Monday, December 26, 2016

Research Shows Consumers Demand More Mobile Network Capacity

Local public officials would benefit from seeing the results of a new study showing almost 100 percent of consumers use a smartphone, and 50 percent use wireless tablets. The study was commissioned by the Wireless Infrastructure Association (WIA) and performed by iGR, a market strategy consultancy specializing in the wireless and mobile communications industry. The report “Entertainment Services: The Future Is Mobile” was published on December 20.


The WIA noted several other important features from the report. Six out of ten Americans watch videos on mobile devices every day, and 20 percent will use cellular data networks even if WiFi is available. Iain Gillott, President and Founder of iGR, summarized why these facts are important to the wireless industry. He said, “Our research found that the majority of Americans view high-speed mobile access as a necessity rather than a luxury. They expect access in all locations and at all times of the day. This expectation is only going to grow stronger and stronger in coming years.” Most consumers use their phone to watch video, which uses much more data than other functions. The result is increased demand on mobile networks, and a compulsory increase in infrastructure to expand and improve those networks.



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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

AT&T Tells FCC to Back Off on Zero Ratings Concerns…or Else

The FCC recently sent letters to major telecoms such as AT&T and Verizon, relating concerns about zero ratings services being bad for competition. The carriers told the Commission to back-off or potentially face consequences from the incoming Trump administration.
 
Under zero ratings, carriers essentially offer certain services to consumers that don’t count against their data limits; those can include video programming using services like DirecTV that AT&T is offering, Inside Towers has reported. Verizon handles its Go90 streaming service the same way.

The issue is major telecoms that own the majority of the networks providing internet connections can afford to remove data charges while streaming; other companies that have to pay the charges to provide the same streaming service cannot. Continue Reading

Monday, December 19, 2016

Town Violated “Shot Clock Order” Federal Court Decides

The case of Up State Tower Co., LLC v. Town of Kiantone ended when the district court in New York state decided the town interfered with the deployment of wireless services, but it offers little clarity for the situation. Up State Tower Co. sought to provide a cell tower for the area’s consumers over a year ago. After a ten-month battle, the court ruled the Town of Kiantone violated Section 332(c)(7)(B)(ii) of the Communications Act, which establishes tower applications should be acted upon within 150 days of submission. Continue Reading

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

China Tower Corporation with Over 1M Towers Goes Public Soon

When wireless infrastructure company China Tower Corporation is listed publicly by early 2017, one network operator is expected to get a bigger boost than others—China Unicom, reports the South China Morning Post. Last October, the Wall Street Journal reported the tower company was formed by the three largest carriers in the country, China Mobile Ltd., China Unicom (Hong Kong) Ltd and China Telecom Corporation transferring their assets to the joint venture.  China Telecom was leasing 550,000 towers, or 55 percent of its total, from China Tower according to mobileworldlive.  

China Mobile leases one million towers, or 30 percent of its total from the state-owned joint venture.
The carriers said the move will enhance network coverage and save on capital expenditure for constructing telecom towers, which hold equipment for their mobile networks, the Journal said. Continue Reading

Monday, December 12, 2016

Sprint to Double Spectrum Leaseback Transaction Amount

sprintLast October, Sprint announced its plan to sell $3.5 billion worth of spectrum and then lease that same spectrum to pay off “higher interest bearing loans.” This week, the company announced it will increase that transaction from $3.5 billion to $7.0 billion, reports Yahoo Finance.  

The initial spectrum leaseback deal was made to free up cash for the company and “ease some of the liquidity pressure on its balance sheet.” With this recent increase, the carrier is now planning to sell some 14 percent of its spectrum assets. Continue Reading

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

AT&T Pushing for Speedier Approval/Denial Period in Ohio

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AT&T wants an expedited process for small cell technology in Ohio, but lawmakers are in opposition to the proposed time constraint.

Initially, AT&T wanted water towers and power lines to be included in the usual small cell antenna package of street lamps, traffic lights and poles. However, during the state’s recent legislative session, according to Cleveland.com, the wireless giant agreed not to include them. Instead, the company wants to speed up the 5G network application process to a 90-day approval or denial, which would allow communities to “block the installation of new wireless antennas.” Continue Reading

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Union Strives to Make Inroads in Wireless Industry

cwa

 Last April, the industry watched as Verizon management squared off with 40,000 striking employees. The result was a small win for the Communications Workers of America (CWA), who was able to expand its reach to cover more of Verizon’s workers.

However, in general, unionization has been largely unsuccessful in the wireless industry, something the CWA is seeking to change. Last week, hundreds of CWA’s organizers met in San Antonio to strategize how to expand its power in the industry, reports Fortune.  See the statement from the CWA regarding the conference. Continue Reading

Monday, December 5, 2016

Wireless Industry Embraces Walden for House Energy and Commerce Chair

Congratulations have been pouring in for new House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden. The Oregon Republican previously chaired the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology.
 
“The House Energy & Commerce Committee plays a key role in helping ensure competitive carriers are able to compete and thrive in the industry, and Chairman Walden understands the importance of mobile broadband, especially in rural areas,” said Competitive Carriers Association President/CEO Steven Berry. “His understanding of the Universal Service Fund and role in crafting the legislation leading to the 600 MHz incentive auction will be an asset to the Committee and to Congress.” Continue Reading

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Auction Could Re-Write Local Media Definition

Billions of dollars are likely to change hands during the FCC’s spectrum incentive auction. The money could be used to transform local media nationwide.

Telecoms have referred to a “spectrum crisis,” as they try to sate the public’s appetite for bandwidth to deliver streaming video, as well as texts and social media to consumers.

Auction proceeds could be used to build 21st-century infrastructure for public interest media, writes Christopher Daggett, president and chief executive officer of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation in an Op Ed for the New York Times. States, communities and universities that decided to auction some or all of their television spectrum will have a chance to invest in new ways to meet the public’s information needs, he writes. Continue Reading

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Tue, November 29, 2016 90-Day Trial Subscribe Now Media Kit Submit News Popular Posts Inside Towers Database Job Listings Archive Emergency Alert System Goes Into Action on Ohio State Campus

9:55 a.m. Buckeye Alert! Emergency on Columbus campus: More info soon. Shelter in place / be observant / take action as needed. Public Safety responding.
 
9:56 a.m.  Buckeye Alert: Active Shooter on campus. Run Hide Fight. Watts Hall. 19th and College.

So read the Buckeye Alert System messages that began the day yesterday on the Ohio State University Campus.  An attacker reportedly plowed into a crowd with his car and began stabbing random bystanders with a butcher knife according to OSU police.  The attacker was shot and killed less than a minute later police said. Continue Reading

Monday, November 28, 2016

How Many Economists Does it Take to Make an FCC? Jamison Added to Team

UPDATE  A second economist has joined the President-elect’s transition team for the FCC – Mark Jamison. He joins Jeffrey Eisenach, who leads the team, Inside Towers reported.
 
