Ericsson sought authority to conduct 5G demo with Sprint for President Trump at White House

It looks as though Ericsson and Sprint were prepared to conduct a 5G demo for President Donald Trump at the White House on June 22, but that plan has been nixed.

Ericsson filed an application for Special Temporary Authority (STA) on June 13, but it was promptly denied/dismissed (PDF) by the FCC on June 14. The FCC provided little explanation, saying only that “the Commission is unable to grant your application for the facilities requested. Withdrawn by applicant. Event was cancelled.”

It’s not clear who initiated the cancellation. The application documents indicate that the demo was requested by the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) as part of a White House meeting with technology companies. The FCC’s “dismissed without prejudice” notice was signed by Anthony Serafini, chief of the FCC’s Experimental Licensing Branch.

An FCC spokesperson was not immediately available to provide further explanation.  An Ericsson representative wasn’t immediately available to respond to FierceWirelessTech’s inquiry either, while a Sprint spokesperson said the company had no comment.

According to Recode, the White House is planning a series of meetings this month with tech company executives, including a June 22 gathering devoted to drones, driverless cars and 5G wireless technologies. Invites went out to about 30 companies, including Amazon, Google and Intel, according to Recode, citing sources familiar with the Trump administration’s thinking.

Ericsson’s application indicates Ericsson and Sprint wanted to use the 14.5-15.35 GHz frequency to conduct the demo on June 22 using one Ericsson base station and one piece of Ericsson-supplied user equipment. Ericsson sought a license to start the demo on June 21 but said the operation would be limited in time to the technology meeting and any necessary setup.

The FCC has previously given Ericsson permission to conduct experiments using 14.5-15.35 GHz; the company chose that particular spectrum because its equipment was designed to operate there in Sweden. If it were given permission for the White House demo, the company was aiming to keep the base station and mobile unit within 50 feet of each other. Plans also included a larger radius of operation of 0.1 kilometer in case it had to go a bit farther than 50 feet.

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Masayoshi Son, the CEO of SoftBank, which controls Sprint, has been an active supporter of Trump and met with him in December when he pledged to invest billions of dollars in U.S. tech companies and create thousands of jobs. Last month, SoftBank announced that it had raised $93 billion for a new tech investment fund, which will become the largest in history.

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Of course, many of Trump’s policies have been seen as anti-tech. Ericsson rival Nokia was perhaps the most vocal among traditional wireless vendors when Trump announced his controversial executive order on immigration earlier this year. Nokia called the action disruptive and inconsistent with Nokia’s values.

Earlier this month, Tesla/SpaceX CEO Elon Musk announced he was stepping away from his role on two of Trump’s advisory councils after the president’s decision to pull the United States out of the Paris climate agreement.