Thursday, December 13, 2018

FCC Enables Incentive Auction for 5G High-Band Spectrum

The FCC Wednesday passed a Report and Order the agency says takes a major step toward holding a 5G spectrum auction in 2019. The new rules will promote the availability of high-band millimeter wave spectrum. The airwaves in the combined upper 37 GHz and 39 GHz bands are the largest amount of contiguous spectrum available for wireless service in the millimeter wave bands—2,400 megahertz in total—while the 47 GHz band provides an additional 1,000 megahertz of spectrum, according to the Commission.

In response, Wireless Infrastructure Association President Jonathan Adelstein said: “The action will help the U.S. continue to lead the world in wireless innovation. 2018 has been a banner year for the Commission in laying the foundation for next generation wireless services.” The open meeting, he said, continues the FCC’s commitment to win the race to 5G.

The National Association of Tower Erectors told Inside Towers: “NATE applauds the FCC’s continued proactive leadership in opening up more spectrum bands for industry’s use. This high frequency spectrum made available through future FCC auctions will be critical in helping 5G deployment scale. This is also great news for NATE’s members as more access to industry spectrum equates to more deployment opportunities for the Association’s contractor firms.” Continue Reading

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

NAB Says Repack is Becoming Harder, More Complex

The NAB has been predicting a shortage of tall tower crews, plus winter weather, will seriously impact some broadcasters’ ability to meet the FCC’s spectrum repack deadlines. Now, those predictions are coming true.

While Phase 1, which ended two weeks ago, was successful, with 79 full-power television stations meeting the deadline, 11 needed an FCC waiver. 

Those were placed in a different phase that will not impact other stations, NAB EVP Government Relations Curtis LeGeyt told lawmakers Tuesday. “This will not be the case moving forward,” as “the repack process becomes more complex.” Continue Reading

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

BDAC Disaster Response & Recovery Gets to Work

The new Disaster Response and Recovery Working Group of the FCC’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee has begun its work. The agency asked the new group to develop best practices for coordination among wireless providers, backhaul providers, and power companies before, during and after a disaster.

Red Grasso and WIA President/CEO Jonathan Adelstein co-chair the working group. 

A former firefighter, Grasso is now the FirstNet point of contact for North Carolina. During a presentation before the BDAC last Friday, Adelstein said being vice chair of the group “is an enormous responsibility,” calling communications restoration “life-saving work” during disasters when people’s lives and property are at stake. While there is coordination now among the different facets of the wireless industry during disasters, “We can always do better.” Continue Reading

Friday, December 7, 2018

U.S. Orders Arrest of Chinese Telecom Exec on Canadian Soil

The Chief Financial Officer of Chinese telecom equipment manufacturer Huawei was arrested in a Vancouver airport during a flight change Sunday, at the behest of the U.S. The bail hearing is set for today for Meng Wanzhou, daughter of company founder Ren Zhengfei, reported The Globe and Mail. She faces extradition to the U.S. The Wall Street Journal reported the Justice Department is investigating whether Huawei violated U.S. sanctions on Iran. The DOJ declined to comment.
Huawei has faced increased scrutiny in the U.S. and other countries, as lawmakers and security experts warned of potential national security risks from using Huawei products. The U.S. is concerned the Chinese government could be using Huawei’s networking technology to spy on Americans, which the company denies.

The Pentagon in May, ordered stores on American military bases to stop selling smartphones made by Huawei and Chinese rival ZTE. The Trump administration urged America’s allies to stop using Huawei telecommunications equipment because the Chinese company poses a security threat, Inside Towers reported. Continue Reading

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Over 60,000 “White Box” AT&T Routers Coming in 2019

According to AT&T, upgrading its network over the next few years in order to expand mobile capacity will involve the installation of over 60,000 “white box” routers on their towers. Andre Fuetsch, President, AT&T Labs and Chief Technology Officer, outlined plans during the Open Networking Foundation’s Connect Conference in California.

“Traditionally, we bought these routers from a handful of vendors, and the equipment was highly specialized and came with specialized software,” said Fuetsch. 

“The hardware and software functioned as a single unit. Being dependent on a single vendor makes upgrades slower, increases cost, and hampers innovation.”

So, rather than buying a single, closed package, the carrier is designing their own hardware specs for routers and encouraging any manufacturer to build to those specifications. This is known as the “white box” model.  

“In addition, we’re writing our own software for these machines, and we’ll release parts of it into open source, so any other service provider can use it,” added Fuetsch. Continue Reading

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Microsoft Ups Airband Goals, Calls for Federal Money for TVWS

UPDATE Microsoft is increasing pledges for its Airband Initiative, the program that uses several technologies, including TV White Spaces (TVWS), to bring high-speed connectivity to rural areas. Company President Brad Smith said at a lunch event in Washington, D.C., yesterday, the company is raising its goal to bring broadband access to 3 million — up from 2 million — by July, 2022. TV White Spaces are unlicensed spectrum between television channels. The initiative launched 17 months ago.

The company will also expand the program to an additional nine states next year. It’s currently deployed in 16 states with commercial partnerships. The new states include California, Indiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and West Virginia. 

Smith said the FCC’s broadband map shows roughly 19 million people don’t have broadband connectivity in the U.S. Pew Research believes the number is closer to 113 million, he said. Microsoft’s own data finds about half the country, or 162 million, lack access to broadband, according to Smith. “This is now mattering more and more. Broadband has become ‘the electricity of the country’,” he said. “As a country, we must ask, are we going to go faster? It’s a problem we will not solve with cables alone.” Continue Reading

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Cities and Munis Seek Change of Venue For FCC Small Cell Ruling

The City of San Jose, along with fellow cities and municipalities in western states, filed a petition last week to move their court case against carriers over the FCC’s September ruling to deregulate small cell deployment.  

The San Jose Petitioners, one of six groups seeking review of the FCC order entitled “Accelerating Wireless Broadband Deployment by Removing Barriers to Infrastructure Investment,” want the case transferred from Denver to San Francisco. San Jose, et al, are challenging the agency’s decision to limit how much munis can charge to attach small cells to streetlight poles and other infrastructure in public right-of-ways. The decision also sets limits on how long munis can take to make a decision on a small cell application. The FCC ruling is due to take effect in January.

Denver is currently where appeals are heard when multiple actions are filed in various appellate courts against the Commission. The Denver location was picked by lottery as the central location to hear the filings by municipalities challenging the FCC’s ruling. The petitioners hope to move the venue to the San Francisco court, part of the Ninth Circuit Court’s jurisdiction, which has, in the past, provided more narrow interpretations of federal telecom law, according to a blog post by analyst Steve Blum of Tellus Venture Associates. Continue Reading

Friday, November 30, 2018

Senators Urge FCC Action on TV White Spaces

Two Senators asked the FCC to resolve the outstanding TV White Spaces (TVWS) proceeding so the unlicensed spectrum between TV channels can be used for rural broadband. Specifically, Steve Daines (R-MT) and Ron Johnson (R-WI) call TVWS “an affordable solution for rural and tribal communities.” They characterize the unique features of the spectrum, “which is capable of traveling long distances while maintaining robust bandwidth capabilities.”

