Staying Ahead of The Game

Article Index

As the technical tectonic plates in the US and the EU begin to collide how can we ensure we stay ahead of The Game and do not get squashed by the collision? A difficult question? Not if we focus on the key players, the arguments unfolding and retain hope. First let us offer congrats to Ajit Pai (nominated) as the Chairman of the FCC, Wilbur Ross (confirmed) at the DoC and his nominee for the vacant NTIA leadership seat. Unfortunately the tragedy unfolding in the UK came into sharp focus within the February issue of Electronics World, which brought to our attention a classic exposition of the woeful self-indulgent neo-Luddite leadership we have to endure in the UK: it relates to Prof William Webb of course. 

This EW piece came on the back of an interview Webb gave to the FT (20th December), entitled "5G ambitions risk getting ahead of demand". Wherein along with Prof Rahim Tafazolli of Surrey both are advocating similar sentiments. Likewise, as with Boris Johnson, Webb is also out to plug his new book: "The 5G Myth". So when did Webb find the time to write this work of fiction? Webb should ask an entrepreneur, economist or political scientist how "demands" from people are created or is it simply a case that they want to hold the world up until they themselves can supply the demand?

The US and UK Competing Visions

First though I shall note Commissioner O'Reilly comment's before the Senate (8th March):

"Having just returned from the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, I will share with you that a handful of my conversations with international representatives suggest increased concern that international governments, via different forums, continue to seek a greater role in Internet oversight and policy setting. That should be viewed as deeply troubling by all individuals that support and believe in an Internet relatively free from government control, and particularly by this Committee given its work to try to prevent ICANN from abusing its role post IANA conversion. I believe that the possible expansion of governmental interference in Internet governance and activities remains one of the greatest threats to its long-term sustainability and growth."Indeed! A big thank you to Michael for his timely alert on the continuing threat to the Open Internet.

Ajit is a known quantity to us as he seeks another 5-year term. Personally I have not always been on the same page regarding Net Neutrality but Ajit's heart is with us on an Open Internet. Here, I would refer the reader to the "Open Internet and Net Neutrality" subsection of the "Leaders and Followers - The Consequences of Binary Thinking" Blog, April 2015, regarding the tale of two Fact Sheets. Foreshadowing the Alternative Facts issue prevalent today? Perhaps, but despite Ajit's misgivings on Net Neutrality, Ajit, won't really roll it back for the reasons cited by Tom Wheeler. Instead Ajit has begun his chairmanship by seeking to stay aspects of last years Broadband Privacy Rule (before he places his own seal of approval). He is also seeking to "liberate" Free Data Offerings and reclassifying operators with less than 250,000 Internet connections in the interest of encouraging innovation, oh, and issued a Next Generation TV Ruling (ATSC 3.0) plus making progress on Real Time Text (RTT). All are matters for closer inspection another time. Instead we shall stay on the 5G landscape page. 

Despite also Ajit's misgivings on former Chairman Tom Wheeler's approach to LTE-U, on the 22nd February gave his blessing by issuing the following statement on the FCC's first authorization of LTE-U devices:

"Today, the Commission announced authorization of the first-ever LTE-U (LTE for unlicensed) devices in the 5 GHz band.  This is a significant advance in wireless innovation and a big win for wireless consumers. LTE-U allows wireless providers to deliver mobile data traffic using unlicensed spectrum while sharing the road, so to speak, with Wi-Fi.  The excellent staff of the FCC's Office of Engineering and Technology has certified that the LTE-U devices being approved today are in compliance with FCC rules.  And voluntary industry testing has demonstrated that both these devices and WiFi operations can co-exist in the 5 GHz band.  This heralds a technical breakthrough in the many shared uses of this spectrum. This is a great deal for wireless consumers, too.  It means they get to enjoy the best of both worlds: a more robust, seamless experience when their devices are using cellular networks and the continued enjoyment of Wi-Fi, one of the most creative uses of spectrum in history.  I remain committed to ensuring a competitive and vibrant unlicensed ecosystem that fosters innovation and promotes the efficient use of spectrum.  Today's announcement, enabled by cooperation among private actors and collaboration with the public sector, reflects that commitment."   

