By: Scott St. John
A brand-new year unfurls before us, promising continued progress against the pandemic and glimpses of an emerging “new normal” globally. The final weeks of 2020 and early days of 2021 brought an array of news headlines reflecting on top trends and making predictions for what will be dominant in the new year. Amid this bevy of trends news, highlights also surfaced as the Federal Communications Commission opened its latest 5G spectrum auction, T-Mobile rolled out next-generation 911 capabilities, a new national council for AI in the US debuted, and plans for a space-based mobile communications network were launched.
The top telecom industry news stories from the month are summarized below. To view all the news as it breaks, check out Pipeline’s News Center or subscribe to receive our telecom industry news summary.
Nokia will serve as the project leader for Hexa-X, the European Commission’s 6G flagship initiative for research into the next generation of wireless networks. The project kicks off in early 2021.
The Federal Communications Commission announced that millions of rural Americans in 49 states and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands will gain access to high-speed Internet service through the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Phase I auction. Bidders won funding to deploy high-speed broadband to over 5.2 million unserved homes and businesses, almost 99 percent of the locations available in the auction. The FCC also opened its latest 5G spectrum auction, making available 280 megahertz of prime mid-band spectrum in the 3.7-3.98 GHz band—a portion of the C-band. The agency announced a settlement with IBM for alleged violations of the FCC’s E-Rate program rules in connection with the New York City and El Paso school districts. IBM agreed to return $24.25 million to the Universal Service Fund.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is expanding its usage of FirstNet; it awarded AT&T a mobility contract for additional FirstNet capabilities to support the FBI’s day-to-day and emergency operations. The agency has also ruled that government contractors must have consent before robocalling consumers.
T-Mobile has rolled out two new location-based 911 capabilities that can speed up emergency response times by helping pinpoint the location of callers, reducing the need for call transfers.
Last month, ADVA announced that its technology has been selected for Germany’s first open radio access network (O-RAN) proof of concept (PoC). Conducted by Telefónica Germany / O2, the field trial is a major step towards open and disaggregated RAN architectures.
5G news on deployments and partnerships came in from around the world. Notably, Ericsson has been selected by KDDI to deploy cloud-native dual-mode 5G Core in its 5G Standalone network in Japan, paving the way to ramp-up 5G use case development and realization. Nokia has been selected by Proximus Luxembourg in a seven-year deal to supply 5G coverage nationwide for the country. Thailand’s mobile operator dtac has also chosen Nokia as its first 5G RAN partner in a three-year deal covering the north and northeastern regions of the country.
In December, leading organizations across the U.S. financial services, technology and academic industries announced the formation of a new National Council for Artificial Intelligence (NCAI). The council brings together the Brookings Institution, CUNY, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Mastercard, Microsoft, Nasdaq, Plug and Play, SUNY, University of Central Florida, and Visa with the goal of maximizing technology