Friday, August 18, 2017

City Wins, AT&T Loses, in Kentucky Pole Attachment Dispute

A federal court has sided with a Kentucky municipality and against AT&T in a case concerning access to utility poles. No state or federal law prevents Louisville, KY from requiring a “one-touch make-ready” ordinance outlining new procedures for installing communications infrastructure on utility poles in the city, a U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky ruled Thursday.

Make-ready work generally consists of moving or rearranging existing wires and attachments on utility poles to make space for new attachments. One-touch make-ready policies seek to avoid delays by having all make-ready work performed at the same time by a single crew.

AT&T subsidiary BellSouth Telecommunications fought Louisville’s right to allow new users to rearrange existing pole attachments. AT&T asked the court to declare the ordinance unlawful, while the city said it has the authority to manage its public rights-of-way. AT&T told the court it invested “millions of dollars” to build and maintain a communications network in Louisville. AT&T owns most of the poles it uses in Louisville and contracts with Louisville Gas & Electric for others. Continue Reading

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Exactly Who Gets Priority Access to FirstNet?

Public safety personnel who take calls from the public, dispatchers and others will have priority access to FirstNet, the nationwide public safety communications network. While AT&T officials have said they plan to give first responders from states that have opted into FirstNet “presumptive access” on their LTE networks by the end of the year, officials explained more about what that entails at the APCO 2017 show this week in Denver.

When FirstNet awarded AT&T the 25-year contract to build, maintain and operate the network, officials said that fire, EMS and law-enforcement personnel would be considered primary public-safety users. Continue Reading

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

CCA Implores FCC to Block Verizon/Straight Path Deal

The Competitive Carriers Association objects to the proposed transfer of millimeter wave spectrum from Straight Path Communications to Verizon as part of a proposed all-stock transaction the parties value at just over $3 billion. The telcos seek permission to transfer the control of Local Multipoint Distribution Service, 39 GHz, 3650-3700 MHz, and common carrier fixed point to point microwave licenses from Straight Path to Verizon. The FCC’s preliminary review indicates once the deal closes, Verizon would have 100 MHz to 1650 MHz of spectrum in total, in the 28 GHz and 39 GHz millimeter wave bands across the U.S.

“If approved, the transaction would consolidate enormous amounts of mmW spectrum into the hands of Verizon and would exceed the FCC’s spectrum screen in key local markets,” said CCA in a Petition to Deny, filed with the agency. CCA wants the Commission to block the application and instead make Straight Path’s licenses available to all carriers through competitive bidding. Verizon has told the FCC its post-transaction look at “marketplace developments and competitive circumstances reveals no risk to competition.” Continue Reading

Monday, August 14, 2017

LTE Going Lunar

The moon is getting a cell tower. Part Time Scientists, a German company planning to send a lander and rovers to the moon in late 2018, will use LTE technology to communicate with Earth. According to, the team’s spacecraft, Alina, will land at the site of Apollo 17, NASA’s final Apollo mission. As rovers travel the moon’s surface, they will relay information back to Alina, which will serve as a cell tower during the mission. Using LTE communications will be particularly useful in future lunar missions, especially if the European Space Agency continues with its plans to build a lunar village. Continue Reading

Friday, August 11, 2017

Telcos, Cable Fight Over Proposed 3.5 Ghz Changes

The Dynamic Spectrum Alliance (DSA) tells the FCC by its count, most of the more than 800 comments filed on proposed changes to the 3.5 GHz band oppose converting the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) into a 5G-only band. The DSA characterizes itself as a group of what it says are “multinationals, small-and medium-sized enterprises, and academic, research, and other organizations” committed to expanding broadband.

The DSA argues telcos large and small, have made investments under the current rules, investments that “may be stranded, and future innovation stifled,” if drastic changes are made. “The Commission should resist arguments to change the current PAL structure to one that would be favorable to only one class of entity – the large nationwide wireless carriers, at the expense of all other entities,” says DSA. It notes Ericsson, Intel, Nokia, Qualcomm, Ruckus Wireless, and others “are well on their way to creating a rich ecosystem of 3.5 GHz LTE devices, with the first 3.5 GHz LTE handset expected to reach the market later this year.”

CTIA and T-Mobile say their proposals would benefit 5G, Inside Towers reported. They seek to lengthen license terms to 10 years and increase license areas by using traditional Partial Economic Areas rather than census tracts. In order to spur investment, T-Mobile also proposes the Commission convert all 150 MHz of spectrum in each CBRS market open to priority access licensing. CBRS is now limited to 70 MHz of PAL per market. Continue Reading

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Prison Outreach: From ‘Vet’ to ‘Con’ to Tower Dawg

Veteran inmates at Manzanita Prison, Anthony Paz, Kathy Gill
Kathy Gill was nervous, but then she always gets nervous when she goes to prison.  This was her fourth time.  A woman who had built a company, trained hundreds of men and women to work past their fears and climbed a countless number of towers in all conditions, was wishing she was someplace where she was more comfortable, like dangling from a harness 150 feet in the air.

At least she wasn’t alone at Manzanita Prison in Tucson; she had an ex-con with her to ‘show her the ropes’ as she had done for so many of her tower tech trainees.  They were waiting for DOC and DES approval to go inside an extremely secure grey-fenced compound where there are no plants and lots of dirt.  “Lots and lots of dirt,” Kathy noted. Continue Reading

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Court Backs FCC in BDS Suit, Cutting Deployment Costs

A federal appeals court Monday sided with the FCC, so many of the Commission’s actions to deregulate Business Data Services will take effect. The FCC in April voted to relax what it said were unneeded regulations where competition exists and preserve those where competition is still lacking. By adopting the new framework, the agency hopes to further boost BDS competition and investment, and take steps to decrease the cost of broadband infrastructure deployment, Inside Towers reported.

Sprint, Windstream and others like trade group INCOMPAS and the Ad Hoc Telecom Users Committee, an organization of major firms that buy telecom services, asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to block the changes. On Monday, the court denied the request. Continue Reading