Like Eisenach, Jamison is affiliated with the American Enterprise Institute think tank in Washington and is currently director of The University of Florida’s Public Utility Research Center, reports TVNewsCheck. Jamison, too, is an expert on telephone and public utilities issues. Continue Reading

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

INSPECTION NOTICE – 3M™ DBI-SALA® LADSAF™ X2 and X3 SLEEVES

INDUSTRY SAFETY ALERT!
IMMEDIATE ACTION REQUIRED
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A notification yesterday from NATE stated that 3M Fall Protection (formerly Capital Safety) has identified a limited number of Lad-Saf X2/X3 sleeves with the locking lever not working properly. This condition can allow the sleeve to disengage from the cable during use. The assembly error is believed to affect only a limited number of units and has been corrected. There have been no accidents or injuries related to this issue. Continue Reading

Friday, November 18, 2016

Trump Presidency Revives Talk of T-Mobile, Sprint Merger

The wireless industry may soon feel the effects of the political earthquake reshaping power in Washington, as the likelihood of a T-Mobile, Sprint merger might have just increased thanks to the election of Republican Donald Trump, crn.com reports.

Trump’s administration is expected to have markedly different regulatory policies than that of the Obama administration, who squelched a potential merger of the two wireless giants in August, 2014. “Four national wireless providers is good for American consumers,” current FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said in a 2014 article published by the Wall Street Journal.

Wheeler is expected to step down following Trump’s inauguration, and could potentially be replaced by Jeffrey Eisenach, the telecom consultant who is currently heading up the selection of new FCC members on Trump’s transition team, Inside Towers has reported.  Continue Reading

Thursday, November 17, 2016

NAB to FCC: Wireless Companies Exaggerate Spectrum “Crisis”

NAB, and many broadcast equipment suppliers and engineers, say the FCC’s 39-month schedule for the television repack is too aggressive. The proposed schedule doesn’t fully take into account logistical and technical challenges broadcasters and suppliers will face, says NAB in comments to the agency; the trade lobby urges the Commission to re-think the deadline.
 
On top of all this, wireless companies are inflating how urgently they need new spectrum and are dragging out the auction, according to NAB.  

Many of the Commission’s proposals for the television repack “are reasonable steps towards planning an efficient transition,” notes NAB. However a software-driven approach to categorize and assign stations to different phases is “unlikely” to produce a workable and efficient plan in practice, according to the broadcast trade lobby. Continue Reading

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Pings from Towers Locate Missing South Carolina Woman Held Hostage

In emergency situations, cell phone technology can sometimes mean the difference between life and death. Such was the case recently when local authorities used cell tower pings to locate a missing South Carolina woman; she was found held captive on a 95-acre property in northwest South Carolina, reports GreenvilleOnline.com.

Local police investigators obtained cell phone records from the woman’s service provider—AT&T—which enabled them to “triangulate” the cell phone’s location based on the strength of the pings between nearby towers the woman’s phone had connected to up to the moment it died.   

The missing woman’s cell phone pinged on the property up to two days after friends last saw her on August 31. Working with AT&T, local authorities obtained the phone records and the necessary warrant needed to access the property. Continue Reading

Monday, November 14, 2016

Telecom Transition Headed by Former FTC Economist and Telecom Lobbyist

President-elect Donald Trump has assembled a transition team; its members, in turn, will develop short-lists so he can staff his administration.
 
Trump has picked federal technology regulation opponent Jeffrey Eisenach to lead his telecom transition team, reports Quartz. Eisenach was an economist at the Federal Trade Commission and an advisor in Ronald Reagan’s administration.

Now a telecom consultant and lobbyist, he counts Verizon and other telecoms as clients. He’s leading the team helping to pick staffers for the FCC, reports the New York Times. Continue Reading

Friday, November 11, 2016

Trump Could Cut Rural Broadband Deployment Red Tape

As the dust begins to settle after the election, the Trump transition team is at work. The group has launched a website “Greatagain.gov” with a @transition2017 associated Twitter feed linked to the account.
Lobbying groups are adjusting their game-plans in preparation for a Trump administration and the start of the 115th Session of Congress in January.

Trump’s election reflects deep economic frustration, according to TechFreedom President Berin Sz√≥ka. The leader of the think tank advocating technology progress sees bridging the Digital Divide with broadband as essential to empowering rural America. Continue Reading

Thursday, November 10, 2016

What Telecom Issues Await New Administration?

What might be the potential impact on telecom regulation under President-elect Donald Trump?
 
That’s actually difficult to determine because Trump said little about the tech sector during the campaign. Recode believes he may be more hands-off than President Obama, who has referred to himself as a geek at times. The president-elect will certainly be more pro-business and anti-regulation. However he recently called the proposed AT&T $85B buyout of Time Warner “poison.”

Trump said at a recent rally his administration wouldn’t sign-off on the deal because of the concentration of power between AT&T and CNN together would be too much. Meanwhile, AT&T CFO John Stephens said Wednesday the carrier looks forward to working with Trump and is still optimistic regulators will approve the deal, reported Reuters. Continue Reading

Monday, November 7, 2016

Health Advocates Worry 5G Will Create Toxic Brew

Some health advocates are fearful of the FCC’s 5G deployment push.
 
Inside Towers has reported some local governments are dragging their feet in approving applications to site small cells and DAS on utility and light poles. The wireless industry is “losing patience” with “obstructionist” municipalities, according to the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors.

NATOA represents local governments in administrative rulings, judicial decisions, and technology issues impacting the interests of local governments. Many of its advocacy efforts involve emerging issues regarding broadband planning and wireless zoning.

The Wheeler Commission has been especially focused on broadband deployment; this July the Commission adopted rules for wireless broadband above 24 GHz, making the U.S. the first country to make this spectrum available for 5G mmWave technology. The Report & Order opens up frequencies for new flexible uses that will include mobility, internet access, point-to-point as well as satellite use, according to Telecom Engine. Continue Reading

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Standing Rock Tribes Leery of Eminent Domain Takeover of Spectrum

Conflicts between Native Americans and police erupted again this week at the construction site for the Dakota Access Pipeline. Several Native American tribes are protesting the $3.8 billion project being built near a dam on the Missouri River. Meanwhile, at least one tribe member who’s also in the telecom industry worries an aspect of the pipeline conflict could impact wireless services on his reservation.  Eminent domain was used to clear the way for the pipeline which, for now, is to be located near land the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe says is ancestral soil near the reservation.

Tribe member Fred McLaughlin, general manager of the tribe-owned local wireless provider Standing Rock Telecom, fears federal and private entities covet the tribe’s wireless spectrum.  Standing Rock Telecom owns 17 towers and provides monthly contracts to 1,600+ subscribers; its signals cover 3,500 miles and the service has played an important role in social media coverage of the protests, reports motherboard. Continue Reading

Thursday, November 3, 2016

The FCC on Broadband Deployment: Federal Muscle Over Local Authority

There are five steps governments can and should take now to facilitate broadband deployment. That’s according to FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, who discussed the issue at the CTIA Wireless Foundation’s Smart Cities Expo in Washington, DC yesterday.
 
