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The Future of Mobility Event


Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.

At Qualcomm, we live and breathe mobile technology. We are acutely aware that it has transformed the way we live our lives and connect to the world around us. That is why we were thrilled to learn that TIME was devoting a special issue to wireless technology. The August 27th “Wireless Issue” featured the TIME Mobility Poll, conducted in cooperation with Qualcomm, which surveyed 5,000 people from the U.S, the U.K., China, India, South Korea, South Africa, Indonesia and Brazil about how mobile technology impacts their daily lives. The results were fascinating.

Eighty-four percent of people worldwide are unable to go a single day without using their mobile device. For young people, the mobile device plays an even stronger role in their lives; two-thirds of those between the ages of 25-to-29 years old check their phones at least every half-hour. Considering at least 9-in-10 people worldwide believe that wireless mobile technology is important to public safety, entrepreneurship and small business development, transportation, and military and defense, it is clear why we’re constantly connected.

To continue the conversation that the poll release generated, TIME decided to bring together industry experts to further examine the transformative power of mobile at “The Future of Mobility” forum,  featuring: Travis Kalanick, CEO of Uber; Aneesh Chopra, former U.S. Chief Technology Officer; Isobel Coleman, Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations; Judith McHale, former Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs; Rey Ramsey, President & Chief Executive Officer, TechNet and Matt Flannery, Co-Founder and CEO, KIVA. This exceptional group of individuals was gathered together at the Newseum in Washington D.C. to discuss how mobile devices are changing the world and affecting everything from business to healthcare, to parenting.

The overwhelming adoption of mobile technology has enabled companies like Uber, which provides on-demand private drivers though an application-based service, to flourish. Ten years ago, this would not have been possible. Ever since Uber first launched in 2010, improved technology has helped the company expand to over 17 cities across the U.S.  

Mobile has also made it possible for Kiva, a non-profit microfinance organization, to use mobile payments to overcome barriers in Africa. Using mobile technology, a borrower can apply for a microloan and receive the funds electronically. In one example, a borrower used his phone to apply for a $60 loan to buy a wheelbarrow for his recycling effort based in one of Africa’s largest urban slums.

In empowering entrepreneurs like Kiva and Uber, mobile has helped our struggling economy. According to a TechNet study, the App economy is responsible for roughly 466,000 jobs in the United States since 20071. We also see mobile impacting public safety, in Pakistan where information is provided about potential terrorist attacks and in Haiti where people are warned about earthquakes. Communities around the world are empowered to keep citizens informed and promote a two way flow of information. 


Christine Trimble

Vice President, Public Affairs

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A new kind of spectrum for new opportunities

Last year, the FCC opened up 150 MHz of spectrum in the U.S. around 3.5 GHz that it named Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS), not to be confused with the old CB radio. Hidden under that name is a novel approach of making more spectrum available when and where it can be used. As spectrum is the life blood of wireless communication, the FCC’s move has the potential to create new wireless opportunities, which for consumers means new and better services.

So what is the new approach in CBRS? First, it enables others to use the spectrum while it is still being used by existing incumbents, such as the military or satellite communication, see Figure 1. This in itself is not new. As a matter of fact, we helped to introduce this concept back in 2013 with Licensed Shared Access (LSA), where a license holder exclusively shares the spectrum with the incumbent. This is a powerful concept that unlocks more spectrum for wireless communication.

Figure 1: When an incumbent like the Navy is using a part of the spectrum, other users need to move to unused portions of the spectrum band.

In addition to sharing with incumbents — CBRS adds a ‘third-tier’ of general usage. In this third-tier, anyone can use the spectrum when it is not used by the higher tiers (the incumbents or users that paid for a license), see Figure 2. Of course, if there are multiple third-tier users in the same area then they will share the available spectrum with each other in a fair manner. The complexity of managing three tiers will require some additional control. To this effect, the FCC has defined a Spectrum Access System (SAS) — a type of database, in effect — and the Wireless Innovation Forum is helping to specify the details to ensure that it all works in accordance with the FCC rules.

Figure 2: CBRS consists of three tiers with different priorities: incumbents, licensed usage (PAL), and general usage (GAA).

So what exciting things will this new kind of spectrum enable? Let’s look at some examples. First it can be used by existing mobile operators to offer Gigabit LTE speeds in more places by making more spectrum available. One can also use this spectrum for small-cell deployments to extend coverage and add capacity indoors. Another example is what we call neutral host, which is a LTE deployment that can be used by subscribers irrespective of their service provider. Such a solution makes sense in places where it is not feasible for each operator to deploy its own radio systems independently; for example, in public venues such as sports stadiums, or in places where it is not cost effective to do so, like indoor coverage in malls or hotels. This approach benefits the venue owner, the mobile operator and the end users. The three-tier approach also enables new entities to offer services by creating their own so-called private LTE networks without owning any spectrum. Such private LTE networks can be used for industrial IoT or enterprise use in general. But let’s not stop there. By enabling anyone to create a LTE-based network, the sky is the limit, literally.

We are not alone at being excited about this new spectrum. Together with five partners we started the CBRS Alliance, which was announced this week, and are working toward field trials later this year. The CBRS Alliance will focus on supporting the commercialization of LTE-based solutions in the CBRS band and is encouraging companies that want to help accomplish this goal to join — for more info see their webpage. From our end, we are getting ready for CBRS by making multiple LTE-based solutions available: LTE-TDD, Licensed Assisted Access (LAA) and MulteFire. Each of these offers different benefits and can co-exist together in the CBRS spectrum. As with CBRS, all good things come in threes!