Therein lies the US technical policy case against Webb. This is not a trial it is a roll out. Of course the FCC is blessed with Continuity of Purpose. What is this LTE-U device and who set the technical standard behind it? Rhetorical question. Under FCC Part 15 Rules, it is being installed on Ericcson and Nokia base stations, and it appears T-Mobile will be the first operational carrier in the US this spring - spring 2017 that is - this year. Whether T-Mobile avoid the strategic error Vodafone made and are acquired by SoftBank is another matter. Alleged it was invented by Qualcomm but I shall not get diverted into the contentious US WiFi wars here. 

Demonstrably Ajit quite simply has no intention of surrendering FCC technical superiority and leadership to the ilk of the Webb neo-Luddites. For Luddites they are indeed. Instead I anticipate Ajit's focus shall be inclined towards network consolidation, both horizontal and vertical, and 5G proliferation into all aspects of mobile healthcare, autonomous vehicles and AI.

As the Keynote Speaker in Barcelona addressing the "Building the 5G economy" session (28th February), Ajit summarised their policy thus: 

"I would like to highlight a few parts of that framework because I believe they will provide the right foundation for 5G. And make no mistake: when it comes to 5G, the United States is committed to moving full speed ahead.

First, during the Clinton Administration in the 1990s, American policymakers forged a historic consensus across party lines that the Internet should be free from heavy-handed regulation. Instead of government telling broadband operators where to invest, how much to invest, or how to run their networks, we let market forces guide these decisions. Regulators made a conscious choice not to apply to the Internet the outdated rules crafted in the 1930s for a telephone monopoly. After all, complex rules designed to regulate a monopoly will inevitably push the market toward a monopoly. Instead, our policy was a modern one that gave the private sector the flexibility it needed to innovate.

Second, we encouraged facilities-based competition. In the early 2000s, the U.S. Rejected the notion that the broadband market was a natural monopoly. We encouraged broadband providers to build their own networks rather than using their competitors' infrastructure. We eliminated network-sharing obligations, which depressed investment and deterred network construction.

Third, we embraced a flexible use policy for wireless spectrum. Instead of mandating that a specific type of wireless technology be used in a particular spectrum band, the government left that choice to the private sector, which is better able to calibrate use to meet consumer demand. This enabled our wireless networks to evolve with technology, including the rollout of 4G LTE on a timeline that matched consumer demand.

Fourth and finally, we continually freed up spectrum for mobile broadband. We auctioned AWS-1 spectrum in 2006, 700 MHz spectrum in 2008, and 65 MHz of mid-band spectrum in 2015. And we are now completing our incentive auction, which will reallocate 70 MHz of spectrum from television broadcasters to wireless providers. Our auctions raised nearly $100 billion for the U.S. government, and they have also enabled operators to meet consumers' insatiable demand for mobile connectivity. We also moved quickly to open up nearly 11 GHz of spectrum in the bands above 24 GHz for mobile use. This gives operators a clear path to launching 5G and other innovative millimeter wave services in the United States. Moreover, we designated portions of these spectrum bands for both licensed commercial wireless use and for unlicensed or short-range devices, recognizing that there is a synergy between them that makes possible new applications, including the Internet of Things. But our efforts to facilitate 5G deployments have not stopped there. For one, the FCC authorized operators to launch 5G trials at cell sites across America. And they will be starting those trials by the middle of this year.

For another, we are currently considering whether to open up even more spectrum in the millimeter wave bands for 5G and other uses."

For the record, and for the avoidance of doubt, 5G officially and unequivocally commenced on the 14th July 2017 in the US. 

What OFCOM considers as trials the US considers as extended lab-testing. Readers already know my view on Auctions but should Sharon White emulate the Americans for her BT Openreach monopoly/duopoly deliberations that are apparently now decided upon? (Ducts, Poles and Cabinets are not Dark Fibre).

Therefore lets us further this case against the neo-Luddites with a comment from President Obama's Executive Office, December 2016, AI Report cited in the previous Blog posting:

"The 19th century was characterized by technological change that raised the productivity of lower-skilled workers and reduced the relative productivity of certain higher-skilled workers. This kind of innovation has been called unskill-biased technical change. Highly-skilled artisans who controlled and executed full production processes saw their livelihoods threatened by the rise of mass production technologies that used assembly lines with interchangeable parts and lower-skilled workers. In reaction, some English textile weavers participated in the Luddite Riots of the early 1800s by destroying looms and machinery that threatened to undercut their highly-skilled, highly-paid jobs with lower-wage roles. Ultimately, the protesters' fears came true, and many skilled crafts were replaced by the combination of machines and lower-skill labor. There were also new opportunities for less-skilled workers and output per hour rose. As a result, average living standards could rise, but certain high-skill workers were no longer as valuable in the market".

