Friday, March 16, 2018

FCC Gets a Look at What They’re Voting On

T-Mobile and Crown Castle representatives showed FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr a thing or two yesterday as they toured selected small cell sites in Baltimore. Touring sites offering small cell solutions, such as the street pole lights Carr was introduced to, has been part of an information gathering effort on the agency’s part prior to voting on streamlining measures next week.
Carr was told although the basic pole, cabinet, metering, antennas and light infrastructure can cost around $30,000, that cost can triple when additional asphalt patching, street shutdowns, sidewalk repair, landscaping and auxiliary building requirements are added to the mix. 

A recent Inside Towers article quoted Carr saying the “small cell deployment process is broken” with plans to eliminate or greatly reduce historic and environmental reviews of the pocket sites. Continue Reading

Thursday, March 15, 2018

CCA Wants FCC to Stay AT&T/FiberTower License Transfer

UPDATE The Competitive Carriers Association opposes the transfer of millimeter-wave (“mmW”) spectrum licenses from FiberTower to AT&T Mobility Spectrum LLC. CCA asked the full Commission to stay the decision.
CCA says the agency approved the transaction based on incomplete and flawed public interest analysis, and challenged the Commission to put a hold on its consent order while it reviews the decision of the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau. “Millimeter wave spectrum offers tremendous opportunities for carriers as they move toward deploying next generation technologies,” said CCA President/CEO Steve Berry. “Rather than giving AT&T a head start advantage with FiberTower’s valuable mmW licenses, while providing FiberTower an incredible windfall for spectrum that has lied fallow for years, the Commission should make the terminated licenses available to any qualified applicant through auction.” 

A day after the bureau okayed the license transfer last month, AT&T closed on its $207 million acquisition of Fiber Tower, giving it 478 licenses of millimeter wave spectrum it intends to use to roll out 5G services later this year. Continue Reading

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Telecom Reps Tell Congress How to Fix FCC’s Broadband Maps

CCA’s Steve Berry (left) and CTIA’s Brad Gillen, holding a small cell, 
testify before a Senate subcommittee on Tuesday.

Wireless industry representatives told lawmakers Tuesday better maps are needed to determine where broadband connectivity exists and where it doesn’t, especially now that Congress is considering effective ways to close the digital divide as part of the President’s infrastructure plan.

The Chairman of the Senate Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet, Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), said the current FCC maps showing broadband connectivity are “utterly worthless.” He asked why the data is “so wrong.” Continue Reading

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Streamlining or Steamrolling? NY Governor Proposes Rules for Small Cells

Last year, when Verizon Wireless submitted 12 small cell applications for a neighborhood near the University of Buffalo, Amherst enacted a moratorium on the construction of new towers and gathered a committee to analyze and revise local zoning regulations. Now those municipality-level regulations may be usurped by state-wide protocol, as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has introduced a budget proposal to adopt a uniform, statewide permitting and review process for the installation of small cell nodes, according to a report from The Buffalo News. 

Local governments and interest groups like the Association of Towns and the New York Conference of Mayors are pushing back, citing state overreach in decisions traditionally made at the local level.  
Verizon supports the governor’s proposal, which the company believes will “promote private investment in state-of-the-art telecommunications networks at no cost to taxpayers,” according to David Lamendola, Verizon’s director of state government affairs for New York. New York would join 13 other states who have already introduced similar proposals to streamline the installation of small cell technology, Lamendola told The Buffalo News. In addition to helping Verizon meet customer demand, Lamendola explained that the proposal may also bring new jobs to the state.  Continue Reading

Friday, March 9, 2018

Reject Our Tower? See You in Court, Verizon Says

Following the rejection of its special-use and wetlands permits for the construction of a new tower to bridge a critical coverage gap, Verizon Wireless has filed suit against the city of Philipstown, NY in U.S. District Court in White Plains, requesting that the court grant the denied permits and authorize work to begin on the new tower, as reported by

In Verizon Wireless et al v. Town of Philipstown, et al, the carrier alleges that neither the conservation board nor the zoning board provided sufficient evidence to warrant the denial of the permits, in breach of the federal Telecommunications Act. The suit, which names the zoning board of appeals, the town and conservation boards, and the town’s building inspector and natural resources review officer, alleges that the town engaged in discriminatory practices, levied excessive fees, unreasonably delayed the project, and violated federal and state laws, according to a report from

