Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Verizon Reaches Tentative Deal With 36,000 Strikers

After 13 days of talks at the U.S. Department of Labor, the six-week old strike by labor unions against the mostly landline and Internet side of Verizon appeared to have reached a tentative agreement Friday afternoon. U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez announced that Verizon and the unions have reached an “agreement in principle” on a four-year contract. He said he expects Verizon’s (NYSE: VZ) striking workers to be “back on the job next week,” CNN reported. One twist on the possible deal is that it opens the door to Verizon’s wireless retail store entering into a union contract. Both the company and the unions confirmed a deal had been struck but specific details were not released.
However, the Communications Workers of America said Verizon has agreed to add “good union jobs” on the East Coast as part of the agreement, CNN said. The CWA also said the agreement will improve the living standards of working families, and paves the way for the first contract for wireless retail store workers. Continue Reading

Friday, May 27, 2016

FCC Fines Chinese C.T.S. Technology Co. $35M For Jamming Devices

The agency slapped the Chinese manufacturer with a heavy fine — $34,912,500 – on Wednesday “for marketing 285 models of signal jamming devices to U.S. consumers via its Aiswa.com website,” wrote the Enforcement Bureau’s Marlene H. Dortch in a four-page Forfeiture Order on Wednesday.

“These devices, which were advertised for sale to U.S. consumers, were designed to disrupt a variety of communications systems, including all major cellphone networks, WiFi systems, and even Global Positioning System (GPS) channels,” Dortch wrote. “Some of the more dangerous devices were advertised as having the capacity to jam communications for a distance of over one-half mile. C.T.S. Technology in fact sold several of these high-powered jamming devices to undercover FCC personnel, who had posed as consumers, and shipped the equipment to the United States.” Continue Reading

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Wireless Infrastructure Association: The Game is the Same, But the Name Has Changed

 Some 3,000 people working in the fast-growing wireless industry converged in Dallas yesterday to attend the Wireless Infrastructure Show hosted by the PCIA—The Wireless Infrastructure Association. Most never knew or could not remember that PCIA stood for the Personal Communications Infrastructure Association. But, they all knew wireless. So, meet the new name, Wireless Infrastructure Association, or WIA.
“For the past 20 years, we’ve used “The Wireless Infrastructure Association” as a moniker to more clearly describe our membership and advocacy efforts. We wanted a name that was not only more descriptive of what we do, but also simpler and more direct,”President/CEO Jonathan Adelstein said in a statement after announcing the name change to a breakfast panel.
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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

How To Influence Others So They Understand Your Message

The business of lobbying certainly got its start long before the word “lobbyist” was coined in Washington’s Willard Hotel from cantankerous old men waiting around the historic, posh hotel’s lobby, waiting to jump on a politician returning from Capitol Hill to buy him a drink and bend his ear on the latest issue of importance. But, the practice today is better regulated—lobbyists are now registered—but the importance of the task is still the measure of how business gets done in Washington and any little town in the country. It is the business operator’s way of getting the power brokers and decision makers’ attention and “educating” them to the real world.

More than two dozen attendees to PCIA’s Wireless Infrastructure Show in Dallas chose to forego happy hour and instead “listen and learn” and “learn from the best” in how to take their messages to policy makers in their hometowns, governments and industries.

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Monday, May 23, 2016

Verizon Focused on Densifying Network in Major Cities, CFO Tells Analysts

Appearing at the annual MoffettNathanson Media and Communications Summit in New York last week, Verizon CFO Fran Shammo said the strike-plagued communications company is intends to continue building out its fiber, small cell and DAS networks in America’s major cities. Shammo said he expects Verizon to budget $17.2 billion to $17.7 billion per year in capital expenditures going forward for both wireline and wireless spending.
“When you think about the wireless network, the fiber network, that’s really where our concentration is right now,” RCRWireless’s Martha DeGrasse quoted Shammo telling the investors’ conference. “We continue to densify that LTE network, continue to spend capital at a pretty consistent rate, actually increasing year-over-year, and we’re doing that for the densification of LTE but also in preparation for 5G.”

