Wednesday, July 1, 2020

FCC Names Huawei and ZTE National Security Threats

The FCC Tuesday officially designated Chinese telecoms Huawei and ZTE — and their parents, affiliates, and subsidiaries — as “covered companies” under the agency’s 2019 ban on the use of universal service support to purchase equipment or services from companies posing a national security threat. The action means money from the Commission’s $8.3 billion a year Universal Service Fund may no longer be used to buy, obtain, maintain, improve, modify, or otherwise support any equipment or services produced or provided by these suppliers. The designations are effective immediately.

“Both companies have close ties to the Chinese Communist Party and China’s military apparatus, and both companies are broadly subject to Chinese law obligating them to cooperate with the country’s intelligence services,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. He said the agency also took into account the findings and actions of Congress, the executive branch, the intelligence community, America’s allies, and communications service providers in other countries. Continue Reading 

Monday, June 29, 2020

FCC Revises Eligible Area List for RDOF Auction

The FCC updated its list of eligible areas for the upcoming Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Phase I Auction slated to begin in October. The list shows 5,392,530 unserved locations are considered eligible for bidding in the $16 billion auction.

The new record updates the previous list from March that was followed by a challenge process.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai called the time-frame to prepare for the fall auction “ambitious” and said the agency is on track to begin the auction October 29. The new list gives companies the information they need to prepare as the Commission moves toward opening the window on July 1 for bidders to file their applications. More challenge information is available here. Continue Reading

Friday, June 26, 2020

Cities Fight FCC Over 5G Upgrade Order

UPDATE Several local governments from California and Oregon are challenging the FCC’s 5G upgrade order. The FCC approved the plan 3-2 earlier this month to streamline infrastructure modifications for existing towers. The vote was combative. Democratic Commissioners Jessica Rosenworcel and Geoffrey Starks criticized the Commission for not giving localities more time to comment, considering local government budgets are stretched by the pandemic and protests. Indeed, the National League of Cities and the National Association of Counties, asked the agency to delay the vote.

The Republican majority said the order will speed work such as antenna swaps for 5G, Inside Towers reported. Co-location “is less intensive and requires less regulatory review than new tower construction,” FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr said. Before the vote, Carr acknowledged to Inside Towers not every locality supported the change, but said overall, “We think it’s a right-balanced approach.” 

Now, some of the California and Oregon localities have told the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals the FCC’s actions “unlawfully preempt local and state government authority” without responding to local government input, according to Politico.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Maps, Ligado Loom Large Over FCC Hearing

Money before maps and the future of spectrum decisions were two big topics covered during yesterday’s Senate FCC oversight hearing. Both Senators and witnesses sat apart for safety and many lawmakers were not in the hearing room, but attending virtually from their offices.

The upcoming auction of Rural Digital Opportunity Fund money for broadband deployment makes fixing the FCC’s location data essential, Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Roger Wicker (R-MS) said during the nearly three and a half hour hearing. The agency’s recent controversial decision to allow Ligado to use a portion of L-band for broadband delivery was discussed as well.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel clashed in their viewpoints of the map corrections. Continue Reading

Friday, June 19, 2020

Men Found Dead at Tower Site in Jacksonville Were Possibly Subcontractors

Jacksonville (FL) Police say two men found dead Thursday inside the shelter at the base of a tower on Firestone Road were “possible subcontractors” who were shot multiple times. Police found the bodies early Thursday at the AT&T tower site located just north of More Avenue and west of Interstate 295.

“The two individuals are possible subcontractors that were doing work inside the building of the cell phone tower,” Sgt. Steve Rudlaff said. ”It’s definitely going to be foul play. Both individuals have been shot. It does not appear that it was combat against each other. We don’t know if this was a possible robbery or what.” Continue Reading

Thursday, June 18, 2020

T-Mobile Layoffs Begin, AT&T Plans Job Cuts Too

T-Mobile let go hundreds of Sprint workers this week and AT&T plans layoffs as well, according to published reports. T-Mobile VP James Kirby on Monday told hundreds of Sprint employees their services were no longer needed. He declined to answer questions, citing the “personal” nature of employee feedback, and ended the conference call, reported TechCrunch.

TechCrunch obtained leaked audio of the call, which was said to be one of several held by T-Mobile leadership throughout the day to lay off staff across the organization. The layoffs come just two months after its acquisition of Sprint closed.

On the call, Kirby said T-Mobile was eliminating Sprint’s inside sales unit, a division that focuses on small businesses. The executive didn’t say how many staff were laid off. Almost 400 people were in the phone meeting, a person on the call told TechCrunch. Continue Reading

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

FCC to Probe T-Mobile Outage

UPDATE The FCC wants to get to the bottom of Monday night’s T-Mobile network outage. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai called the hours-long outage “unacceptable” and said the agency will investigate.

T-Mobile said it had a “voice and text wireless issue" that began around noon EDT Monday. The company said at 1 a.m. Tuesday that all problems should be resolved. The company blamed an internet-traffic issue that caused problems with its network for the outage, according to the Associated Press. 

AT&T and Verizon both said their networks were operating normally. But there were reports of their customers not being able to call T-Mobile customers, creating the impression of a widespread communications failure.

Public-safety officials were worried about lack of access to 911. For example, the Redmond, Washington, police department tweeted that T-Mobile customers should have “an alternate plan in place in the event you need to call 911.”