Monday, January 18, 2021

3.7 GHz spectrum auction tops $80 billion

The FCC's Aution 107 for flexible‐use overlay licenses for spectrum in the 3.7–3.98 GHz band concluded with a record $80.9 billion in bids after 97 rounds.

The auction made available licenses for 280 megahertz of spectrum in the the so-called C-band.  FCC Chairman Ajit Pai made the following statement:

“This historic FCC auction is already a record-breaking success.  Bidders have won all of the 5,684 spectrum blocks that were up for bid.  And gross proceeds have exceeded $80.9 billion, shattering the prior FCC auction record of $44.9 billion.  

“These results represent a strong endorsement by the private sector of the service rules and transition plan put in place by the FCC to quickly make the C-band a critical part of 5G rollout in the United States.  And they vindicate the hard choices the FCC made during the C-band proceeding—and that we made them.  The FCC confronted a host of technical, legal, practical, and political challenges in structuring this auction.  It would have been easy to delay.  But we rightly pushed ahead and overcame every one of those obstacles.  As a result, we significantly advanced United States leadership in 5G and have enabled America’s wireless consumers to more quickly benefit from 5G services.  

Winning bidders will now have the opportunity to bid for frequency-specific licenses in the assignment phase of Auction 107.

Cisco and Inphi seek open ecosystem for Co-packaged Optics (CPO)

Cisco and Inphi have agreed to cooperate on the definition of a Co-packaged switch/optics (CPO) solution to drive the industry forward and ensuring interoperability between silicon and optical engines from multiple different companies.

In a blog posting, Rakesh Chopra, Cisco Fellow, makes the case that a CPO-based switch design is significantly more power-efficient than a traditional 51.2 Tbps design with pluggable optics, and that the future switch generation will face even steeper power efficiency challenges if CPO technology is not adopted. He argues that the 51.2 Tbps switch silicon generation is the correct time to introduce CPO. An open ecosystem for CPO would help ensure interoperable best-of-breed technologies from a variety of suppliers.

In his own blog post, Hugh Durdan, VP Marketing, Networking Interconnect, writes "While pluggable optics solutions will be possible for 51.2T switches, we believe the industry needs to initiate a parallel development of CPO with the goal of first deployment in the 51.2T switch generation around 2024. CPO will complement pluggable optics in the quest of providing ever higher bandwidth while continuing to achieve lower power per bit."

Barcelona Cable Landing Station offers alternative to Marseille

A new Barcelona Cable Landing Station is expected to come into operation the first quarter of 2022 with the aim of being the digital port of reference in the Mediterranean. 

The facility, which is an initiative of AFR-IX Telecom, is the first international submarine cable landing station in Catalonia. Currently, Marseille is the primary landing point for most submarine fibre-optic cables of the Mediterranean. Organizers of the Barcelona Cable Landing Station say a new regional, landing facility is needed because Marseille is saturated.

Norman Albi, CEO of AFR-IX Telecom, highlighted the importance of the project for the company: “We are proud to contribute our experience and build the first landing station in Catalonia with international reach, which will place us in a privileged position in southern Europe and other continents with fast and reliable connections.”

SubOptic Association Launches the SubOptic Foundation

The SubOptic Association announced the foundation of the SubOptic Foundation, a new charitable organization with legal entities in the USA and UK, focused on supporting education and research initiatives designed to lay the groundwork for a better future for the subsea cable industry and the global communications fabric as a whole.

The primary purpose of the Foundation will be to enhance SubOptic's support of programs focused on education and outreach, with the end goal of increasing awareness, inclusivity and diversity across the industry. It will also take an active role in promoting the industry as an attractive employer and the professional development of those entering the industry.

A secondary, but equally important purpose of the Foundation, will be to drive initiatives that contribute to the long-term health and sustainability of the wider submarine cable industry. As an example, the SubOptic Foundation is especially pleased to have secured a US$200,000 research grant from the Internet Society Foundation, which is funding a study focused on "Decarbonizing Global Cable Network." The research team will be led by Nicole Starosielski, Associate Professor of Digital Media at NYU. The team includes other university professors from around the globe and members of SubOptic's Global Citizen Working Group, which aims to "Green the Internet's Undersea Infrastructure."    

"I'm very excited to be part of this great initiative that we hope to develop into a new keystone supporting our industry's future. We're also committed to finding new ways to attract and develop diverse talent through the Foundation's education initiatives," states Erick Contag, executive chairman of GlobeNet and executive committee President of SubOptic. "The grant Nicole and her team have secured from the Internet Society Foundation provides our Foundation with a great start and set of objectives from which to build upon."

The Foundation will also continue to co-sponsor and support the Subsea OFC Summer School launched in 2019 in partnership with the Optical Society of America and Google.

"I'm thrilled to have played a small part in supporting the Summer School. Both the first 2019 session and last year's participants were a truly diverse set of students and industry-sourced faculty from around the globe. We hope to reach an even broader spectrum of students with our 2021 program," comments Jayne Stowell, strategic negotiator of global infrastructure at Google, "The Summer School's goal is to increase awareness of and interest in our industry to universities - especially graduate students who may be seeking careers in our fascinating business. To date, we're proud to have made real inroads in achieving this goal."