True, the lesson of the Luddites does indeed need to be absorbed and applied towards the Fourth Industrial Revolution in order to permit this movement to incorporate the Wellbeing Agenda: such that we never again leave the people behind with the pace of technological change, as the breakthroughs, which always arise after decades of intensive research and development, bare fruit. Be assured technical breakthroughs will come.

Unfortunately what the above reference to English Luddite behaviour does not clarify is that these highly skilled workers, such as Webb today, were driven by the "Fear of Starvation" because there was no Welfare State safety net to catch their fall. Rather what really differentiated the winners from the losers was how far they actually had to fall.  Although for the UK policy making patrician engineering class which is now about to take The Fall over Brexit, both to their global reputation and influence, for this clique it is an in-office-but-not-in-power scenario that is unfolding, as their authority slowly leaches away.

Recall Sharon White's "Right Touch" visit to Washington last June 28th? Immediately preceding her visit Tom Wheeler had the following to say to the National Press Club in his "The Future of Wireless: A Vision for U.S. Leadership in a 5G World" on the 20th June speech, namely:

"We will be repeating the proven formula that made the United States the world leader in 4G. It's a simple formula: Lead the world in spectrum availability, encourage and protect innovation-driving competition, and stay out of the way of technological development. Unlike some countries, we do not believe we should spend the next couple of years studying what 5G should be, how it should operate, and how to allocate spectrum, based on those assumptions. Like the examples I gave earlier, the future has a way of inventing itself. Turning innovators loose is far preferable to expecting committees and regulators to define the future. Instead, we will make ample spectrum available and then rely on a private sector-led process for producing technical standards best suited for those frequencies and cases. Leadership in networks leads to leadership in uses, which quickly moves across borders" 

"Quickly moves across borders"? Oh Dear. Of course the"some countries" Tom is referring too here includes the UK. "Special Relationship"? Aye Right! Alas Tom saw her coming. Hopefully readers shall have observed that the Referendum was bookend-ed between these two events. More tellingly Sharon ignored this event totally in her speech. Why? Understand that, and you shall begin to recognise the fault-line between the Americans and the British Establishment. Yes there is one - but in the UK it is well covered up and papered over unless you know where to look. Thus I believe that Sharon should absorb her Washington lesson because there she will always receive a fair hearing and thus be given the wisdom and courage to either navigate around the Webb's Luddites or simply leave them to wither on the vine by concentrating on a much needed and long overdue fiber roll-out. Globalization shall eventually take care of the parochial BT Openreach duopoly issue for her.

On the 22nd November last, Sharon gave the following evidence to the CMS Select Committee concerning 5G:

Q69 Nigel Adams: Before I start, could I again put on record my entry in the Register of Members' Financial Interests? I am a director and shareholder of a couple of telecoms businesses. There is lots of excitement and talk around 5G. Can you explain what Ofcom's role in the establishment and development of 5G is likely to look like?

Sharon White: This partly links to the question about our international engagement. We are very heavily involved. My senior lead on spectrum runs the European Spectrum Group. As you know, there is a lot of discussion at the moment, which is trying to get the technical specifications for what 5G means agreed internationally. We are either chairing those meetings at a European level or are very actively involved in the UN. We know that they are, just as a matter of practicality, making sure that the spectrum is out in the market. Partly through Ofcom's work, the 3.4 GHz that we announced yesterday is now recognised as a 5G spectrum band. We are now identifying 26 GHz-and we are going to have to try to persuade the MoD to transfer it to us to auction-which is another important band. We are trying to get the technical specifications; we are trying to make sure that the spectrum is out there to market. Some of the competition changes we have made, even in the last year, are important. The Committee is aware that, for the mobile operators gearing up their backhaul-their core capacity for 5G-having dark fibre so that they can innovate without having to rely on BT for its electronics, will also be very important. Also thinking in the context of the USO, so the degree to which 5G might help with wireless broadband without having to have fixed links, particularly into rural premises. We are doing a lot of work.

Q70 Nigel Adams: Clearly you are. That is good to hear. There are likely to be lots of significant challenges, though, in terms of delivering it: investment-wise, engineering, and planning, particularly on investment. How do you see that panning out and how is that likely to be delivered?