The FCC must use its authority to ensure local governments don’t get in the way. “Congress gave the Commission the express authority to preempt any state or local regulation that prohibits or has the effect of prohibiting the ability of any entity to provide wired or wireless service. We should use it,” said the GOP Commissioner, citing potentially unfair fees that can be pre-empted by the agency. Continue Reading

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Crown Castle to Buy FiberNet for $1.5B Adding 11,500 Miles of Fiber to Portfolio

Crown Castle (NYSE:CCI) announced today that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire FPL FiberNet Holdings, LLC and certain other subsidiaries of NextEra Energy, Inc. (NYSE:NEE) (collectively, “FiberNet”) for approximately $1.5 billion in cash (subject to certain limited adjustments). FiberNet is a fiber services provider that owns or has rights to approximately 11,500 route miles of fiber installed and under construction in Florida and Texas, inclusive of approximately 6,000 route miles of fiber in top metro markets.  Pro forma for the proposed acquisition, Crown Castle will own or have rights to approximately 28,500 route miles of fiber. Continue Reading

Monday, October 31, 2016

Be Afraid of New FASB Accounting Standards, Be Very Afraid

Over the last 14 years, American Tower as a leasor of wireless infrastructure has seen annual total returns of 16.3 percent while the S&P 500 averages a 6.8 percent return, said Fool.com.  So what’s scary about that?

A proposed rule change from the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) has a chance of impacting balance sheets across the board in the tower industry as it stipulates “a lessee will be required to recognize assets and liabilities for leases with lease terms of more than 12 months.”  The ruling fundamentally negates off-balance sheet financing…. a big reason investors choose companies with operating leases, Fool.com said.  
American Tower’s latest quarterly report recognized pending changes:  

 “In February 2016, the FASB issued new guidance on the accounting for leases. The guidance amends the existing accounting standards for lease accounting, including the requirement that lessees recognize assets and liabilities for leases with terms greater than twelve months in the statement of financial position. Under the new guidance, lessor accounting is largely unchanged.This guidance is effective for fiscal years, and for interim periods within those fiscal years, beginning after December 15, 2018. The standard is required to be applied using a modified retrospective approach for all leases existing at, or entered into after, the beginning of the earliest comparative period presented. The Company is evaluating the impact this standard will have on its financial statements,” the ATC report said. Continue Reading

Friday, October 28, 2016

FCC Approves Broadband Privacy in 3-2 Vote, Industry Pushes Back

Media moguls like Comcast and Verizon now have to ask customers’ permission before using or sharing much of their data, the FCC ruled yesterday.  Under the new rules, for example, a broadband provider has to ask permission before it can tell an advertiser exactly what apps the customer is using, what websites they’ve used and where they are. The new rules could make garnering revenue from mobile-housed advertising more difficult.


Although the FCC’s approved measure was a diluted version of the original submission, the telecommunications, advertising and cable industries were critical of the action. The standards are much stricter than those imposed on web-based giants like Google and Facebook, which are regulated only by the FTC, and have the broadband community citing them as unfair to competitors.

Continue Reading

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Google Fiber Halts U.S. Fiber Broadband Roll-Out

Google Fiber Halts U.S. Fiber Broadband Roll-Out: While fiber broadband was at one time full steam ahead, the engine has halted at Google. The technology giant announced this week a “slowdown in the development” of its U.S. fiber broadband roll-out, according to telecompaper. The big picture shows the company plans to look at alternate access technologies for areas that were seen as just potential, while still rolling out in cities where deployment efforts have already begun.

Google told telecompaper that it needs to “refine its approach” while staying “ahead of the curve by pushing the boundaries of technology, business, and policy.” Continue Reading

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Indoor Wireless Coverage Vital to Business Health

In-building wireless coverage is more important now than ever. In fact, 87 percent of facilities managers and architects consider coverage inside of buildings to be “imperative,” according to a recent study conducted by Coleman Parkes Research and CommScope.

Another study, CommScope noted, was conducted by Nemertes Research and the Small Cell Forum. It found that 94 percent of enterprise IT executives believe in-building mobile performance impacts their business. Currently about 80 percent of wireless usage is indoors, but RAN infrastructure is outdoors, CommScope reported. 

The Nemertes study found that growing business dependence on mobile connectivity was emphasized when 94 percent of respondents said that the quality of in-building cellular coverage had an impact on their business performance – on a scale of one to ten, some 42 percent gave it a rating between eight to ten in terms of seriousness, with the healthcare sector notably prominent in these scores.  Continue Reading

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

NATE Launches Wireless Industry Network (WIN) Program

The National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE) today announced the official launch of the Wireless Industry Network (WIN). The WIN program is a coast-to-coast grassroots program designed to promote NATE’s regional, state and local efforts, support existing state and national wireless organizations and facilitate communication between all stakeholders in the wireless industry.
 

WIN consists of a nationwide network of respected Regional Ambassadors and State Liaisons who are devoted to NATE’s mission and are passionate about expanding the Association’s message of safety, quality, standards and education in order to reach the entire industry. WIN encompasses eight regions within the United States: Pacific, Southwest, Rocky Mountain, Great Plains, Great Lakes, Northeast, Atlantic Coast and Southeast and also includes a grassroots structure in Canada as well as a presence in the Bahamas. Continue Reading

Monday, October 24, 2016

AT&T and Verizon Look to Grow Apart From Wireless, No “Next Big Thing”

The two largest carriers in the U.S., AT&T and Verizon have had to look for growth elsewhere while the wireless market is reaching its saturation point according to the Wall Street Journal. With AT&T announcing Saturday that it intends to buy media giant Time Warner for over $80 billion and Verizon’s uncertain future with its recent purchase of Yahoo, at $4.4 billion, the wireless industry is losing its status as one of the ‘darlings’ of the growth sectors.
 
“They need to find a path forward for their core U.S. business that offers something better than inexorable decline,” Craig Moffett, an analyst at MoffettNathanson LLC told the Journal. “The internet, mobile phones and smartphones fueled rapid growth, but for the first time in memory, there is no ‘next big thing’ in telecom.”


Although both AT&T and Verizon have millions of customers actively on their respective networks, texting, streaming, downloading, tweeting and, yes, even calling, now that most Americans have a smartphone, the remaining growth potential is in the content according to the Wall Street Journal.  Smaller carrier rivals, meanwhile are whittling away at their subscriber base.  Continue Reading

Friday, October 21, 2016

Senator Pushes Samsung on Lithium Battery Safety, Possibly Others

Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal wants to get to the bottom of the lithium-ion battery issue in the Samsung Galaxy Note 7. Samsung stopped selling some 1.9 million of the devices after the batteries in several of the Note 7s caught fire, even when the phone was turned off.
 
