Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Texas Drops Challenge to T-Mo-Sprint Deal

Texas is leaving a lawsuit challenging T-Mobile’s planned merger with Sprint. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said Monday he’s reached a settlement with T-Mobile, under which the combined company will not raise Texans’ prices for wireless service for five years after the deal closes, reported the American-Statesman.

The Justice Department approved the merger in July, after the companies agreed to create a new wireless carrier by selling some assets to Dish Network. Paxton stated the settlement he reached with the carrier also, “commits the new T-Mobile to build out a 5G [wireless] network throughout Texas, including rural areas of our state, during the next six years.” But that may have happened anyway, because the earlier approval from the Justice Department includes provisions aimed at fostering a 5G build-out. Continue Reading

Monday, November 25, 2019

FCC Vote on Vertical 911 Caller Location Gets Testy

By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief FCC Commissioners on Friday fiercely debated the merits of requiring carriers to supply vertical or “Z-Axis” information with 911 calls; the object is to help first responders locate those who call 911 from wireless phones in multi-story buildings.

They voted for an Order to adopt a Z-Axis location accuracy metric of plus or minus three meters relative to the handset for 80 percent of indoor wireless 911 calls. This metric—within three meters above or below the phone—will more accurately identify the floor level for most 911 calls. It’s achievable now and keeps the deployment of vertical location information to public safety officials on schedule, according to supporters.

Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, said the challenges of locating emergency callers is significant. During the meeting, he used the 10-story FCC building as an example. “If I were to call 911 now and unable to give my location in the building, firefighters would need to conduct a floor-by-floor search. In practical terms, that search could take 15 minutes,” he said. “For someone having a stroke, this could take even longer and would likely be fatal,” Schaitberger emphasized. Continue Reading

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Pai Puts Forth 5.9 GHz Proposal

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has chosen a path forward for the beleaguered 5.9 GHz band. In 1999, the agency allocated 75 MHz of spectrum in the 5.9 GHz band for Dedicated Short-Range Communications (DSRC), which is a form of automotive safety and communications. But DSRC is not widely deployed, and looks to be overshadowed by the newer Cellular Vehicle to Everything, or C-V2X technology. 

Pai shared with his colleagues Wednesday a proposal to make available the lower 45 MHz of the band for unlicensed uses like WiFi and allocate the upper 20 MHz for a new automotive communications technology. C-V2X uses cellular protocols to provide direct communications between vehicles, and, as the name suggests, everything—including other vehicles on the road, infrastructure (like light poles), cyclists, pedestrians, and road workers. 

C-V2X is also expected to support new, advanced applications as the nation transitions to faster, more responsive 5G networks. Automakers like Ford, Audi, BMW, Daimler, and Tesla support C-V2X. “Our hope is that this move will unlock new vehicle safety services, using less spectrum and on a much faster timeline than we have seen or realistically could see with a DSRC-focused policy,” said Pai in a speech on Wednesday.  Continue Reading

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Sprint Recruits Crews With Same Day Payments to Network Suppliers

Sprint (NYSE: S) implemented a new “Same Day Pay” program, providing day-of compensation to its 5G network builders and suppliers by shortening administrative overhead and collapsing the overpayment process. The program is part of the end-to-end digitalization of field services started in 2018, with the Scopeworker platform.

Sprint suppliers can now submit their close-out packages directly from the cell site through Scopeworker, a B2B platform that digitizes complex field services and automates procurement, management, and payment of supplier services. Once Sprint accepts the package in real-time, administrative documents and invoices are reconciled, allowing suppliers to invoice and select “Same Day Pay” financing from working capital finance provider Greensill.

“Sprint is digitizing field services from start to finish and democratizing the supply chain,” said Chas Peterson, head of procurement & supply chain for Sprint. “We bring it full circle by working with small, minority- and veteran-owned businesses, ensuring that their high-quality work is met with same day compensation so they can continue building their businesses without worry of being paid.” Continue Reading

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Border Wars: Mexican Carrier’s Signal Interferes with Verizon’s Spectrum

Verizon customers from California to Texas are experiencing interference from a carrier across the border in Mexico that’s tapping into the same 700 MHz band, reported the San Diego Union-Tribune. Since August, Verizon customers filed complaints regarding dropped calls and lost, or weak broadband connections after Altán Redes turned on its wholesale wireless network in northern Mexico.

The issue has caught the attention of the FCC, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), and other government officials on both sides of the border, per the Union-Tribune. Working with the Commission, Verizon is trying to minimize the impact to customers close to the border.

According to Altán, it’s operating in strict compliance with the wireless communications protocols in force between Mexico and the United States. Per Altán, the interference “is caused by the activity of the United States’ mobile carriers with service in the 700 megahertz band spectrum interfering on the Mexican side,” not the other way around. Continue Reading

Monday, November 11, 2019

Veterans of the Tower Industry Randy Strieff, Owner, Foothill Engineering: Army

Randy Strieff joined the Army in 1998 and was a member of 3rd battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, then he was stationed in Germany and finally on to Iraq for the invasion with Eco 51st Long Range Surveillance (ABN). In late 2004 he returned home and started a trucking company.

“That grew into a lot of other things along the way,” Strieff said, “I was kind of inadvertently introduced to the tower industry by a contractor I met while I was running dozers on a wildland fire in Northern California. He was doing decoms, a new build or two, and maintenance for SBA. Well, after about six months of him asking me to come help him he made me an offer I couldn’t refuse, so I did.” Continue Reading

Thursday, November 7, 2019

FCC to Kill Rule That Bans Exclusive Use of Unique Tower Sites

At its October 25 open meeting, the FCC adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking looking to revise or eliminate its rules concerning access to common FM and TV tower sites. The rules prohibit the grant, or renewal of a license for an FM or TV station if that applicant or licensee controls an antenna site that is “peculiarly suitable” for broadcasting in the area and does not make the site available for use by potential competitors. The rules have been used sparingly because of modern tower site use and now the Commission wants to know if they should be revised or wiped from the books.

The rules stem from 1945 when FM and television broadcasting were still in their infancy, the infrastructure available to broadcast a signal over the air was sparse, and there were broadcast material and equipment shortages. At that time, the FCC was concerned that exclusive use of an antenna site could restrict the number of FM and TV stations in a particular area or otherwise impede station competition.

In 1945, there were 46 licensed FM broadcast stations; today, there are 6,726 FM commercial stations and 4,179 educational FMs. The terrestrial radio broadcast market today also includes 4,610 AMs, 2,178 LPFMs, and over 8,000 FM translators and boosters. In 1945, there were nine television stations; today, there are 1,757 commercial and noncommercial educational full-power TV stations, 387 Class As, almost 1,900 LPTVs, and more than 3,600 TV translators. Continue Reading