Broadcasters are concerned about possible interference to licensed station transmission from unlicensed devices. The NAB has said just because the TVWS is unlicensed does not mean it is unused by television broadcasters. Danes and Johnson asked the Commission in a letter, to finalize guidance for TVWS “that allows for the expansion of this technology while mitigating the potential for harmful interference.” Continue Reading

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Keep Wireless Resiliency Framework Flexible, Carriers Tell FCC

Carriers tell the FCC, the Wireless Resiliency Cooperative Framework facilitated industry efforts to maintain networks and restore service after recent hurricanes. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said he would look into how the agreement is working after initially being disappointed with the pace of network restoration efforts in Florida following Hurricane Michael.

The framework is an industry-led, voluntary initiative, in which carriers cooperate to restore networks during and after emergencies. Responses to the inquiry from the Public Safety & Homeland Security Bureau were due to docket 11-60 Monday. Though portions were redacted, Inside Towers was able to glean the main points of the carriers’ responses.
Addressing network restoration speed directly, T-Mobile says in many cases, network outages were due to the limited availability of commercial power and/or failures in third-party backhaul networks, rather than the failure of the wireless networks. T-Mobile says the framework has been “extremely successful” because of its flexibility that allows carriers to dynamically allocate resources. T-Mobile believes a similar arrangement among backhaul providers would improve wireless network resiliency as well. Continue Reading

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Broadcasters Fight for Flexibility in Repack Reimbursement

UPDATE Broadcasters urged the FCC this week to be flexible in how the agency reimburses FMs, low-power TV stations and TV translators for repacking expenses. Reply comments were recently due to docket 18-214 on the agency’s proposed catalog of reimbursable expenses, including tower mapping, rigging and new tower construction.

Broadcasters in phase one of the repack must be moved to their new channel by this Friday.
NPR suggested the FCC maximize relief and minimize obstacles for “innocent bystander” FMs so they can avoid or reduce the duration of service disruptions to listeners. NPR seeks flexibility to provide reimbursement for costs not listed in the
catalog and expenses that are higher than the suggested ranges.

Some stations may incur costs beyond the typical purchase of new equipment and tower rigging and installation, says NPR. Some stations are buying used gear to lower their Auxiliary site costs while their primary tower sites are disrupted. NPR is also exploring the possibility of loaning equipment for this purpose and would like the costs of testing, maintenance and re-tuning reimbursed. Continue Reading

Monday, November 26, 2018

Contractor’s Error Caused His Death, OSHA Reports

UPDATE  The collapse of the 1,890-foot KOZK tower in Missouri and resulting death of contractor Steve Lemay was recently ruled on by OSHA, as to the cause of the accident.  The report was obtained and published by Current, per its request of the documents, through the Freedom of Information Act.
In April of 2018, Missouri State University (MSU) contracted Tower Consultants, Inc. (TCI) to design the required structural modifications necessary to support the transmission line replacement.  MSU owned the KOZK tower, an 1,890-foot guyed tower along Highway FF north of Fordland, MO. TCI’s scope of work involved creating construction documents, reviewing submittal drawings, observing the construction process including producing progress reports and assisting MSU in the bidding and contractor selection process.  MSU selected Steve Lemay, LLC to serve as the contractor.
Continue Reading

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

A Dinner I’m Thankful For Letter from the Editor

Having attended one dinner last week in Washington D.C. hosted by WIA, honoring the founders of our industry, it gave me some added thanks to add to the dinner I’ll be having with family and friends tomorrow.

Among the many gratitudes I have for how life, crazy and unpredictable as it is, has blessed me over my 00* years, I need to save one for the tower market.  The D.C. dinner reminded me of how unformed the market was back in the primordial mist of the late ‘80’s and what it has become.  It is a thing of wonder and worthy of thanks. Continue Reading

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

FCC Commissioners Want to Avoid Utility, Telecom Crew Face-Off

FCC Commissioners Michael O’Rielly (left) and Brendan Carr

Trying to avoid needless fiber cuts after a major storm is a goal for the FCC. Chairman Ajit Pai recently formed a new working group for the agency’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee to develop recommendations for network restoration and resiliency. Commissioner Brendan Carr said after last Thursday’s FCC meeting, some 7,000 restoration personnel were in Florida when he was there after Hurricane Michael.

A lot of the network fiber survived the hurricane and subsequent storm surge, but telecoms complained of needless fiber cuts hampering restoration efforts, Inside Towers reported. O’Rielly said the situation improved after phone calls and face-to-face meetings between utility and telecom executives.

Saying his mom lives in the area affected by the hurricane, O’Rielly said the agency heard stories about “needless cuts” with “powercos powering through at will. They have communication companies sitting right there saying, ‘please don’t do this, we just fixed this,’ and they do it anyway.” He and Carr agreed the agency needs to figure out a better way to ensure network resiliency post-storm. Carr hasn’t determined if regulation needs to be developed to fix this situation. Continue Reading

Monday, November 19, 2018

FCC Vote Could Improve GPS Accuracy on U.S. Smartphones

U.S. device manufacturers will soon be able to establish a connection between smartphones and the EU’s satellite constellation known as Galileo. The result, say FCC officials, means consumers will be able to benefit from improved availability, reliability, and resiliency of navigation and timing services on their smartphones. The FCC approved a waiver of its rules so non-federal users can access specific signals transmitted from Galileo.

Since the debut of the first consumer handheld GPS device in 1989, consumers and industry in the United States have relied on the U.S. GPS system to support satellite-based positioning, navigation, and timing services that are integral to everyday applications, ranging from driving directions, to precision farming. During Thursday’s vote, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr said the changes will enable a broader ranges of services and applications on smartphones. Since it’s compatible with GPS, with Galileo, “real-time directions on your smartphone could see improvements, and 911 dispatchers can get a better fix on your location.” 

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said the change would also benefit the aviation, rail and maritime industries. “Those with satellite-connected devices will have more eyes looking at them,” said Pai. Continue Reading

Friday, November 16, 2018

In The Path of Hell

Inside Towers’ database shows over 150 registered tower sites within a 30-mile radius of Chico, CA, the epicenter of the Camp Fire.  A full list of sites within that zone can be found on the Inside Towers database.
A report on ASR-registered tower sites in that radius shows all three of the major towercos have an equal footprint in the area.  Carriers, broadcasters and state-owned towers are in the path possible destruction as well. Continue Reading

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Industry Founders Honored By WIA

WIA President and CEO Jonathan Adelstein welcomed the assembled congregation at the Washington Hilton last night who came to honor, in Adelstein’s words, “the first class of the Mobile Infrastructure Hall of Fame.”