Blumenthal’s questions go beyond the specific battery Samsung uses and could extend to other smartphones and other consumer electronic devices that employ lithium-ion batteries. The Ranking Member of the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance and Data Security tells the electronics company in a letter he wants to gather information to “identify what steps need to be taken to ensure all electronic manufacturers can better guarantee the safety of lithium-ion batteries that are so commonly used in consumer products today.”  Continue Reading

Thursday, October 20, 2016

FCC Halts Auction Mid-day to Drop Spectrum Clearing Target…Again

The FCC’s spectrum incentive auction will go into a third stage. That’s because the second stage closed after one round yesterday, more than $35 billion short of the $56.5 billion goal. The total bid was $21,519,907,210, according to the Commission.
 
The results play into what was expected to be “tepid carrier interest,” according to Bloomberg analysts John Butler and Matthew Kanterman. They predicted earlier the total bid for airwaves would only reach around $28.2 billion, reports Bloomberg BNA.

AT&T has committed to spending $9.4 billion, and the pair estimate Comcast and Verizon will spend half that, with T-Mobile likely bidding about $5.5 billion. Continue Reading

Monday, October 17, 2016

Wireless Must Move Beyond Hardware to Grow Business

When you’re told by flight attendants before takeoff to turn off the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, that’s a sign the wireless industry needs to retrench and shift towards software. So too, are job layoffs by Ericsson and now Verizon, according to Rethink Research.

Samsung has stopped production of the device. The recall and refund process, not to mention the loss of future sales, may add up to a $5.3 billion loss. The carrier will likely shift its efforts towards non-smartphone sectors like memory, processors and displays, and boost software focus as it recovers. Continue Reading

Friday, October 14, 2016

Will $3.5B Spectrum Sale, Leaseback Save Sprint?

It’s not yet time for Sprint to pop the champagne corks but the carrier has averted a financial crisis by mortgaging some of its 2.5 GHz spectrum. Wall Street gives the carrier credit for the move which buys time to pay off creditors.
 
Sprint proposed a $3.5 billion sale and leaseback; the spectrum it’s mortgaging is being used in about 77 percent of its 2.5 GHz-enabled sites and 33 percent of its 1.9 GHz-enabled sites, according to Bloomberg. It’s the third and final part of the plan by SoftBank Group Corp. owner Masayoshi Son to use special-purpose entities to turn key assets into cash.

Sprint has staved off creditors for the moment but still has work ahead. Gimme Credit analyst Dave Novosel called the move “a great short-term solution … but they are going to need to generate cash flow to pay off these debts.”  

The number four wireless carrier has $37 billion in debt, seven years of losses and a mature wireless market requiring promotions and price cutting to retain customers, according to analysts. CEO Marcelo Claure has said if the company is revived it would be “the greatest turnaround in history.”
Claure took over in 2014, and has dramatically cut prices, sometimes offering half off his competitors’ rates, according to Bloomberg. Recently he cut Sprint’s unlimited family plan to $140 for four people, compared with $160 at T-Mobile.

But while the lowered rates help retain customers, they’re not enhancing Sprint’s bottom line. “At some point you have to start attracting customers without giving away the store,” said Novosel. Continue Reading

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

FirstNet Winner Pick Looming Large November 1

If the federal government sticks to its plan, by November 1, it will award a contract for the First Responder Network Authority — FirstNet. Wells Fargo Securities believes the time-table remains on-track.
 
FirstNet is tasked with cost-effectively creating a nationwide network and providing wireless services to public safety agencies across the country. The goal is to end decades-long interoperability and communications challenges for first responders.

The upside for the company that wins the contract is phenomenal. FirstNet provides wireless carriers the opportunity to procure 20MHz of nationwide 700MHz spectrum to build, operate and maintain a nationwide safety network. The government will pay carriers $7B+ to do so, according to Wells Fargo Senior Analyst Jennifer Fritzsche.

Continue Reading

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Telecom Community Preps for Hurricane Matthew

As Hurricane Matthew travels towards the East Coast, telecom providers are staging equipment and calling in extra tower crews to prepare for and minimize power outages if possible. Verizon Wireless is fine-tuning hurricane prep in coastal markets and local network teams are prepared to travel to help regions hardest-hit by the storm.
_______________________________________________________________________________


Links and resources:
FEMA Alert Warning System
Email and SMS Weather Alert Services
DownDetector: shows concentration of reports about service being ‘down’

State Emergency Alert Plans and Chairpersons:
Florida
Georgia
North Carolina: EAS Chairperson, WRAL-FM, 3100 Highwood Blvd., Raleigh, NC 27604,  phone: (919) 890-6104
South Carolina: Plan: John George, Audio Broadcasting Group, Lexington, SC 29073  phone: (803) 951-7443
 
_______________________________________________________________________________
 
Since last year’s storms, Verizon has enhanced its 4G network by adding capacity to cell sites, fortifying coverage along evacuation routes and deploying advanced LTE technology. It’s also installed new in-building network systems at hospitals, government and emergency facilities and other high-traffic public locations.

The company has a number of “super-switch” network processing centers, which are designed to withstand Category 5 hurricanes. With hardened shells, these facilities also feature large-scale on-site power generation, various redundant operations and technologies, and other backup systems to ensure the company’s network remains operational. Continue Reading

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

SBA Board Approves REIT Conversion, Sees No Change in Operations


SBA Communications logoSBA Communications announced yesterday that it has authorized its Board of Directors “to take all necessary steps for it to qualify as a real estate investment trust (“REIT”) for tax purposes.”  SBA intends to be taxed as a REIT commencing with its taxable year ending December 31, 2016.
 
“We are pleased to announce this plan for conversion because we believe REIT status is the optimal structure for our business given the real estate nature of our assets,” stated Jeffrey A. Stoops, SBA’s President and Chief Executive Officer.  “We believe a REIT structure will provide many opportunities for creating long-term shareholder value.  We have been working on this plan for approximately two years.  We expect our conversion to a REIT to have little to no effect on our operations, as we have been operating in compliance with REIT rules since prior to the beginning of 2016.  We intend to continue our focus on maximizing long-term adjusted funds from operations per share through growth and disciplined capital allocation.”  Continue Reading

Monday, October 3, 2016

FCC Proposes Phased TV Repack Per Wireless’ Wishes

Tower owners and operators, wireless companies, broadcasters and their equipment providers told the Commission a phased-in approach to the television spectrum repack, post-auction, makes sense. Now, the FCC agrees.

Several FCC bureaus are developing a phased-in approach. The agency has proposed construction deadlines to coincide with its proposed 39-month “phased” transition schedule. The FCC seeks comments on the proposal in a Public Notice. Comments are due to MB Docket 16-306 or GN Docket 12-268 on October 31.

The Commission is balancing “the need for a post-incentive auction transition timetable that is flexible for broadcasters and that minimizes disruption to viewers” with the need for a schedule that “provides certainty to wireless providers and is completed as expeditiously as possible,” it said in a notice released Friday. Continue Reading

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Verizon Plans Early 5G Launch in 2017

Verizon is looking out for itself as the firm and other top carriers anticipate Comcast and Charter Communications to enter the wireless space. The cable companies plan to invoke their mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) agreements with Verizon, melding their WiFi networks with the carrier’s wireless services for mobile offerings, Inside Towers has reported.
 