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Thursday, May 19, 2016

Grammy-Nominated Crop Duster Pilot Killed After Plane Hits Tower Wire

John Allen Seay, Jr. died May 14, when the crop-dusting plane he was flying near West, TX crashed after it hit a guy wire on a cell tower. He died Saturday afternoon after being ejected from the aircraft. Waco’s KWTX-TV website showed a seared aircraft in pieces in an open field.  

The station reported the 75-year-old pilot was a Grammy-nominated musician who had a long career as a singer and songwriter. He performed under the name Johnny Sea and began his entertainment career when he was 17.
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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

FCC Auction Participants

The FCC accepted 99 applications that it said met the requirements of the auction to participate. View the participants click here

The FCC determined that five applications were incomplete and not acceptable for the auction. There were submitted by KURIAN, THOMAS K., Laboral Data Systems, Liberty Spectrum Inc., Wendl, Lisa, and Wire, G-

Monday, May 16, 2016

TowerCo Sells Grain 253 Towers, 95 Other Assets For $244 Million

It’s the third time since 2004, when TowerCo was launched, that Richard Byrne and his team of more than two dozen in Cary, NC have built up an impressive collection of tower assets and found a buyer for them. He told Inside Towers “I am extremely fortunate to have wonderful investors (Tailwind Capital Partners and Soros Fund Management) and great people working with me.” With a chuckle, Byrne added, “ I am very, very lucky.”
Grain Infrastructure II, L.P, of Sarasota, FL paid $244 million for the 253 tower spread “all over the U.S.,” Byrne said. The deal settled on May 11. Byrne said TowerCo decided to part with its third portfolio of towers last summer and began marketing it in the fall. “We are pleased with the outcome of this transaction and look forward to the continued growth of TowerCo IV which is off to a very good start.” Continue Reading

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Boulder, CO-Based Atlas Tower Completes 100th Structure in South Africa

While Atlas Tower has built about 90 towers in the U.S. over the past seven years, it also was a busy player in the aggressive push to improve voice and data coverage throughout South Africa. While doing so, it has become a predominant owner of new tower infrastructure in the country. Founder and CEO Nate Foster, speaking from his office in Paarl, South Africa, told Inside Towers yesterday the company on Friday (May 6) completed its 100th tower. The latest structure is in Soweto, a township in the bustling city of Johannesburg.
“South Africa represents a steep departure from our careful and calculated U.S. business model,” said Foster. “We carefully assessed foreign opportunities and came to the conclusion that although South Africa is a complicated market that lacks traditional clarity, it provides us the kind of regulatory environment that we believe drives value.” Continue Reading

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Shentel Completes $640M nTelos Deal, Doubles Customer Base

Shareholders of Waynesboro, VA-based nTelos Holding Corp. spent the weekend celebrating the sale of the Sprint-affiliated wireless operator. Shenandoah Telecommunications Company of Edinburg, VA paid $9.25 a share for the company, gaining about 300,00 new in portions of Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Kentucky, more than doubling the Shentel wireless customer base. The deal closed Friday.
Shentel said the added operations further strengthen and expand its “solid partnership with Sprint.” Shentel intends to accelerate its intensive integration activities in order to merge the two organizations. nTelos was the nation’s eighth-largest service provider. It’s nTelos-branded retail stores will become Shentel-operated Sprint stores, FierceWireless reported.