Sharon White: The way you frame planning and investment in the same phrase is really important. Again, the Committee will know that the expectation is that we are going to need thousands and thousands of femtocells, these smoke-alarm-sized boxes attached to buildings, both in cities and then also in rural areas. We are trying to join up the conversations with the Government about ensuring that planning does not act as a barrier to ensuring that the investment is out there.

Q71 Nigel Adams: Do you see it mainly as an urban/suburban, product?

Sharon White: No, it won't just be urban and suburban. It will be rural areas too, but the planning issues will be slightly different. You could imagine, in rural areas, more sharing across providers. That is much harder to see in the city areas.

Question: Why should the MOD cooperate with OFCOM in releasing and sharing spectrum without the appropriate technologies being available? Will the MoD opt for US COTS as they now move even closer? 

So "Talk" - yes. Debate - no. Nigel is correct. However, Sharon's choice of words "runs the European Spectrum Group" are inappropriate. Readers also know my view on Marnick. He is on borrowed time with the EU.

In my submission (30th September 2015) to this Select Committee Inquiry into Broadband, regarding their question "How have existing Government broadband programmes been delivered", I stated the following (Section (h)): "We believe that OFCOM, although staffed by good people, suffers from an excessive planning and functionalism culture and appears to comprise of closed circles"

Webb and Marnick are highly intelligent and technically gifted, but they fall into a closed circle group-think trap which they will not break free from of their own accord. Events and technical breakthroughs shall free them.  

I must also add Richard Hooper, ex-BBC, ex-OFCOM and the current Chair of the Broadband Stakeholders Group to their company. Ultimately Hooper fails to even attempt to keep pace or compete with the Americans. Consider his appearance on Parliamentary TV before the Select Committee Establishing World Class Connectivity Inquiry, 24th November 2015, when his Establishment"Mask" slipped off. Hooper failed to appreciate that innovation leads to patents. Patents lead to state sanctioned monopolies.  Initially that is - unless they are put into the Standards pot! We shall see how Hooper's false pride and anti-Americanism fares come the new Business Connectivity Forum to be Chaired by DCMS as the Government seeks to navigate around the BSG bottleneck. Good luck. 

Nevertheless as Webb appears to be their spokesperson, I shall take a much need, but hopefully not too harsh a closer look at him. We already know that Webb was also one of the culprits who instigated the lag between the US and the UK in obtaining 4G. Consequently is Webb now attempting to orchestrate the same fate with 5G?  

Oh well, the bigger they are the harder they fall it is said! Witness David Cameron, but does Webb need to be pushed?

Webb's states that "there is an alternative vision where industry focuses on consistent connectivity everywhere rather than unnecessary fast speeds in city centers". The self-righteous hypocrisy and attempted rewriting of history within this statement belies the simple fact that Webb was one of the leading technical "experts" who, since 2000, have led the UK into this promised landscape. Nevertheless we are where we are. Webb is not in denial though, instead it appears to me that Webb is merely hiding his malice behind a mask of virtue. Hence we need look no further than Dido Harding's critique of broadband roll-out in parliament, quoted in previous Blogs to begin the case against him. Also good luck to Dido in a new stage of her career. 

Personally I have no axe to grind with Webb. Webb to me simply represents one UK Establishment mindset epitomized by the not-invented-here syndrome. (Not to be confused with the JMB of course.)

What is not widely known is that Webb owes this Establishment position to David Cleevely FREng. one of the Great and the Good of the Cambridge Mafia, who as one of the eight originators of the  Communications Review 2000 provided the cover leading to the formation of  OFCOM and the notorious 2003 Communications Act. But does Cleevely share Webb's 5G sentiments? If so that would be a double tragedy.

We already know what the NTIA thought of Cleevely's inadequate and inappropriate CRFS Spectrum Sensing offering: they not only designed their own more advanced sensor but are implementing their own Spectrum Monitoring Cloud based MSOD system architecture for underpinning 5G Spectrum Sharing. Oh Dear! 

Incidentally, regarding the Act itself, Sharon stated the following in her IoG speech: "Most of our telecom's and broadcasting work sits under European Law, transposed into UK statutes such as the 2003 Communications Act, in telecom's a common EU framework defines the broad duties, powers and independence of national regulators such as OFCOM". So true, but it is how this framework has been transposed into UK law, and who by, which is the real problem: i.e. gold-plated ambiguity by civil servants who leave the neo-Luddite ilk of William Webb to interpret legislation as they see fit. Yet they never wonder why OFCOM are always permanently in court? 