Founded in 1983, Verizon has grown to include the communications, entertainment and information sectors; it has a market cap of $214.09 billion, according to investment firm Zacks.  Most carriers plan on having their 5G networks fully deployed around the 2020 timeframe, according to industry experts. AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile currently plan a 3-year target. Continue Reading

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

AM Tower Owners Seeing Lucrative Offers for Property

Tower owners and AM radio station owners may have more options than it first appears for a joint Return on Investment.

Some owners of heritage AMs are receiving real estate offers from developers that are so lucrative they must seriously consider them. In some cases, they’ve decided to sell because the land surrounding the tower sites and directly under the structures and even the value of the AM station itself, is worth much more than the station’s revenue. Two big land deals Inside Towers recently covered are Cumulus-owned KABC/KLOS, Los Angeles and WMAL in Bethesda, Maryland.

Lease, rather than sale, opportunities exist for AM owners and carriers, though they’re not as common as arrangements between FM owners and telecoms because of the difficult engineering involved in preventing AM signal interference. Fletcher Heald & Hildreth Managing Partner, Frank Montero, tells Inside Towers “AM stations have been trying to use their towers for supplemental income by diplexing with other AMs or leasing to wireless carriers like Verizon or T-Mobile.” Continue Reading

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Denver Suffers Because Carriers Won’t Trade Spectrum

Denver has one of the slowest mobile data speeds in the country, experts agree. A combination of more people moving into the area, increasing demand on cell networks, is one reason but the larger reason has to do with spectrum. Of the four companies servicing the area, not one company has a big chunk of spectrum, reports the Denver Post.
 
AllNet Insights & Analytics President Brian Goemmer says T-Mobile owns a good amount of Advanced Wireless Spectrum in Denver, however AT&T and Verizon own portions in-between. By not owning contiguous bands, none of the carriers can offer the top upload and download speeds carriers offer in other cities, according to Goemmer. Continue Reading

Monday, September 26, 2016

AT&T Says Tower Rents Are Not ‘Sustainable’

AT&T is reportedly looking to revise tower lease deals where it can. Letters seen by FierceWireless purport to show AT&T pressing tower operators for new terms, and in some direct language, asking for lower rates.
 
An AT&T spokesman says the company’s execs are “frustrated with the current tower cost structure and believe it is not sustainable.” The letters imply a “no” response or not responding at all will lead to the carrier’s “review of alternate locations.”

The carrier says it’s revaluating the terms and conditions of all leases coming up for renewal; it seeks to reduce or eliminate price increases, “fair” early termination rights, plus the ability to modify or upgrade tower equipment for no extra cost, according to the account. Continue Reading

Friday, September 23, 2016

Charter Joins Rival Comcast in the Wireless Arena

Now Charter Communications wants to be in the wireless business too. The news comes a day after rival Comcast said it plans to invoke a 2011 deal with Verizon and launch a wireless service that would run on a combination of its own WiFi and Verizon’s network by mid-2017, Inside Towers reported yesterday.
 
Charter jumping into the wireless business could mean more competition for Verizon and AT&T, which dominate, reports the AP. Since its purchase of Time Warner Cable in May, Charter is now bigger, claiming 25 million+ customers. In contrast, Comcast has 28+ million. Continue Reading

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

FCC to Push for Uniform Roaming Standards

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and CCA can trace their roots back to 1992 when Wheeler started as the head of CTIA and CCA first began.  Wheeler opened the annual CCA Convention yesterday in Seattle saying the federal agency is “pursuing an aggressive agenda to seize the opportunities of mobile for rural America.
 
Steven Berry, the President & CEO of CCA concurred: “I agree with the Chairman’s observation that competition is the key to ensuring a robust mobile wireless marketplace for all consumers.  CCA looks forward to continued work with the Commission to ‘form a united front for our mobile future.’”

Continue Reading

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Cell Phone Alerts Help Catch Alleged Bomber

Millions of New Yorkers’ cell phones screamed out an air raid siren-like sound yesterday morning flashing a message that said “WANTED.”  The alerts signaled the manhunt for a suspected bomber in the Manhattan blast that occurred on Saturday but also represented the first digital manhunt in New York City.

Along with digital billboards, radio and TV stations, used by law enforcement to alert the public this modern equivalent of a “wanted” poster showed up on everyone’s phone.  TheTwitter alert looked like this:

Continue Reading

Monday, September 19, 2016

FCC Projects 5G Will Take a Ten-Time Growth in Towers and Small Cells

Broadband deployment, and especially 5G infrastructure is key for the nation’s economy, FCC Commissioners told lawmakers at last Thursday’s oversight hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee. In what is likely the last time the current makeup of Commissioners will appear before Congress, Chairman Wheeler discussed the Spectrum Frontiers Report and Order, which the agency recently adopted to speed development and deployment of 5G wireless technology.
 
He pledged to “balance the needs of various different types of uses in these bands through effective sharing mechanisms; take steps to promote competitive access to this spectrum; encourage the development of secure networks and technologies from the beginning; and remove unnecessary hurdles to siting and infrastructure deployment.” Continue Reading

Thursday, September 15, 2016

European Union Tries to Clear Regulations for 5G Deployment

The European Union promises to unsaddle companies with less regulation as they deploy 5G. All cities and transport links in the EU should have reliable 5G coverage by 2025, according to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.
 
However, 17 European wireless operators say the blueprint doesn’t match up to their expectations and leaves out key points. Overall, the EU plan puts infrastructure deployment incentives in place but also puts the burden on the industry to harmonize standards without offering much help, reports the-mobile-network.com.

The new plan is intended to clear out regulatory barriers across Europe to broadband deployment, making it easier to invest in infrastructure, both locally and nationwide, reports Mobileworldlive.com.

Continue Reading

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Have U.S. Carrier Profits Peaked?

Has wireless earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) growth in the U.S. peaked? Investment banking firm UBS believes so. However other metrics that drive financial value come into play as well; that’s according to a new report from USB titled “Wireless clouds starting to gather.”

Unlike other developed wireless markets around the world, the U.S. has seen dramatic growth in EBITDA per POP over the past six years, despite the fact that the industry has essentially gone from a two player market to a four player market with the emergence of T-Mobile and Sprint as competitive factors. UBS believes this will begin to impact the financials in 2017.  

Over the past two years, wireless EBITDA growth has generated more than 100 percent of consolidated EBITDA growth for the four nationals. “Our models reflect 3 percent industry EBITDA growth in 2017, driven by T-Mobile and Sprint while wireless EBITDA remains flattish at AT&T/Verizon (implying the majority of consolidated EBITDA growth is coming from the wireline and other segments, which may prove to be too optimistic),” writes analyst John Hodulik. Continue Reading

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

911 Call Centers Could Be Hacked

Cell phone towers are at the heart of the country’s 911 system, one which is vulnerable to attack, according to researchers in Israel. Fifteen years after the September 11 attacks on the U.S. comes the sobering news that the nation’s 911 system could potentially be hacked.