“Tonight, we’re honoring pioneers in the relatively short history of mobile infrastructure,” he said. “We’ve grown so fast, that each of them complained they’re too young to be in a Hall of Fame,” he said, “But, like the industry, they’re maturing gracefully.”

The honorees included John Kelly, former CEO of Crown Castle, Steven Bernstein, founder and former CEO of SBA, Neville Ray, Executive VP and CTO of T-Mobile (introduced by T-Mobile CEO John Legere) José R. Mas, CEO of Mastec and Steven Dodge, Founder and former CEO of American Tower. Continue Reading

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

5G Rollout Causes “Chaos” in Baton Rouge

AT&T is installing 80 new small cell 5G poles on the streets of Baton Rouge, and it “has created a lot of chaos downtown,” according to City-Parish Chief Administrative Officer Darryl Gissel. In mid-October, an AT&T subcontractor struck an underground power line during one installation creating a massive power outage in the city. 

Adding to the deployment woes, local residents expressed shock and opposition to the 29-foot black metal poles upon unexpectedly seeing their installation. Executive director Davis Rhorer said several property owners have contacted the Downtown Development District to dispute the locations of the towers, and how close they will be to their businesses and homes.  Metro Council passed an ordinance establishing the regulations for small cell installation in 2017, allowing the poles to be built in the public right-of-way, according to Business Report

According to Business Report, Darryl Gissel said local law does not allow officials to turn down a tower site proposal based on aesthetic reasons, and there must be a “compelling reason” such as it being a safety risk or a historical site. Continue Reading

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Carriers Work to Maintain, Restore Networks in CA Wildfires

FirstNet mobile cell site (SatCOLT or Satellite Cell on Light Truck) 
is up and running at Canyon View Drive in Paradise, CA  Tweet: Leland Kim.

Even though yesterday was a federal holiday, some personnel at the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau were in contact with carriers and safety agencies in California as the wildfires continued to burn. FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr tweeted that agency staff are “engaged and closely coordinating” efforts to maintain and restore communications in the affected areas.

AT&T said its Network Disaster Recovery team deployed four portable cell sites, or SatCOLTs (Cell on Light Trucks) to affected areas, including the Los Angeles Fire Command Camp and the Paradise Police Department. The SatCOLTs sites will provide connectivity for customers and first responders in areas where traditional cell sites have been damaged or affected by power outages. The carrier has additional assets staged throughout the state for quick deployment once conditions allow. It opened up its network to other carriers’ customers.  Continue Reading

Monday, November 12, 2018

The Red Devils: Connecting on the Field of Battle

Paratroopers from the Army’s 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, nicknamed the Red Devils, are on the front lines of military technology, testing phone connectivity under battle conditions at Fort Bliss in Texas.  The Fort Bliss Bugle explains the unique field concerns that soldiers face.  While civilians rely on a network of cell towers to connect their calls, the Army has to carry its own network with it.  The digital network that was in force, Nett Warrior, had too many limitations and was unwieldy to use. “Nobody was using the Nett Warrior devices,” said Maj. Andrew Miller.

Armed with commercial available smartphones and tablets, the soldiers began their assault on the new Integrated Tactical Network (ITN).  The ITN seeks to extend the range and flexibility of communications on the field. Following the lead of the Special Operation Forces team, the Army set out to create a decentralized system that would allow soldiers to talk within their units without needing to link back through a command center first.  The signal would also need to circumvent attempts to jam a signal or disrupt satellite communications. The Red Devils have continued to test the ITM during each continued phase of its development. Continue Reading

Thursday, November 8, 2018

What a Divided Congress Means for Telecom

A Democratic House and Republican Senate can, in theory, align on issues that affect telecom. However the window is short due to the looming 2020 presidential election. Infrastructure has a chance at bipartisan cooperation, but according to Roll Call, Democrats want to spend more federal government dollars than Republicans, who prefer to rely more on private-sector investment.  Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who hopes to regain her role as House Speaker, committed to pursuing broadband development as one of her goals in the new session of Congress.

That goal dovetails with what the Wireless Infrastructure Association would like to see. While still sorting through the results yesterday, WIA Head of Legislative Affairs Matt Mandel told Inside Towers that, in general, “Our job remains the same regardless of who controls Congress: to educate all members on the important role wireless infrastructure plays in economic growth, broadband deployment, and global competitiveness. I think infrastructure will certainly be a priority and our belief, which is shared by members of both parties, is that broadband infrastructure should be a part of any comprehensive infrastructure package.” Continue Reading

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Rural Broadband Group Presses Harder for TV White Spaces

The 44 groups that make up the Connect Americans Now Coalition, including the Rural Wireless Association, Microsoft, the App Association and the National Rural Education Association, want the FCC to allow TV white spaces to be used for rural broadband deployment. The network operators, equipment providers and rural broadband advocates are using a combination of wired and wireless technologies to do this now, including fiber, as well as terrestrial and satellite fixed and mobile wireless, using several frequencies.

The FCC opened up more of the white spaces between television channels for unlicensed use. The coalition, formed this January, supports Microsoft’s TV white spaces proposal. The coalition wants the agency to go further. “Our deployments are giving us real-world experience in how a set of pragmatic changes to FCC rules would allow us to reach even more Americans, without causing harmful interference to incumbent licensees,” writes the coalition in a letter to the FCC. Continue Reading

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

IBM Sues Corning for “Botched” Falcons’ Stadium Design

IBM is suing Corning in federal court in Georgia for a “botched” design of a cellular distributed antenna system installed at the Atlanta Falcons’ Mercedes-Benz Stadium, reports Mobile Sports Report. IBM contends Corning failed to deliver a working DAS, according to the court filing, and that the Falcons and the NFL needed to spend additional “millions” to make the system operational. The issue is of interest, as the stadium will host the Super Bowl in February 2019.

IBM does not list a specific compensation amount in the suit. Instead, it intends to seek “damages in an amount to be proven at trial.” In its filing, IBM asserted it bought about $20 million in equipment and materials from Corning to build the DAS.

In response, Corning told MSR in a statement: “Corning is a company of the highest integrity. We are confident that the company had conducted itself in an honorable manner and has been fully compliant in meeting its contractual obligations.” Continue Reading

Monday, November 5, 2018

Manhattan DA: Locked Phones Thwart Crime-Solving

While law enforcement can use the location data from nearby cell phone towers to locate criminals, “warrant-proof” smartphone encryption on the devices continues to impede justice for crime victims, says
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance. A new report his office released Thursday, summarizes the “cat and mouse” game involving lawful hacking workarounds. “Apple’s and Google’s encryption decisions have created a new market for private entities to develop and monetize encryption ‘workarounds,’” he states.

