Friday, April 28, 2017

Pai Opts For Classifying Broadband From Commercial to Private Service

As he said he would, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai had the Commission release a draft Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the Open Internet yeaterday. If passed, the changes proposed by the Chairman would include re-instating the classification of all internet access services, including both fixed and broadband, as information services. That means they’d revert back to being treated as private, rather than commercial services, an FCC official explained to reporters.

In 2015, the internet access services were re-defined as common carrier services, Inside Towers reported. The Chairman said this week the change stifled broadband investment and deployment, especially in low-income urban and rural areas.

The Small Business Administration considers the majority of the some 1,368 wireless telecom carriers to be small because most of them employ less than 1,000 people, according to the NPRM, citing U.S. Census Bureau data from 2012. Pai said smaller ISPs told the agency the re-classification introduced regulatory uncertainty into the broadband rollout, making it harder for them to get funding.   Continue Reading

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Pai Sees Lightening Rules on Net Neutrality As a Boost to Broadband

Re-defining the internet as a common carrier inhibited broadband infrastructure investment, especially in rural areas, according to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. That’s why he  circulated among his colleagues a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking yesterday to seek comment on reversing the two claims of legal authority that underlay the 2010 and 2015 Open Internet Orders. He intends to release the draft text today and have the item up for a vote at the FCC’s next open meeting on May 18.

Pai addressed the future of so-called Net Neutrality at an event at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. yesterday. Pai wants to go back to a “light-touch regulatory framework for the internet,” saying that worked for decades. “Under this framework, the private sector invested about $1.5 trillion to build the networks that gave people high-speed access to the internet,” said Pai. Continue Reading

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Pai Bears Gifts for Broadcasters

In his first speech at the spring NAB show as chairman, Ajit Pai said Tuesday that after four years of attending the show and presenting in smaller panel discussions, speaking on the big stage brought more notice and pressure. But he delivered in a big way.

Pai intends to do away with unnecessary and outdated broadcast regulations, noting that many of the media rules are “decades old.” He circulated a Public Notice to his colleagues yesterday to begin a review and plans to tee that up in time for a vote at the May 18 public meeting.

“Given the realities of today’s media marketplace, we need to see which rules are still necessary and which should be relaxed or repealed,” Pai said to vigorous attendee applause. “That review will also include exploring whether certain rules should be changed to provide regulatory relief to small businesses.” The proceeding will apply to cable and broadcast satellite rules as well. Continue Reading

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Broadcasters Embrace IP Connectivity as NAB2017 Opens

Photography courtesy of Robb Cohen Photography and Video and Megan Reed of Inside Towers

John F. Kennedy said, “Change is the law of life.” That’s certainly true of broadcasting, said NAB President/CEO Gordon Smith as he opened NAB2017 in Las Vegas. Though the devices consumers use to access their video and audio content continue to evolve, broadcasters remain committed to serving their communities, yet also continue to innovate, he said.

“From mixed reality, to autonomous cars and the future of cinema, we are witnessing the convergence of media, entertainment and technology that is enriching all of our lives. Broadcasters have been at the core of this ever-changing landscape, bringing together all of these dynamic partners to deliver content consumers seek anytime, anywhere,” said Smith. Continue Reading

Friday, April 21, 2017

Siting Hurdles Knocked Down in Unanimous FCC Vote

Wireless providers large and small have been asking the FCC and Congress for help to clear away regulatory barriers to broadband deployment; they especially have sought help with what they say are uneven prices charged by municipalities for pole attachments and lengthy, costly delays to siting wireless infrastructure, Inside Towers reported.
The FCC yesterday voted 3-0 to open a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to accomplish these goals; it invites public comment on regulations for pole attachments such as how to ensure pole attachers are not charged multiple times for certain capital costs and establishing a shot clock for FCC consideration of complaints.

The retirement of legacy copper is discussed too, and the agency seeks comment on how to streamline that as providers transition to IP networks. Continue Reading

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Auction Came Up Short Due to ‘Sharpened’ Demand by Carriers

Inside Towers Interview with Vertical Bridge CEO Alex Gellman
Why did the nearly $20 billion in gross revenues from the FCC’s incentive auction come in at around half of what had been originally predicted by a myriad of analysts? Timing and the evolution of the carrier’s needs, according to one expert.
FCC officials told reporters last week the auction had been in the works for five years under four different Commission chairmen, beginning with Julius Genachowski. Continue Reading

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Clyburn: Big Broadband Gets a ‘Hall Pass’ in Tomorrow’s Vote

FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn is decrying at least one change the FCC is slated to vote on tomorrow regarding tower siting and rights-of-way.
“The majority will take actions that benefit the largest providers to the detriment of smaller companies, and to the detriment of consumers” she told attendees at a regional broadband summit hosted by Next Century Cities in Mesa, AZ yesterday. “States and localities are okay to regulate but [large] broadband providers, I believe, are getting a hall pass.” Continue Reading

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

LPTV Coalition Urges Members to ‘Resist The Repack’

The LPTV Spectrum Rights Coalition is gearing up for a court fight to delay the repack. The group is comprised of Low-Power TV station and TV translator owners.
“The auction winning bidders need to hear loud and clear that LPTV will not be moving when they want to start testing in a Partial Economic Area, but when we are ready,” says Coalition Director Mike Gravino.