Researchers at Ben Gurion University in Israel say in a report they’ve shared with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the FBI they’ve simulated a telephone denial-of-service attack to disable a state’s 911 call centers, reports NDTV. In a Telephony Denial of Service (TDoS) attack, cell phones are infected with malware so they make fake 911 calls, clogging the phone lines and preventing legitimate calls from getting through. Continue Reading

Monday, September 12, 2016

3M, TIRAP Confer at CTIA to Spell Out Safety Climb System Use

3M has committed to weekly briefings with members of the Telecommunications Industry Registered Apprenticeship Program (TIRAP) about its recall of the original tower climber Lad-Saf sleeve. After 30 years of use, the fall protection equipment has been replaced by a redesigned Lad-Saf sleeve, Inside Towers reported last week.
  
Members of 3M’s Fall Protection Business spoke at the TIRAP executive board meeting held at the CTIA Super Mobility conference in Las Vegas last week. 3M and TIRAP are working together to clarify the proper installation, inspection and use of safety climb systems. Continue Reading

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

5G Future Hinges on Lessening Small Cell Barriers Says Wheeler

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has promised to clear regulatory red tape in order to ease 5G development. Speaking to attendees of CTIA’s Super Mobility Show in Las Vegas today, he said: “5G is like the missing piece of the puzzle depicting the wireless future:

'Where today’s wired and wireless networks force customers to choose EITHER high speed and capacity OR mobility, 5G’s promise of gigabit mobile connections at any location will open up hugely disruptive new value propositions for the users of networks.”
There are three things the FCC can do to help spur 5G deployment, Wheeler said: 1) ensuring ample availability of spectrum to a range of competitors; 2) taking all steps to foster competitive provision of infrastructure; and 3) removing unnecessary hurdles to siting. “In all these areas, the FCC has activities underway.”

He referenced spectrum, adding the agency has been making available more low-band, mid-band, and high-band airwaves. The ongoing incentive auction makes available a “greenfield” of low-band spectrum, and creation of the new Citizens Broadband Radio service in the 3.5 GHz band are landmarks in using new
Continue Reading

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Carriers Say Round One of the FCC Auction Was A-OK

It was the best of auctions, it was the worst of auctions…depending on whom you ask. While broadcasters are bemoaning a shortage in bidding of $66 billion dollars in Round One, carriers are pointing out they spent lavishly compared to past auctions.  The carrier version of events comes after the FCC’s auction of spectrum surrendered by broadcasters came in at bids well short of the $88 billion goal last week…$66 billion short to be exact…necessitating more rounds.
 
Wireless trade association CTIA said the Stage 1 bids, totaling $23.1 billion, still surpassed the last low-band spectrum auction total of nearly $19 billion, according to insidesources.com. Continue Reading

Friday, September 2, 2016

New 3M Conceal Film Almost Makes Your Tower Disappear

Just like the cloaking device on Star Trek, 3M has come up with a way to disguise cell towers. That matters for carriers looking for faster site acquisition and less opposition to new structures.
The new 3M Conceal Film adheres to antennas and cell site equipment with no impact on RF performance and no signal degradation, according to the manufacturer.

Conceal Film is a new generation of the Minnesota-based company’s high-performance, non-metallic reflective film technology. Reflective over the full visible spectrum and capable of RF transmission into the microwave range, the film is formulated with an adhesive backing that provides long life in outdoor environments and ultraviolet irradiance stability. Continue Reading

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Study Critical of Carriers Highlights Problem Areas

J.D. Power has been studying wireless network coverage for 14 years, and according to The Motley Fool, the study addresses 10 problem areas in coverage: dropped calls, calls not connected, audio issues, failed/late voice mails, lost calls, text transmission failures, late text message notifications, web/app connection errors, slow downloads/apps, and email connection errors. The study gives a geographical score based on 100 connections, the lowest being the best. Six geographical regions were scored, with 43,300 wireless customers participating.

Highlights from the J.D. Power 2016 U.S. Wireless Network Quality Performance Study Volume 2, as reported by The Motley Fool, include:   Continue Reading

Monday, August 29, 2016

Look Who Owns Beachfront Property in ‘App City’

The proof is in: the rise of mobile apps with games like Pokemon Go and thousands of others is good for tower owners reports Forbes.  According to a recent article, companies that own data centers and wireless network towers could profit from mobile activity driven by apps for years.
 
Along with the ubiquitous Pokemon, services like Instagram and Snapchat that require the transmission and storage of data, images, video and messages. Which means companies that lease cell tower space to wireless carriers and those that house servers for data retrieval are now beachfront property in the digital world, according to Forbes. Continue Reading

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Alliance Forms To Commercialize 3.5 GHz Band

Several wireless companies have formed an alliance to tackle the challenges of commercializing the shared 3.5 GHz band. Calling themselves the Citizens Radio Broadband Service (CRBS) Alliance, initial members include Google, Federated Wireless, Intel, Nokia, Qualcomm and Ruckus Wireless.
The goal is to enable carriers and enterprises to seamlessly and cost-effectively alleviate the challenges of sharing and managing spectrum while improving the performance and capacity of wireless networks for their customers,” said Federated Wireless CEO Iyad Tarazi.

The band consists of 150 MHz of spectrum (3550-3700 MHz). The FCC adopted rules for commercial use of the band last April. Continue Reading

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Fiber-Optic Delays Force Google To Go Wireless

High costs associated with laying fiber-optic cables has forced Google Fiber to turn to wireless internet. Current fiber projects have been placed on hold in San Jose, CA, and Portland, OR. Projects in a dozen other metro areas, including Los Angeles, Chicago and Dallas, will use wireless technology according to the Wall Street Journal.
 
Google Fiber has spent millions of dollars on its fiber internet project since 2010, and has only expanded service to customers in six U.S. cities. The cheap cost of wireless internet has attracted other companies, including Facebook, AT&T and Verizon, looking to add or improve their networks. Continue Reading

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Wireless Associations Join Forces Over 5G Spectrum Sharing

A recent FCC request has turned adversaries into friends. A request made by Ligado Networks requesting the FCC to allow formation of a 5G network with shared spectrum has drawn support from rival carriers along with industry trade groups like the Competitive Carriers Association (CCA) and Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA).
 
The two groups count major wireless rivals – T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon – as members. CTIA comments to the FCC state, “Repurposing this band [1675-1680 MHz] for shared commercial use is one more step the commission can take to help accommodate the explosive growth in demand for mobile broadband.” Although the CTIA and CCA are currently supporting the proposal, digital advocacy groups claim it will bring more competition to the market. If mobile broadband space is widely used, it is expected to spur creation of additional hardware, software, and applications. Continue Reading

Monday, August 22, 2016

Comcast Contemplates Wireless Future

Wireless opportunities have prompted Comcast to form a new mobile unit, even as the company claims its wireline broadband business is expanding. The creation of the unit has prompted questions regarding the direction Comcast plans to go.
 