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Monday, May 9, 2016

White House Initiative Has Carriers Commit to Hiring Veterans

Telecom operators last week unveiled plans to hire tens of thousands of veterans as part of the White House’s Joining Forces initiative. The initiative, launched in 2011, by First Lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, wife of vice president Joe Biden, aims to hire 100,000 veterans and military spouses by the year 2021.
“On land and in the air, under the sea and out in space, America has the most technologically advanced armed forces in history,” wrote the pair in an op-ed that appeared in the Wall Street Journal.
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Friday, May 6, 2016

Sprint To Slash Capital Spending

 The carrier intends to lop off as much $1.7 billion in network equipment and other capital goods in fiscal year 2016. Sprint invested $4.7 billion in the 2015 fiscal year and $5.4 billion in 2014, according to RCRWireless.
Sprint delivered the news earlier this week when it announced its quarterly financial results with a focus on cost reductions in the coming months and quarters. In its outlook, Sprint management said it expected to see a $2 billion savings from handset lease restructuring and pick up a 40 percent reduction in its capex budget. The strategy got a lukewarm response by some on Wall Street.
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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Vertical Bridge Acquires Tower Portfolio from Alaska Wireless Network

The Alaskan operation said during its financial results conference call two months ago it was shopping its tower assets and it looks like a buyer from Florida has answered the bell. Vertical Bridge said late Wednesday it will scoop up 275 sites from General Communications, Inc. (GCI), including 200 towers and 70 rooftop locations, operated by Alaska Wireless Network. Vertical Bridge will also provide build to suit services to the network for the next five years in the sale-leaseback deal valued at $91 million. When the transaction closes, Vertical Bridge will be the largest tower owner in the state of Alaska with approximately 300 wireless/broadcast sites.
“Vertical Bridge is excited to be chosen as a long term partner with AWN,” said Alex Gellman, Vertical Bridge’s CEO and co-founder. “These are unique, high quality, fiber ready towers built in very good locations. The tower portfolio provides full coverage of the major population centers and the vast connecting corridors in this great state.” Continue Reading

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

West Virginia Federal Judge Consolidates Tower Collapse Suits

justiceA federal judge in West Virginia U.S. District Court has granted a motion to consolidate six lawsuits involving a tower collapse that killed two tower workers and a firefighter called to the scene, and injured two others. Judge Irene M. Keeley agreed to combine five suits against SBA Communications and various entities. A sixth lawsuit filed by SBA Telecommunications LLC, as successor interest to SBA Telecommunications Inc. and SBA Towers LLC, was against S&S Communications Specialists Inc. and FDH Engineering Inc., according to the legal publication, West Virginia Record. Keely signed the order to consolidate April 11, and last Friday approved a motion filed on behalf of the dead and injured to extend the time to respond to SBA, an attorney with the case told Inside Towers yesterday (May 3). Continue Reading

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Veteran Tower Climber Shares Stories, Talks Evolution of Climber Safety

By Benjamin Horvath – Inside Towers Special Correspondent
tower climber 
It’s easy to overlook the tough, blue-collar work that makes the convenience of a Smartphone possible. Every phone call, text message, Facebook post and tweet is made possible by the men and women who make a living by working on towers.

Decades ago, the tower climber occupation was known for its dangerous working conditions, as safety regulations and practices had not yet been developed for the burgeoning industry.
Many veteran climbers share stories of job sites in the old days, and they will tell you just how far the industry has evolved in climber safety. Continue Reading

Monday, May 2, 2016

American Tower Revenues Shoot to the Moon

American Tower Corporation (NYSE: AMT) this morning reported its total first quarter revenue increased 19.4 percent to $1.29 billion during the first quarter that ended March 31, 2016. The global giant said its U.S. revenue grew 19 percent to $852 million while International revenue was up 21 percent to $416 million. The company saw its business in Latin America grow 5.7 percent, Europe, Middle East and Africa increase 71 percent respectively, and Asia business increased 11 percent. Its small services segment grew 24% to $21 million.
“The global proliferation of Smartphones is driving significant growth in subscriber demand for higher bandwidth applications,” said American Tower’s CEO Jim Taiclet. “As a result, during the first quarter, we continued to experience solid leasing demand across our served markets as mobile operators invest in their networks to manage key performance factors, including coverage, capacity and peak network speed. Continue Reading