Thursday, December 2, 2021

Sohn’s FCC Confirmation Hearing-Not Smooth Sailing

By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief

FCC nominee Gigi Sohn (left) and NTIA nominee Alan Davidson testifying

The Senate Commerce Committee nomination hearing yesterday for Gigi Sohn, the President’s pick for the open Democratic seat at the FCC, was stormy compared to the relatively calm hearing for Jessica Rosenworcel last month. Rosenworcel is a known quantity to the Hill, having been an attorney for the committee before becoming an FCC Commissioner in 2012. Contrast that with Sohn, a 30-year public interest attorney who was an advisor for former FCC Chair Tom Wheeler and previously led the non-profit advocacy group Public Knowledge.

Alan Davidson, nominated to head the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, testified as well. But most of the attention was on Sohn, whose confirmation to the FCC would help secure a Democratic majority at the agency. Continue Reading

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

T-Mobile Appeals Rebuke of “Most Reliable” Claims

By J. Sharpe Smith Inside Towers Technology EditorT-Mobile US, Inc. has appealed the National Advertising Division’s (NAD’s) recommendation that it discontinue claims it has the most reliable 5G network, according to third-party testing company, umlaut. The claims, which appeared in two television commercials and internet advertising, were challenged by AT&T Services, Inc. The NAD is a division of Better Business Bureau National Programs.

In support of its superior 5G network reliability claim, T-Mobile used the results of an audit report conducted by umlaut, which used crowdsourced data collected from mobile phones by software that operates in the background of apps downloaded from the Google Play app store. Continue Reading 

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

AT&T, Verizon Propose to Limit Power on C-Band to Assuage FAA Concerns

 By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief AT&T and Verizon have offered to transmit at lower power around airports for six months on their new C-band spectrum. That’s to give the FAA more time to figure out a fix for potential interference from 5G operations on 3.7 GHz to the 4.2-4.4 GHz band, where aircraft radio altimeters operate. Altimeters measure the distance from the ground to the aircraft, and the FAA and aviation and aerospace industries fear there could be harmful interference to those operations from 5G.

In a letter to the FCC on Friday, both carriers reminded the agencies that combined, they paid over $80 billion for the licenses and will hand over another $15 billion to satellite users who cleared the spectrum early. The carriers also re-iterated the FCC concluded, “after 17 years of global study and interagency dialogue across all relevant federal agencies—'the technical rules on power and emission limits we set for the 3.7 GHz Service and the spectral separation of 220 megahertz should offer all due protection to [radio altimeter] services in the 4.2-4.4 GHz band.’” Continue Reading

Monday, November 29, 2021

FCC IG Warns of Fraud in EBB Program

By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief Enrollment data for the FCC’s broadband affordability program shows that some broadband providers and their sales agents are engaging in fraudulent behavior, according to a warning from the agency’s inspector general. The IG says fraudsters claim their customers have children who attend high-poverty schools in order to qualify them for the FCC Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program.

The timing is key because the agency is preparing to transition the program from a pandemic relief subsidy to a permanent program under the new infrastructure law. The law slated $14 billion for a subsequent version of the pandemic subsidy, retitled the Affordable Connectivity Program. The monthly benefit will drop from $50 to $30.

One way to qualify for the subsidy is to have a child who is eligible for free or reduced-price school food under the USDA National School Lunch Program’s Community Eligibility Provision (CEP). These meals are available to any child who attends certain high-poverty schools and school districts, regardless of their family’s income. Under the subsidy program’s eligibility rules, if a household has a child who attends a qualifying CEP school, it can enroll for the FCC’s aid. Continue Reading

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

T-Mobile to Pay $19.5 Million to Settle 911 Probe

 By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau and T-Mobile reached a settlement to end an investigation into whether the carrier violated the agency’s 911 rules. Wireless carriers must reasonably design and operate their networks to ensure reliable transmission of all 911 calls, including providing 911 call back information and 911 location information, to public safety answering points (PSAPs), and to timely notify potentially affected PSAPs of reportable 911 outages. 

Under the terms of the Consent Decree, T-Mobile will pay a $19.5 million settlement payment and implement a compliance plan. T-Mobile made new commitments to improve the 911 outage notices given to PSAPs, including providing them with more information about outages and providing follow-up notices within two hours of the initial outage notifications, according to the bureau.  

The investigation stemmed from a June 15, 2020 outage that lasted more than 12 hours. It led to congestion of T-Mobile’s 4G, 3G and 2G networks, and caused the failure of more than 23,000 911 calls without location information and more than 20,000 calls to 911 call centers without call back information. Continue Reading

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Telecom Groups Urge White House Not to Further Delay 5G C-Band Use

 By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief The White House is involved in discussions between the FAA and FCC over wireless use of C-band. Last week, Inside Towers reported that FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel told reporters and lawmakers at her Senate nomination hearing she’s confident in the ability of the agency’s engineers, and that the issue will be resolved with mitigations.

Now, eleven trade associations, including the Wireless Infrastructure Association; NATE: The Communications Infrastructure Contractors Association; CTIA; the Competitive Carriers Association, the Consumer Technology Association, the Telecommunications Industry Association; 5G Americas, USTelecom and more, urged the administration not to delay the wireless use of C-band more than has already been agreed to. Continue Reading

Monday, November 22, 2021

5G FWA Could Serve Half of U.S. Rural Households, New Study Finds

 By J. Sharpe Smith Inside Towers Technology Editor The push to provide broadband to rural areas may have inadvertently turned into a competition between fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) and fixed wireless access (FWA). The wireless industry, determined to get its share of the broadband funding in the trillion-dollar Biden infrastructure legislation, made sure that data speeds in the measure would accommodate wireless, as well as wireline, technologies.

Although the legislation is now passed and signed into law, the wireless industry continues to stoke the influence machine with the publishing of a report titled “5G Fixed Wireless Broadband: Helping Close the Digital Divide in Rural America.” Carriers could serve 8.4 million rural households with high-speed FWA or about half of the market, according to a study by Accenture. The study was commissioned by CTIA, the wireless industry association. Continue Reading