The Foundation Board of Trustees includes Contag, Stowell, Elaine Stafford (DRG Undersea Consulting), Leigh Frame (Xtera) and Ed McCormack (Ciena). A team of preeminent industry veterans has also been recruited as an Advisory Board, to help the Foundation achieve its goals.

NTIA publishes "National Strategy to Secure 5G Implementation Plan"

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) published its National Strategy to Secure 5G Implementation Plan for how the United States should lead global development, deployment, and management of secure and reliable 5G infrastructure. 

The 40-page plan, which will be managed by the National Security Council and the National Economic Council, supported by NTIA, has the following key elements:

  • Line of Effort One - Facilitate Domestic 5G Rollout 
  • Line of Effort Two - Assess Risks to and Identify Core Security Principles of 5G Infrastructure
  • Line of Effort Three - Address Risks to United States Economic and National Security during Development and Deployment of 5G Infrastructure Worldwide
  • Line of Effort Four - Promote Responsible Global Development and Deployment of 5G

APT picks Ericsson for 5G multi-operator core in Taiwan

Asia-Pacific Telecom Co Ltd (APT) selected Ericsson to modernize its nationwide LTE network in Taiwan with 5G-ready equipment and services. This includes integration with Far EasTone Telecommunications (FET) on the 3.5GHz frequency band in Taiwan.

Under the terms of the agreement, Ericsson will provide high-performing radio access network (RAN) solutions from its 5G-ready Ericsson Radio System portfolio as well as 5G NSA licenses to do 5G Multi-Operator Core Networks (MOCN). The contract also covers Ericsson Network Manager, OSS migration services and upgrade.

In September 2020, FET and APT announced a partnership to provide 5G services on Taiwan’s 3.5GHz frequency band through the nation’s first MOCN – where two or more core networks share the same RAN and bandwidth. The collaboration includes 700MHz shared RAN to be used on both 4G and 5G technologies.

As part of this new deal, several mobile sites will be upgraded with the latest Ericsson 5G RAN technology. The currently installed Ericsson basebands will be modernized to the latest 5G technology standard to match FET’s network quality and maximize user experience.

FCC considers revamping the 12 GHz Band currently used by DBS

 The FCC is seeking comment on how to maximize efficient use of the 500 megahertz of mid-band spectrum in the 12.2-12.7 GHz band.  An open question is whether terrestrial mobile wireless service could coexist with existing operations in the band without causing harmful interference to incumbent licensees. 

In the United States, the 12 GHz band is currently licensed to Direct Broadcast Satellite (DBS) operators, non-geostationary orbit (NGSO) satellite systems, and fixed service providers—all on a co-primary basis.  DISH Network and DirecTV, the two DBS licensees, use this spectrum to provide video programming content to millions of American consumers.  The Commission has authorized several NGSO constellations in recent years to operate using this spectrum, in coordination with one-way, fixed Multichannel Video Distribution and Data Service (MVDDS).  NGSO and MVDDS services must operate on a non-harmful interference basis with respect to DBS.

The FCC is also seeking comment on whether the public interest benefits of maintaining the current allocations and framework for the band outweigh the potential benefits of accommodating new services in the band.

Frontier advances its Chapter 11 case

Frontier Communicationssecured approval from the FCC for its Chapter 11 restructuring. Frontier now has regulatory approvals, or favorable determinations, for its required change-in-control applications related to its court-supervised restructuring from the FCC and 13 states: Arizona, Georgia, Illinois, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Virginia.

Frontier expects to promptly consummate the transactions contemplated under its previously confirmed Plan of Reorganization and emerge from Chapter 11 in early 2021. Upon emergence, Frontier will have reduced its total outstanding indebtedness by more than $10 billion and will move forward with enhanced financial flexibility to support continued investment in an improved customer experience and long-term growth.

“We continue to make important progress in our constructive engagement with regulators across our service territories, and this approval from the FCC marks a major milestone,” said Bernie Han, President and Chief Executive Officer. “We continue to await approval in just four states and are working to expedite those approvals to enable the Company to emerge from Chapter 11. Our team remains focused on our transformative strategy to strengthen our financial foundation, improve our operations and enhance our customer experience throughout the U.S.”

Jonathan Spalter, President and CEO of USTelecom said, “We are pleased by the FCC’s affirmative decision for Frontier. More than ever, Frontier serves a vital function in providing essential telecommunications services. This decision is a major step toward successfully completing the Company’s restructuring, enabling it to move forward in delivering services to its customers and creating benefits for communities across the U.S.”

Frontier picks Nick Jeffery as new CEO

Frontier Communications named Nick Jeffery as the Company’s next President and Chief Executive Officer, effective March 1, 2021, following the expiration of his notice period with Vodafone UK. Jeffery will succeed Bernie Han, who will step down as President and Chief Executive Officer on March 1, 2021. Mr. Han will remain on the Company’s Board of Directors (the “Board”) and guide the CEO transition until emergence from Chapter 11, at which point Mr. Jeffery will join the Board.

Jeffery was appointed CEO of Vodafone UK in September 2016 and has held numerous positions at Vodafone Group, the world’s second largest international cellular operator, the largest home broadband operator in Europe and the second largest TV distributor in Europe, since joining the company in 2004. Notably, Mr. Jeffery served on Vodafone Group’s Executive Committee since 2013, as CEO of Vodafone Group Enterprise from 2013 to 2016 and as CEO of Vodafone Group’s acquired Cable & Wireless Worldwide operations from 2012 to 2013.