Friday, December 22, 2017

On Being the Christmas Spirit

I might as well “out” myself before someone else does it.  Here goes.
I am a thespian.
We all have our hobbies, right?  Mahjong, scrimshaw, bowling, skeet shooting, polo (OK, I only know one guy who does that), taxidermy, salsa dancing, accordion lessons, cooking, bobsledding, labradoodle breeding.  Mine’s acting.  Theater mostly, some film…nothing you’ve seen trust me, but got four IMDB credits to my name.  (One’s a zombie film!)  Being a semi-ok singer I often enjoy doing musical theater (don’t judge!).  Friend, you haven’t lived until you’ve been in full Frankenstein’s Monster makeup and five-inch platform boots doing “Puttin’ on the Ritz” in “Young Frankenstein, The Musical” or in a white Homburg packin’ fake prop gun “heat” as Big Jule in “Guys ‘n Dolls.”  It’s a wonderful world of creative folk who never fail in recharging my battery.  In fact, here’s my plug: try going to a local theater production next time instead of a movie and I bet you’ll be surprised at how much you enjoy it.   Continue Reading

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Blackburn Hopes Her Net Neutrality Bill Resolves Conflict

Many sides have weighed in on Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s draft “Open Internet Preservation Act,” introduced this week. The measure is meant to replace some of the 2015 Net Neutrality rules the FCC just repealed when the internet was re-classified as a utility. The issue pertains to towers because internet providers like Verizon and AT&T use cell towers to deliver internet access to consumers over wireless networks.

Blackburn, chair of the House Communications and Technology Subcommittee, said the measure “will ensure the internet is an open and free space” with “light-touch regulation.” It prohibits providers from blocking or slowing down some internet content. If passed, she said in her announcement, companies “can invest and innovate, and make sure our internet is up to 21st century standards.” It also includes the same ISP disclosure provisions the FCC passed. 

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) said the measure “kicks off this important conversation, and lays the groundwork for Congress to enact broadly bipartisan principles that will preserve the dynamic internet ecosystem that has driven so much growth and innovation over the last two decades. I hope our Democratic colleagues will rethink their public strategy to ‘litigate not legislate’ as we begin this serious legislative effort.” Continue Reading

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Trump Highlights 5G Security as a Priority

President Donald Trump’s administration sees securing telecommunications and 5G as a national priority. The White House National Security Strategy released this week highlights the need for next-generation 5G to maintain U.S. competitiveness. These types of congressionally-mandated reports set-up future policy actions and are meant to send a signal throughout government about how a topic should be treated, reports TechCrunch.

“We will improve America’s digital infrastructure by deploying a secure 5G internet capability nationwide. These improvements will increase national competitiveness, benefit the environment, and improve our quality of life,” the government states in the document. Other than natural gas, 5G wireless service was the only technology area to be specified. 

Industry associations like CTIA cheered. “We are locked in a race with countries such as China and Russia to be the first to deploy 5G,” said CTIA President/CEO Meredith Attwell Baker. “To win this race we need government to make more spectrum available to industry and modernize the rules governing the deployment of wireless infrastructure.” Continue Reading

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Sonoma County’s SoCo Alert System Blasted

Firefighters in California now believe they have turned the tide in containing the Thomas fire, which has burned for two weeks. The wildfire broke out December 4, near Santa Paula and has now blackened 270,500 acres, making it the third largest in California history, reported Noozhawk.
But earlier fires in Sonoma County in October still cause officials concern. The emergency alert system, SoCo Alert, failed to connect with 54 percent of telephone numbers in the government database, reported The Press Democrat. That means over half of the alert messaging didn’t get through to the public, with many people’s first warning coming from neighbors.

According to Chris Helgren, the county’s emergency services manager, the system was hindered by damaged cell phone towers and burned utility lines. “During disasters, it’s not uncommon to have lower success rates,” he said. “You’re not going to have the same kind of numbers you would when the system is whole.” Continue Reading

Monday, December 18, 2017

State AGs Vow to Fight FCC’s Net Neutrality Vote in Court

FCC Commissioners Mignon Clyburn, Jessica Rosenworcel address protesters before the FCC meeting last Thursday. Photos: Free Press
Opponents vowed to challenge the FCC’s repeal of Net Neutrality in court. New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman was the first to step up, Inside Towers reported. He’s leading a multi-state effort. That includes Washington State, where AG Bob Ferguson announced he’s filing for a legal review “in the coming days.” 

ArsTechnica reports Oregon, Illinois, Iowa and Massachusetts will join the effort as well. Attorney Generals from 19 states previously asked the FCC to delay the vote over concerns about fraudulent comments filed in the public record on the issue.

One California state senator proposed a state Net Neutrality law. “California can regulate business practices to require net neutrality, condition state contracts on adhering to net neutrality, and require net neutrality as part of cable franchise agreements, as a condition to using the public right-of-way for internet infrastructure, and in broadband packages,” wrote State Sen. Scott Wiener (D) in a piece on Medium. He intends to draft the bill over the next 60 days. Continue Reading

Thursday, December 14, 2017

FirstNet Launches “Ruthless Preemption” for First Responders

AT&T says the nationwide public safety broadband network FirstNet now features “ruthless preemption” services for first responder subscribers. It’s for states and territories that have opted into their AT&T state plan for the communications network for first responders. 

