Marek's take

It’s that point of the 12 months when everybody’s ideas flip to turkey and all of the trimmings. And whereas my Thanksgiving gathering (and the dimensions of my turkey) can be a lot smaller this 12 months due to surging Covid-19 instances right here in Denver, that isn’t stopping me from having a look again at a number of the different turkeys this 12 months. I’m speaking concerning the unhealthy selections and misfired methods that made headlines over the previous eleven months. 

2020 has been a 12 months in contrast to every other – and it’s not over but. However, I assumed it was value trying again and revisiting a number of the wi-fi trade’s worst strikes of the 12 months.

Turkey No. 1 goes to all those that torched the GSMA for cancelling Cellular World Congress final February. When the GSMA made the very troublesome name in February to cancel its premiere trade occasion – Cellular World Congress Barcelona – because of rising issues concerning the coronavirus, there have been a number of critics (together with some very outspoken members of the tech press) who chastised the group for its resolution. Some even proclaimed that Cellular World Congress would by no means get well from this unhealthy resolution as a result of it was primarily based upon “hysteria” over a virus that was primarily remoted to China and some cruise ships.

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Cellular World Congress is a large occasion that sometimes attracts greater than 100,000 attendees and attracts each wi-fi firm large and small. Understandably, the GSMA’s resolution precipitated an uproar as a result of it cancelled the occasion simply two weeks earlier than it was slated to start. By that point each attendee had already booked their flights and pay as you go not less than a portion of their lodging. However GSMA actually had no selection – it was backed right into a nook after a number of giant exhibitors, together with Ericsson, dropped out of the occasion.

In hindsight, the GSMA’s resolution, whereas troublesome, was most likely a life saver for hundreds of members of the wi-fi trade who might need attended the commerce present, develop into contaminated and unwell, or carried the lethal virus again residence to their households and colleagues. If something, the wi-fi trade ought to be thanking the GSMA (in addition to large distributors like Ericsson) who had the foresight to cancel the occasion. 

Turkey No. 2 goes to people who help a nationalized 5G community. This concept that the U.S. authorities ought to construct and keep its own 5G network keeps resurfacing. The seemingly cause for this concept circulating in 2020 is that the Division of Protection (DoD) again in September issued a request for info (RFI) to discover the way it may have the ability to personal and function a 5G community for its home operations.  

Understandably, the wi-fi trade balked on the thought. The CTIA, CCA, Wi-fi Infrastructure Affiliation (WIA) and different commerce teams joined collectively to combat the proposal and even despatched a letter to the Trump Administration outlining the quite a few explanation why non-public innovation and competitors amongst wi-fi operators is best than supporting a nationalized community.

The thought is unhealthy one. U.S. wi-fi operators have been aggressively deploying 5G all through the nation this 12 months and have spent billions of {dollars} doing so. There isn’t any want for U.S. taxpayers to pay for a further 5G community – one that will seemingly take years to deploy.

Though it’s nonetheless too early to know the way President-elect Joe Biden and his administration will proceed in terms of spectrum coverage, I hope the concept of a nationalized 5G community will fade from view eternally.

Turkey No. 3 goes to the Trump Administration for its resolution to withdraw FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly’s nomination. Again in August I used to be shocked to listen to that President Trump withdrew the nomination of Commissioner Michael O’Rielly to serve one other time period on the FCC. The choice was thought-about a really stunning transfer as a result of O’Rielly was a Republican nominee. 

However O’Rielly apparently ruffled some feathers after he publicly made feedback about having reservations about FCC re-examining Part 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1934. President Trump had repeatedly mentioned that he desires to stop social media platforms equivalent to Twitter from participating in political censorship in opposition to conservatives and needed the FCC to look into it.  

Understandably, many within the wi-fi trade are saddened by President Trump’s resolution. As an FCC commissioner, O’Rielly was instrumental in bringing new spectrum to market, and performed an enormous position in making the CBRS and C-Band spectrum obtainable for public sale. After I met with O’Rielly final February on the College of Colorado Silicon Flatirons convention, he mentioned he had been engaged on the C-Band plan for greater than 4 years and was very excited concerning the potential it held for making 5G providers extra broadly obtainable within the U.S.

Turkey No. 4 goes to these hyping open RAN. There’s little doubt that open RAN expertise, which refers back to the separation of the {hardware} and software program parts of the radio entry community, will dramatically alter the best way cellular operators construct their community. The expertise is thrilling as a result of it introduces extra flexibility into the community.

But it surely’s nonetheless unclear after we will see widespread deployments of open RAN, significantly by the large three nationwide U.S. operators. Though each AT&T and Verizon have acknowledged their help for the expertise, they haven’t supplied different particulars. In the meantime, T-Cellular’s President of Know-how Neville Ray is an outspoken critic of the technology and just lately advised buyers throughout a New Avenue Analysis name that he doesn’t assume open RAN is prepared for prime time. “We’re for open requirements however the business mannequin behind O-RAN – that’s an enormous TBD [to be determined],” Ray mentioned.

Some trade analysts imagine that the expertise wants time to mature and Ray’s feedback concerning the enterprise mannequin appear to point that he’s in settlement with them. Maybe open RAN distributors must focus their efforts on educating {the marketplace} concerning the open RAN unknowns – like integration prices and the enterprise mannequin – as a substitute of simply specializing in the technical advantages.

Turkey No. 5 goes to Dish for its over-promising and under-delivering on 5G (to date). Dish Community Chairman Charlie Ergen is back-pedaling on the corporate’s promise to ship its first 5G market on the finish of 2020.

Throughout Dish Community’s third-quarter earnings convention name with buyers, Ergen mentioned that the corporate won’t have 5G obtainable in a significant market till the third quarter 2021. That’s an enormous delay within the wi-fi networking world, significantly because the three current nationwide operators have been aggressively deploying their 5G networks throughout the U.S.

The difficulty, in keeping with Dish, is that it wants open radio entry community (RAN) radios from vendor Fujitsu and people received’t arrive in quantity till the second half of 2021. Dish could possibly launch service in just a few small markets within the first quarter of subsequent 12 months however will want a pair extra months earlier than it may well deploy its 5G service extra broadly.

Ergen did emphasize that he believes Dish is constructing a better high quality community than its friends as a result of it’s establishing a greenfield cloud-native 5G community that makes use of open RAN expertise. Whereas delays will not be remarkable within the wi-fi trade, on this very aggressive panorama, a delay of six months or extra is critical.