Thursday, May 23, 2019

Major Tower Players Weigh in on Market at Connect (X)

The tower market’s big hitters lined up yesterday to give an overview of the major issues facing the wireless infrastructure market. Led by moderator and WIA President Jonathan Adelstein, the three “majors” were represented by CEOs Jay Brown of Crown Castle and Jeff Stoops of SBA and Steve Vondran, Exec. VP of American Tower. Alex Gellman, CEO of Vertical Bridge and David Weisman, CEO of InSite rounded out the panel.

The pending T-Mobile merger was met with fairly wide acceptance by the group, being hailed as “a positive,” although Vondran said American is maintaining a “neutral” stance. Stoops saw it as a net gain for SBA that will add to co-location on existing inventory.

“Regardless of how many carriers are in the market,” Brown said “data usage is the driver of growth.”

The panel was also positive about the growth potential of 5G although they had a sober-eyed view of where it’s at now. The infrastructure is still not “equipment ready,” according to Brown. Stoops said lots of tech changes such as massive MIMO still need to take place. Gellman added “5G is not cheap” and said it may cost up to $400 billion to deploy in the U.S. alone in the coming years. “It may be awhile,” he said.

Adelstein’s question to Gellman about the recent Zayo acquisition by Digital Bridge brought a ‘no comment’ from the CEO. “We are not under one ownership,” Gellman said, “and we all have our own business model.” Brown said the acquisition made sense as would any deal that helped move data. “Data is the new oil,” Brown said. Continue Reading

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

T-Mobile’s Ray is “Confident” of Merger’s Outcome

The Chief Technical Officer of T-Mobile, Neville Ray yesterday told a Connect (X) crowd of around 1,500 he is “optimistic and confident” about the outlook of the pending merger with Sprint. With the recent sanctification of the deal by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, Ray addressed the misperceptions of what a combined T-Mo/Sprint conglomerate would look like. Ray said the idea the deal would cost jobs is wrong and, on the contrary, would add 11,000 new employees by 2024. 

Another mistaken forecast is the impact on prices due to less competition. Not so, said Ray. “Prices won’t increase over the next four years,” he said. Competition among remaining carriers would actually increase, he said creating a “stronger more vibrant market.”

Ray thanked the FCC’s Pai, Carr and O’Rielly, the Republican-leaning members of the Commission for their support.  Continue Reading

Monday, May 20, 2019

T-Mobile, Sprint Deal Gets Regulators’ Attention at Critical Time

There appears to be movement at the FCC concerning the proposed T-Mobile merger with Sprint. Representatives from both carriers met Thursday with FCC officials for hours, an indication the deal has reached a critical stage.

Those with direct knowledge of the matter tell Fox the meeting is seen by those inside the companies as positive for a deal that has run into regulatory snags. 

Government officials and citizen groups have been concerned consumer prices would rise and jobs lost if the deal goes through.

But the talks were described as constructive and involved possible proposals by the company to sell off business or make other arrangements to gain regulatory approval, sources told Fox. New Street Research analyst Jonathan Chaplin had been skeptical of the deal’s clearance until word of the Commission meeting began circulating. Chaplin told Fox: “Up through [recently] we were bearish on the merger getting approved; now we are closer to giving the merger a fifty-fifty chance of going through.” Continue Reading

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

T-Mo/Sprint May Ditch Pre-Paid Subs to Realize Merger Dreams

The old saying goes, you have to break an egg to make an omelette. If Sprint and T-Mobile want to whip up a merger, they may have to sell off a profitable but politically sensitive part of their respective businesses: pre-paid subscription, reported Bloomberg.

Together, T-Mobile’s Metro brand and Sprint’s Boost and Virgin Mobile brands make up the largest segment of the U.S. pay-as-you-go market, with about 42 percent, according to Bloomberg.  The selling of assets to accommodate a merger suggests that the carriers are anticipating pushback from the Justice Department’s antitrust division and the FCC, which both have to sign off on the transaction.

The federal overseers of a potential merger have expressed concern it will hurt wireless competition. Specifically, worry surrounds the idea that a consolidated, three-carrier market would harm low-income customers, the predominant users of pay-as-you-go wireless plans, with little or no access to credit, by reducing choices and raising prices.

Comments? Email Us.

