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.

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.

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.

Sierra Wireless announces MG90 5G, first 5G vehicle router

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Sierra Wireless (NASDAQ: SWIR) (TSX: SW), the leading IoT solutions provider that combines devices, network services and software to unlock value in the connected economy, today announced availability of the AirLink® MG90 5G platform, the industry’s first multi-network 5G vehicle networking solution that provides secure, always-on mobile connectivity for mission-critical first responder, field service and transit applications. Purpose-built for demanding high-speed multi-network vehicle needs, the AirLink MG90 5G delivers the best-in-class user experience, performance and reliability that the top public safety agencies rely on to ensure safety and save lives.

The MG90 5G allows users to leverage the existing 4G infrastructure and automatically connect to 5G networks as they become available regionally. Sierra Wireless is partnering with carriers to ensure the success of the 5G ecosystem and working with them on certifications as they roll out 5G networks. 

Tom Mueller, Vice President, Product, Enterprise Networking, Sierra Wireless, said: “Our customers are excited about the new capabilities that 5G will enable, and Sierra Wireless will support this market with a full portfolio of products. With the AirLink MG90 5G, Sierra Wireless has delivered the first 5G router solution that’s purpose-built to meet the challenges of moving vehicles, with patented technology to deliver the maximum performance and coverage anytime, anywhere. The MG90 5G tackles the toughest challenges where 5G matters most, enabling high-definition applications like remote triage for paramedics, live video streaming for law enforcement and improved Wi-Fi services for transit riders—all while switching seamlessly from network to network as the vehicles moves.” 

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Verizon to roll out low band nationwide 5G

Following T-Mobile’s lead, Verizon will soon be rolling out “Nationwide 5G” on its lower-band 5G frequency. The lower frequencies don’t provide the dramatic speeds available from mmWave 5G, but the coverage is vastly superior, making a nationwide launch much easier to achieve. An update will soon be available for select 5G phones allowing them to work on the low band network.

Verizon PR Manager George Koroneos confirmed the news on Twitter, and the necessary update is already available for some Samsung 5G devices. It’s presumed that all of the recent “5G UW” branded phones will also receive the update.

Apple 5G iPhone 12 launch set for October 13

Apple has set the date for its iPhone’s launch, releasing an invitation today that hints at the big feature expected to be seen on the new line of phones. “Hi, Speed,” the announcement reads – likely referring to the fast speeds of 5G, which the new phones will support. Apple will unveil the new iPhone series on Oct. 13 at 10 a.m. PT in a live event to be streamed on Apple’s website.

Prices have not yet been announced, but regardless of the cost the new 5G iPhones are sure to be a hit. A survey by electronics reseller Decluttr showed that a “staggering” 53% of respondents plan to buy the new model.