Friday, January 19, 2018

Senators Ask Trump to Include Broadband Money in Infrastructure Plan

The Trump administration is finalizing its long-awaited infrastructure plan; he may preview it in his January 30 State of the Union address but details would come later, according to sources familiar with the proposal, Reuters reported.

A group of U.S. Senators are urging the President to include funding for broadband deployment in the package. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Angus King (I-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and John Boozman (R-AR) spelled out the importance of high-speed internet access for rural areas in a letter to the White House this week.

“The administration’s infrastructure proposal should include stand-alone funding that is dedicated to advancing broadband deployment in addition to provisions that reduce regulatory barriers,” say the senators in the letter. They’re all members of the Senate Broadband Caucus. “Boosting current investments in broadband deployment will provide new economic opportunities in communities that are struggling to compete.” Continue Reading

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Congress Wants Hawaii Alerting Probe Update

UPDATE The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s telecom panel plans to hold a hearing with the FCC on public safety following the false emergency alert sent in Hawaii over the weekend, warning of an incoming missile. The false message was sent to cell phones as a Wireless Emergency Alert and over TV, cable and radio over the Emergency Alert System. The committee said the event will take place “sometime in the coming weeks,” according to lawmakers. Continue Reading

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Replacement Poles Can Now Skirt Historic Review

Pole attachments for small cell wireless infrastructure just got easier. The FCC’s rule change to exempt some poles from historic preservation review took effect yesterday, January 16. Federal Register publication triggered the effective date.

Specifically, the telecom provider is exempt from the review when a pole is replaced with a substantially identical pole, the original pole is not historic and the replacement does not disturb new ground. The replacement must be consistent with other size, location, and appearance restrictions. The changes also take into account when a wooden pole is replaced with metal.

“Replacement poles placed in essentially the same previously disturbed locations as the original structures will be sturdier than the preexisting poles, but will not necessarily be substantially taller or occupy appreciably more space on or in the ground than the original poles. In those circumstances, there is no likelihood that such pole replacements could affect historic properties,” states the FCC in the rule change document. Still, under the previous rules, only replacements for poles meeting the definition of a ‘‘tower’’ were excluded from Section 106 assessment while other types of pole replacements continued to require review. Continue Reading

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Hawaii Can Now Quickly Retract False WEA, EAS Alerts

UPDATE Hawaii now has a way to notify the public that an alert was sent in error. There was no protocol in place to take back an alert at the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (HEMA) on Saturday, reported The Washington Post.
That’s when a state employee mistakenly chose the real, live “missile alert” alert option from a drop-down menu for what was supposed to be an internal test. An actual cell phone text was sent as a Wireless Emergency Alert and transmitted over TV, radio and cable over the Emergency Alert System. The message told the public a missile threat to the state was imminent and to seek shelter, causing panic.
The message told the public a missile threat to the state was imminent and to seek shelter, causing panic.  

It took 38 minutes from the initial alert to a subsequent alert telling the public the earlier warning was a mistake. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai on Sunday stated it appeared Hawaii didn’t have “reasonable safeguards” in place to prevent the transmission of a fake alert, Inside Towers reported. He said that was “unacceptable,” and federal, state and local officials throughout the country must work together to fix that and be able to issue a correction immediately.   Continue Reading

Monday, January 15, 2018

False Alert in Hawaii Goes Uncorrected for Forty Minutes

A false alarm from U.S. Pacific Command claiming a ballistic missile was headed to Hawaii prompted an immediate response from the FCC Saturday.  Commissioner Brendan Carr said the FCC would fully investigate why the initial message was sent and was left uncorrected for nearly forty minutes creating a panic among residents of Hawaii.

“The FCC has begun a full investigation into the FALSE missile alert in Hawaii,” Carr said. A similar tweeted message came from FCC chief of staff Matthew Berry.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai tweeted: “The @FCC is launching a full investigation into the false emergency alert that was sent to residents of Hawaii.” Yesterday, he issued the following statement:
“The false emergency alert sent yesterday in Hawaii was absolutely unacceptable.  It caused a wave of panic across the state—worsened by the 38-minute delay before a correction alert was issued.  Moreover, false alerts undermine public confidence in the alerting system and thus reduce their effectiveness during real emergencies.” Continue Reading

Friday, January 12, 2018

WEA, Broadband Funding Dominate FCC’s January Docket

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai continues his aggressive voting schedule into the New Year. No less than seven items have been teed up for the January 30 monthly meeting; that compares to a general number of five items per meeting for his predecessor Tom Wheeler.

Last year, the FCC adopted rules for “Connect America Fund Phase II” and authorized investment of up to $2 billion over the next decade to bring fixed broadband service to rural America. At the meeting, Commissioners will vote to finalize bidding procedures for a reverse auction to fund the effort. Also, several parties challenged the order and those must be handled before the auction can proceed. Commissioners will vote on ways to do that.

The agency will also vote to mandate carriers employ geo-targeting for Wireless Emergency Alerts, Inside Towers reported. Carriers say they need time to comply while emergency personnel involved in the California wildfires say waiting too long is risky. Continue Reading

Thursday, January 11, 2018

And, Yea, They Shall Turn Their Wind Turbines Into Cell Towers

A wind turbine at Falmouth’s wastewater treatment plant may become a cell tower, according to the Cape Cod Times.  The structure, one of two wind towers on the property, was ordered to be shut down by a superior court judge over nuisance complaints and zoning violations from area residents.
If the giant blades were removed and only the pole remained, it would no longer be classified as a wind turbine, Frank Duffy, the town’s attorney told the Times. By turning it into a cell tower, Duffy said, it could be reclassified under the provisions of the town’s cell tower bylaw.  Duffy said this would not only provide better cell service for West Falmouth but it could help aid the town’s public safety communications system.
A local resident added during Monday’s meeting that leasing space to cell providers could provide the town with some additional revenue. Continue Reading