One serious question to be addressed by others is the following: how has Webb's influence contaminated the higher echelons of political policy making to the detriment of UK technology policy with his stop-gap WhiteSpace piece of nonsense which died when Neul was sold to Huawei for a reported œ24m in 2014? This regulatory delay from 2008 to 2015 hindered the UK in playing an active role in the true development of Sharing Spectrum and Reusable Spectrum Technologies agenda globally. Question: why did Huawei not participate in OFCOM's 2015 Spectrum Sharing Framework Consultation? Nevertheless good luck to Huawei and the four UK WSDB enterprises; FairSpectrum, Nominet UK, Sony Europe and Spectrum Bridge come NGTV. I am sure they shall cope, adapt and prosper. Incidentally, how do you propose to achieve consistent connectivity in a 5G world without a MSOD system being in place? Of course readers know it is a receiver thing with the NTIA and Boulder already on the case.

Ironically the same FT article comments on the Chancellor's declaring that Britain wanted to be a "world leader in 5G" were raised. The undercurrent to the FT article is that rather than falsely debate the issue, there is a Turf War going on. Markets and engineers cannot be fooled.

Two further statements from Webb's book, published last November, caught my attention. From Chapter 9 "How the future plays out", Webb states: "Current mobile data speeds are more than adequate for all foreseeable uses" - rubbish, only a technical ignoramus would believe that and Webb is certainly no technical ignoramus. Then Webb ends his book with the following statement: "The aim of this book is to stimulate debate that allows 5G to become whatever good things happen from 2018 onwards. After all, it's good to talk, and the future could be bright..." or its converse!  

Regarding the former statement, consider just the two mHealth applications I have previously brought to both OFCOM and the CMS Select Committee's attention: 

1) a real time wearable ultrasound vest for cloud based volumetric monitoring and viewing babies in the womb (not to be confused with current generation hand held slice 2D ultrasound 4G smartphone probe's) 

2) real time monitoring and adjustment of neurotransmitter's and hormones for human bonding or tackling medical issues such a Thyroid T4 level deficiencies. 

These very foreseeable game changing "killer applications", simply cannot be achieved with "current mobile data speeds".Nor with currently allocated spectrum bandwidths either. Thus Webb is either guilty of willful blindness or much worse. Patently the strategic necessity is ensuring these applications and others come on line concurrently in the US and UK and the EU by getting them on the same page.

Consider simply that DARPA funded the Deep Bleeder Acoustic Coagulation (DBAC) research, with Thomas McCreery as PI, which led to the development of the Ultrasound Arrays for a proof of concept Cuff in 2008, in partnership with Seimens Healthcare and Texas A&M. This technology reached it's InVivo testing stage in 2015, with Michael Sekins as PI. With results published in the Journal of Therapeutic Ultrasound and BioMedCentral web site. The next evolutionary technology issues with this application relate to low cost piezoelectric transducers via additive manufacturing techniques (GE is on the case) and low power thermal relief for wearable devices and overcoming the "Jelly on the Belly" issue. Who shall set the standards then for a 5G wireless cloud based implementation and allocate the spectrum bandwidths and occupancy for military and paramedic use? Another rhetorical question.

But the truly revolutionary aspect always, always comes with breakthroughs. 

Consider the recent technical US breakthrough by the team lead by Prof Payam Heydari at the University of California, Irvine (UCI). This sensor emits millimeter-wave 110 to 300GHz circularly polarized signals targeted towards security scanners and biomedical applications. Currently, as we know, Terahertz airport style scanners are limited to penetrating clothes and only a few mm-depth on human skin tissue. Thus the depth of penetration of the human body for organ and fetal viewing is the key breakthrough determinant here.  But be reassured and grateful that it is Ajit and the FCC, in conjunction with the FDA, who shall determine the policy for spectrum release allocation. (For Star Trek'ies think the conceptual vision of the original Dr. McCoy instruments!)   

