November 2, 2016–The Department of Defense is “all in on sharing spectrum,” the agency’s deputy chief information officer in charge of communications said today, but she also stressed its “trust but verify approach to sharing.” In keynote remarks this morning , Maj. Gen. Sandra Finan, deputy DoD CIO-command, control, communications and computers (C4) and information infrastructure capabilities, said at an annual event organized by 5G Americas that government and commercial spectrum planners must collaborate on sharing of frequencies.
“We all have to be at this table together,” she said. “This means sharing by design at early planning stages of new government and commercial systems and with regard to policy changes to access federal and non-federal bands.”
“We support a trust but verify approach to sharing,” Gen. Finan said. “We’re all in on sharing spectrum, trying to make spectrum available.”
Like wireless carriers, the military needs access to a wide range of bands, the general stressed, and she said that federal access to non-federal spectrum can help warfighters train. Like other DoD officials have stressed in the past, the general emphasized that a growing number of military operations, everything from sensors to unmanned aerial systems, rely on spectrum in order to ensure the U.S. stays ahead of its adversaries. “Spectrum is the maneuver space behind nearly all operations,” she said. “Spectrum innovation is an important part of how we fight.”
“All of these systems need flexible spectrum access,” she added, saying that “even the most low-tech adversary” is able to harness wireless innovation to launch cyber attacks on the military. “We have to consider cybersecurity as we move forward,” she said broadly of network planners.
Ms. Finan also cited the benefits to DoD of modeling and simulation tools that rely on spectrum, artificial intelligence, and spectrum situational awareness. She also noted collaboration between the military and other government agencies and industry and others through the National Spectrum Consortium and the National Advanced Spectrum and Communications Test Network (NASCTN).
In response to a question, the general said she understands that cooperation between the military and industry is proceeding in the AWS-3 transition. “My perception is that’s going very well,” she said. “The future of our nation depends on our ability to make this spectrum available. … And so we are full partners in this all the way.”
In other remarks at today’s event, Ted Rappaport, a professor of electrical engineering at New York University and founding director of NYU Wireless, said that 5G data rates are expected to be more than 50 times higher than 4G rates, or at least 50 gigabits per second. “The fact is millimeter wave is a frontier that will unleash bandwidths we’ve never seen before,” he said.
He also discussed what he said are several “myths” about millimeter-wave spectrum, including that it is only good over short distances. Any loss that is seen can be recouped if the same-sized antennas are used, he said. He also said that loss due to weather can be overcome with larger antennas. “Millimeter wave from a physics basis is not that different than [lower spectrum bands used] today,” he said.
During another session, representatives of AT&T, Inc., T-Mobile US, Inc., and Sprint Corp. discussed ongoing 5G trials by their companies and what they said is the “convergence” in the standards-setting process. They also agreed that LTE technology is not going anyway in the short term.
One challenge in deploying 5G will be siting the scores of small cells that are expected to be needed, as well as providing the necessary backhaul, they said.
Addressing siting issues is crucial, said Karri Kuoppamaki, vice president-radio network technology development and strategy for T-Mobile. “However, I’m also an optimist in the sense that, where there’s demand, there will be supply,” he said, noting that siting issues were addressed when LTE was deployed. “I’m optimistic that we can solve it the same way over time with small cells.”
“It’s not, you know, one size fits all,” he added, noting that localities have different situations. But as residents in communities see the benefits of small cells, “it will get resolved,” he said. “I believe that these are solvable challenges over time,” agreed Paul Greendyk, VP-mobile core and network security for AT&T.
“I do think that there are paths forward on the siting challenges,” said Ron Marquardt, VP-technology, innovation and architecture for Sprint. “We as an industry need to do a better job of communicating to those cities and jurisdictions what the value is to them.”
The carrier reps were also asked whether companies should deploy pre-standard versions of 5G technology or wait for standards to be completed.
“We need to deploy something that’s standardized,” said Mr. Greendyk, adding, “We believe the standards are converging” and in 2018 there will be a millimeter-wave standard, the first of multiple standards for various bands.
While Mr. Marquardt said that only standardized deployment provides huge economies of scale, he said pre-standard roll outs are essentially trials.“It helps us understand what the technology’s capable of” and helps drive development, Mr. Kuoppamaki said of pre-standard deployments, but he said he agreed that economies of scale come from standards-based equipment. – Paul Kirby, email@example.com