Friday, June 14, 2019

Tower Infrastructure Bill Gets Attention in Congress

A bill to establish a Telecommunications Workforce Development Advisory Council to the FCC was introduced to the floor of the House of Representatives. U.S. Representatives Tim Walberg (R-MI) and Yvette Clarke (D-NY) co-sponsor the ‘‘Telecommunications Opportunities for Workers Engaging in Real Infrastructure Deployment Act of 2019’’ or the ‘‘TOWER Infrastructure Deployment Act.’’
The advisory council would develop and make recommendations to the FCC with respect to:
  1. The needs of the workforce in the communications industry to promote the deployment of communications facility installations;
  2. Ways to encourage participation in industry-led workforce development programs; and
  3. Ways to improve workforce development in the communications industry.
If the measure passes, the Advisory Council would be composed of members appointed that shall include at least one member representing, respectively — the Telecommunications Industry Registered Apprenticeship Program, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, a state agency, a local agency, a Tribal agency, the communications industry; and a minority institution. The FCC Chairman would appoint members to serve on the council not more than 90 days after enactment. Continue Reading

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Pai Answers to Congress Over Broadband Map Issue

The state of the FCC’s broadband maps took center stage as the Senate Commerce Committee members grilled FCC Commissioners in an oversight hearing Wednesday.

Committee Chair Roger Wicker (R-MS) said, “It’s clear to me the FCC should not move forward” on funding more broadband projects “until it gets the maps right.” Wicker said he intends to introduce a bill aimed at getting more granular data about where wired and wireless broadband is available.  
Big news was shared by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who announced he intends to circulate a Report and Order among his colleagues in time for a vote at the agency’s August meeting, “that would result in more granular and more accurate broadband maps.” 

Pai said that means, “requiring broadband providers to report where they actually offer service, below the census block level” at which current data stands. The item would also look to incorporate public feedback into the Commission’s mapping efforts, Pai added. He did not go into specifics, which is normal for an item yet to be voted on. Continue Reading

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

State Attorneys General Move to Block T-Mobile-Sprint Deal

New York Attorney General Letitia James and nine other state AGs filed a lawsuit to stop the proposed T-Mobile acquisition of Sprint. The complaint was filed Tuesday in New York federal court in coordination with California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada, Virginia, and Wisconsin. In the 45-page document, the AGs allege the combination of two out of four of the largest wireless carriers is anti-competitive.

“When it comes to corporate power, bigger isn’t always better,” James said. She called the deal, “the sort of consumer-harming, job-killing megamerger our antitrust laws were designed to prevent.”

The deal has won FCC approval. But the Department of Justice staff is said to be against it. Officially, the DOJ has not made a decision, according to Reuters, which noted Sprint Chief Executive Marcelo Claure and his counterpart at T-Mobile, John Legere, met with the DOJ on Monday. The companies have offered to sell prepaid brand Boost Mobile, to reduce the combined company’s market share in the prepaid wireless business, Inside Towers reported. Continue Reading

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

White House Asks Congress to Delay Huawei Ban

The White House Office of Management and Budget has asked Congress for more time to phase in a ban on federal contracts with companies that do business with Huawei.
Huawei has repeatedly denied it is controlled by the Chinese government, military or intelligence services. It has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government over the restrictions in the defense policy bill, Reuters reported.

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), placed a broad ban on the use of federal money to purchase products from Huawei, citing national security concerns. It included a ban on direct federal purchases of Huawei equipment, which will take effect this year.

But now, the White House says the government needed two more years to work out rules for another part of the law, which requires third-party suppliers and contractors to restrict their purchases and use of Huawei equipment. “This is about ensuring that companies who do business with the U.S. government or receive federal grants and loans have time to extricate themselves from doing business with Huawei and other Chinese tech companies listed in the NDAA,” Jacob Wood, a spokesman for the White House OMB, said in a statement.  Continue Reading

Monday, June 10, 2019

911 Revamp in California

Digital 911 technology to the rescue! Better electronics help first responders locate callers and arrive at the scene faster in California, reports GovTech.org.  Although emergency services are well established, the support systems they use are not always up to date. Next-Gen 911 services will provide an upgrade in electronic delivery for emergency services.

“For the residents, Next-Gen 911 will allow better location accuracy and call-routing to the proper 911 dispatch center and reduced response times,” said Robert Bustichi,  systems management supervisor for San Mateo County Public Safety Communications. “First responders gain the benefit of having additional functionality in the field including pre-plans, routing and enhanced mapping.” By 2020, the county's 25 year old CAD [computer aided dispatch] system should be completely replaced. Continue Reading

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