In the report, Vance accuses tech companies of consistently putting profits ahead of society’s best interests. He points to Cambridge Analytica’s misuse of Facebook user data and Google’s plans to launch a censored version of its search engine in China as evidence that “certain technology companies have made their decisions, not based on what might be prudent public policy, but — understandably — based on what is in their shareholders’ economic interest.”

From May 2018 through August 2018, the Manhattan D.A. Cyber Lab tried to access 589 mobile devices in connection with live criminal investigations. 366 (or 62 percent) were passcode-locked. Of those 366 devices, 165 remain inaccessible despite court-ordered warrants to search the devices, according to the report. Continue Reading

Friday, November 2, 2018

Look Who’s Planning to Bid for 5G Spectrum

Forty out of fifty companies that applied, have qualified and made upfront payments to bid in the 28 GHz auction, set to begin November 14.  AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile are among them, according to the FCC. In addition to the wireless companies, DISH — filing under the name Crestone Wireless — and Frontier Communications also made the cut. Continue Reading

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Could Some New Entrants Get CBRS Licenses by Year-end?

Some of the new entrants on the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) could be operating on the band by year-end. There will be plenty of opportunities for new uses, according to K.C. Halm and Van Bloys, attorneys for Davis Wright Tremaine. They described FCC changes and potential future CBRS band use cases in a Wireless Infrastructure Association webinar yesterday.

Halm noted that several WIA members acquired experimental licenses for the band, a hot topic at this spring’s ConnectX in Charlotte, NC.
150 MHz of contiguous spectrum will be available for commercial use “in the very near future on a shared basis for licensed and unlicensed use,” said Halm. He described shared spectrum rights by tier (see image.)   Continue Reading

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Wrestling Over 5.9 GHz Future Gets More Intense

The calls within and outside the FCC are getting louder, to take a fresh look at whether auto safety communications and WiFi can share the same spectrum in the 5.9 GHz band. The Commission this week released results of tests performed on prototype devices to explore potential sharing solutions between the proposed Unlicensed National Information Infrastructure (U-NII) devices and Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC) operations in the 5850-5925 MHz (U-NII-4) frequency band. DSRC uses short-range wireless communication links to facilitate data transfer between vehicle to vehicle, and between vehicles and roadside infrastructure.

But WiFi advocates, as well as FCC Commissioners Jessica Rosenworcel and Mike O’Rielly — say the sharing methodology is already outdated. Rosenworcel said the results, released nearly two years after the testing deadline “are long overdue. But we need to do more than just make our work public. We need to start a rulemaking to take a fresh look at this band and its real possibilities.” O’Rielly said the debate “has gravitated away from the type of sharing regime envisioned in the testing. Instead, the Commission should move past this and initiate a rulemaking to reallocate at least 45 megahertz of the band, which is completely unused today for automobile safety.” Continue Reading

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Carriers Say FCC’s Small Cell Order Is “Not Enough”

Several wireless carriers are challenging the FCC’s small cells order in federal court. The order, which the Commission voted on last month, caps siting application fees localities can charge and sets timelines to act on applications. Several municipalities are challenging the order in court, too, calling it federal overreach, Inside Towers reported. Continue Reading

Monday, October 29, 2018

Stuff Gets Real as Cities, Counties Fight FCC in Court Over Small Cells

More than 20 cities and counties are challenging the FCC’s new small cell deployment order in federal court. They asked a federal appeals court to block the rule limiting what localities can charge telecoms, for installing cell sites for 5G wireless networks. Three lawsuits were filed Wednesday and Thursday by nearly two dozen cities, including Seattle, Washington; Portland, Oregon; Los Angeles; and San Jose, California, reported The Hill.

The rule, not slated to go into effect until January, caps what municipalities can charge to deploy a small cell in a public right-of-way to $270 per site. It also imposes time limits governing when localities must either approve or reject siting applications. When the FCC voted on the change last month, Commissioners said the move would free up to $2 billion in capital that wireless carriers can use to deploy broadband in rural areas. 

Carriers and wireless infrastructure associations say the changes are needed to ease small cell deployment, which has been chained to older Commission regulations meant for larger, macro towers. Critics call the changes an industry giveaway with no assurances; the saved money would actually go to rural deployment. Continue Reading

Friday, October 26, 2018

The White House issued a Presidential Memorandum on spectrum policy Thursday that directs government agencies to take several actions to further deployment of 5G wireless networks.
It directs the Secretary of Commerce to work with federal agencies and industry stakeholders to develop a long term, comprehensive national spectrum strategy, with the goal of maintaining American leadership in wireless networks, whether 5G or any future technology. The memo builds on an administration meeting earlier this month organized by the White House National Economic Council that brought together 150 stakeholders from government, industry, and academia, to discuss jump-starting 5G technology, Inside Towers reported

The Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) will work with members of a new Spectrum Strategy Task Force in a multiyear effort to develop and implement the national approach, according to NTIA Administrator David Redl. “The strategy will be informed by examinations of spectrum use, and will help policymakers meet our needs both now and in the future. It will also help align research, development, testing and evaluation efforts,” he said in a blog post.

The Presidential Memorandum also revokes two previous spectrum policy memorandums, established during the Obama Administration. Continue Reading

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Utilities to FCC: Keep Unlicensed Mitts Off 6 GHz

The Utilities Technology Council is not happy at all with Tuesday’s FCC vote for a rulemaking to open up the 6 GHz band, saying unlicensed use could interfere with critical utility operations.
Unlicensed devices use the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands for products like baby monitors and cordless phones, and Commissioners say those bands are congested and they want to open up the 5.925-7.125 GHz band. Portions of the 6 GHz band are heavily used by licensed incumbents such as utilities, point-to-point microwave links, the Broadcast Auxiliary Service and Cable Television Relay Service. The FCC proposes to allow unlicensed devices to operate using an automated frequency coordination system to avoid causing harmful RF interference from unlicensed devices to licensed users, Inside Towers reported.   

Electric, gas and water utilities rely on the 6 GHz band for their communications that support day-to-day, routine reliability, emergency response and storm restoration, and smart meters, according to UTC. The band provides utilities “and other critical infrastructure industries with the high-speed, long distance wireless communications” required for these essential services, says UTC President/CEO Joy Ditto.   Continue Reading

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

CBRS Vote Proves Strident

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel
The FCC voted Tuesday to update the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) in the 3.5 GHz band, saying the changes would increase incentives, innovation and investment for 5G and other services. Supporters, like large carriers, say the changes will provide certainty to those who wants to introduce new services. Opponents, including some small broadband providers, say it will do the opposite, and the result will be a 5G-only band.

