Wednesday, February 28, 2018

American Tower Beats Build Projection By Fifty Percent

American Tower Corporation executives are pleased with the towerco’s financial performance in 2017. Company Chairman, President and CEO Jim Taiclet told brokers and Wall Street analysts on Tuesday’s earnings call: “We far exceeded our goals” for the 10-year plan. One metric — the company ended 2017 with 150,000 sites for towers and small cell systems; the goal was 100,000.

Officials estimate aggregate capex for mobile carriers to be in the $30 billion range in 2018. That bodes well for strong tenant lease growth this year for AMT, according to the executive. (See financial figures here.)

AMT is launching the next 10-year plan to “deliver operational efficiency to expand” profit margins, he said. The company’s core profit-maker remains its “extensive mobile tower footprint.” Taiclet said AMT would continue to build and acquire additional tower assets that meet its investment criteria. 
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Monday, February 26, 2018

FCC Broadband Map Makeover Underwhelms Some

In what officials described as an initial step at last Thursday’s FCC meeting, they unveiled an updated national broadband map to track internet speeds across the country. It’s envisioned as a key resource for consumers, policymakers and researchers. However there was disagreement among the Commissioners over whether the new map will really do that, since it only includes fixed broadband deployment, not mobile, and leaves out price.

FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai described it as a “very meaningful first step as to where access is and isn’t.” Users can search down to the zip code level to find out what companies offer broadband service and at what speed. They can also filter results by speed or region provider, for example, and a color-coded map gives an overview.  Continue Reading

Friday, February 23, 2018

Congressman Blackburn Backs Aggressive Buildout Agenda

Having just received the inaugural Legislative and Regulatory Champion of the Year Award at NATE UNITE 2018 on Wednesday, Congressman (her preferred designation of her title) Marsha Blackburn, Chairman of the House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Communications & Technology, addressed the issues facing the telecom infrastructure industry and Washington’s efforts to see them expedited.
“Broadband has long been a priority of mine, and here’s why,” Blackburn said. “It represents more than just the fiber in the ground or the towers in the air. Broadband brings with it the promise of better education, better healthcare, sustainable economic development, and an increased quality of life. It connects people in times of crisis, and it ensures our first responders have the tools they need when responding to emergencies.”

Blackburn listed three guiding principles “it would behoove us to follow”:
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Thursday, February 22, 2018

Cipov, Miller and Blackburn Honored at NATE UNITE 2018 Awards Luncheon

(left to right) Pat Cipov, Congressman Marsha Blackburn, Pat Miller

NATE today honored Pat Cipov, President of Cipov Enterprises, Inc. in Sumter, South Carolina, Pat Miller, Director of EasTex Tower, LLC in Colorado Springs, Colorado and Congressman* Marsha Blackburn, U.S. Representative for the 7th District of Tennessee yesterday during the Awards Luncheon sponsored by SBA Communications at NATE UNITE 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. Continue Reading

Monday, February 19, 2018

Lincoln’s Towering Genius

“Towering genius disdains a beaten path.  It seeks regions hitherto unexplored”  Abraham Lincoln, Lyceum address 1838
OK, so he wasn’t really talking about towers per se….or at all.  

The person he could be referring to could easily be himself 24 years later and one month before he signed the Emancipation Proclamation.  He spoke before Congress in 1862 saying: “The occasion is piled high with difficulty and we must rise with the occasion.  As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew.”

What fascinates us about great men like Lincoln and Washington is their steadfastness in the face of diversity and chaos.  And we’re not talking annoying setbacks or minor squabbles but seemingly insurmountable hurdles that, if not overcome, would change the course of America’s history.  They not only faced opposition from great armies dedicated to their personal destruction but from friends, confidantes and colleagues…even their own government… who doubted them at critical moments.  Continue Reading

Friday, February 16, 2018

Oregon’s FirstNet Buildout by AT&T Gives Priority to Rural Areas

As the first stage of the five-year First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) buildout gets underway in Oregon, state officials, AT&T and FirstNet say rural deployment will not be an afterthought, reported Radio Resource Media Group.

“Rural is something that won’t be waiting until last,” said Carrie Johnson, director of public-safety advocacy and tribal affairs specialist for AT&T’s FirstNet program. “It is a key priority during every stage of the buildout and beyond those first five years as well.”