Hence Webb and his ilk, who sit in the company of scorners, appear to me to be merely attempting to frustrate matters and muddy the waters, but why so? Just what is Webb's real game? Perhaps it is simply to buy time via regulatory delay? If so is it in order to roll out an inadequate and inappropriate Spectrum Sensing and Monitoring system based on current 3G technology from CRFS? Luddites! Or is Webb engaged in and merely pandering to the Surveillance State paranoid fixation to the detriment of mHealth data? Recently it was announced that their were over 20,000 smartphones operational within prisons. Such could only be permitted to be the case if someone in the Home Office did not want them blocked by geo-location means. Hence we are back again to the question of the future assignment for BDUK. This is really a matter best kept for when I get round to critiquing David Davis and Liam Fox for reasons I shall not elaborate on at present.

Besides his captive parochial audience, who globally shall listen to Webb? After all the Americans didn't over his Spectrum Usage Rights, when they adopted a more advanced and transparent Tertiary Spectrum Sharing Model or, indeed likewise, the other pieces of nonsense he offered them. However alternative visions (facts?) do serve a purpose and are indeed invaluable as sanity checks but nevertheless without having fully absorbed Webb's critique (I simply don't have the time to be blind sided and sucked into it) I say that there is a hidden agenda behind Webb's madness which is to do with "battening down the hatches" by the Establishment. 

For pertinent cultural references here look to the film "The Italian Job" (The original not the American remake). Webb is a fully paid up member of the "Self Preservation Society". This famous UK film, although a joy to watch, was immersed in the prevalent anti-Common Market "two world wars and one world cup" sentiments of the time. But the serious undercurrent to recall was the threat contained in the line delivered by Michael Cain's "Charlie Cracker" character: "If you kill us, there are a quarter of a million Italians in Britain and they will be made to suffer. Every restaurant, cafe and ice cream parlour, gambling den and nightclub in London, Liverpool and Glasgow will be smashed. Mr Bridger will drive them into the sea." Oh Dear! Given current parliamentary wrangling over EU residential rights, this warning should be taken on seriously board.

Another open question is: does Cleevely play a "Mister Bridger" character to Webb's "Charlie" character? Or would Cleevely instead address the following Mr Bridger line to Webb: "you are symptomatic of the lazy, unimaginative management that is driving Britain onto the rocks"? 

As for Webb's "It is nobody's interest to rock the boat" statement, I would humbly refer the reader to the UK 2009 film "The Boat that Rocked", again yearning after sixties nostalgia, wherein the Kennith Branagh character "Sir Alistair Dormandy" delivers the line "Pirate Radio - we are going to close them down". Oh Dear. Spoiler Alert: the boat sank but the people came to the rescue.

Both these aspects fundamentally underplay to Tom Wheeler's "innovation without permission" critique espoused by authoritarians such as Webb.

Webb also fails to appreciate the distinction between top-down and bottom-up disruptive technologies.

Webb also deliberately obfuscates the distinction between the marketing hype presentations - 3G, 4G, 5G delivered for public consumption and the true purpose behind managed phased technical standard releases, currently clocking up LTE Release 15. And foresee-ably beyond with breakthroughs? Or is Webb being disingenuous by manipulating the woefully non-technical well-meaning generalist political class of the UK?  Culture Wars eh? Just how are they conducted and by whom and why? Questions for the Culture Media and Sport Committee to launch a new Inquiry into perhaps?

Where UK Communications are Heading?

On the 2nd of March Sharon gave a truly impressive speech to the "Media & Telecoms & Beyond" entitled: "Into the future: Where are Communications Heading?" therein Sharon states:

"5G could support connections so fast and responsive that they no longer constrain the mobile user. This change will not arrive as a glittering new network, but as a combination of better 4G technology and new mobile standards. So what will it deliver? Well, broadly speaking, we think 5G services will fall into three categories.

First, better mobile broadband. 5G should provide more reliable access to the web. It should allow people to work, listen to music or watch mobile TV, even in congested areas with huge numbers of people. Without 5G to support future demands, our current networks would struggle.

Second, 5G should help enable the 'Internet of Things' - which, after much talk, is starting to become a practical reality. Although like some here today, I've been waiting several years for my fridge to order a pint of milk, and it hasn't yet obliged. Understandably, some people feel this technological revolution has been overcooked. Certainly the labels can be misleading. There will, for example, be no one Internet of Things. Instead, major sectors of the economy will develop their own products, in their own time, to address their own challenges. Already, aspects of our environment - from parking spaces to water levels - are being tracked by online networks. Connected consumers are buying 3 million wrist devices in the UK each year. Clearly, this is just the start. Ofcom's research suggests that connected devices are on the cusp of taking off in our homes and offices, on our roads and our railways. We predict 100m of these machines in the UK within five years, up from just 13m last year. They will span every sector - from connected parcels and fleet-tracking in the postal network; to personalised medical devices and treatments; to environmental sensors that monitor pollution in real time.

