Monday, July 22, 2019

T-Mobile-Sprint Talks With DOJ May be Freezing as Telecoms Face Ultimatum

Negotiations between T-Mobile, Sprint and the Justice Department have been ongoing for weeks as the carriers offer various types of concessions to get their deal approved. The concessions could include divesting spectrum and Boost Mobile in order to create a fourth carrier. But the talks may be stalling. If no agreement is made this week, the Justice Department might sue to block the deal, according to various accounts and first reported by CNBC.

T-Mobile parent Deutsche Telekom is said to be resisting a Dish demand for permission to potentially resell Sprint assets to a cable provider in the future. Wells Fargo Securities analyst Jennifer Fritzsche wrote in an investor note last week that such a move would offer cable operators, “a very clear path to own spectrum.”

Dish Network is reportedly the top bidder and offered an estimated $6 billion for the package. Boost Mobile is a mobile virtual network operator that Sprint owns and that uses Sprint's network. Deutsche Telekom is concerned if it agrees to the divestiture transaction as currently structured, a larger company could acquire Dish and those assets — effectively using the network of a combined T-Mobile-Sprint to compete against DK, according to Yahoo Finance. Continue Reading

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Sprint Agrees to Relocate Ripon Tower

The controversial cellular phone tower at Weston Elementary School in Ripon, CA may be relocating to a nearby strawberry farm, according to the Manteca/Ripon Bulletin.

In a meeting held yesterday at a Ripon City Council Meeting (ed: results were not available at deadline) Sprint submitted an application to the San Joaquin County Planning Department to move the tower currently at Weston Elementary School to a location within the county’s land use authority. The application states: “The property where the tower will be located is adjacent to a property that is currently zoned residential in the City’s general plan and by having the tower at this location, would preclude that adjacent property from being developed residential by the City of Ripon that at some point in time it is annexed into the City.”

Studies have since shown a trace of cancer-causing chemicals in the groundwater that was allegedly affecting both the children and residents of the town as reported by Inside Towers on May 6. The initial move by Sprint from the school grounds caused debate within the tower community over whether, by taking the site down, the carrier was showing sensitivity to the 200 local residents who filed a petition, versus admitting by its actions that the telecom was the cause of the problem.

WIA President and CEO Jonathan Adelstein was staunchly in the latter camp. “Sprint went too far in removing the tower when hearing out the community and explaining the science with patience and compassion for the children afflicted by cancer would have been a better response,” Adelstein told Inside Towers. “Now that we know... Continue Reading

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

C-Band Auction Agreement Proves Elusive

Witnesses discussed aspects of the fight to open up C-band to wireless use before Congress on Tuesday. Incumbent satellite companies on the band have proposed that the FCC let them sell the spectrum privately, while cablecos, Google, and some wireless providers are lobbying for an FCC-run auction.

Earlier in the day, FCC Office of Engineering and Technology Chief Julius Knapp said Chairman Ajit Pai hopes to have some aspects of the C-band proceeding settled this fall. However, while stakeholders are talking with each other, not much conviviality was displayed Tuesday among those who use the spectrum now, and those who want to.

“Without competitive policies to foster competition among providers, rural areas will be left behind,” Competitive Carriers Association SVP Legislative Affairs Tim Donovan told members of the House Energy and Commerce telecom subcommittee. “C-band presents a unique and immediate opportunity for wireless use.” Continue Reading

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

FCC Says It Has Jurisdiction in Pole Dispute Between ComEd, Crown Castle

UPDATE Score one for Crown Castle in its fight with an Illinois utility over pole attachment rates. The FCC on Monday denied a motion to dismiss the complaint from Commonwealth Edison Company (ComEd), the electric utility that owns or controls poles in the state.

Crown Castle told the Commission in June that ComEd denied it access to poles that the utility said needed to be replaced or reinforced. The case involves more than 900 poles. Crown Castle sought FCC intervention; it said ComEd raised the cost per pole, which was unlawful, and that ComEd also violated the Communications Act when it denied the company access to the poles, Inside Towers reported.   

In the meantime, ComEd filed a motion to dismiss both cases, arguing that the Illinois Commerce Commission, not the FCC, had jurisdiction in the matter. In fact, ComEd said the ICC preempted the FCC jurisdiction in all pole attachment disputes. Continue Reading

Monday, July 15, 2019

Fall Claims Life in Storey County, Nevada

The Storey County Nevada Sheriff’s Department confirmed the death of a tower tech just east of Patrick, NV on Friday. The climber, whose name is withheld pending confirmation, was working, according to sources, on a modification for Sprint on a site owned by American Tower located at 1200 Waltham Way. Sources said the climber fell 80-to-100 feet from the 252-foot structure. He was reportedly an employee of Broken Arrow Communications (BACOM). The company closed for the weekend early Friday afternoon and representatives were unavailable for comment.

Funds are being collected for the family of the deceased by two venues:

Friday, July 12, 2019

FCC’s Pai and Rosenworcel Quarrel Over 5G Auction Rules

The FCC established procedures Wednesday for the third auction of high-band, flexible-use licenses suitable for 5G. This auction of upper 37 GHz, 39 GHz, and 47 GHz spectrum bands will be the largest spectrum auction so far, offering licenses covering up to 3,400 megahertz.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel sparred during the vote, with Rosenworcel partially dissenting from her colleagues. Rosenworcel said 16 countries have auctioned spectrum for 5G services and made mid-band spectrum their priority. She ticked off a list that included Japan, Germany, South Korea, the UK and the United Arab Emirates, among others. “But in the United States, we have yet to auction a single swath of mid-band spectrum,” said Rosenworcel.  

Rosenworcel cautioned: “It’s increasingly apparent that the United States is alone in its mission to make millimeter wave spectrum the core of its domestic 5G approach, and if we continue on this path, prioritizing high band airwaves, we are going to have a serious problem. We will find ourselves on the sidelines, as mid-band spectrum becomes the core of worldwide 5G service. That means less scale, higher costs, interoperability challenges, and less security as other nation's technologies proliferate.” Continue Reading

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Amid High Drama, FCC Votes to Open 2.5 GHz to Wireless Use

The FCC voted Wednesday to update its rules for the 2.5 GHz band to make this mid-band spectrum available for advanced wireless services. The 2.5 GHz band is the single largest band of contiguous spectrum below 3 GHz. It offers favorable coverage and capacity characteristics for next-generation mobile services, according to the Commission. The contentious vote partially split along party lines, with the majority Republicans saying the band is underutilized and the minority Democrats countering the item is unfair to the schools and educational systems that now use the spectrum.

Inside Towers reported Commissioner Brendan Carr has been querying some current users of the so-called Education Broadband Services (EBS) spectrum, saying some are not using the funds for the purpose which they’re intended, but diverting the money to other uses — like political purposes. “We need to get to the bottom of these shady practices. Strong enforcement is especially important right now, because this order allows national nonprofits and all other 2.5 GHz license holders to sell their licenses potentially at great profit.”

Carr also says the current 30 percent build-out obligation is “out of step” with the performance requirements the agency imposes on other wireless licensees and should be raised to 80 percent. The Report & Order doesn’t specify that, he said, but creates a way to do so in the future. Continue Reading