Friday, August 18, 2017

City Wins, AT&T Loses, in Kentucky Pole Attachment Dispute

A federal court has sided with a Kentucky municipality and against AT&T in a case concerning access to utility poles. No state or federal law prevents Louisville, KY from requiring a “one-touch make-ready” ordinance outlining new procedures for installing communications infrastructure on utility poles in the city, a U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky ruled Thursday.

Make-ready work generally consists of moving or rearranging existing wires and attachments on utility poles to make space for new attachments. One-touch make-ready policies seek to avoid delays by having all make-ready work performed at the same time by a single crew.

AT&T subsidiary BellSouth Telecommunications fought Louisville’s right to allow new users to rearrange existing pole attachments. AT&T asked the court to declare the ordinance unlawful, while the city said it has the authority to manage its public rights-of-way. AT&T told the court it invested “millions of dollars” to build and maintain a communications network in Louisville. AT&T owns most of the poles it uses in Louisville and contracts with Louisville Gas & Electric for others. Continue Reading

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Exactly Who Gets Priority Access to FirstNet?

Public safety personnel who take calls from the public, dispatchers and others will have priority access to FirstNet, the nationwide public safety communications network. While AT&T officials have said they plan to give first responders from states that have opted into FirstNet “presumptive access” on their LTE networks by the end of the year, officials explained more about what that entails at the APCO 2017 show this week in Denver.

When FirstNet awarded AT&T the 25-year contract to build, maintain and operate the network, officials said that fire, EMS and law-enforcement personnel would be considered primary public-safety users. Continue Reading

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

CCA Implores FCC to Block Verizon/Straight Path Deal

The Competitive Carriers Association objects to the proposed transfer of millimeter wave spectrum from Straight Path Communications to Verizon as part of a proposed all-stock transaction the parties value at just over $3 billion. The telcos seek permission to transfer the control of Local Multipoint Distribution Service, 39 GHz, 3650-3700 MHz, and common carrier fixed point to point microwave licenses from Straight Path to Verizon. The FCC’s preliminary review indicates once the deal closes, Verizon would have 100 MHz to 1650 MHz of spectrum in total, in the 28 GHz and 39 GHz millimeter wave bands across the U.S.



“If approved, the transaction would consolidate enormous amounts of mmW spectrum into the hands of Verizon and would exceed the FCC’s spectrum screen in key local markets,” said CCA in a Petition to Deny, filed with the agency. CCA wants the Commission to block the application and instead make Straight Path’s licenses available to all carriers through competitive bidding. Verizon has told the FCC its post-transaction look at “marketplace developments and competitive circumstances reveals no risk to competition.” Continue Reading

Monday, August 14, 2017

LTE Going Lunar

The moon is getting a cell tower. Part Time Scientists, a German company planning to send a lander and rovers to the moon in late 2018, will use LTE technology to communicate with Earth. According to Space.com, the team’s spacecraft, Alina, will land at the site of Apollo 17, NASA’s final Apollo mission. As rovers travel the moon’s surface, they will relay information back to Alina, which will serve as a cell tower during the mission. Using LTE communications will be particularly useful in future lunar missions, especially if the European Space Agency continues with its plans to build a lunar village. Continue Reading

Friday, August 11, 2017

Telcos, Cable Fight Over Proposed 3.5 Ghz Changes

The Dynamic Spectrum Alliance (DSA) tells the FCC by its count, most of the more than 800 comments filed on proposed changes to the 3.5 GHz band oppose converting the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) into a 5G-only band. The DSA characterizes itself as a group of what it says are “multinationals, small-and medium-sized enterprises, and academic, research, and other organizations” committed to expanding broadband.

The DSA argues telcos large and small, have made investments under the current rules, investments that “may be stranded, and future innovation stifled,” if drastic changes are made. “The Commission should resist arguments to change the current PAL structure to one that would be favorable to only one class of entity – the large nationwide wireless carriers, at the expense of all other entities,” says DSA. It notes Ericsson, Intel, Nokia, Qualcomm, Ruckus Wireless, and others “are well on their way to creating a rich ecosystem of 3.5 GHz LTE devices, with the first 3.5 GHz LTE handset expected to reach the market later this year.”

CTIA and T-Mobile say their proposals would benefit 5G, Inside Towers reported. They seek to lengthen license terms to 10 years and increase license areas by using traditional Partial Economic Areas rather than census tracts. In order to spur investment, T-Mobile also proposes the Commission convert all 150 MHz of spectrum in each CBRS market open to priority access licensing. CBRS is now limited to 70 MHz of PAL per market. Continue Reading

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Prison Outreach: From ‘Vet’ to ‘Con’ to Tower Dawg

Veteran inmates at Manzanita Prison, Anthony Paz, Kathy Gill
Kathy Gill was nervous, but then she always gets nervous when she goes to prison.  This was her fourth time.  A woman who had built a company, trained hundreds of men and women to work past their fears and climbed a countless number of towers in all conditions, was wishing she was someplace where she was more comfortable, like dangling from a harness 150 feet in the air.

