FCC approves Rural Fund to bring 5G to rural communities

Last month, the Federal Communications Commission adopted rules to create the 5G Fund for Rural America, which will distribute up to $9 billion in funding over the next decade to bring 5G to rural areas of the country. The 5G Fund will use multi-round reverse auctions in two phases to target support from the Commission’s Universal Service Fund to eligible areas.

Phase I will target up to $8 billion to areas currently lacking unsubsidized 4G LTE or 5G mobile broadband, including $680 million set aside for bidders offering to serve Tribal lands. Phase II will provide at least an additional $1 billion to target the deployment of technologically innovative 5G networks that facilitate precision agriculture.

As part of their deal to merge with Sprint, T-Mobile committed to cover 90% of rural Americans with its 5G network within six years, and the auction will serve as part of that commitment. The order also requires 5G Fund winning bidders to deploy 5G networks offering minimum speeds of 35/3 Mbps, meet interim deployment milestones beginning at the three-year mark, and meet a final deployment milestone at the end of the sixth year.

These efforts will bring higher-speed internet access to millions of Americans for whom high speed internet is not currently available or affordable.

5G availability stacks up in major US cities

It’s easy to find a 5G signal in the USA, but what 5G service can you depend on? OpenSignal might help. The OpenSignal wireless guru platform has shared a study outlining 5G availability in five major US urban areas, and it’s clear that real-world coverage is better for some carriers than others.

Of the major three cellular networks, T-Mobile offered the most consistent 5G availability in the Atlanta, Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, and Washington, DC areas between mid-July and mid-October 2020.

When speed matters, Verizon’s mmWave service was consistently the fastest, with overall speeds ranging from 49.2Mbps in the Washington area to 72.7Mbps in Houston. AT&T and T-Mobile, but were generally slower with data transfers averaging around 38.3Mbps and 48.5Mbps.

The results reflect what many have suspected. T-Mobile’s focus on lower-frequency 5G gives it an edge in availability — you can find coverage in more areas, and you’re more likely to hold on to a signal indoors. Verizon only had mmWave 5G coverage during the study period, so you had to be extremely close to a cell tower or antennas.

Verizon and Apple launch Fleet Swap program for businesses to upgrade users to the 5G iPhone 12

Apple and Verizon today announced 5G Fleet Swap, a joint venture aimed at encouraging businesses to upgrade their fleet of smartphones to the iPhone 12. The program allows businesses to trade in their fleet of employee phones and move to the iPhone 12 or iPhone 12 Mini with no upfront cost and zero or little monthly cost.

Verizon and Apple are offering 5G Fleet Swap to all businesses regardless of whether they’re currently with Verizon or with another carrier. Verizon wants to get more businesses using their 5G network, and Apple benefits by exposing the iPhone 12 to enterprise users. Apple believes that 5G’s low latency will be a big benefit for business users, even more so than for consumers:

“The iPhone 12 lineup is the best for business, with an all-new design, advanced 5G experience, industry-leading security and A14 Bionic, the fastest chip ever in a smartphone,” said Susan Prescott, Apple’s vice president of Markets, Apps and Services. “Paired with Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband going indoors and 5G Fleet Swap, an all-new device offer for enterprise, it’s now easier than ever for businesses to build transformational mobile apps that take advantage of the powerful iPhone 12 lineup and 5G.”

Pixel 5 update gives users access to Verizon Nationwide 5G

A security patch rolling out for the Pixel 5 this week provides bug fixes, and, more excitingly, allows the phones to access Verizon’s 5G Nationwide network.

The Pixel 5 already worked on Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband, or mmWave, network, which is extremely fast but has very limited coverage. The 5G Nationwide network runs “simultaneously with 4G LTE on multiple spectrum bands” and is not as fast as Ultra Wideband, but generally faster than LTE (Verizon advertises speeds “as high as 25x faster than 4G LTE”). As its name suggests, Nationwide 5G is available far more broadly than the Ultra Wideband network.