Priority moves first responders to the front of the “communications line,” expediting their network needs. When the line becomes crowded, it shifts non-emergency traffic to another line, freeing up space for first responders to easily get through. Calls or texts to 911 will never be shifted from the network.

“As a first responder on 9/11, I experienced the communications challenges that can happen in large emergencies as networks become congested and overwhelmed,” said Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Chief Richard Bowers. Virginia was the first state in to opt-in. “Now, with the launch of preemption on FirstNet, for the first time, public safety is ensured a ‘fast lane’ to connect.” Continue Reading

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

CA Official: Alerts Reliant On Telecoms’ Profit, Not Public Safety

The Thomas Fire burns in the hills north of the Carpinteria Valley Monday  (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo) Click here for an interactive map of evacuation areas in Santa Barbara County.  Seventy strike teams with fire engines are battling the fire with help from 10 dozers staffed with 30 personnel, eight hand crews with 160 personnel, 28 helicopters, six water tenders with 12 personnel, four fixed winged tankers and two VLATs, known as a 747 or very large air tanker.
With more fires moving faster than ever before in California, authorities are issuing more evacuation orders, earlier. And that’s placed a spotlight on emergency alert systems, which are controlled by local authorities, according to KPCC Radio.

Hours before the Thomas Fire hit Ventura County last Monday, the head of the California Office of Emergency Services told state legislators that he wants to standardize how and when authorities issue evacuation orders. Pointing to the deadly October fires in Northern California, he said notifying people to get out of the way of fast-moving flames is more critical than ever, KPCC reported.
“The events we’re seeing in California today are very complex, and the scale, scope and size are a tremendous challenge to us,” stated OES Director Mark Ghilarducci. He said Governor Brown plans to ask state lawmakers to provide more money to improve alert systems, which have evolved dramatically over the years.  Continue Reading

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Blanca Telephone Ordered to Restore Over $6 Million to USF

The FCC ordered Blanca Telephone Company to re-pay more than $6 million to the Universal Service Fund, which supports the deployment of communications networks in high-cost, rural areas.  
The eastern Colorado carrier became eligible in 1997 to receive high-cost support for providing local exchange telephone service in parts of Alamosa and Costilla counties. Blanca offered commercial mobile radio service (CMRS), a non-regulated service, both within and outside of its area. Blanca included the costs of this non-regulated service in the regulated cost accounts it submitted to the National Exchange Carriers Association (NECA), inflating the amount of high-cost support Blanca received from the USF.

In 2012, NECA discovered Blanca’s inflation and told the carrier to correct its accounting, and more, importantly, to re-pay $6,748,280 in improperly paid USF support for 2005-2010. Blanca argued to the FCC it was entitled to the money to deploy wireless service because wireless is a USF supported service. The Commission called that “erroneous” in its decision released yesterday.  Continue Reading

Friday, December 8, 2017

Southern California Takes the Heat

Rincon Peak is known for transmitting many things in Southern California but heat is not one of them. As of Thursday, Santa Barbara County firefighters were trying to keep that temperature to a minimum. The antenna farm on Rincon Peak, shared by most public safety agencies is home to several towercos, Crown, American and to Verizon (ASR#1215063).

An army of firefighters was battling on several fronts Thursday in their efforts to tame the giant 96,000-acre “Thomas Fire,” as it is called, scorching the Carpinteria Valley, according to Noozhawk.  The citizens of Carpinteria were evacuated in the early morning hours yesterday as flames continued to approach from the east.  The fire has menaced the community as it has much of Ventura County over the last two days, Noozhawk reported. Continue Reading

Monday, December 4, 2017

5G and Sunshine Don’t Mix

Before 5G has even been launched, it’s projected that hot, sunny weather could degrade cellular transmissions by more than 15 percent, which is troublesome in climates with consistently scorching weather. According to Phys Org, an engineer at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University says research will provide solutions to this predicted challenge.

Ahmed Sulyman, associate professor in Embry-Riddle’s Prescott, Department of Computer, Electrical, & Software Engineering, teamed up with colleagues in Saudi Arabia to publish the first comprehensive analysis of solar radio emissions on land-based wireless communications systems to determine how solar radiation can affect 5G. Continue Reading

Friday, December 1, 2017

Verizon Plans to Deploy Broadband in Up to Five Markets in 2018

Verizon Communications announced it will launch wireless residential broadband services in at least three and up to five U.S. markets in 2018. Verizon’s first commercial launch is planned for Sacramento, CA, in the second half of 2018. Details will be forthcoming, according to the carrier.

Verizon trialed 5G residential applications in 11 markets this year. The commercial launch is based on customer experience and on the carrier’s confidence in new technology using millimeter-wave spectrum. The carrier estimates the initial 5G market opportunity for residential broadband at 30 million households nationwide. Continue Reading