Claude Aiken’s remarks at the CBRS ICD launch
Claude Aiken’s remarks at the CBRS ICD launch, Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Washington, DC, September 18, 2019
I’m Claude Aiken, president and CEO of WISPA, the voice of the fixed wireless industry. We represent the thousands of WISPs that provide broadband access to over 6 million residential and business customers, often in exclusively rural areas.
WISPA has been involved in the development of CBRS spectrum before it was even called CBRS. Hundreds of our members have and continue to use the 3.65 GHz band. Hundreds more will use CBRS.
So, launching ICD is a tremendously important milestone. One that many of our members are participating in. This is the culmination of years of dreaming, and then the hard work required to realize those dreams. We have actively collaborated with many in this room through setting standards in the WInnForum, and with the CBRS Alliance, our gracious hosts, who have been laser-focused on creating a brand and business case for OnGo.
So many people and parties have worked together and collaborated on this, it’s really incredible that we’re here today. We want to thank all those parties for their magnificent efforts to make this happen. And our government partners, the Department of Defense, the NTIA, and the FCC for seeing the promise within this underutilized band, and nurturing the process through its many steps and challenges to bring us here now.
At the outset, the CBRS spectrum appeared fraught with innumerable, seemingly insurmountable challenges. So, the question must be asked: Why would anyone or group of people attempt to change that?
And I think the answer is pretty simple – if successful, the reward would be immense. With spectrum being at such a premium, shared spectrum — like what we’ve accomplished in opening up the CBRS band — squeezes more juice from this extremely limited resource. The SAS’ work enables a “use it or share it” approach, which in effect boosts spectrum output by making more effective use of it.
This work, this model, has important consequences for the unserved and underserved in America’s heartland. A host of sources show that between 17 and 27 million rural Americans lack broadband, marginalizing their participation in the digital economy. Fifteen percent of our working population — or 37 million individuals over the age of 16 — lives in these areas, yet a vast majority of them don’t have access to high-speed broadband services. This isn’t right and must change.
Broadband has become an essential part of all Americans’ lives. As such, it is a national priority to get all Americans online no matter where they live.
Spectrum represents an important answer to that. This is especially true in far-flung, sparsely populated regions of America. The economics of “traditional” broadband are daunting. Wiring individuals to the Internet is time-consuming and very, very expensive.
Over the past decade, U.S. policymakers have spent tens-of-billions-of-dollars to physically wire rural America, and still more than a quarter of that populace lacks broadband. These areas have been all-but-abandoned by the largest providers because they cost too much to serve.
WISPs fill this gap. 6 million, primarily rural individuals, households and businesses get their broadband from WISPs.
With adequate rural spectrum, high-speed broadband service can be brought to the unserved virtually overnight, and at about 15% of the cost of wiring with fiber. Stated simply, the stubborn digital divide can be solved not in a matter of a decades, but in months.
CBRS spectrum is prime, mid-band real estate. Its propagation characteristics will serve many uses: OnGo, point-to-multipoint, backhaul, and many others.
For many of our WISPA members, CBRS spectrum will help alleviate the spectrum crunch they experience on a daily basis, and help them deliver better service to more rural Americans. Companies like WISPER ISP in Mascoutah, IL, or PocketiNet in Walla Walla, WA, or Micrologic in Buckhannon, WV, will set up their access points on grain legs, or on water towers and will use it to enable a digital flourishing, helping rural Americans access the same benefits their connected urban counterparts do.
But the CBRS experiment is much more than that, too. With CBRS, a new manner of using spectrum has been born: Dynamic sharing. The techniques refined here will show that those already using the spectrum can be protected from harmful interference, while safely accommodating new entrants within this limited resource.
We are excited for the future this will bring and trust the CBRS sharing model can be employed elsewhere, freeing it up for more efficient use by hungry wireless consumers.
More to the point — as this concept’s successful deployment here means sharing can easily be employed in other areas of the radio spectrum, bringing tens-of-millions more Americans online. And giving tens-of-millions better service and more competition.
Again, I want thank all involved! WISPA is proud to be a small part of this tremendous, groundbreaking success.
WISPA’s approximately 800 members are composed of fixed Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs) and the industry that supports fixed wireless broadband, including equipment suppliers, support services, and other components needed to run a successful business. Our members, and WISPs, in general, provide broadband access to over 4 million residential and business customers, often in exclusively rural areas.