in response to NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith’s keynote address at the NAB conference:

“Broadcasters say the spectrum crisis would be solved once the mobile broadband providers build out the spectrum they recently acquired at auction. The fallacy here is that demand projections supporting the need for more spectrum already assume all previously auctioned spectrum will be built out. Broadcasters are the ones warehousing spectrum they received for free and use to serve only ten percent of the population.”

Thursday, April 7, 2011

WCAI 4G Caucus Wraps Up with Discussions on Backhaul, LTE Migration, 3.65 GHz Regulations

The WCAI’s 4G Caucus wrapped up today with a semi-annual, member-only joint meeting of the Engineering and Regional Operator committees. The two-day event generated a lot of productive debates and announcements, including from FCC Wireless Bureau Chief Ruth Milkman, who said the Commission yesterday circulated an NPRM in response to the WCAI’s 2.5 GHz OOBE (out-of-band emissions) petition. The announcement is great news for the wireless broadband industry in the U.S. as it represents an important step toward harmonizing the 2.5 GHz band internationally and realizing the economies of scope and scale.

During the committee meeting’s roundtable discussion today, WCAI members addressed such issues as 4G network backhaul, migration to LTE and the impact it has on regional operators, as well as regulatory issues facing the 3.65 GHz band. Excellent presentations were delivered by LBA Group CTO Chris Horne, DragonWave CTO Erik Boch, Sioux Valley Wireless Technical Director Joel Brick, and JAB Broadband VP, Technical Operations, Bret Westwood. Also at the meeting, WCAI Regulatory Counsel Paul Sinderbrand of Wilkinson Barker Knauer provided a comprehensive update on key regulatory issues facing the industry and advised the members on how best to address them.

We at WCAI would like to thank everyone who helped make the 4G Caucus a success, especially our speakers, sponsors and media/research partners.

We look forward to seeing you again at 4G World on October 24-27 in Chicago. Please use WCAI discount code (4GWMS22) to save $200 on registration and support WCAI.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

WCAI 4G Caucus Kicks Off with Discussions on Spectrum, AT&T/T-Mobile Merger, 4G Migration Strategies

Gerry Salemme, Partner at Eagle River, kicked off the WCAI 4G Caucus this morning with a fireside chat keynote led by WCAI President Fred Campbell. In a lively discussion of the future of mobile technologies Mr. Salemme spoke about the growing data demand and spectrum issues, the AT&T/T-Mobile merger and the chances of its approval, the gaining momentum of LTE and its potential impact on Clearwire and regional players in the 2.5 GHz band, as well as the economy and the availability of investment capital affecting 4G network deployment in the U.S. Mr. Salemme, who is an advisor to the Clearwire CEO on business and spectrum strategy, also clarified the relationship between Clearwire and Sprint, saying that it’s “more cooperative than people expect.”

The opening keynote was followed by a panel on 4G network migration strategies led by one of the most distinguished industry analysts Berge Ayvazian of Heavy Reading. During the panel, experts from Sprint, AT&T, FiberTower and Tessco discussed their views on the transition from 3G to 4G networks, key challenges of the migration the industry faces, and how policy management solutions can help manage the transition.

Still ahead is the day packed with lively discussions and networking opportunities. Iyad Tarazi, Vice President, Network Development and Engineering at Sprint, will speak about how Sprint’s Network Vision is expected to consolidate multiple network technologies into one, seamless network. Following his keynote presentation, Mr. Campbell of WCAI will lead the discussion on adapting regulations to the new realities of 4G technologies. The panel will feature FCC Wireless Bureau Chief Ruth Milkman, along with regulatory experts from AT&T, Sprint, Clearwire and Wilkinson Barket Knauer.

Other program highlights include a keynote from Sybase an SAP Company on real-time actionable intelligence strategies for 4G operators; a keynote from Alvarion on building 4G smart grid, as well as panel discussions on broadband spectrum options for smart grid applications and on fixed wireless innovations.

Wrapping up the first day of the event will be the popular WCAI Networking Dinner at Ruth’s Chris, one of the best steak houses in town.

So if you are not already here, come join us for the exciting day of discussions and networking!