Friday, February 28, 2020

Thune Introduces Bi-Partisan 5G Skilled Workforce Act

Sen. John Thune (R-SD), the chamber’s number two Republican and chairman of the Senate Commerce telecom subcommittee, unveiled his Telecommunications Skilled Workforce Act Thursday. The measure is aimed at helping the U.S. catch up on the workforce demands of the 5G era. Thune's bill is bipartisan. Co-sponsors are Jon Tester (D-MT), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Gary Peters (D-MI) and Roger Wicker (R-MS). 

On the Senate floor, Thune said, “Current internet technology relies on cell phone towers. But 5G technology will require not just traditional cell phone towers, but small antennas called ‘small cells’ that can often be attached to existing infrastructure like utility poles or buildings.”

Wireless providers will need to install roughly 800,000 small cells to support a nationwide 5G network, according to Thune. “And of course, after installation, every one of those small cells will have to be monitored and maintained. That will require a substantial increase in the telecommunications workforce.” Continue Reading

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Four Sites Around Memphis Have Been Set Ablaze

Authorities are searching for a person responsible for intentionally setting fires to four cell towers and causing more than $500,000 in damage, reported WREG-TV. The active arson investigation has been underway since early December 2019, with the latest fire occurring on February 17.

According to the Memphis Fire Department, the date, locations, and damage costs include:

  • December 5, 2019 – 118 Neil Street – $5,000 damage 
  • December 5, 2019 – 2754 Faxon Avenue – $10,000 damage 
  • January 28, 2020 – 20 Flicker Street – $500,000 damage
  • February 17, 2020 – 4087 Summer Avenue – $75,000 damage 
Anyone with information about these arsons is asked to call CrimeStoppers at 528-CASH (2274) or the State Arson Hotline at 1-800-762-3017.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

NATE Unveils New Brand Logo and Association Tagline

As part of the Association’s 25th year anniversary milestone, NATE yesterday unveiled a new logo and descriptor tag-line designed to honor the organization's past and capture its future in the rapidly evolving communications infrastructure industry. Effective immediately, the organization will be referred to as NATE: The Communications Infrastructure Contractors Association.

The Association made the announcement by debuting a NATE Brand Launch Video during the NATE UNITE 2020 Awards & Sponsorship Recognition Luncheon in Raleigh, NC. The new NATE logo includes a custom-colored blue-green text with bright accents and is designed to represent technology, communication, connectivity and the future. The logo also includes a custom shape in the form of an A in NATE with associated graphics that represent the three grades of deployment work: above grade, at grade, and below grade. Continue Reading

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

“Rip and Replace” Bill Gets New Momentum in Congress

UPDATE The Justice Department's racketeering and intellectual property theft charges against Huawei last week drew wide support from Congress. Lawmakers of both parties pointed to the company as a symbol of the great threat from China.

The news came amid a new drive for the Senate's anti-Huawei "rip and replace" effort. After two months of blocking it, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) lifted his hold on Senate passage of House-approved legislation, H.R. 4998 (116). The measure slates $1 billion for small rural U.S. carriers to remove and replace existing gear from Huawei and ZTE. The U.S. sees the gear as a security risk. Senate Commerce Chairman Roger Wicker (R-MS) now expects unanimous-consent passage once Congress returns the week of February 24, reports Politico.  

Huawei executives say the company has no ties to the Chinese government. A spokesman told Politico recently that Huawei's founder, Ren Zhengfei, runs a "purely private enterprise."

Monday, February 17, 2020

T-Mobile-Sprint Talking Price Drop Before Close

T-Mobile wants to pay less than $40 billion for Sprint now that its proposed acquisition has fully completed its regulatory hurdles. Analysts say the price may go down some, but not a lot. The merger between the third and fourth largest U.S. wireless carriers was agreed to in April 2018, but couldn’t close after several states challenged it in court on antitrust grounds. A federal judge gave the companies the green light Tuesday to complete the deal, Inside Towers reported.

T-Mobile hopes it will close by April 1. Before then, T-Mobile parent, Deutsche Telekom AG, plans to ask Sprint's majority owner, Japan's SoftBank Group, to agree to a lower price, reported Reuters. Deutsche Telekom AG will argue Sprint's financial position has deteriorated in the two years since the original merger deal was made. Continue Reading

Friday, February 14, 2020

FCC Authorizes Over $240 Million for Rural Broadband

The Commission on Thursday authorized more than $240 million in funding over ten years to expand rural broadband deployment in Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, Oklahoma, and Wyoming. These investments will connect more than 100,000 unserved rural homes and businesses. Broadband providers will begin receiving funding later this month. 

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai called the news another step in the agency’s efforts to close the digital divide. “Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to see firsthand how funding provided through the FCC’s Connect America Fund Phase II auction is having a positive impact on the Wind River Indian Reservation in rural Wyoming. And the funding we are authorizing today will bring those same benefits and connect more rural Americans with digital opportunity.” Continue Reading

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Show Calls it Quits After Mass Exhibitor Exodus

The embattled Mobile World Conference 2020 in Barcelona couldn’t overcome the exodus of major exhibitors and attendees anymore and announced late yesterday they were canceling the show. In a statement from CEO GSMA Limited John Hoffman, concern for the health and safety of participants was the deciding factor.

“Since the first edition of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in 2006,” Hoffman said,  “the GSMA has convened the industry, governments, ministers, policymakers, operators and industry leaders across the broader ecosystem. With due regard to the safe and healthy environment in Barcelona and the host country today, the GSMA has cancelled MWC Barcelona 2020 because the global concern regarding the coronavirus outbreak, travel concern and other circumstances, make it impossible for the GSMA to hold the event,” he said. Continue Reading

Monday, February 10, 2020

Some States Regulate Pole Attachments Ahead of Court Case

UPDATE West Virginia told the FCC that regulations have gone into effect governing pole attachments. Certification by a state preempts the Commission from accepting pole attachment complaints under Subpart J of Part 1 of its rules.

Pole attachment disputes are also part of oral arguments being heard today before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco, Inside Towers reported. At least 30 cities, four counties and 11 powercos are fighting the FCC and the Department of Justice concerning local jurisdiction over small cells and the agency’s 2018 pole attachment order. The attachment order makes it easier for telecoms to move previously installed wires on utility poles. Some carriers say the change didn’t go far enough and that’s why they’re suing the Commission. Continue Reading

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Ninth Circuit Court to Hear Small Cells Arguments February 10

The fight between municipalities and the FCC over small cell siting has dragged into the New Year. Oral arguments are set for Monday, February 10, before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco.

At least 30 cities, many from California and Washington state are involved, as are four counties and 11 powercos and associations representing them. On the other side are the FCC and the Department of Justice.

At issue is the FCC’s 2018 ruling to streamline permitting for small cell infrastructure. It governs how much localities can charge carriers for permitting and imposes a shot-clock for local and state governments to approve or deny such applications.

Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Matthew Schettenhelm wrote in a December note that he gives the agency a “slight” edge going into the argument because the Commission “wins most lawsuits and has a strong record against cities.” But it’s a close call, he added.  Continue Reading