Monday, May 13, 2019

FCC’s O’Rielly: Gov’t-Sponsored 5G Doesn’t Work With Existing Tower Model

FCC Commissioner Michael O'Rielly aired his grievances recently about the "less than half-baked, flawed" concept of a government-sponsored 5G network which has been floated for several weeks by various administration officials. He characterized the concept as, “convoluted and borders on the preposterous” in a blog post.

One argument against the concept O’Rielly put forth concerns towers. “Almost all wireless towers and antenna locations are owned or leased by companies unaffiliated with the large wireless providers. However, the existing contractual relationships and uncertainty surrounding the viability of this random wholesale network model means that it is unlikely that the current wireless infrastructure would be available for this purpose,” he wrote. Continue Reading

Thursday, May 9, 2019

You Need More Than Duct Tape, Rope to Prevent Falls From Height

There were 503 fatalities in the U.S. in 2017 from objects; 237 of those were caused by falling objects, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In that same time-frame, nearly 46,000 people were struck by falling objects or equipment, said Ergodyne Product Director Bob Bohmbach.

During a NATE webinar Wednesday about safety at heights, Bohmbach explained the hierarchy of engineering controls aimed to prevent object falls. Toeboards, “encourage a false sense of security,” according to Bohmbach. “It won’t take too much for a tool to bounce off a toeboard and hit someone.”

Bohmbach, who’s also the International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA) Dropped Objects Prevention Solutions Chairman, said the most common fall control is duct tape and rope. “This is not a solution,” and is “archaic,” he added.

Bohmbach discussed the ANSI/ISEA 121 adopted by ANSI in 2018. It includes four categories: anchor attachments on a worker’s tool belt, tool attachments, tool tether and containers, like hoist buckets and pouches. Continue Reading

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

NTIA’s Redl: Days of Easy Spectrum Decisions ‘Over’

The era of easy spectrum decisions is over, according to David Redl, Assistant Secretary of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. “We no longer have the luxury of running the same old playbook and expecting the same results,” he told attendees of the Satellite Industry Association leadership dinner Monday evening. He said that’s true for satellite operators, terrestrial wireless providers or unlicensed users.

“Spectrum has become more important than ever to our daily lives and government missions. Competition for spectrum resources has never been more contentious, and we must change to reflect this new reality,” said Redl.

In October, President Trump directed the Secretary of Commerce, working through NTIA, to develop and implement a comprehensive, balanced and forward-looking National Spectrum Strategy. “Our current approach of piecemeal, band-by-band spectrum policymaking is not sustainable. The opportunities are drying up and it is an inefficient process that too often devolves into a zero-sum game,” said Redl. Continue Reading

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

WH Infrastructure Plan Faces GOP Resistance

UPDATE A $2 trillion infrastructure deal outlined last week by President Donald Trump and top Democrats is already losing steam. The tentative deal to repair infrastructure and devote some of the $2 trillion to broadband has run into opposition from Republicans who say it’s too expensive.

Those opposed to the deal include Trump's top aide, Mick Mulvaney, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, who is not in favor of the spending, reports The Washington Post. Mulvaney said Friday, he agrees with the president on a need for an infrastructure package and is trying to identify $1 trillion for that purpose.

"Is it difficult to pass any infrastructure bill in this environment, let alone a $2 trillion one, in this environment? Absolutely," Mulvaney said. Continue Reading

Monday, May 6, 2019

Investigation Shifts to Water as Cancer Causing Agent in Ripon, CA

UPDATE The fingers that once pointed upward at the monopole at Weston Elementary with scorn and accusation as the cause of cancer are now pointing downward at the water supply as the source of their troubles.  Parents of the stricken children have conducted their own investigation of the high rate of cancer in the area and, with the help of KOVR-TV’s investigative reporters, have found a more likely suspect in the case: trichloroethylene (TCE).

The reporters investigated records going back decades that monitored the local drinking water and found a Nestle’s plant in the ‘70’s produced quantities of TCE to manufacture decaffeinated coffee. The substance later turned up in the groundwater in the ‘80’s. The drug is a leading agent in causing kidney and liver cancer, according to the report.  One of the affected children has been diagnosed with kidney cancer and a neighbor was stricken with liver cancer, KOVR-TV reported. Continue Reading