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 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

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 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