Tuesday, December 11, 2018

BDAC Disaster Response & Recovery Gets to Work

The new Disaster Response and Recovery Working Group of the FCC’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee has begun its work. The agency asked the new group to develop best practices for coordination among wireless providers, backhaul providers, and power companies before, during and after a disaster.

Red Grasso and WIA President/CEO Jonathan Adelstein co-chair the working group. 

A former firefighter, Grasso is now the FirstNet point of contact for North Carolina. During a presentation before the BDAC last Friday, Adelstein said being vice chair of the group “is an enormous responsibility,” calling communications restoration “life-saving work” during disasters when people’s lives and property are at stake. While there is coordination now among the different facets of the wireless industry during disasters, “We can always do better.” Continue Reading

Friday, December 7, 2018

U.S. Orders Arrest of Chinese Telecom Exec on Canadian Soil

The Chief Financial Officer of Chinese telecom equipment manufacturer Huawei was arrested in a Vancouver airport during a flight change Sunday, at the behest of the U.S. The bail hearing is set for today for Meng Wanzhou, daughter of company founder Ren Zhengfei, reported The Globe and Mail. She faces extradition to the U.S. The Wall Street Journal reported the Justice Department is investigating whether Huawei violated U.S. sanctions on Iran. The DOJ declined to comment.
Huawei has faced increased scrutiny in the U.S. and other countries, as lawmakers and security experts warned of potential national security risks from using Huawei products. The U.S. is concerned the Chinese government could be using Huawei’s networking technology to spy on Americans, which the company denies.

The Pentagon in May, ordered stores on American military bases to stop selling smartphones made by Huawei and Chinese rival ZTE. The Trump administration urged America’s allies to stop using Huawei telecommunications equipment because the Chinese company poses a security threat, Inside Towers reported. Continue Reading

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Over 60,000 “White Box” AT&T Routers Coming in 2019

According to AT&T, upgrading its network over the next few years in order to expand mobile capacity will involve the installation of over 60,000 “white box” routers on their towers. Andre Fuetsch, President, AT&T Labs and Chief Technology Officer, outlined plans during the Open Networking Foundation’s Connect Conference in California.

“Traditionally, we bought these routers from a handful of vendors, and the equipment was highly specialized and came with specialized software,” said Fuetsch. 

“The hardware and software functioned as a single unit. Being dependent on a single vendor makes upgrades slower, increases cost, and hampers innovation.”

So, rather than buying a single, closed package, the carrier is designing their own hardware specs for routers and encouraging any manufacturer to build to those specifications. This is known as the “white box” model.  

“In addition, we’re writing our own software for these machines, and we’ll release parts of it into open source, so any other service provider can use it,” added Fuetsch. Continue Reading

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Microsoft Ups Airband Goals, Calls for Federal Money for TVWS

UPDATE Microsoft is increasing pledges for its Airband Initiative, the program that uses several technologies, including TV White Spaces (TVWS), to bring high-speed connectivity to rural areas. Company President Brad Smith said at a lunch event in Washington, D.C., yesterday, the company is raising its goal to bring broadband access to 3 million — up from 2 million — by July, 2022. TV White Spaces are unlicensed spectrum between television channels. The initiative launched 17 months ago.

The company will also expand the program to an additional nine states next year. It’s currently deployed in 16 states with commercial partnerships. The new states include California, Indiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and West Virginia. 

Smith said the FCC’s broadband map shows roughly 19 million people don’t have broadband connectivity in the U.S. Pew Research believes the number is closer to 113 million, he said. Microsoft’s own data finds about half the country, or 162 million, lack access to broadband, according to Smith. “This is now mattering more and more. Broadband has become ‘the electricity of the country’,” he said. “As a country, we must ask, are we going to go faster? It’s a problem we will not solve with cables alone.” Continue Reading

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Cities and Munis Seek Change of Venue For FCC Small Cell Ruling

The City of San Jose, along with fellow cities and municipalities in western states, filed a petition last week to move their court case against carriers over the FCC’s September ruling to deregulate small cell deployment.  

The San Jose Petitioners, one of six groups seeking review of the FCC order entitled “Accelerating Wireless Broadband Deployment by Removing Barriers to Infrastructure Investment,” want the case transferred from Denver to San Francisco. San Jose, et al, are challenging the agency’s decision to limit how much munis can charge to attach small cells to streetlight poles and other infrastructure in public right-of-ways. The decision also sets limits on how long munis can take to make a decision on a small cell application. The FCC ruling is due to take effect in January.

Denver is currently where appeals are heard when multiple actions are filed in various appellate courts against the Commission. The Denver location was picked by lottery as the central location to hear the filings by municipalities challenging the FCC’s ruling. The petitioners hope to move the venue to the San Francisco court, part of the Ninth Circuit Court’s jurisdiction, which has, in the past, provided more narrow interpretations of federal telecom law, according to a blog post by analyst Steve Blum of Tellus Venture Associates. Continue Reading

Friday, November 30, 2018

Senators Urge FCC Action on TV White Spaces

Two Senators asked the FCC to resolve the outstanding TV White Spaces (TVWS) proceeding so the unlicensed spectrum between TV channels can be used for rural broadband. Specifically, Steve Daines (R-MT) and Ron Johnson (R-WI) call TVWS “an affordable solution for rural and tribal communities.” They characterize the unique features of the spectrum, “which is capable of traveling long distances while maintaining robust bandwidth capabilities.”

Broadcasters are concerned about possible interference to licensed station transmission from unlicensed devices. The NAB has said just because the TVWS is unlicensed does not mean it is unused by television broadcasters. Danes and Johnson asked the Commission in a letter, to finalize guidance for TVWS “that allows for the expansion of this technology while mitigating the potential for harmful interference.” Continue Reading

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Keep Wireless Resiliency Framework Flexible, Carriers Tell FCC

Carriers tell the FCC, the Wireless Resiliency Cooperative Framework facilitated industry efforts to maintain networks and restore service after recent hurricanes. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said he would look into how the agreement is working after initially being disappointed with the pace of network restoration efforts in Florida following Hurricane Michael.

The framework is an industry-led, voluntary initiative, in which carriers cooperate to restore networks during and after emergencies. Responses to the inquiry from the Public Safety & Homeland Security Bureau were due to docket 11-60 Monday. Though portions were redacted, Inside Towers was able to glean the main points of the carriers’ responses.
Addressing network restoration speed directly, T-Mobile says in many cases, network outages were due to the limited availability of commercial power and/or failures in third-party backhaul networks, rather than the failure of the wireless networks. T-Mobile says the framework has been “extremely successful” because of its flexibility that allows carriers to dynamically allocate resources. T-Mobile believes a similar arrangement among backhaul providers would improve wireless network resiliency as well. Continue Reading