Wednesday, November 14, 2018

5G Rollout Causes “Chaos” in Baton Rouge

AT&T is installing 80 new small cell 5G poles on the streets of Baton Rouge, and it “has created a lot of chaos downtown,” according to City-Parish Chief Administrative Officer Darryl Gissel. In mid-October, an AT&T subcontractor struck an underground power line during one installation creating a massive power outage in the city. 

Adding to the deployment woes, local residents expressed shock and opposition to the 29-foot black metal poles upon unexpectedly seeing their installation. Executive director Davis Rhorer said several property owners have contacted the Downtown Development District to dispute the locations of the towers, and how close they will be to their businesses and homes.  Metro Council passed an ordinance establishing the regulations for small cell installation in 2017, allowing the poles to be built in the public right-of-way, according to Business Report

According to Business Report, Darryl Gissel said local law does not allow officials to turn down a tower site proposal based on aesthetic reasons, and there must be a “compelling reason” such as it being a safety risk or a historical site. Continue Reading

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Carriers Work to Maintain, Restore Networks in CA Wildfires

FirstNet mobile cell site (SatCOLT or Satellite Cell on Light Truck) 
is up and running at Canyon View Drive in Paradise, CA  Tweet: Leland Kim.

Even though yesterday was a federal holiday, some personnel at the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau were in contact with carriers and safety agencies in California as the wildfires continued to burn. FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr tweeted that agency staff are “engaged and closely coordinating” efforts to maintain and restore communications in the affected areas.

AT&T said its Network Disaster Recovery team deployed four portable cell sites, or SatCOLTs (Cell on Light Trucks) to affected areas, including the Los Angeles Fire Command Camp and the Paradise Police Department. The SatCOLTs sites will provide connectivity for customers and first responders in areas where traditional cell sites have been damaged or affected by power outages. The carrier has additional assets staged throughout the state for quick deployment once conditions allow. It opened up its network to other carriers’ customers.  Continue Reading

Monday, November 12, 2018

The Red Devils: Connecting on the Field of Battle

Paratroopers from the Army’s 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, nicknamed the Red Devils, are on the front lines of military technology, testing phone connectivity under battle conditions at Fort Bliss in Texas.  The Fort Bliss Bugle explains the unique field concerns that soldiers face.  While civilians rely on a network of cell towers to connect their calls, the Army has to carry its own network with it.  The digital network that was in force, Nett Warrior, had too many limitations and was unwieldy to use. “Nobody was using the Nett Warrior devices,” said Maj. Andrew Miller.

Armed with commercial available smartphones and tablets, the soldiers began their assault on the new Integrated Tactical Network (ITN).  The ITN seeks to extend the range and flexibility of communications on the field. Following the lead of the Special Operation Forces team, the Army set out to create a decentralized system that would allow soldiers to talk within their units without needing to link back through a command center first.  The signal would also need to circumvent attempts to jam a signal or disrupt satellite communications. The Red Devils have continued to test the ITM during each continued phase of its development. Continue Reading

Thursday, November 8, 2018

What a Divided Congress Means for Telecom

A Democratic House and Republican Senate can, in theory, align on issues that affect telecom. However the window is short due to the looming 2020 presidential election. Infrastructure has a chance at bipartisan cooperation, but according to Roll Call, Democrats want to spend more federal government dollars than Republicans, who prefer to rely more on private-sector investment.  Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who hopes to regain her role as House Speaker, committed to pursuing broadband development as one of her goals in the new session of Congress.

That goal dovetails with what the Wireless Infrastructure Association would like to see. While still sorting through the results yesterday, WIA Head of Legislative Affairs Matt Mandel told Inside Towers that, in general, “Our job remains the same regardless of who controls Congress: to educate all members on the important role wireless infrastructure plays in economic growth, broadband deployment, and global competitiveness. I think infrastructure will certainly be a priority and our belief, which is shared by members of both parties, is that broadband infrastructure should be a part of any comprehensive infrastructure package.” Continue Reading

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Rural Broadband Group Presses Harder for TV White Spaces

The 44 groups that make up the Connect Americans Now Coalition, including the Rural Wireless Association, Microsoft, the App Association and the National Rural Education Association, want the FCC to allow TV white spaces to be used for rural broadband deployment. The network operators, equipment providers and rural broadband advocates are using a combination of wired and wireless technologies to do this now, including fiber, as well as terrestrial and satellite fixed and mobile wireless, using several frequencies.

The FCC opened up more of the white spaces between television channels for unlicensed use. The coalition, formed this January, supports Microsoft’s TV white spaces proposal. The coalition wants the agency to go further. “Our deployments are giving us real-world experience in how a set of pragmatic changes to FCC rules would allow us to reach even more Americans, without causing harmful interference to incumbent licensees,” writes the coalition in a letter to the FCC. Continue Reading

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

IBM Sues Corning for “Botched” Falcons’ Stadium Design

IBM is suing Corning in federal court in Georgia for a “botched” design of a cellular distributed antenna system installed at the Atlanta Falcons’ Mercedes-Benz Stadium, reports Mobile Sports Report. IBM contends Corning failed to deliver a working DAS, according to the court filing, and that the Falcons and the NFL needed to spend additional “millions” to make the system operational. The issue is of interest, as the stadium will host the Super Bowl in February 2019.

IBM does not list a specific compensation amount in the suit. Instead, it intends to seek “damages in an amount to be proven at trial.” In its filing, IBM asserted it bought about $20 million in equipment and materials from Corning to build the DAS.

In response, Corning told MSR in a statement: “Corning is a company of the highest integrity. We are confident that the company had conducted itself in an honorable manner and has been fully compliant in meeting its contractual obligations.” Continue Reading

Monday, November 5, 2018

Manhattan DA: Locked Phones Thwart Crime-Solving

While law enforcement can use the location data from nearby cell phone towers to locate criminals, “warrant-proof” smartphone encryption on the devices continues to impede justice for crime victims, says
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance. A new report his office released Thursday, summarizes the “cat and mouse” game involving lawful hacking workarounds. “Apple’s and Google’s encryption decisions have created a new market for private entities to develop and monetize encryption ‘workarounds,’” he states.

In the report, Vance accuses tech companies of consistently putting profits ahead of society’s best interests. He points to Cambridge Analytica’s misuse of Facebook user data and Google’s plans to launch a censored version of its search engine in China as evidence that “certain technology companies have made their decisions, not based on what might be prudent public policy, but — understandably — based on what is in their shareholders’ economic interest.”

From May 2018 through August 2018, the Manhattan D.A. Cyber Lab tried to access 589 mobile devices in connection with live criminal investigations. 366 (or 62 percent) were passcode-locked. Of those 366 devices, 165 remain inaccessible despite court-ordered warrants to search the devices, according to the report. Continue Reading