Friday, March 22, 2019

USTelecom, Others Unveil Broadband Map Improvement Project

Left to right: USTelecom President/CEO Jonathan Spalter and FCC Chairman Ajit Pai

The FCC’s broadband coverage maps have long been maligned by the agency’s own Commissioners, Congress, and others for being inaccurate, and not a reliable indicator of where broadband has been deployed and where connectivity is non-existent. But carriers and the government need to rely on the maps to direct federal broadband funding.

That’s why USTelecom, The Broadband Association, ITTA, The Voice of America’s Broadband Providers, the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association, and several broadband companies and associations unveiled on Thursday, the creation of a new initiative to better map broadband deployment nationwide and help close the digital divide.

USTelecom President/CEO Jonathan Spalter called the project at yesterday’s announcement in Washington, D.C., “simple, common sense. If our aim is to leave no American behind, we must be capable of pinpointing” where broadband is available and where it is not. Continue Reading

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Tennessee Governor Proffers $14.8 Million in Broadband Grants

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee Tuesday revealed $14.8 million in broadband accessibility grants that will expand broadband service to more than 8,300 households and businesses in 17 counties.

“I am pleased to announce that we are getting our rural areas up to speed and expanding broadband in the areas that need it most,” said Lee. “I am committed to ensuring connectivity in every corner of our state as broadband impacts our goals for health care, education, economic development and beyond.”

According to the FCC’s 2018 Broadband Deployment Report, nearly one in four rural Tennesseans lack access to broadband. In addition to the $20 million included in Gov. Lee’s recommended budget for fiscal year 2020, these grants will continue to close the access gap, ensuring rural residents have the tools needed for growth and prosperity. Continue Reading

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Winter Racks Up Repack Delays

Experts say the TV channel repack is getting more complicated as winter drags on and delays are inevitable, coming into spring and summer.
Phase 1 ended in late November with 143 stations moving without much delay, Inside Towers reported. However winter weather has caused headaches for tower crews and delays in Phase 2, with about 114 station moves due to be completed by April 12, reports TVNewsCheck.
In addition, many of the stations in the middle phases have interference dependencies, meaning if a station in Phase 3 moves late, that delays a move for another station in Phase 4. By contrast, there were no interference dependencies in Phase 1. Stations facing delays were simply moved to a later phase, said Dennis Wallace, Managing Partner of RF consulting firm Meintel, Sgrignoli & Wallace, LLC.
“You had a year and a half to move 150 stations,” says Wallace. “Now you’re going to move 150 every 30 to 60 days, which I think is pretty unrealistic. I think the wheels come off the wagon here in Phases 3 and 4,” he tells TVNewsCheck.
Some delays may be solved by the FCC granting certain stations STAs to operate at lower power, according to Wallace, “But at some point, they reach a scenario where a station can’t transition, and operating with an interim facility is not an option.”
Vendors prepared for the spike in equipment demand, but winter weather and the tower crew shortage, limits how much work gets accomplished. Jampro Antenna President Alex Perchevitch said, “People are looking around for crews, and when they’ve found them, the weather has not been very accommodating.” Continue Reading

Monday, March 18, 2019

FCC Gets ‘Vertical’ With 911 Location Data

More than 80 percent of 911 calls today are made from wireless phones. The FCC has been modernizing its 911 location accuracy rules, and Friday proposed updating them to make it easier to locate callers in multi-story buildings. The proposal would help 911 call centers identify the floor level where the call originated.

The debate grew spirited at times, and vote split along party lines.
A landline automatically sends data containing the caller’s address to 911. Callers expect the same kind of accuracy when they use a cell phone to call 911. The FCC’s Enhanced 911 location accuracy rules, require wireless providers to meet an increasingly stringent series of location accuracy benchmarks, including providing the caller’s “dispatchable” location (such as the street address and apartment number), or a vertical location on a phased-in basis, beginning in April 2121.

On Friday, the Commission proposed a vertical (or “z-axis”) location accuracy metric of plus or minus three meters above or below the phone for 80 percent of indoor wireless 911 calls.   Continue Reading

Friday, March 15, 2019

Inside Towers’ Podcast: “Tower Talks” is Underway

 
Inside Towers will be entering the world of podcasting, with an ongoing series of talks and “Fryerside Chats,” featuring guests from across the industry.  Inside Towers Managing Editor, Jim Fryer, hosts the program slated to run, initially, twice per month. Tower Talks’ first guest is Todd Schlekeway, Executive Director of NATE. Schlekeway discusses the recent NATE conference and the upcoming ‘D.C. Fly-In’ held for NATE members, looking to connect with their political representatives.

Fryer also shares the ethernet with Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief, Leslie Stimson, who provides insights on what is happening “inside the Beltway” with both the FCC and Congress.
Continue Reading

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Parents Want Tower Removed Citing Cancer in Students and Teachers

The Ripon Unified School District (RUSD) is working with Sprint to move a tower near Weston Elementary after four students and three teachers were diagnosed with cancer and parents voiced their concerns, reported the Modesto Bee. Some parents pulled their children from the school, and approximately 200 parents attended a recent Ripon school board meeting to demand action.

In a prepared statement, board president Kit Oase said tests done on the tower found it was operating normally within safety standards. Additionally, Oase noted that RUSD receives a negligible amount of revenue from providing campus space for the tower.

Richard Rex, whose family lives across the street from Weston School, said a bump appeared on his 11-year-old son’s abdomen a month ago and was found to wrap around his liver. He said his son’s classroom is near the tower.

According to Oase, the school district sympathized with the families, but the district has no out clause in the 25-year lease agreement with Sprint. The district and Sprint will have to mutually agree to a relocation of the tower, reported the Bee. Continue Reading

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Lawmakers Hear Sharply Different Views of Merger Outcome

In a nearly two and a half-hour hearing Tuesday that turned contentious several times, lawmakers on a House Judiciary Committee subcommittee tried to parse whether the proposed merger of T-Mobile and Sprint is in the public interest.

Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law, said from the outset he’s, “deeply skeptical” that consolidation fosters more competition. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), said he hasn’t made up his mind, but doesn’t think “antitrust questions should be partisan.”

Full Judiciary Committee Chair, Jerry Nadler (D-NY), said, “We must determine if a combined company would have less incentive to innovate and compete with competitors” in an already “highly concentrated” market.


 The resulting three large carriers would each have a third of the market, he added.  
T-Mobile CEO John Legere, who would lead the “New T-Mobile” post-merger, said the result would be more jobs, and “the new company would ensure America would win” the race to 5G, everywhere, including rural areas. He also said the new entity would offer in-home broadband, “freeing millions from the stranglehold of big cable.” Continue Reading