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