FCC Commissioners took care to describe their compromise effort during the vote, but divisions were evident.  

The original rules, established in 2015, enable shared access between federal and non-federal users, consisting of incumbents, Priority Access Licenses (PALs) and General Authorized Access users. The Report and Order changes the size of PAL licenses from census tracts to counties and extends PAL license terms to 10 years.

FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly said it “was clear” the rules crafted by the past Administration “were not supportive” of 5G networks. The rules were “designed for some to get licenses on the cheap. We right the ship today so there’s opportunity for all, regardless of whether an entity is interested in fixed or mobile wireless technology.” Continue Reading

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Repack Costs Crystalize for FMs, LPTVs, TV Translators

The costs of co-locating on a TV tower involved in the channel repack is getting very real for FM owners. Now is the chance for them, as well as owners of Low-Power TV and TV translators, to tell the FCC about the financial impact of the repack. The agency is seeking public input on its proposed catalog of reimbursement costs for services like tower rigging and new equipment.

The agency believes the catalog will facilitate the reimbursement process, much like it is for full-power and Class A TV stations. It was developed by a third-party tower consulting firm, to identify price ranges for potential services and equipment, based on a market survey of industry vendors.
Estimated expenses for existing towers are included, ranging from $16,400 to $25,600 for tower mapping and a structural engineering report. Widelity estimates $5,100 to $12,300 for a structural engineering study for a guyed or free-standing tower. Continue Reading

Monday, October 22, 2018

Pennsylvania’s Deployment Act Dies On the Vine

The Small Wireless Facilities Deployment Act (House Bill 2564), which was proposed to help with 5G infrastructure, ran out of time and no companion bill was introduced to the Pennsylvania Senate, reported The Philadelphia Inquirer. The sponsor of the bill, State Rep. Frank Farry, told Inside Towers in an interview, he put the blame on a crusading lawyer bent on derailing the legislation as the reason for its demise.  The proposed legislation would have made it easier to put thousands of small cell antennas on utility poles, buildings, traffic lights, or other public property for 5G services.

While most state legislatures have passed a similar bill, often unanimously, Pennsylvania has met a roadblock.  Farry says that roadblock is Dan Cohen, an independent attorney from Pittsburgh who has acted on behalf of, according to him, 150 municipalities, to thwart the legislation.  Farry said Cohen used privileged information to send inflammatory emails to his clients regarding the possibility of low $25-per-pole rates and other issues to enhance his status with them and other potential customers.  “He is a person of low moral character,” Farry said “and you can quote me on that. Municipalities that have employed him have not operated in good faith.” Continue Reading

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Pai Heads to Florida, Scolds Carriers for Hurricane Response

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai chastised wireless carriers for their response to the damage of Hurricane Michael in the Florida panhandle. He directed the agency’s Public Safety & Homeland Security Bureau to begin an investigation, saying he’s concerned “their actions on the ground aren’t matching the urgency” Commission officials have conveyed in conversations with the carriers.

Pai joined Florida Governor Rick Scott in calling on wireless carriers to waive the bills of Floridians in these affected areas for the month of October and to allow them to change carriers without penalty. “These carriers also need to immediately disclose publicly to Floridians how they will quickly restore service,” said Pai. Scott is trying to unseat Senate Commerce Committee ranking member Bill Nelson (D) in a tight Senate race.

Chairman Pai intends to go to Florida tomorrow to assess the damage and get an update on recovery efforts from service providers and government officials working to restore communications. “I hope to see that wireless coverage in the area near where the hurricane made landfall is being restored more quickly than was the case earlier this week.”  Continue Reading

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Pai to Keynote WIA Hall of Fame Inductions November 14

The Wireless Infrastructure Association (WIA) Foundation announced yesterday that it will host the inaugural Mobile Infrastructure Hall of Fame Ceremony on Wednesday, November 14 at the Washington Hilton. The ceremony will honor trailblazers who have shaped the wireless infrastructure landscape and support the Foundation’s mission to create a stronger wireless workforce through training and education. Federal Communications Commission Chairman, Ajit Pai, will deliver opening remarks.
The first class of inductees includes: Neville R. Ray, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of T-Mobile; Steven E. Bernstein, founder and former Chief Executive Officer of SBA Communications; Steven B. Dodge, founder and former Chief Executive Officer of American Tower; John P. Kelly, former Chief Executive Officer of Crown Castle and José R. Mas, Chief Executive Officer of MasTec. Continue Reading

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Florida Governor Scott Says Verizon Slow in Recovery Efforts

Governor Rick Scott said more than 2,000 telecommunications professionals in 200 Communication Technician Repair Crew Strike Teams are fully mobilized in impacted counties, working to restore cellular service. AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile deployed mobile cellular towers to provide service.  Scott has been touring and tweeting from the ravaged area since it was hit by the storm last week.
“At my direction, the Florida Highway Patrol has been working hand-in-hand with cellular service provider crews to get them access to service stations where repairs need to be made,” Scott said. “I also directed the Florida Department of Transportation to provide excavators, heavy loaders, and chainsaw crews to assist cellular service providers in quickly accessing sites in the Panhandle.”
While praising AT&T and the efforts made by the departments under his control, Scott was critical of Verizon, the company’s main competitor.  Inside Towers reported in yesterday’s issue, that Verizon has been slowed by damages done to fiber throughout the area. Verizon issued a statement saying they are experiencing, “unprecedented damage to our fiber, which is essential for our network,” adding that crews are working “around the clock” to re-establish service. Continue Reading

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Repack Stretches Resources, And It’s Only Phase 1

From the broadcast perspective, tower crews and resources for the repack are getting tight. With winter approaching, experts predict they will have issues keeping the process of transitioning stations from their old channels to new ones moving. That’s based on Inside Towers’ interviews with broadcast engineers, engineering consultants, equipment suppliers and vendors at the IEEE Broadcast Technology Symposium Wednesday in Arlington, VA.

“I think there will be a handful of stations that don’t meet their Phase 1 deadline. We’ll probably see more problems as we get to Phase 2,” said Dennis Wallace, managing partner at engineering consulting firm Meintel, Sgrignoli & Wallace. “There’s just not enough resources on the tower side. Tower hands are moving from company to company based on who’s paying the most today. So you may have a tower company that bid a job based on this crew that they had at the time, and all of a sudden that labor is not available.”  

