Thursday, November 14, 2019

Border Wars: Mexican Carrier’s Signal Interferes with Verizon’s Spectrum

Verizon customers from California to Texas are experiencing interference from a carrier across the border in Mexico that’s tapping into the same 700 MHz band, reported the San Diego Union-Tribune. Since August, Verizon customers filed complaints regarding dropped calls and lost, or weak broadband connections after Altán Redes turned on its wholesale wireless network in northern Mexico.

The issue has caught the attention of the FCC, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), and other government officials on both sides of the border, per the Union-Tribune. Working with the Commission, Verizon is trying to minimize the impact to customers close to the border.

According to Altán, it’s operating in strict compliance with the wireless communications protocols in force between Mexico and the United States. Per Altán, the interference “is caused by the activity of the United States’ mobile carriers with service in the 700 megahertz band spectrum interfering on the Mexican side,” not the other way around. Continue Reading

Monday, November 11, 2019

Veterans of the Tower Industry Randy Strieff, Owner, Foothill Engineering: Army

Randy Strieff joined the Army in 1998 and was a member of 3rd battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, then he was stationed in Germany and finally on to Iraq for the invasion with Eco 51st Long Range Surveillance (ABN). In late 2004 he returned home and started a trucking company.

“That grew into a lot of other things along the way,” Strieff said, “I was kind of inadvertently introduced to the tower industry by a contractor I met while I was running dozers on a wildland fire in Northern California. He was doing decoms, a new build or two, and maintenance for SBA. Well, after about six months of him asking me to come help him he made me an offer I couldn’t refuse, so I did.” Continue Reading

Thursday, November 7, 2019

FCC to Kill Rule That Bans Exclusive Use of Unique Tower Sites

At its October 25 open meeting, the FCC adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking looking to revise or eliminate its rules concerning access to common FM and TV tower sites. The rules prohibit the grant, or renewal of a license for an FM or TV station if that applicant or licensee controls an antenna site that is “peculiarly suitable” for broadcasting in the area and does not make the site available for use by potential competitors. The rules have been used sparingly because of modern tower site use and now the Commission wants to know if they should be revised or wiped from the books.

The rules stem from 1945 when FM and television broadcasting were still in their infancy, the infrastructure available to broadcast a signal over the air was sparse, and there were broadcast material and equipment shortages. At that time, the FCC was concerned that exclusive use of an antenna site could restrict the number of FM and TV stations in a particular area or otherwise impede station competition.

In 1945, there were 46 licensed FM broadcast stations; today, there are 6,726 FM commercial stations and 4,179 educational FMs. The terrestrial radio broadcast market today also includes 4,610 AMs, 2,178 LPFMs, and over 8,000 FM translators and boosters. In 1945, there were nine television stations; today, there are 1,757 commercial and noncommercial educational full-power TV stations, 387 Class As, almost 1,900 LPTVs, and more than 3,600 TV translators. Continue Reading

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Crown, AMT: These Tactics Delay Wireless Infrastructure Siting

By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief

In order for wireless networks to be constructed, carriers must work with two primary stakeholders that have the power to significantly slow the progress of construction and modification: local jurisdictions and other utility pole owners.

That’s according to Crown Castle and American Tower Corporation, which told the FCC this week that clarifying Section 6409 of the agency’s rules will serve the public interest by facilitating the review process for wireless infrastructure modifications and speeding broadband deployment. The towercos were commenting on petitions for rulemaking from the Wireless Infrastructure Association and CTIA concerning wireless infrastructure deployment.

Though many states and localities have enacted federally-compliant and complementary codes to streamline the process of reviewing eligible facilities requests (EFRs), others continue to impose the same requirements on EFRs as they do for all other wireless siting approvals, according to Crown. This means EFRs must go through multiple approval processes before an applicant can proceed to construction. “For example, one township in New York first requires an applicant to obtain a planning approval before applying for and obtaining architectural board approval, prior to applying for a building permit,” says Crown. Continue Reading

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Pai Proposes to Ban Carriers from Using USF Money on Huawei, ZTE

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai Monday circulated to his colleagues two proposals aimed at protecting U.S. communications networks from national security threats. He hopes the agency will vote on the proposals at the November 19 meeting. 

First, a draft Report and Order would prohibit companies from using money from the FCC’s $8.5 billion Universal Service Fund (USF) to purchase equipment or services from any company that poses a national security threat. The draft R&O would initially designate Chinese telecoms Huawei and ZTE as companies that pose a national security risk. The Commission could add more companies over time. The ban would apply to both wireline and wireless carriers; however the agency believes Huawei gear is purchased by mostly wireless carriers.

Second, a draft Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and draft Information Collection Order would propose to remove and replace equipment produced by covered companies from USF-funded communications networks. The agency would conduct an assessment to find out how much Huawei and ZTE equipment is in these networks and the costs to remove and replace it. Continue Reading

Monday, October 28, 2019

Peppertree Capital Acquires the Last of AT&T’s U.S. Tower Inventory

AT&T (NYSE: T) announced Friday that it agreed to a sale-leaseback of its remaining domestic company-owned wireless towers to Peppertree Capital Management, Inc. Under the terms of the sale, valued at up to $680 million, Peppertree will purchase more than 1,000 AT&T towers, and AT&T will lease back capacity on the towers from Peppertree.

The sale is consistent with AT&T’s plans to monetize non-strategic assets as it continues to pay down debt.

 Given the company’s confidence in reaching a net debt-to-adjusted EBITDA ratio in the 2.5x range by the end of this year, shareholders should expect that share buybacks will be in the mix in the fourth quarter of 2019, along with continued de-levering. Continue Reading

Friday, October 25, 2019

Defense Department to Test 5G

The Department of Defense plans to issue a draft Request for Proposals (RFP) in November focused on “large-scale” experiments and prototyping of 5G technologies to take place at four U.S. military bases. The DoD sees this as a project that private industry can take part in as well, and says the telecom industry will have an opportunity to provide feedback before the final RFP is issued.

"The DoD wants our American industry to lead in 5G. A strong American economy is vital to our national security," said Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Lisa Porter during remarks at GSMA MWC19 Los Angeles. Porter told reporters after her remarks that, “the uses cases we’re looking at have obvious military and commercial relevance,” according to FedScoop.

“5G is really ultimately about ubiquitous connectivity,” she said. “It’s not just cell phones and cat videos. One thing we can confidently say is there’s going to be a lot of complexity. And with complexity comes much greater attack surfaces, much more vulnerability — we have to understand those, and as we work through use cases that are relevant to us and relevant to the commercial sector, what we hope we can do together is understand how we mitigate those vulnerabilities and get out ahead of that.” Continue Reading