Monday, September 25, 2017

Lowering Broadband Speed Threshold Proposal Draws Hundreds of Opinions

More than 1,600 public comments have poured into the FCC in response to the agency’s inquiry about broadband deployment. Inside Towers examined some of the comments concerning one controversial FCC proposal that calls for lowering the threshold speed for mobile broadband from the current 25 Megabits-per-second (Mbps) download speed and three Mbps upload speed, down to 10 Mbps download speed and one Mbps upload speed, to more closely match the current speeds subscribers are paying for.

That benchmark was “arbitrarily selected” based on a hypothetical family’s theoretical bandwidth requirements for simultaneous use of multiple devices engaged in bandwidth-intensive activities, according to USTelecom. “It would be disruptive for the Commission to change or eliminate the current benchmark without evidence that broadband at those speeds does not meet the need of consumers as they typically use broadband services today,” USTelecom told the Commission, urging no change to the standard.  

ITTA – The Voice of America’s Broadband Providers, agrees, saying the FCC should maintain the current speed thresholds for fixed broadband. Changing it would be confusing and if replaced often, it would no longer provide the reference point that is the essence of a “benchmark.” Continue Reading

Friday, September 22, 2017

FCC Urged to Reject 3.5 GHz Proposals

A battle is being waged over whether the FCC should foster access to spectrum for a variety of network solutions, or primarily for the current, large mobile carriers in the Citizens Broadband Radio Service. The FCC in 2016 opened up the CBRS band for both licensed and unlicensed sharing with U.S. Navy radar operations at 3.5 GHz and satellite earth stations. The FCC wants to make licensed spectrum affordable to deliver high quality broadband internet, cellular offload and capacity densification, and similar connectivity services, like the Internet of Things. Priority Access Licenses (PALs) cover small areas and are re-auctioned after relatively short (three or six-year) terms.

However, CTIA and T-Mobile recently petitioned the Commission to redefine PALs to be like traditional cellular licenses – covering multi-county areas and renewing automatically, arguing that small-area and competitive licenses don’t provide business certainty or an investment incentive, Inside Towers reported. Companies such as General Electric, rural co-ops and local Internet Service Providers (ISPs) – argue this would make the licenses unaffordable to all but the large national mobile carriers. Companies like these, that want to deploy services on the CBRS band, made the case for the FCC leaving the rules largely intact during a panel discussion at the New America think tank in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday. Continue Reading

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Texas, Idaho Choose FirstNet

Idaho and Texas have become the 20
th and 21st states to opt-in to the FirstNet nationwide mobile broadband communications network for first responders, after Maryland joined earlier this week.
Texas is the largest state to make the decision. “As we saw in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, our first responders are often the last and only hope for safety in rapidly-changing and life-threatening situations, but this partnership with FirstNet and AT&T,  allows Texas’ fire, police, EMS and other public safety personnel to be better equipped when responding in these emergencies,” announced Governor Greg Abbott.

Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar agreed, calling the support the state received from AT&T and FirstNet during the response to Harvey “incredible, and with this partnership, it will only get better.”  
Continue Reading

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

FCC’s O’Rielly: Rate of Return for Rural Broadband is “Sound”

FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly told rural broadband providers Tuesday the agency’s “rate of return” framework is “sound” and not too complicated. Released last spring, the Rate of Return Order was intended to achieve a long-term fiscally-responsible system to provide certainty for carriers to invest in broadband and expand their service to rural America.

He spoke at the fall conference of the WTA, Advocates for Rural Broadband, formerly called the Western Telecommunications Alliance. O’Rielly said the reforms established requirements to extend broadband to unserved consumers, to better target funding to where it is needed most while being cognizant of prior investments, and to prevent funding areas where actual competition exists. They also improved transparency and accountability regarding how the funding is used. It’s voluntary for carriers. More than 200 rate-of-return carriers in 43 states elected and have been authorized to receive model support.  Continue Reading

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Verizon Tells FCC ‘One-Touch Make-Ready’ Will Speed Pole Attachment

Verizon is lobbying the FCC in support of lessening barriers to fiber deployment and speeding review of small cell applications. In meetings with the Wireless and Wireline Bureaus, among others, Verizon discussed the need to deploy small cells and fiber quickly, to support network densification. The carrier secured a supply of fiber through its multi-year deals with fiber manufacturers like Corning. “But to make it a reality – and thus to support the investment and jobs that come with fiber expansion,” executives explained the company needs to hang small cells and string fiber to provide the necessary backhaul.    
“In some locations, local electric companies take nine months or more to complete the pole-attachment process, and we have often seen delays of twelve months or longer to get new fiber on a pole,” states Verizon Managing Associate General Counsel Katharine Saunders, in a filing describing the meetings. “We’ve found that the sequential nature of make-ready work means that one party’s delay in completing its make-ready work often delays other parties’ ability to begin their make-ready work.” Continue Reading

Monday, September 18, 2017

FCC Adopts Criteria to Evaluate States’ FirstNet Opt-Out Plans

The FCC finalized the technical criteria the Commission will use to evaluate plans from those states that elect to opt-out of the network that will be deployed by the First Responder Network Authority. In June, the agency adopted procedures for administering the state opt-out process, Inside Towers reported, and then sought public input on its technical criteria.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said the decision is another step towards the creation of a nationwide interoperable public safety broadband network. First responders “put their lives on the line each and every day to keep us safe. We owe it to them to give them the tools they need to do their jobs.” Continue Reading

Friday, September 15, 2017

Lawmakers Tell Pai to Act Against Lifeline Scammers Now

Sens Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO).Photos by Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers
In a hearing that turned contentious at times, members of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Thursday examined waste and mismanagement in the FCC’s Lifeline program, which helps subsidize broadband and phone services for low-income users. 

Chairman Sen. Ron Johnson, (R-WI) said given the problems the Government Accountability Office found in its investigation, hard questions need to be asked. “Should we end the program? Maybe we should start thinking about banking the money.” Continue Reading