By November 30, Phase 1 stations need to be off their old channel and transmitting on their new channel. The testing period for Phase 2 stations begins on December 1 and ends at the end of April. If a Phase 1 station misses its deadline and is daisy-chained with other stations, either on the same channel or adjacent channels, there’s a domino effect, explained Wallace. “If they’re still operating on their existing channel, than those other stations can transition until that station moves,” he said. Continue Reading

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

NATE Hosts UAS Operations Demonstration

Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) can provide different work for tower climbers. UAS inspections can save workers a climb and free them up for other tasks, said experts on-hand for a UAS demonstration Tuesday, organized by the National Tower Erectors Association. Four NATE member companies flew their UAS close to a 198-ft. Crown Castle tower in Gainesville, VA, just outside of the D.C. restricted airspace.

Using UAS for tower inspections can mean one-third fewer climbs need to be performed, Jim Goldwater, NATE Director of Legislative and Regulatory Affairs, told Inside Towers. “Our job is to make sure our people get home safe,” said NATE Chairman Jim Tracy to the assembled crowd of 55-plus people. Using UAS or drones, means less risk for climbers from working at elevation, he said.
The four companies that flew drone aircraft were: ETAK Systems, Talon Aerolytics, Ehresmann Engineering, and B+T Group. All contract with Crown Castle for tower work. In addition to industry workers, officials from the FCC, FAA, OSHA and SBA attended the event. Continue Reading

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Sharing C-Band for 5G is Tricky

Finding the best solution to re-configure the 3.7 to 4.2 GHz band was a hot topic at last week’s 7th Annual Americas Spectrum Management Conference.

“It is important for America to lead in 5G. Satellite operators defended the use of C-band for decades for program distribution. We understand regulators want to advance leadership in this band,” said SES SVP Global Advocacy Gerry Oberst during a panel. “The satellite sector heard this and is looking for ways to meet this challenge.”

The FCC’s proposal specifies the use of a consortium to undertake the technical and commercial implementation of the spectrum clearing process. SES is part of the recently-announced C-Band Alliance. Other members are Intelsat, Eutelsat and Telesat. The companies say they can implement a market-based proposal to clear spectrum, while protecting the quality and reliability of existing C-band services in the band. “We will engage in secondary market transactions within 36 months” of a final FCC order, said Oberst.  

“We believe secondary market transactions can be accomplished quickly. Our intention is to get spectrum out there as fast as possible,” said Oberst. Continue Reading

Monday, October 8, 2018

NPR Paints Grim Picture of Repack’s Impact on FMs

NPR agrees with the NAB’s assessment that a sliding scale to reimburse FMs forced off the air due to the TV repack is arbitrary and won’t work. It urged the agency to drop the plan. The public radio network also said the repack work has been disruptive, forcing at least one station off the air when a tower crew showed up unexpectedly, causing the station thousands of dollars in lost donations.
The Commission should make sure the reimbursement process for FMs co-located on TV towers affected by the TV channel repack is flexible. “There is no easy way to measure the significance of the service disruption caused when stations are forced off-air or required to broadcast at reduced power,” NPR told the FCC in filed comments. Without naming the towerco that showed up at one station with no notice, NPR said that “gave the station no chance to rig a temporary antenna, and forced the station off air for 11 days during a funding drive. This situation could have been avoided if the station had been able to secure alternative facilities in advance.” Continue Reading

Friday, October 5, 2018

Munis Vow Legal Action Against FCC Over Small Cells Order

Mayors of several cities vow to fight the FCC’s recent small cell order in court, arguing it’s an example of federal overreach.

Inside Towers reported before last week’s vote to ease small cell siting, that several localities were unhappy with the move to curb siting costs and speed paperwork to permit wireless infrastructure on publicly-owned land. Now, several localities, like Seattle, say they plan to sue. Others, like Portland, already have filed suit, ArsTechnica reported.

The order limits what localities can charge for permitting wireless infrastructure to be sited within a public right-of-way and sets timetables that localities must follow to make a decision on a permit. The FCC order suggests up-front application fees of $100 for each small cell and annual fees of up to $270 per small cell. Portland typically charges $3,000 per year for application fees, according to the Oregonian. Continue Reading

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Siting Panel Says the Focus Is On Micro Not Macro Towers

“We will all be busy in the next year redecorating the street furniture.” That’s how Stephan Sloan, director at Media Services Group and session moderator, summed up the infrastructure panel at the 7th Annual Americas Spectrum Management Conference yesterday.

The impact of the FCC’s recent order to ease small cell siting on publicly-owned property dominated the discussion. 

Matthew Berry, Chief of Staff to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, said estimates show the U.S. needs to add an additional 800,000 cell sites by 2025 to enable 5G. To make this happen, he said, the agency realized its siting rules could no longer be tied to the needs of tall towers. But he made clear, “5G isn’t going to eliminate the need for tall towers.”

The new order “respects local control. All fees must be non-discriminatory and cost-based,” said Berry. Channeling Frank Sinatra, Berry said: “As far as infrastructure policy, I believe we’ll look at 2018 and say it was a very good year.”  Continue Reading

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Carr: U.S. Needs to Ramp Up to 60,000 Cell Sites a Year

Returning to the Competitive Carriers Association’s 2018 Annual Convention yesterday was a homecoming of sorts for FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr. He gave his first speech as a Commissioner at that event, one year ago.

He said the agency began attacking a long list of pending items last year, including a swap-out order, or when a provider looks to replace a utility pole to add new antennas.

The FCC acted on twilight towers, built between 2001 and 2005, which did not necessarily go through historic review.  However, other parts of the federal government must now weigh in. The item could open up “thousands of existing towers [to] co-location,” Carr said. His colleague, Commissioner Michael O’Rielly, wants the issue to be wrapped-up, Inside Towers reported. Continue Reading

Monday, October 1, 2018

Trump Administration Voices Pro-Infrastructure Deployment

The big takeaway from Friday’s 5G event at the White House is that federal agencies, members of Congress, private industry and their associations are all pulling in the same direction when it comes to infrastructure development. Wireless Infrastructure Association President Jonathan Adelstein spoke with Inside Towers following the event, saying there was an emphasis on the “indispensable role of infrastructure to enable 5G.”

He said there’s an “intense focus and coordination” on infrastructure deployment now, with leadership from the White House, in concert with federal agencies like the FCC, National Telecommunications and Information Administration and Congress. FCC’s Brendan Carr, for example, discussed the order the agency passed last week to ease small cell siting in a public right-of-way. Carr emphasized how quickly China is deploying cell sites compared to the U.S., according to the WIA executive.