Since mobile carriers currently deliver Comcast content to subscribers, analysts are skeptical about how Comcast will benefit from adding a wireless component to its business model. In Q2, Comcast added 220,000 high-speed broadband internet subscribers. Marcien Jenckes, Comcast’s executive vice president of consumer services, declares the business is just considering its options. Multichannel News points out he told a group at Nomura’s 2016 Media, Telecom & Internet Conference, “At the moment, what we are doing is very carefully evaluating our options. We are understanding the market.” Continue Reading

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

AT&T Outages Add To Louisiana Flooding Woes

In addition to the death and devastation across southeast Louisiana, emergency management crews have been hampered by significant cell outages, reports The New Orleans Advocate. The cause of the outage appears to have been an AT&T switching facility in Baton Rouge that was flooded.
Governor John Bel Edwards said the service disruption makes managing the ongoing emergency situation more difficult.  The governor’s own staff and several first responders rely on AT&T for their cell phone service, making it more difficult to direct public safety efforts, reports NOLA.com. Edwards said late Sunday that more than 10,000 people are in shelters and more than 20,000 people have been rescued across southern Louisiana. Continue Reading

Friday, August 12, 2016

FCC Plans to Regulate BDS Rates, Industry Howls

The FCC in April proposed new rules for Business Data Services (BDS) as part of “an internet protocol environment” but met with wide industry disapproval this week as more than four dozen comments were filed against the plan to regulate rates.

Multichannel News reported that the FCC wants to put a price cap regulation “for cable operators’ business services, in the category now called BDS that used to be called special access.”

Critical comments spanned from industry trade groups to carriers to major towercos. Crown Castle, with more than 40,000 towers for shared wireless infrastructure, argued that “commenters who supported rate regulation ‘completely ignore or merely pay lip service to this critical investment dynamic.’” The company continued with its argument, stating that “rate regulation would be antithetical to the commission’s goal of promoting network investment by competing providers and thereby increasing competitive alternatives for BDS” and said that “rate regulation would deter investment.” Continue Reading

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

FCC Agreement To Streamline Deployment Met With Approval

The FCC’s recent Amended Co-location Agreement is drawing applause from industry representatives.  Jonathan Adelstein, CEO and President of WIA  said, “The Wireless Infrastructure Association commends the FCC for its collaborative and ongoing effort to promote the efficient and responsible deployment of wireless broadband. The FCC is taking a big step forward by streamlining the review of small cell and Distributed Antenna System (DAS) deployments under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. This agreement shows how government entities and industry can work together to deploy wireless infrastructure while also protecting historic resources. The action the FCC takes today will enable 5G technologies of tomorrow by reducing a regulatory barrier to wireless infrastructure deployment.” Adelstein said yesterday. Continue Reading

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Alaska’s Budget Cuts Puts GCI Out In The Cold

As a result of the State of Alaska’s failure to approve a 2016 fiscal plan, General Communications Inc. (GCI) has announced it will decrease its spending by 20 to 25%, reports the Alaska Journal of Commerce in a recent article.
 
Alaska Gov. Bill Walker put forward a plan to fund the state government by restructuring the state’s Permanent Fund. Although passed in the Senate, the House failed to vote on the bill, leading Walker to veto $1.3 billion in state spending. 

GCI had originally planned to spend roughly $210 million in 2017 on expanding its rural presence within the state, which it had been doing by “adding redundancies to existing broadband networks,” says the article. Continue Reading

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

NATE Releases Weather Conditions Video

Video Unveiled as Part of NATE’s #ClimberConnection Campaign Series

(Watertown, South Dakota) – The National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE) today released a Weather Conditions Video as part of the Association’s 2016 Climber Connection campaign. 

The video features testimonial footage of a tower technician discussing the temperature extremes that industry workers are often exposed to when performing work at a communication tower site. The segment depicts the symptoms associated with heat and cold stress and the importance of proactive recognition and awareness of these symptoms. Additionally, the video also includes practical, life-saving treatment steps for workers to adhere to when experiencing the varying degree of symptoms related to extreme heat and cold exposure. Continue Reading

Friday, July 22, 2016

Analyst: Why 5G Won’t Happen (At Least Not Any Time Soon)

The new marketing buzzword across media platforms is “5G”. With the growth of the telecom sector over the past decade, the general public has come to expect innovation as inevitable, and thus 5G has become the presumed future of the industry. 
 
But not so fast, said Peter White, Principal Analyst and Founder at Rethink Technology Research.
In a recent article, the research company made its case on why 5G “is in danger of never happening or… not happening in the manner and timescale that we are being told.” Continue Reading

Thursday, July 21, 2016

AT&T Preps For Comic-Con With COWs And COLTs

Comic-Con is coming to San Diego later this week, and with that, AT&T is bringing in help that sounds more like it belongs on the farm than relieving mobile data needs.
 
More than 100,000 people are expected at the event, according to Times of San Diego, so AT&T is rolling in a cell on light truck (COLT) at the San Diego Convention Center, a COW (cell on wheels)... Continue Reading

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Twenty-eight Rural Wireless Carriers Bidding In The 600MHz Auction

Last Friday, the FCC released its approved bidder list for the ongoing 600 MHz spectrum auction which includes 28 companies who have been given “rural wireless bidding credits,” reports telecompetitor.com. These credits will enable rural carriers to submit bids that are 15% higher than they will actually have to pay in order to obtain spectrum. 
 
Phase 1 of the auction concluded last month, and Phase 2, in which carriers bid on spectrum television stations are willing to relinquish, is expected to begin next month. Spectrum used for television is well suited for rural deployment due to its wide-ranging propagation, decreasing the number of towers needed to cover a large area. Continue Reading

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Political Conventions Rely On FCC For Coordinating Spectrum

Make no mistake who rules the floor at the upcoming national party conventions; it’s the FCC and Coordinating Committee Chairman Louis Libin.
 
Both the Republican and Democratic party events taking place in Cleveland and Philadelphia respectively rely on spectrum coordination to make their messages and each other heard across a noisy arena.  According to Inside Radio, Libin will be the single point of contact to make it all happen via the Broadcast Auxiliary Service (BAS) stations, which will allow the networks to transmit between the convention floor and the studios. Continue Reading

Monday, July 18, 2016

FCC Spectrum Auction Draws Some Major Participants While Others Skittish

In the high-stakes auction house that is the FCC, 62 bidders have put down their ‘earnest money’ in anticipation of obtaining more spectrum.  Major wireless names such as Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Dish have taken their seats, paddles in hand, for the airwaves auction that begins on August 16th.

The FCC said the price of this particular 126 MHz ‘lot’ obtained from broadcasters to be sold for wireless use is up to $86.4 billion. Continue Reading

Friday, July 15, 2016

FCC Votes 5-0 To Push Spectrum Boundaries

“The decision we make Thursday could actually be the most important decision this commission makes this year,” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler told members of Congress during an oversight hearing on Tuesday. 
 
