SoftBank CEO Urges an End to Copper

Japanese media giant has a bold if somewhat self-serving plan to cover the country in optical fiber

3 min read

3 November 2010—Japan has long been regarded as a leader when it comes to providing broadband connectivity and deploying "fiber to the home" (FTTH). Yet entrepreneur Masayoshi Son, chairman and CEO of telecom and media company SoftBank Corp., is critical of the way broadband technology is being implemented and has urged the government to back his ideas for radical change.

As is the case in most developed countries, the Japanese industry is employing broadband in two ways: over existing copper phone lines using digital subscriber line (DSL) technology, which provides theoretical maximum download speeds of around 50 megabits per second, and over newly laid optical fiber cable with the claim of delivering data at up to 200 Mb/s. Even though SoftBank has the largest number of DSL subscribers—a 38 percent market share—Son says this two-tier deployment strategy is costly and inefficient and is causing Japan to lose its competitive edge.

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How the FCC Settles Radio-Spectrum Turf Wars

Remember the 5G-airport controversy? Here’s how such disputes play out

11 min read
This photo shows a man in the basket of a cherry picker working on an antenna as an airliner passes overhead.

The airline and cellular-phone industries have been at loggerheads over the possibility that 5G transmissions from antennas such as this one, located at Los Angeles International Airport, could interfere with the radar altimeters used in aircraft.

Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images
Blue

You’ve no doubt seen the scary headlines: Will 5G Cause Planes to Crash? They appeared late last year, after the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration warned that new 5G services from AT&T and Verizon might interfere with the radar altimeters that airplane pilots rely on to land safely. Not true, said AT&T and Verizon, with the backing of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, which had authorized 5G. The altimeters are safe, they maintained. Air travelers didn’t know what to believe.

Another recent FCC decision had also created a controversy about public safety: okaying Wi-Fi devices in a 6-gigahertz frequency band long used by point-to-point microwave systems to carry safety-critical data. The microwave operators predicted that the Wi-Fi devices would disrupt their systems; the Wi-Fi interests insisted they would not. (As an attorney, I represented a microwave-industry group in the ensuing legal dispute.)

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