With each stage of the buildout, there is a requirement for rural coverage to ensure that AT&T doesn’t wait until the fifth year to begin deploying that coverage, said David Soloos, the single point of contact (SPOC) for Oregon. Continue Reading

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

5G Demos Compete During Olympic Winter Games

The 2018 Olympic Winter Games offer a chance for sports enthusiasts across the globe to watch the best athletes in the world showcase their talents in Pyeongchang, South Korea. This year, wireless companies are competing as well, using the Olympic Games to debut plans for the first public test of 5G wireless technology, according to a blog from Nikhil Adnani, CTO at thinkRF. The South Korean government identified Information and Communications Technology as one of its chief goals for the Winter Games, and demonstrations from several companies will show the public what it can expect from 5G technology, Ultra-HD broadcasting, Internet of Things, and virtual and augmented reality systems.

South Korean company KT Corp is the official sponsor of the Olympic Winter Games and will be prominent in 5G demonstrations, but competitors SK Telecom and LG U+ will be presenting as well. According to Adnani, the companies have been secretive about specific plans for their demonstrations, but the 5G experience at the Games is expected to allow data transmission at 20 times faster than 4G, with Ultra-HD broadcasts that offer four times the screen resolution of current broadcasts. Continue Reading

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Administration Infrastructure Plan Calls for Faster Permitting

The White House on Monday released a 55-page document for President Donald Trump’s proposal to overhaul the nation’s infrastructure. The plan calls for Congress to write legislation for a $1.5 trillion infrastructure package that focuses on public-private partnerships, including funding from state and local governments, reports The Hill.

The plan is centered around four main goals: generating money, streamlining the permitting process, investing in rural infrastructure projects and advancing workforce training. White House officials said cutting down the environmental permitting process down to two years or less would help infrastructure deployment.

The federal government would contribute $200 billion to the package, a figure Democrats have already said is too small. The money is included in the Trump administration’s fiscal 2019 budget proposal, also released on Monday. The $4.4 trillion proposal, titled “Efficient, Effective, Accountable: An American Budget,” sets forth the president’s priorities as Congress prepares to consider spending bills for the next fiscal year. Continue Reading

Monday, February 12, 2018

Congress Passes Rural Broadband Infrastructure Funding

The bipartisan temporary budget deal lawmakers wrangled over until the early hours of Friday morning includes $20 billion in infrastructure spending, including rural broadband. That breaks down to $10 billion for FY18 and $10 billion for FY19 – to invest in infrastructure, including programs related to rural broadband, rural water and wastewater, clean and safe drinking water, energy, innovative capital projects, and surface transportation.

“This is an important step forward to help bridge the digital divide and connect the hardest to reach areas,” said USTelecom President/CEO Jonathan Spalter. Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) said the agreement “marks an important step forward” on several priorities the committee has championed for many months.

Passage was rocky in both houses of Congress. Late Thursday evening, the White House instructed federal agencies to prepare for a possible partial federal government shutdown. The Senate cleared the measure after 1 a.m. Friday morning. The House voted on the measure at around 5:30 a.m. and the President signed it into law before 9 a.m. The government partially shutdown for about five hours overnight, but reopened Friday morning. Continue Reading

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Mexico is Short On Towers and Long On Demand

Don’t you wish you paid a little more attention in Spanish class?  You just might want to brush the dust off of that particular text book because the burgeoning telecommunications market in Mexico needs over 50,000 towers constructed to keep up with demand for service. According to a report from Mexico News Daily, the country currently has approximately 27,000 towers but needs at least 80,000 to effectively support its mobile broadband network. “There are few countries in Latin America, and perhaps in the world, as complicated as Mexico in terms of telecommunications infrastructure, and while this industry is often described as a gold mine, in reality it is very far from that,” analysts from TowerXchange said. Continue Reading