The release notes explain:

With DSS [Dynamic Spectrum Sharing], if you move outside Verizon’s high-band Ultra Wideband coverage area, your 5G-enabled devices stay on 5G technology using the lower bands. By deploying both technologies together, Verizon can use its full portfolio of current spectrum resources to serve both 4G and 5G customers, maximizing your 5G experiences on the Verizon network.
The current software update brings 5G Nationwide access to your device! 5G Nationwide is available in 1,800+ cities. You’ll see a 5G icon when you’re in a 5G Nationwide coverage area. For more information about 5G Nationwide, see our 5G Mobile FAQs

Peplink plans to release 5G modems in 2021

Peplink, a leader in wireless networking and SD-WAN, is preparing for 5G and plans to have 5G modems for their modular routers available in 2021.

There are currently no 5G modems or routers available besides what is offered by the carriers directly, but Peplink does offer equipment that is upgradeable to work with 5G – meaning you can purchase a router now, and add in a 5G modem later when they’re available. Peplink’s modular routers, like the HD2 and HD4 MBX, EPX, and SDX, feature removable modems and/or slots for additional modems, so when their 5G modem is certified and ready for use, owners of those routers can simply add one to their setup without having to overhaul their entire networks.

As 5G continues to launch in more areas around the country and manufacturers work with the carriers to gain certification for their hardware, a more clear timeline for release will emerge. At this time, Peplink’s aim is to make 5G modems available as early as possible in 2021.

Cradlepoint promotes 5G-ready routers; 5G modems expected in 2021

Cradlepoint, a leader in wireless networking for LTE, is preparing for 5G and making sure customers have access to equipment that can be used for LTE now and for 5G in the future.

There are currently no 5G modems or routers available besides what is offered by the carriers directly, but manufacturers like Cradlepoint and others are developing 5G gear with a 2021 release timeline. In the meantime, customers who need hardware now but don’t want to have to purchase all new equipment when 5G is available can purchase routers that offer the option to add a 5G modem in the future. Routers like the AER2200, IBR1700, E300, E3000 and CR4250 are all capable of supporting a 5G modem (which will be sold separately when available), making them great choices for users who want to plan for the long term but can’t wait until 2021 to make their networking purchase.

Care Plans Upgraded with Speedfusion Cloud!

Peplink is now offering total solution packages with Speedfusion cloud service. Peplink has added SpeedFusion cloud to Care plans ( Essential care, PrimeCare, Smartcare and TotalCare). This means any device under a Care plan can now leverage the SpeedFusion with just on click.

Each model comes with a different SpeedFusion package. Click the following link to discover what plan is available for your specific device.

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Nextivity offers free upgrade for Cel-Fi Compass to add FirstNet support

Nextivity is offering owners of its Cel-Fi Compass site survey tool a free hardware upgrade if requested by December 28, 2020. The hardware upgrade will add support for FirstNet (Band 14) scanning and will also significantly reduce the time taken for signal measurements. If requested after December 28, 2020, the cost of the upgrade will be $130.

Compass upgrade details:

  • Hardware Upgrade: Will update the COMPASS to include Band 14 for FirstNet at the expense of Band 41.
  • Firmware Upgrade: Will enhance the speed of the application and make existing Cel-Fi COMPASS models compatible with the Cel-Fi COMPASS RED Module.
  • WAVE PRO: Always be sure to download the latest WAVE PRO application from the Play Store or App Store to get the most from your Cel-Fi COMPASS

Compass owners can contact Cel-Fi to request an upgrade for their device.

T-Mobile plans to cover 100 million people with 5G this year

T-Mobile has greatly expanded their 5G coverage, and announced today that their network will reach 100 million people by the end of 2020. “T-Mobile has more midband spectrum than anyone else … We’re the only ones building a transformational 5G network built on dedicated — not shared — airwaves,” T-Mobile’s president of technology, Neville Ray, said in a statement.

T-Mobile’s midband 5G now reaches around 410 cities and towns across the country, and customers with 5G-capable devices are automatically able to use 5G as soon as a tower in their area is upgraded. The midband 2.5GHz network provides average downloads speeds of around 300 megabits per second, significantly faster than 4G LTE.