The conflict began in May of 2017, when Verizon applied for permits for a new 180-foot pole at 50 Vineyard Road to replace a 120-foot tower nearby; its signal is occluded by the local topography, according to As noted in Verizon’s complaint, Philipstown’s consulting engineer confirmed that the existing tower could not solve the signal gap, even if the tower were elevated to 210 feet. Verizon contends in the suit, that the proposed project met all requirements, but that town officials “were intent on catering to a small but vocal group of politically influential objectors” and unreasonably delayed mandated public hearings and attempted to impose new fees. Continue Reading

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

NTIA, Lawmakers, Discuss Spectrum Clearing, Sharing Incentives

A “good half” of the employees at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) spend all day on spectrum issues, according to new administrator David Redl. NTIA oversees government spectrum use. Their time is spent working on finding ways government spectrum can be used more efficiently — to find spectrum that can be shared among federal agencies and commercial licensees or given up for commercial use. That’s a prime administration goal as the wireless industry works to deploy 5G.

In his hearing debut, Redl explained to members of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee, the context of NTIA’s announcement last week, that it has identified 100 MHz of spectrum (3450 to 3550 MHz) for potential wireless broadband use. It seeks incentives to government agencies to persuade them to clear spectrum.

The subcommittee is part of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which oversees NTIA and the FCC. Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR), asked Redl why in its FY2019 budget request, NTIA asked for authority to negotiate leases for private spectrum. Redl, who worked for the committee for seven years before being named NTIA Administrator, called leases a tool. “We know clearing is the gold standard. But there are some bands where clearing won’t be an option,” because the cost to move incumbents off the band exceeds the potential revenue of licensing it for a new use. Continue Reading

Monday, March 5, 2018

Congress Reaches Deal to Allow FCC to Auction More Spectrum for 5G

House Commerce Committee lawmakers in both the U.S. House and Senate reached an agreement on a measure to reauthorize the FCC that also provides a way for the agency to hold more wireless spectrum auctions. The bill (H.R. 4986) also spurs deployment of next-generation wireless services and enables more station categories to be reimbursed for moves, as a result of the TV spectrum channel repack.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR), Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Chairman John Thune (R-SD), and Ranking Member Bill Nelson (D-FL) announced on Friday that the full House will vote on the bill tomorrow. “This legislation, combining provisions that have previously passed both the House and Senate, does what no legislation has done in 28 years – it reauthorizes the FCC and includes provisions that help make sure that the Commission is transparent, efficient, and ready for the 21st century communications landscape,” stated Walden, Pallone, Thune and Nelson. They pledged to work together to ensure the bill is signed into law.

The RAY BAUM’s Act is named for former House Energy and Commerce Committee Staff Director Ray Baum, who passed away from cancer last month. The legislation to be considered Tuesday would: Continue Reading

Friday, March 2, 2018

GOP Calls WH Infrastructure Plan ‘Common-Sense’ While Dems Pan The Math

The administration’s plan to direct $200 billion in federal dollars to infrastructure projects includes broadband as a priority, but earmarks no money specifically toward expanding wireless or fixed broadband access. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, spent time discussing the administration’s reasoning during a sometimes contentious hearing before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on Thursday.

In a factsheet released by the White House last Friday, the administration states that $50 billion is dedicated to rural infrastructure and accounts for 25 percent of federal spending in the plan.These funds will be awarded directly to the states, giving them the flexibility they need to address their individual rural infrastructure needs,” says the White House. States can spend as much as 100 percent of the funding they receive on improving rural broadband access.

Chao clarified that state governors will decide how to allocate the funds. She testified that the president’s Infrastructure Initiative “includes, but is not limited to, drinking and wastewater, energy, broadband and veterans’ hospitals as well. It is designed to change how infrastructure is designed, built, financed and maintained.” The goal is to stimulate at least $1.5 trillion in infrastructure investment from the private sector. Continue Reading

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Towers on the Moon Isn’t Pure Lunacy

In what can certainly be considered a “giant leap for mankind,” Vodafone Germany, Nokia, and Audi are preparing to install a 4G mobile phone network on the Moon, 50 years after NASA’s Apollo 11 astronauts first landed. The equipment will be delivered by a SpaceX Falcon 6 rocket sometime in 2019, and will allow high-definition streaming back to Earth, according to Fast Company.

Vodafone Germany Chief Executive Hannes Ametsreiter praised the collaboration of the companies working on the project in a press release from the company. “This project involves a radically innovative approach to the development of mobile network infrastructure. It is also a great example of an independent, multi-skilled team achieving an objective of immense significance through their courage, pioneering spirit and inventiveness,” Ametsreiter said.  Continue Reading