“We will be offering engineering services to counter any of the claims of testing in a PEA, and those companies had better have engineering proof they need us to shut down. If tower crews and equipment are not available, then too bad, we all will have to wait,” he says in a newsletter for members. Continue Reading

Monday, April 17, 2017

Repack Clock is Ticking and An Expensive Move For Broadcasters Awaits

Now that the 39-month TV station repack timeline has begun, what kinds of equipment will be eligible for reimbursement? The deadline for stations to submit their estimated repack expenses to the FCC is July 12. Those include engineering, legal, equipment, installation, and other costs the FCC deems reasonable to accomplish a required channel change. The FCC has shed a little more light on equipment approximations in its Catalog of Potential Expenses and Estimated Costs. The agency asked Widelity to reflect the current pricing for the equipment and services that repacked broadcasters may need to purchase to facilitate the moves to their new channel assignments, and the current pricing for equipment and services that MVPDs may need to purchase to continue to carry broadcasters. The report was produced August 2016. Continue Reading

Thursday, April 13, 2017

FCC Announces Auction Winners

By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief
The FCC has officially announced today at 1:30 p.m. the closing of the broadcast incentive auction, calling the $19.8 billion in gross revenue for 70 MHz of spectrum one of its “highest grossing auctions ever.”    

Among the largest winners are T-Mobile, Dish, Comcast, and U.S. Cellular.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai called the conclusion “a milestone” and said consumers would benefit from “greater competition and innovation in the mobile broadband marketplace” and additional resources and programming from broadcasters.

In the forward auction, wireless carriers bid $19.8 billion on mobile broadband spectrum. A total of 50 winning bidders won 70 MHz of licensed spectrum. A total of 14 MHz of spectrum is available for unlicensed use and wireless microphones. Continue Reading

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Trump, Executives Discuss Infrastructure, Tax Reform

President Donald Trump met with about 20 CEOs, including Tesla CEO Elon Musk and IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, on Tuesday in a strategic and policy forum. The executives spoke with five cabinet secretaries about issues like infrastructure, tax reform and job creation. The meeting occurs as Congress is on a two-week break. The White House confirmed the meetings but did not immediately disclose all the participants.

“We’re going to reduce taxes, we’re going to eliminate wasteful regulations … we’re doing a major streamlining” of the income tax system, President Trump told reporters afterwards, according to Fox News. Continue Reading

Monday, April 10, 2017

Wireless Companies Want ‘Seamless’ Repack Says CTIA

Wireless companies are eager to get their hands on spectrum being cleared by television broadcasters. CTIA VP Regulatory Affairs Scott Bergmann said more than once during a hearing last week on future spectrum needs, the organization supports a smooth 39 month repacking process.

Wireless companies hope the process “is not delayed,” he said, noting that “your oversight of the 600 MHz transition” is key as “the U.S. wireless industry is poised to invest $275 billion over the next decade, add three million new jobs, and contribute half a trillion dollars to our economy.” Continue Reading

Friday, April 7, 2017

FCC Broadband Deployment Committee to Hold First Meeting April 21

The first meeting of the FCC’s new Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee is set for April 21. The Commission received 380+ applications for the group.

“I’m excited that the Committee will soon be getting to work on recommendations that will help break down barriers to broadband deployment,” Chairman Ajit Pai said. “Closing the digital divide across America is my top priority, and the work of this committee will be a crucial step toward meeting that goal.” Continue Reading

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Industry Urges Lawmakers to Focus on Spectrum, Infrastructure Siting for 5G

On average, it takes roughly 13 years to reallocate spectrum for wireless use. Congress can do several things to speed that up to help wireless providers prepare to deploy 5G. That’s according to representatives of CTIA, Ericsson and Ruckus Wireless who spoke with lawmakers during a House Communications and Technology Subcommittee hearing Wednesday about how the federal government can help meet the country’s growing spectrum needs.   Continue Reading

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

What Nixed the FirstNet Bid for Rivada?

Why did the U.S. Court of Federal Claims favor AT&T for the FirstNet contract? Inside Towers reported the award was made last week for partial funding and the right for the carrier to build, deploy and operate the nation’s first nationwide wireless broadband network.

At the formal contract award ceremony AT&T Chairman/CEO Randall Stephenson called the bidding process “transparent.”  Continue Reading

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

St. Louis Ballpark Hits Home Run With Upgraded Wireless Equipment

As Opening Days occur all around the U.S., baseball fans, particularly those in St. Louis, will be experiencing better wireless coverage at the Cardinal’s season opener this year. AT&T increased wireless capacity by 60 percent at the baseball club’s Busch Stadium. reported significant changes in the wireless coverage since Opening Day one year ago. John Sondag with AT&T Missouri says the improvements to the stadium’s network will shorten the distance data will travel, making data transfers faster as games are played. Continue Reading

Monday, April 3, 2017

Major Telco Infrastructure Issues on the FCC’s Docket for April

April is infrastructure month at the FCC. Chairman Ajit Pai plans to have four telco-related items teed up for a vote at the April 20 meeting.
“ Infrastructure Month will present several chances for the FCC to promote deployment and benefit consumers across America. Infrastructure might not be as flashy as a flux capacitor, but it’ll be a 1.21 gigawatt jolt for the digital economy,” said Pai in a blog post. Continue Reading