Third, we think 5G will support new applications that rely on ultra-reliable networks to send data back-and-forth in milliseconds. These could include networks that manage traffic in real time, or provide live data to emergency response teams.

We could also see the dawn of a new age of smart manufacturing, where managers can see, access and control every machine and process. Each device in the manufacturing chain would generate data and insight to increase performance, predict problems and boost productivity.

Consumers and businesses should not be constrained by infrastructure that fails to keep pace with their needs and ambitions. Nor can the UK afford to lose its place as a world-leading digital nation. Just as we led the first, so we must lead the fourth industrial revolution - a fusion of the physical, digital and biological worlds that holds untold promise.

Being at the forefront of this revolution is even more crucial as we establish new trading relationships with the rest of the world."

Sharron is absolutely correct when she says "some people believe this technological revolution has been overcooked" her words, not mine, but what I can say which Sharon cannot, is that it is the Webb Neo-Luddite clique in the Establishment who need to be named and shamed, including the old-guard in OFCOM. But what does Sharon mean by the words "no one Internet"? The word Internet has always referred to a Network-of-Networks but is Sharon alluding that the UK is heading for a Closed rather than Open Internet?

However these Webb Neo-Luddites won't go without a fight, but importantly on Spectrum Sharing it shall come down to a technical decision with a clear cut winner. Thus technically speaking Sharon cannot get involved in this fight. Furthermore it is my belief that Sharon will eventually need the proper global technical support to get on the same page as the Americans and the Europeans in the interests of  UK National Security and Economic Wellbeing. 

Nevertheless good luck to Arqiva and Samsung with their new FWA 5G trials (Attrition? reliability or consistent connectivity? Up-gradability?) and to BT, Ericsson and King's College London also as they get on with it. 

Concerning the recently published DCMS "A Digital Strategy for a Digital Britain" - fine words, "Jam Tomorrow" or as the Americans say: "where is the beef"? 

Surrey and Cyclostationarity

As for Surreys involvement in this UK 5G Debate? What debate? The time for debating is over: America won - again. Look out from your ivory tower. Hence I would simply refer the reader to my"2016: A year for Conflicts and Reconciliations" Blog posting from January 2016, and the issues raised concerning NTIA's Stephan Voran's "Exploration of the additivity approximation of spectral magnitudes" technical exposition article. The underpinning critique is that Surrey is pursuing a course "doomed to failure" on its current trajectory. Simply put, Surrey either do not understand the arguments around Mathematical Spaces and Fourier Superposition and the FFT or is this another case of more willful blindness? (BSS pun intended). I shall explore the related topical issue of Cyclostationarity another time. Question: do the NTIA use the this term? Answer: No. Why not? 

Indeed, would the NTIA's technical arguments be over the heads of UK politicians? I believe this to be the case.

And what about Dresden? Will they abandon Surrey and move on? 

In the Chancellor's Budget Statement his "œ16m for a new 5G mobile technology hub" exposed the deception  of the governments rhetoric and pretensions on world leadership in 5G. False pride and hubris again.

Computing Quantum Breakthrough

Another UK technical breakthrough is once again a tragedy in motion. I refer here to the other provincial university, Sussex not Surrey, wherein Quantum Computing came to the fore recently. 

The abstract on this UK breakthrough announced last September in the US Physical Review Letters reads:

"Trapped ions are a promising tool for building a large-scale quantum computer. However, the number of required radiation fields for the realization of quantum gates in any proposed ion-based architecture scales with the number of ions within the quantum computer, posing a major obstacle when imagining a device with millions of ions. Here, we present a fundamentally different approach for trapped-ion quantum computing where this detrimental scaling vanishes. The method is based on individually controlled voltages applied to each logic gate location to facilitate the actual gate operation analogous to a traditional transistor architecture within a classical computer processor. To demonstrate the key principle of this approach we implement a versatile quantum gate method based on long-wavelength radiation and use this method to generate a maximally entangled state of two quantum engineered clock qubits with fidelity 0.985. This quantum gate also constitutes a simple-to-implement tool for quantum metrology, sensing, and simulation."

