Thursday, May 24, 2018

Ergen’s Planned $10B 5G Spend is Big News at Connect (X)

 
Charlie Ergen, chairman and co-founder of DISH discussed his company’s foray into the wireless business in Charlotte, NC at Connect (X). He told attendees, “There are incumbents who do a great job connecting to your phone but the future is going to be connecting to machines. How do you build that network?”

In an on-stage interview with former FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell, now a partner at law firm Cooley, Ergen said: “We know how to partner with people who know more than we do,” said Ergen. “We have signed some master lease agreements with tower companies,” mentioning a $500 million to $1 billion buildout in the initial phase.

Phase two will be a cost of “at least $10 billion,” Ergen said, to build a national wireless network – the first time that number has been made public, according to two WIA sources at the show. The initial phase consists of a national wireless network focused on narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT), with phase two expected to be a 5G network. Continue Reading

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

O’Rielly, Industry Want FCC to Get Going on Wireless Auctions

Connect (X)

WIA President/CEO Jonathan Adelstein opens Connect(X)
 followed by an interview of FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly. 

Photos by Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers (MORE PHOTOS)
Wireless Infrastructure Association President Jonathan Adelstein opened Connect (X) to a large crowd in the main ballroom at the convention center here in Charlotte, NC yesterday. He said the association works hard to put on a show that helps industry get business done.

Former FCC Commissioner Kathleen Abernathy, now Special Counsel for law firm Wilkinson, Barker, Knauer, interviewed current FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly about a variety of topics. Asked about the world-wide race for 5G, he emphasized that in some countries, the government provides funds for private companies to deploy their communications networks, and here, private companies largely pay for it themselves.

The FCC’s job is to ensure all stakeholders have a level playing field to put them in a position to innovate and succeed, said O’Rielly. He ticked off recent actions the Commission has taken to clear out red tape to enable small cell deployment. O’Rielly said many municipalities are determined to extract high dollar amounts for small cell deployment; Adelstein said earlier that 20 states have passed legislation to ease such deployment. Continue Reading

Monday, May 21, 2018

All Revved Up and Headed for Charlotte

 
We all embark on these little sojourns a few times a year.  Pack the bag, kiss the loved one(s), give the dog’s butt a final scratch and we’re off. Don’t forget to tip your Uber driver.  Today the destination for many of us is Charlotte, home of NASCAR, the Billy Graham Parkway and Bank of America and temporary home of the tower industry as we gather for WIA’s Connectivity Expo, or, more fondly, Connect (X) at the Convention Center.

Not only are we entering a bright and growing region full of promise but we will be seeing a new look to the tower market as well that matches the energy of this southern belle of a city.  Yes, macro sites are still relevant and will get their due as topics of discussion, but it has taken a conscious effort by WIA to move the spotlight on both their association and their show, to what the tower industry has wrought.  Continue Reading

Friday, May 18, 2018

Limits Relaxed on Wireless Cell Signal Boosters

 
More people can now access wireless cell signal boosters. The Commission voted in March to remove the personal use restriction so subscribers can use boosters to improve their coverage indoors, underground and in rural areas. The rule change becomes effective today.

The original rules, enacted in 2013, were conservative. They limited operation to certain spectrum bands and authorized provider-specific boosters and wideband boosters, which extend coverage by all providers in range. The agency says the personal use restrictions on provider-specific devices are no longer needed, meaning businesses, public safety entities, and schools can use them. Specifically, whereas the existing rules restricted provider-specific consumer signal boosters to personal use, the Commission will now permit any subscriber—an individual or a non-individual—with a proper registration to use these boosters. 

Wilson Electronics CEO Bruce Lancaster told Inside Towers at the time, the change can especially help small businesses. “Boosters help users stay connected in areas where the carriers struggle to reach with their network. Whether this is in remote areas while camping, or in difficult to reach areas in buildings, boosters have solved hundreds of thousands of consumers’ connectivity issues, without causing any issues to any of the carriers’ networks,” he said. The elimination of the personal use restriction makes this same benefit available to businesses, which have similar connectivity challenges for themselves or their customers, he added. Continue Reading

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Lawmakers Concerned About President’s Plans for ZTE

 
UPDATE Lawmakers from both political parties are alarmed over President Donald Trump’s plans to help Chinese telecom manufacturer ZTE. Concerns were expressed on both sides of the aisle during a hearing Wednesday regarding threats to national security and the nation’s telecom supply chain by the House Communications and Technology Subcommittee, a subgroup of the Commerce Committee.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) is “concerned” the president’s comments mean “loosening up” on ZTE, reported The Hill. The Commerce Department in April barred U.S. firms from supplying the Chinese company after it said ZTE violated U.S. sanctions against Iran and North Korea and the Chinese telecom manufacturer agreed to pay a $1.2 billion fine. But, as Inside Towers reported yesterday, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said ZTE didn’t live up to the agreement.

Sunday, Trump tweeted that he’s working to give ZTE “a way to get back into business, fast” and he “instructed” the Commerce Department to help the company. Kinzinger hopes the president’s comments were “misinterpreted.” Continue Reading

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

San Jose Secures $5 Million Small Cell Deal with AT&T

In a new agreement, AT&T will pay the city of San Jose approximately $5 million over a maximum 15-year period to deploy 170 small cells on existing public assets, reported LightReading.
The telecom company will pay an upfront fee of $850,000 to fund new public works staff to help with small cell permitting transactions, and another $1 million to help improve the city’s permitting processes, according to LightReading. The deal is beneficial for both sides, as the city will collect additional revenue and the carrier will receive a blanket agreement for small cell deployments.  San Jose is also focused on ensuring that improved connectivity is accessible to all. CIO Shireen Santosham notes that the city has taken the novel approach of dedicating funding from utility pole rentals to digital inclusion efforts.  

“This model is certainly a pioneering model. I don’t think any other city that I know of has really taken the revenues from these deals and earmarked them in this way specifically to bridge the digital divide,” says Santosham.  

AT&T vice president of technology planning Jason Porter, sees the agreement as a sound financial investment. “We’re looking at the broader community so if we can do something where we provide some revenue for the city, but we can offset that with revenue we gain by being in that area…and we think [that] will drive additional revenue into AT&T, then that’s a benefit.” Continue Reading

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

ZTE Becomes Lightning Rod in U.S., China Trade Talks

 
Asked about President Donald Trump’s statements on Twitter this weekend about helping Chinese telecom equipment manufacturer ZTE, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Monday the department would review it — quickly.

The U.S. Commerce Department last month blocked American firms from selling parts or providing services to ZTE. Ross explained to attendees at a National Press Club luncheon, that ZTE violated U.S. sanctions against Iran and North Korea and the Chinese telecom manufacturer agreed to pay a $1.2 billion fine. But the former bankruptcy specialist said the U.S. found out ZTE didn’t live up to the agreement. “It turned out a number of statements ZTE made to us were not accurate. Our initial thought was to impose the ‘bad list’ so the company can’t receive high tech material. That’s what led to the shutdown,” Ross said.  

ZTE essentially stopped all operations last month because of the ban and was working to get it reversed, the company said in an investment filing last month, Inside Towers reported. Sunday, Trump tweeted that he’s working to give ZTE “a way to get back into business, fast” because “too many” Chinese jobs were at risk. He added he’s “instructed” the Commerce Department to help ZTE, reported CNN. Continue Reading