Adelstein indicated many localities are working with industry on siting small cells because they want updated technology. The FCC’s recent order is meant to reign in unreasonable practices. “We need cooperative relationships with localities” to site 5G, emphasized Adelstein. Continue Reading

Friday, September 28, 2018

NAB Calls Graduated Scale FM Repack Funds a No Go

NAB this week urged the FCC to drop its proposal to reimburse FMs that are co-located on a television tower impacted by the TV channel repack on a graduated scale, depending on how long the disruption lasts. NAB says the concept “fundamentally misapprehends the dramatic and damaging effect of going off air for FM stations and their listeners.” Potentially “hundreds” of FMs located on or near towers supporting repacked TV stations may have to operate at reduced power or shut down entirely for “extended” periods to protect tower workers, according to NAB.
Under the agency’s proposal, stations off the air for 10 or fewer days would be eligible for 50 percent of the expenses for interim facilities. Stations off the air for 30 or fewer days would be eligible for 75 percent, and stations off the air for more than 30 days would be eligible for 100 percent. The proposal is “arbitrary and capricious,” and could disproportionately impact small and rural broadcasters and listeners, the association says in a filing. Continue Reading

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

FCC Hears About Muni Denying Crown Project and The $350K Bill

As the FCC prepares to vote on an order to ease small cell siting today, Inside Towers reviews Crown Castle’s recent experiences to see why the towerco supports the Commission’s planned changes. In a recent lobbying visit, Crown Castle representatives told FCC officials, the company favors the agency’s efforts to limit localities’ application fees. Calling the proposal, “timely and necessary,” the towerco cited an example from July from Hillsborough, CA (pop. 11,420).

There, the company submitted applications covering 16 nodes and was assessed $60,000 in application fees. The town denied the applications, and then invoiced Crown for an additional $351,773, “most of which appears to be related to outside counsel fees — all for equipment that was not approved and has not yet been constructed,” the company told the FCC in a recent filing. Continue Reading

Friday, September 21, 2018

Muni Input Brushed Aside on Small Cell Siting, Say BDAC Reps

Two municipal representatives on the FCC’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee say localities’ concerns were brushed aside as the Commission prepared the small cells siting streamlining item, to be voted on next week.

Debbi Goldman, the representative for Communications Workers of America on the BDAC’s Model Code for Municipalities Working Group, calls the draft order “inconsistent” with the working group’s recommendations and an overreach of federal authority,” in a filing this week. The proposal sets “presumptively reasonable” siting costs at $270 per year per site, according to Goldman, who adds the working group didn’t reach a conclusion about fees because “of a lack of agreement.”

“The draft order ignores our work, choosing instead to further the interests of the wireless industry over that of the public,” Goldman writes. The proposal also limits local aesthetic requirements and historical review. She also takes issue with this, noting those standards are set based on local community concerns and have a direct bearing on a city’s “economic development, historic preservation, property values, tax levels, and jobs.” Continue Reading

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Cell Tower Outages Drop Overall, Isolated Areas Show an Increase

The majority of cell sites in the Carolinas remained operating as of Monday, however the percentages of outages in some counties rose. North and South Carolina are still experiencing heavy flooding due to the storm that began as Hurricane Florence.

In North Carolina, out of the 5,790 total cell sites, 683 were not operational as of yesterday. That compares to 787 cell sites not working on Sunday.  

In Onslow County, 50.7 percent of the 227 cell sites were not working yesterday. That compares to 38.8 percent the day before. In Jones County, 38.3 percent of the 47 cell sites were offline, compared to 23.4 percent out the day before. Duplin County remained steady with 36 percent of 89 sites offline. Carteret County had the most cell sites out of service as of Sunday when 45.6 percent out of 103 sites were not operational. Monday, the outages dropped to just over 30 percent, with 31 sites out.  Continue Reading

Monday, September 17, 2018

Most Cell Sites Pummeled by Florence Are Still Working

The majority of cell sites in the Carolinas remained operating as of Sunday, days after Hurricane Florence made landfall. Now a tropical depression, Florence pummeled the Carolinas and parts of Georgia and Virginia with wind and rain, leaving widespread flooding. More than 700,000 people remained without power in the Carolinas as of Sunday, WWAY-TV reported.

In North Carolina, 86.4 percent of the 5,790 total cell sites were operational as of Sunday. 787 cell sites, or 13.6 percent, were not working, according to the FCC’s Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS). That’s down significantly from Saturday, when 18.4 percent, out of a total of 1,063 sites, were not working, according to DIRS. New Hanover County had the most non-operational cell sites, 134 out of 287, on Saturday. Continue Reading

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Muni Orgs Object to Small Cell Siting Proposal

Some national associations representing municipalities are contemplating taking legal action against the FCC over its proposed small cell order. The proposal, set for a vote on September 26, streamlines wireless infrastructure siting procedures. The plan establishes a shot clock by which munis must act on a small cell siting application in a public Right–of-Way, sets “reasonable” siting processing fees and prohibits local moratoria, Inside Towers reported.

But lobbying organizations like the National Association of Counties, the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the National League of Cities call the plan an example of federal overreach that could harm public safety and localities’ ability to access vital revenue. All three tell Politico they may sue the agency if the Commission doesn’t change the plan before the vote. Continue Reading

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Infrared LEDs Required By FAA’s August 17 Advisory

An important FAA tower lighting change became effective September 6.
A new FAA Obstruction Marking and Lighting Advisory Circular 70/7460-1L Change 2 was released on August 17, 2018. Flash Technology Director of Business Development Wade Collins tells Inside Towers: It is his company’s understanding the new Advisory Circular requires towers with an FAA determination after this release date should include infrared (IR) LEDs in the L864 and L810 fixtures to make the lighting systems more visible to Night Vision Imaging Systems (NVIS). Changes to Section 5.2 of the Advisory Circular read as follows:

“Note: In response to a Safety Risk Assessment of LED Lighting in Aircraft Operations, the FAA has established IR specifications for LED-based red obstruction lights. Specifications are contained in Airport Engineering Brief 98, Infrared Specifications for Aviation Obstruction Light Compatibility with Night Vision Goggles (NVGs), published December 18, 2017, and AC 150/5345-43H, Specification for Obstruction Lighting Equipment, dated September 28, 2016.” Continue Reading

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

GeoBroadcast Solutions Establishes Infrastructure for First FM at 1WTC

Several New York City television broadcasters returned to One World Trade Center earlier this year, thanks to a joint effort between The Durst Organization and the Port Authority. This marked the first time broadcasters had a presence in the World Trade Center since the events of 9/11, Inside Towers reported.

Now, a PSI broadband panel antenna for the first FM at 1WTC (on 104.7 FM MHz) has been installed on the second ring of a three-ring grid on the spire at 1WTC, GeoBroadcast Solutions tells Inside Towers. Multiple stations can potentially use the antenna, via combining onto the PSI antenna. 
GBS worked with station owner Rahul Walia to find spectrum in the New York City market in order to move its translator (W284BW) from Perth Amboy, NJ. To support the 104.7 FM broadcast, the GBS team struck a deal with WPAT(FM) to lease its HD2 sub-channel. Continue Reading

Monday, September 10, 2018

Rosenworcel Supports 2.5 GHz Band Auction

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel says the agency should move quickly to auction unused 2.5 GHz licenses. Combining such spectrum would provide new, flexible-use mid-band airwaves for 5G services, she said at a conference in Boulder, CO, on Thursday.