At least she wasn’t alone at Manzanita Prison in Tucson; she had an ex-con with her to ‘show her the ropes’ as she had done for so many of her tower tech trainees.  They were waiting for DOC and DES approval to go inside an extremely secure grey-fenced compound where there are no plants and lots of dirt.  “Lots and lots of dirt,” Kathy noted. Continue Reading

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Court Backs FCC in BDS Suit, Cutting Deployment Costs

 
A federal appeals court Monday sided with the FCC, so many of the Commission’s actions to deregulate Business Data Services will take effect. The FCC in April voted to relax what it said were unneeded regulations where competition exists and preserve those where competition is still lacking. By adopting the new framework, the agency hopes to further boost BDS competition and investment, and take steps to decrease the cost of broadband infrastructure deployment, Inside Towers reported.

Sprint, Windstream and others like trade group INCOMPAS and the Ad Hoc Telecom Users Committee, an organization of major firms that buy telecom services, asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to block the changes. On Monday, the court denied the request. Continue Reading

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Sprint-T-Mo Dance Back On?

 
Sprint’s talks with T-Mobile about a potential merger are back on and being held at the same time as discussions with cable companies, those with knowledge of the talks tell Bloomberg. Sprint’s exclusive negotiating period with Comcast and Charter expired, enabling the carrier to resume other discussions.

Speaking to investors about the situation on Monday, Masayoshi Son declined comment on specific deals and was vague about a timeframe, according to BTIG analyst Walter Piecyk. Continue Reading

Monday, August 7, 2017

FCC Overhauls Renewals for Wireless Radio Services


FCC Commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Michael O’Rielly. Photos by Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers
The FCC doesn’t want its patchwork of license renewal obligations for Wireless Radio Services to hinder broadband deployment. That’s why the agency has taken steps to streamline them and establish a consistent standard. The Commission approved a Report and Order and adopted uniform service continuity rules at its monthly meeting last week.

“According to the Commission’s licensing records, more than 675,000 renewal applications are expected to be filed by geographic and site-based licensees over the next decade. At a time when both the Commission’s budget and staff appear to be shrinking, it behooves us to have a streamlined and efficient process in place to review forthcoming applications,” said Commissioner Mignon Clyburn during the vote. Continue Reading

Friday, August 4, 2017

Carr, Rosenworcel Get Full Senate Nod


The U.S. Senate confirmed two nominees to the FCC on Thursday — Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel and Republican Brendan Carr. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai congratulated them, saying, “As I know from working with each of them for years, they have distinguished records of public service and will be valuable assets to the FCC in the years to come. Their experience at the FCC makes them particularly well-suited to hit the ground running.” The move brings the agency back up to a full complement, yet Pai himself has not yet been reconfirmed to another term, Politico reported.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether Carr was confirmed for one term or two, as the GOP preferred. Democrats opposed confirming him for two consecutive terms at once, Inside Towers reported. Continue Reading

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Sprint Focused on Network Densification, Small Cell Deployment


Sprint posted a quarterly profit for the first time in three years — $206 million in net income, compared with a $302 million loss for the same period a year ago; it’s in the middle of a five-year turnaround plan and cut costs by $370 million (to roughly $7 billion) in the second quarter and expects an additional $1.3 billion to $1.5 billion in year-over-year reductions in fiscal 2017.

Much of the cost-cutting has been accomplished by lowering subscriber acquisition costs. Sprint President/CEO Marcelo Claure told analysts on Tuesday, at one time the carrier streamlined its subscriber plans; “Now there’s only one way to buy a device and one rate plan.” 

Net operating revenue was $8.16 billion, up from $8.01 billion in Q2. Sprint projects 2017 guidance as $3.5 billion to $4 billion for cash capex. The company is focusing on network densification, including “expenses like towers” to enhance network capacity and coverage. “When you need new towers or monopoles, it takes time,” said Claure. Continue Reading

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Sprint Focused on Network Densification, Small Cell Deployment


Sprint posted a quarterly profit for the first time in three years — $206 million in net income, compared with a $302 million loss for the same period a year ago; it’s in the middle of a five-year turnaround plan and cut costs by $370 million (to roughly $7 billion) in the second quarter and expects an additional $1.3 billion to $1.5 billion in year-over-year reductions in fiscal 2017.

Much of the cost-cutting has been accomplished by lowering subscriber acquisition costs. Sprint President/CEO Marcelo Claure told analysts on Tuesday, at one time the carrier streamlined its subscriber plans; “Now there’s only one way to buy a device and one rate plan.” Continue Reading

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

August’s Total Solar Eclipse Looms as Capacity Killer

On Monday, August 21, the United States will experience the first total solar eclipse to cross the country since 1918. This once-in-a-century event will create a virtual rolling blackout of cell services as it travels along it’s path, not due to the heavenly bodies but  because of the live streaming, photo-taking and subsequent ‘sharing’ done by the terrestrial ones. North American residents will be able to view a partial eclipse, but only certain areas in the U.S. will see the “Great American Eclipse,” making a diagonal cut from the Pacific Northwest to the Southeast seaboard.


“We’re expecting a good experience but there will be [peak] times where the network will struggle,” said Paula Doublin, assistant vice president of construction and engineering for AT&T. According to The Bulletin, emergency personnel are concerned with the convergence of a high population in some areas as well, including those in Central Oregon. They fear the towers won’t be able to handle the bandwidth and in the case of an emergency, 911 calls via cell phones won’t be possible. Their plan is to rely on “older” methods of communication – landlines and ham radio operators – to fill the gap. 
Continue Reading