Yesterday in a 5-to-0 vote, the FCC adopted new rules for wireless broadband operations in frequencies above 24 GHz, making the United States the first country in the world to make this spectrum available for next generation wireless services. The FCC issued a statement saying “these rules set a strong foundation for the rapid advancement to next-generation 5G networks and technologies in the United States.” Continue Reading

Thursday, July 14, 2016

NAB Urges FCC To Go “Full Speed Ahead On Next Gen TV”

NAB General Counsel Rick Kaplan, in a statement issued last night, urged the FCC to move forward on the Next Gen TV proceedings being held today in Washington setting the stage for the next generation of wireless services.

“At its monthly open meeting [today], the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) votes on an order setting the stage for the next generation of wireless services. The order – part of the “Spectrum Frontiers” proceeding – will make expansive amounts of high band spectrum available for wireless services, including next-generation 5G service. This vote will come just nine months after the FCC issued its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) seeking comment on this matter,” Kaplan said. Continue Reading

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Verizon Claims Victory In Race To 5G Specification

Earlier this week, Verizon announced it had completed its 5G-radio specification, reports FierceWireless.com, claiming it is the first U.S. carrier to complete the specification. The completed spec comes after a year’s worth of work by the company’s 5G Technology Forum, a group that includes Cisco, Ericsson, Intel, LG, Nokia, Samsung and Qualcomm Technologies. 
 
Verizon said the completed radio specification will enable the industry to move closer toward the deployment of 5G technology. In the short term, it will enable chipset and network vendors, as well as mobile operators, “to develop interoperable solutions and contribute to pre-standard testing and fabrication,” Fierce Wireless reports. Continue Reading

Monday, July 11, 2016

Facebook Announces OpenCellular, A Towerless Option For The Third World?

On Friday, the tech-giant Facebook announced its plan to launch OpenCellular, reports NetworkWorld.com, a mobile infrastructure platform that is designed to expand internet access to parts of the developing world.
 
“Facebook has no intention of transforming itself into a bona fide Internet Service Provider” said Wired.com, “and it’s not interested in selling this new hardware. The aim is to give it away so that a community of players can build networks,” Wired said. “Google is pushing in a similar direction building high-flying drones and high-altitude balloons, the difference is Facebook is freely sharing its design, a way of accelerating the progress of new technology that has served the company so well in the past,” Wired said. Continue Reading

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Sacramento Kings’ New Arena Will Keep Fans Talking

sacramento kings arena 
When the Sacramento Kings’ $507 million new stadium opens in October, it will boast a hanging bundle of video screens 84 feet long, just shorter than the court. It will also have technology that’s much less visible—the arena is being built with a high-capacity WiFi system intended to give fans fast internet access on their mobile devices, similar to what’s offered by a home broadband connection according to MIT Technology Review. The arena’s WiFi network alone will be able to handle “over 500,000 Snapchat posts per second,” said a team spokesman. Continue Reading

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Deutsche Telekom Prepping For 5 Billion Euro Mobile Mast Sell-Off

Two sources “close to the matter” say that Deutsche Telekom will sell German mobile phone masts in a 5 billion Euro ($5.5 billion USD) deal, according to Reuters. The sources say that Deutsche wants to have more funds available to invest in European networks such as infrastructure investors, insurers, private equity groups and pension funds. Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have been tapped to organize auctioning off of the masts. Continue Reading

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Reverse Auction Concludes, Clearing Price Tops $86 Billion

he first reverse auction of the FCC’s Broadcast Incentive Auction ended yesterday, with “the Bogey,” i.e., the clearing price, topping a steep $86.4 billion. The forward auction is expected to begin next month, giving carriers the opportunity to bid for the auctioned spectrum. The auction will only conclude if bidders offer an amount higher than “the Bogey.”
 
This clearing price is much higher than anticipated, and analysts are skeptical that it will be topped in the forward auction. If it is not, the FCC will decrease the amount of spectrum offered—from 126 MHz to 114 MHz—and will begin the process over again until bidders top the clearing price. Continue Reading

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

NAB and the FCC at Odds Over Media Ownership Review

In response to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler circulating a quadrennial media ownership review affecting broadcast ownership regulations, NAB Executive Vice President of Communications Dennis Wharton replied,  “We’re disappointed that Chairman Wheeler continues to ignore the will of both the courts and Congress by proposing to retain broadcast ownership rules that long ago outlived their usefulness.”

“It is shocking that regulators who bless mammoth mergers like AT&T/DirecTV and Charter/Time Warner Cable would still bar common ownership of two TV stations or broadcast/newspaper combinations in a local market,” he said. NAB, the National Association of Broadcasters, bill themselves as “the premier advocacy association for America’s broadcasters” while representing radio and television interests in legislative, regulatory and public affairs.
Continue Reading

Thursday, June 23, 2016

SBA Communications Corp. Subsidiary Initiates $700M Secured Securities

BOCA RATON, FL-- SBA Communications Corporation (Nasdaq: SBAC) ("SBA") has announced that an indirect subsidiary of SBA has priced an offering of $700 million of Secured Tower Revenue Securities Series 2016-1 (the "Series 2016-1 Securities"), which have an anticipated repayment date of July 2021 and a final maturity date of July 2046. The Series 2016-1 Securities will be issued by SBA Tower Trust and will be guaranteed by, among others, SBA Guarantor LLC and SBA Holdings LLC.

The Series 2016-1 Securities will bear interest at 2.877% per annum. Net proceeds from this offering will be used to make a cash distribution to SBA Guarantor LLC which will further distribute or contribute such amount to one or more other SBA entities, directly or indirectly, to be used to prepay in full $550 million outstanding of Series 2010-2C Securities, and for general corporate purposes. The offering of the Series 2016-1 Securities is expected to close on or about July 7, 2016. Continue Reading

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Vertical Bridge Closes On Offering Led by Deutsche Bank Securities and Barclays

Vertical Bridge, the largest private owner and manager of wireless communication infrastructure in the U.S., yesterday announced it has closed on a $321 million asset-backed securities offering led by Deutsche Bank Securities and Barclays. The issuance, which is secured by more than 1,500 Vertical Bridge tower sites across the U.S., gives the company additional flexibility to continue its real estate portfolio expansion.
 
Concurrently, Vertical Bridge paid off its existing Senior Credit Facility, and the company entered into a new $400 million Senior Secured Credit Facility led by TD Securities, with Barclays Bank PLC, CIT Bank N.A., Deutsche Bank AG, JPMorgan Chase Bank, and SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, Inc., as joint lead arrangers and joint book runners. Continue Reading

Monday, June 20, 2016

FCC Cites U.S. Cellular Corp. For Tower Violations in Two States

FCC_logoThe carrier was notified in a June 16 letter that it had violated several FCC regulations when it erected two towers in wetlands and in a floodplain without getting proper environmental assessments (EAs) and additional approvals to proceed. In a four-page letter from the Competition and Infrastructure Policy Division of the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, the agency found USCC failed to file the required EAs, license applications “and await the Commission’s ruling on such submissions,” before registering the towers. Continue Reading