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

CBRS Licensees Want FCC to Leave Rules Intact

By Leslie Stimson, Washington Bureau Chief, Inside Towers
UPDATE The City and the Port of Los Angeles agree with New York City when it comes to the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) rules for the 3.5 GHz band. They want the Commission to leave them substantially the same.
The current licensing framework for the 3550-3700 MHz band, in place since 2015, “is generating substantial interest and investment, while the Commission’s proposed changes are unwarranted,” the City tells the FCC in filed comments. “In particular, the 3.5 GHz band’s smaller license areas and shorter license terms, among other characteristics, must be preserved.”
In 2016, reacting to a proposal by CTIA and T-Mobile, the agency sought comment on their proposals to lengthen license terms to 10 years and increase license areas by using traditional Partial Economic areas rather than the current census tracts. In order to spur investment and greater certainty for the band, T-Mobile also proposed the Commission convert all 150 MHz of spectrum in each CBRS market open to priority access licensing. CBRS is now limited to 70 MHz of PAL per market. Reply comments to 17-258, “Promoting Investment in the 3550-3700 MHz Band” were due January 29. Continue Reading

Monday, February 5, 2018

FCC In-Fighting Thwarts Tribal Tower Siting

The subject of increasing rural broadband deployment on Tribal Lands was the subject of unusually public bickering late Friday between FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn and Chairman Ajit Pai.
Clyburn issued a statement asking why almost a year has gone by and the item is not out, since Pai “repeatedly claims that closing the digital divide is among his top priorities.” She continued: “As my colleagues in the Majority are fond of saying, companies need certainty. I agree. With a substantial percentage of those living in rural areas of Tribal lands lacking high-speed broadband, the time is now for an up or down vote that will ensure that these communities do not lose the connectivity they desperately want and need.”

Pai, meanwhile, blasted back with a response, noting he circulated an item to colleagues in February 2017. The order would increase federal funding for broadband infrastructure on Tribal lands, explaining such siting is difficult, with higher operational expenses than on non-Tribal land.  Continue Reading

Friday, February 2, 2018

Carriers Deploy More Towers, Antennas to Handle ‘Super’ Demand

One of Verizon’s small cells outside U.S. Bank stadium 
and Verizon handrail antennas inside enhance wireless data capacity for the event

Wireless carriers are prepared for record mobile data use in and around U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis this weekend for the Super Bowl. Nearly 70,000 fans will be in the stadium and another one million visitors are expected to use their smartphones and other mobile devices in the area.

Upgrades consisting of macro towers, small cell and Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) are part of the mix, according to a blog post on Medium by Kristen Beckman, Community Manager of the Wireless Infrastructure Association. Verizon has been preparing for two years; it deployed 24 macro cell tower sites and 230+ small cells. The new infrastructure combined, boosted Verizon’s network capacity in the Twin Cities metro by 500 percent, according to the carrier. 

In downtown Minneapolis, which is hosting the free football festival Super Bowl Live, Verizon doubled its network capacity on Nicollet Mall by placing small cells in bus shelters, a new solution for the carrier. “Verizon also installed security cameras on street lights with its small cells in the downtown area in partnership with the city of Minneapolis and bolstered capacity at the Mall of America and Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport with neutral-host DAS equipment,” writes Beckman. Inside the stadium, Verizon added 48 percent more antennas to its DAS, using drinkrail, handrail and under-the-seat antennas, as well as Matsing Ball antennas, installed 330 feet above the field. Continue Reading

Thursday, February 1, 2018

FiberTower Gives Up Hundreds of 5G Licenses in FCC Settlement

FiberTower, which is being acquired by AT&T, agreed to give up hundreds of high-band millimeter wave licenses to settle litigation with the FCC. AT&T could have used the spectrum for 5G development.  
As part of the agreement, FiberTower will give up all of its 94 licenses in the 24 GHz band and 595 licenses in the 39 GHz band. Additionally, AT&T agreed to pay the U.S. Treasury $27 million to end the dispute.

At issue, was the Wireless Bureau’s claim that FiberTower, “had not shown that it had provided substantial service for the 689 licenses,” according to the order released by the Broadband Division of the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau. The bureau refused FiberTower’s request to review an earlier decision, saying the company “had not shown that its failure to meet the construction deadline” were due to circumstances beyond its control.  

The licenses that FiberTower agreed to give up will help the Commission “re-band” the 39 GHz band, “which is necessary prior to auction of vacant and available licenses” in that band, said the FCC. The agency added that the $27 million payment helps address potential concerns “about undue enrichment of FiberTower with respect to licenses acquired at auction for which it has not yet demonstrated its compliance with Commission performance requirements.” The money also puts FiberTower “in substantially the same position” as most of the other license holders in the band. Continue Reading