Any money leftover from funds needed to run the auction and pay for spectrum contributions from existing licensees could be turned into a Homework Gap initiative, she suggests. The project could help fund the connectivity needs of 12 million students who lack broadband at home. “That way, the Commission can honor what President Kennedy and his allies tried to do decades ago when they sought to spark educational use in the 2.5 GHz band.”

The 5.9 GHz band, too, is an “ideal” place to explore WiFi expansion, because it’s adjacent to an existing unlicensed band, she said. “That means we have the opportunity to introduce new wideband channels — channels that will be able to take advantage of new standards and deliver speeds even faster than 1 gigabit per second. In other words, this is where we can develop next generation Gigabit WiFi,” said Rosenworcel. Continue Reading

Thursday, September 6, 2018

The FCC late yesterday released the proposed updates to its wireless infrastructure siting guidelines for states and localities to speed small cell deployment. As indicated by Commissioner Brendan Carr on Monday, the Commission changes would limit state and local governments to charging fees that are no greater than a reasonable approximation of the costs for processing applications and for managing deployments in the Rights-of-Way (ROW).

The updates identify specific fee levels for small wireless facility deployments “that presumably comply with the relevant standard,” according to the text. Crown Castle told the Commission, it has experienced, “excessive and unreasonable fees to access the [ROW] that are completely unrelated to their maintenance or management.” Crown also told the FCC of “onerous” zoning requirements imposed on small cells compared to “utility installations erected with simple building permits.” AT&T cited localities in Maryland, California, and Massachusetts that imposed fees so high it had to pause or decrease deployments, according to the Commission. Continue Reading

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

FCC Seeks Faster Small Cell Deployments, Lower Fees

The FCC plans to vote later this month to update its guidance for states and localities for wireless infrastructure siting. The agency yesterday circulated among the commissioners for a vote, a proposal that “re-affirms local control,” said Commissioner Brendan Carr in Indianapolis yesterday. He, along with several leaders from the Hoosier state, spoke from the Statehouse about the proposal.

Carr said the proposal “takes a balanced approach” to the small cell siting process and “won’t disturb nearly any of the provisions” of the small cell bills passed in 20 states. “Providers should bear the costs of building 5G, not local governments,” said Carr. Adding that “excessive fees” slow down deployments, he said the agency has “proposed that fees that must reasonably approximate local costs.” Continue Reading

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Tower Construction Manager Invents “Game Changing” Gin Pole

It’s not often you run into a “game changer” as Guy Bonifas of Montgomery, AL calls his new invention.  As a construction manager with Crown Castle for the past six years, Bonifas has had a front row seat to the trials, tribulations and dangers involved in gin pole usage at tower sites.

“After witnessing numerous tower crews fight with the new heavier multiport antennas,” to get them into position on the sector mounts, he told Inside Towers, “ I started thinking how much safer and easier and cheaper it could be if we take the crane out of the equation.”  He began designing the device in 2007, with some quick sketches on an Office Depot pad (see above).  Eureka! The Spartacus Gin Pole was born. Continue Reading

Friday, August 31, 2018

Three Years and Counting: Nashville Residents Still Waiting for Google Fiber

We wait. We are bored. No, don’t protest, we are bored to death, there’s no denying it.”   ― Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot
UPDATE Residents across the city have been waiting for the highly anticipated Google Fiber internet service since Google announced its expansion to Nashville three and a half years ago. Parts of several neighborhoods plus 52 apartment buildings and single-family homes do have access but many residents still do not, reported the Tennessean.

“It’s still complicated,” Nashville Google Fiber Manager Martha Ivester said. “Building this fiber optic network throughout the whole city is a long process, and we never expected it wouldn’t be a long process. Obviously, we have had our challenges here.” Continue Reading

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Dish, Others Trash T-Mo-Sprint Merger

Satellite operators and rural broadband groups are some of the voices opposing the proposed merger of T-Mobile and Sprint. Most warn that going from four to three national wireless carriers means less competition and won’t help rural 5G broadband deployment. Fourteen petitions to deny the merger were filed by the FCC’s Monday’s deadline.

Dish Network is especially strident in opposing the transaction. Dish chairman and co-founder Charlie Ergen told attendees at WIA’s ConnectX, he intends to spend “at least $10 billion,” to build a national wireless network. In a more than 250-page filing, Dish tells the Commission if the deal is approved, it could hamper its ability to enter the 5G market. The company needs access to “radios, chipsets, devices, towers, crews, and backhaul. New T-Mobile will likely be spending billions of dollars on radios, chipsets and devices, making it possible for it to use its new-found market power to customize radio solutions that would be less than ideal for Dish.” Continue Reading

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Over $1.4 Billion Allocated in CAF II Auction

More than $1.4 billion was allocated to a total of 103 providers in the FCC’s Connect America Fund Phase II auction. The Commission released results of the auction yesterday. Bidding began July 24, and ended August 21.
Exactly $1.488 billion will be allocated over the next 10 years to expand rural broadband in areas not served now in 45 states. The FCC says that translates to 700,000 rural homes and businesses getting high-speed internet service for the first time.

More than half will have service available with download speeds of at least 100 mbps. Nineteen percent will have gigabit service available. And 711,389 locations—all but 0.25 percent—will have at least 25 Mbps service available, more than twice the 10 Mbps minimum standard for the Connect America Fund program. Winning bidders are required to build out fixed broadband over the next six years and voice services to locations in the census blocks for which they won support. Continue Reading

Monday, August 27, 2018

More Than 99% of Cell Sites Stood Up to Hurricane Lane

The storm that began as Hurricane Lane and ended as a tropical depression had minimal impact on communications in the Hawaiian Islands, according to reports that providers gave to the FCC. More than 99 percent of the cell towers on all eight islands remained operational as of yesterday, August 26, according to the FCC’s Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS). All five counties in the state are included: Hawaii, Honolulu, Kalawao, Kauai and Maui. Lane was downgraded to a tropical storm on Saturday and to a tropical depression on Sunday. DIRS for Lane was discontinued as of yesterday.

Overall, eight cell sites (0.6 percent) out of a total of 1,287 remained out in Hawaii as of yesterday afternoon — the same amount as Friday. In Honolulu County, four out of 748 cell sites were not working. Two cell sites were restored by Sunday in Maui County, with two out of 161 remaining out of operation. By Sunday, one cell site was restored in Hawaii County, where 264 remained operational, and two were not. Continue Reading