Indeed! What about IBM? First however, I shall refer the reader to another cultural film masterpiece from 2014 "Castles in the Sky". It critiques the shabby Establishment treatment of Sir Robert Watson-Watt at the hands of Henry Tizard and A P Rowe. Watson-Watt lost that particular Turf War even although Churchill sided with him technology wise. So, I sincerely hope that the two lead researchers Prof Witfried Hensinger and Dr Seb Weidl from Sussex absorb the lesson and don't have to resort to the Michael Caine's Charlie Cracker line ""I could always take it to the Americans. They are a people who recognize young talent and give it a chance. They are!"

For the September 2011 Electronics World Last Note item concerning Fujitsu and the Australian National University collaboration on supercomputer research I wrote:

"Last May [2010], D-Wave Systems of Canada sold the first commercial supercomputer to Lockheed Martin. Thus the age of grand-challenge supercomputers, so beloved of mathematicians, is entering a new phase. As well as the defence aspects and stated goals of this project, the issue that shall drive the wide scale adoption of supercomputers is the Cloud, especially as current signal processing algorithms for real-time computation of data intensive 3D imaging for medical and other purposes, from 4G smart device sensors to smart device enabled displays, is beyond the current standards of on this and the next generation of smartphones"

That D-Wave device cited operated on 128-Qubits. D-Wave announced in January, that they are up to 1000 Qubits with the intention of doubling every year. The academic argument about this not being a "proper" Quantum Computer is another red herring. The D-Wave technology of quantum annealing whereby a probabilistic  Hamiltonian Energy Model can be transformed to a classical deterministic Eigenspectrum Model is here and now. Consequently it shall be the first real quantum basis along with classical HPC technology for underpinning 5G. The point here is that these twin technologies are complementary. Gate model quantum computers shall eventually produce the goods though. The other key technology point to appreciate here with HPC is that actual speedup of a single core processor between 1999, when D-Wave was formed, and now has only grown by 52.9ish times - no matter how many millions of single cores are employed in scaling up.

Another lesson for Sussex, is that it took over 20 years of engineering finesse to get to where D-Wave are commercially today but crucially the point to grasp about reinventing a wheel is that can be done considerably quicker with the political will of a Churchill. Witness that both the Manhattan Project and landing two men on the moon and safely returning them to the earth were products of Political Will and achieved in seven years  and eight years respectively. So just how hard really is it to build a quantum computer? It is a matter of politics.

A Further Cultural Lesson

Consider that if people want a Rolls-Royce, we engineer a Rolls-Royce, if people want a Mini then we engineer a Mini: it is called choice. Nevertheless the general public (the real people) do fear a reduction in consumer protection and a power grab by multinationals over the technology behind globalisation because TTIP has not gone away - we are merely awaiting the clash of tectonic plates and a renaming of the packaging. 

Now consider next the following exchange from the 2003 American remake of "The Italian Job":

Yevhen "All these poor people putting their life saving in banks, S&L's and mutuals, when the collapse comes who do they think they can depend on, the government, I don't think so." John "Are you taping me," Yevhen "of course not, I never tape you, come look. Governments are nothing more than puppets and strings in the world where NAFTA can overrule the Supreme Court." 

Oh Dear! Not true, merely perceptions and another example of media manipulation, but alas Her Majesty did wonder "Why no one saw the crash coming?". Well actually they did. It was classic group-think syndrome wherein both siren and Casandra voices were deliberately ignored by The Establishment(s), simply because they wanted to keep their grave train running. Think here of the other classic Pink Floyd song played over the films credits:"Money". As the Americans say: go figure. Especially before they repatriate their foreign hoardings.

Furthermore as Julius Genachowski, the former chairman of the FCC, stated in an interview with the FT (30th September 2013): "The next generation of workers will be "more and more digitally demanding" and will force companies and governments to change how they operate. In sectors such as healthcare and education, for instance, "The decision makers will be 40-somethings who can't live without their iPhone or iPad and simply won't accept from their vendors that they can't have the products that they know are buildable" 

Why did Julius feel the need to address such sentiments to the UK Establishment, via the Financial Times, in 2013?

Barry McKeown 

15th March 2017

(The Ides of March!)






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