Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Carriers Prep for a Ten Terabyte-or-More Super Bowl

In 2014, the NFL’s Chief Information Officer Michelle McKenna-Doyle declared NRG Stadium in Houston a “black hole” for wireless coverage. Thankfully for Super Bowl attendees next weekend, the stadium has since shed that moniker due to several improvements made by wireless providers and the addition of WiFi in the 72,220-seat stadium, reports the Houston Chronicle.

“It’s a significant, significant difference in the last two years,” Texans VP Information Technology Jeff Schmitz told the Chronicle. “If you were with certain providers, it was not even worth bringing your phone in the stadium. Now, every phone has the ability to connect.” Continue Reading

Monday, January 30, 2017

Cell Towers Integral in Florida County’s ‘Great Tornado Drill’

martphones aren’t only useful for sharing selfies or texting your bestie. They are also a tool that can prove vital in emergency situations, as Escambia County, Florida is making known during the state’s 16th annual Severe Weather Awareness Week.

Earlier this week, Escambia County Public Safety conducted the “Great Tornado Drill” to prepare citizens for severe weather, reports WEAR-TV. The plan encouraged participants to develop a plan for emergency situations and also emphasized the importance of mobile devices during severe weather. Continue Reading

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Pai Retains Many Staffers at FCC But Adds Eight New Bureau Chiefs

New FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has made his staff selections. Tower owners and suppliers may be interested to know there’s some holdovers from his commissioner staff as well as new faces from elsewhere in the FCC. Matthew Berry remains Pai’s chief of staff after serving in that role the previous four years.
Nicholas Degani has been Pai’s wireline legal advisor and now becomes senior counsel. Jay Schwarz moves from the Office of Strategic Planning to take the role of acting wireline advisor after a previous stint as an economist for the Wireline Competition Bureau. Alison Nemeth moves over to the chairman’s office from the Media Bureau and will advise Pai on media issues.

Rachel Bender leaves the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau to join Pai’s office and counsel him on wireless and international issues. Zenji Nakazawa comes from the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau to advise Pai on public safety and consumer protection. Lori Alexiou remains Pai’s confidential assistant. Continue Reading

Friday, January 20, 2017

Deep Federal Budget Cuts Coming Soon to a Government Near You

The incoming administration isn’t just planning big changes to the FCC’s structure and responsibilities, but to other parts of the federal government as well. Staffers for the transition team of President-elect Donald Trump have been meeting with career staff at the White House to outline their goals for reducing the federal government size; they seek to reduce its spending by $10.5 trillion over a decade, reports The Hill.
The departments of Commerce and Energy would see major funding cuts, and some programs under their jurisdiction eliminated or transferred to other agencies — similar to what’s been proposed for the FCC. The departments of Transportation, Justice and State would experience significant budget cuts and program eliminations under the plans. Continue Reading

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Wheeler Declares Auction a Success as Bids Exceed $18B

Bidding in Wednesday’s two rounds of the FCC’s incentive auction satisfied the requirements of the so-called “Final Stage Rule,” meaning the auction will successfully end in Stage four, the Commission announced. Bidding is slated to continue today and beyond until there is no excess demand in any market.
Wireless participants raised their bids to a total of just over $18 billion ($18,208,164,087) and $1.2570 per POP, according to the FCC’s spectrum auction dashboard.

“Reaching the Final Stage Rule means the benefits of the auction are indisputable,” said outgoing FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. “We will repurpose 70 MHz of high-value, completely clear low-band spectrum for mobile broadband on a nationwide basis. On top of that, 14 MHz of new unlicensed spectrum – the test bed for wireless innovation – will be available for consumer devices and new services.” Continue Reading

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

FCC Remake Reportedly in New Administration’s Plans

Big changes in how the FCC does its job could be on the horizon. The incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump has reportedly okayed a proposal by the agency’s transition team to restructure the Commission’s bureaus, reports Broadcasting and Cable.

The changes would relax the “silos” that currently separate telephony, broadcasting, satellite and other industries and parcel out to other agencies duties that are duplicative, according to the account. The proposal is related to comments made by two transition team members — Jeffrey Eisenach and Roslyn Layton — in 2014, in their role as scholars of the conservative think tank the American Enterprise Institute, according to the account. They have both said that a “more coherent and streamlined” FCC would better serve the goals of consumers, competitors and Congress. Continue Reading

Monday, January 16, 2017

Wheeler Signs Off: Worries About Undoing of Open Internet…and More

Outgoing FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler says it wouldn’t be easy to undo much of the regulations the FCC passed under his tenure. Speaking from The Aspen Institute think tank on Friday, the former telecom lobbyist listed opening up spectrum for 5G deployment, “nearing completion of the world’s first incentive auction” and improvements in 911 and cybersecurity as accomplishments. (see story below for Wheeler’s comments on zero-rating policies)
He made an impassioned argument against relaxing or undoing the Open Internet and Net Neutrality regs. “We are at a fork in the road, one forward and one backward.” Going forward in Wheeler’s mind is the era of ISPs under “light touch regulation, accompanied by a referee on the field to throw the flag when necessary.” Looking backwards, he says, takes away what consumers can enjoy now and “throws into question” ISP activities.  Continue Reading

Friday, January 13, 2017

“The Rain Turtle” and Other Tower Superstitions…Happy Friday the 13th!

The tower industry abounds with colorful characters with quirky rituals…especially when you get “inside the fence” of a tower site.  Although the rules of logic and safety and, most importantly, the law of gravity take precedence, on a Friday the 13th other ‘traditions’ may show themselves at the morning tailgate meeting.  One of the more prominent superstitions among tower crews is ‘the rain turtle.’  According to David “Gunny” Harrison, owner of Telecom Resources Group, the turtle, who may have origins from Native American rituals, has several functions.  
“Well sir,” said Harrison, “ya’ have two versions of it depending on whom you ask, but it was the superstition of tower hands that would be wishing for rain because of being hungover, tired or what have you.” Crew members or the foreman would draw a turtle, one with only three legs, in the dirt on the site or place rocks in the shape of a turtle and it was said to bring rain. “‘Course when one did this fortunately it was always overcast and chances were it was going to rain,” said Harrison. “We used to make the rain turtle out of clay,” said one tower tech. “Got chewed out for drawing it once, but then it rained like hell.” Continue Reading

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

New York City to Complete WiFi and Cellular Upgrades in Subway Revamping


New Yorkers commuting on the subway will no longer have to worry about dropped calls and poor wireless coverage. Last week, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the city will soon complete its communication upgrades on the city’s underground transit system, one year earlier than expected, reports the Christian Science Monitor.

“We are reimagining our subway stations to meet the needs of the next generation,” Cuomo said in a recently published press release. “This will better connect New Yorkers who are on-the-go and build on our vision to reimagine the country’s busiest transportation network for the future.” Continue Reading