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

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Broadcasters Fight for Flexibility in Repack Reimbursement

UPDATE Broadcasters urged the FCC this week to be flexible in how the agency reimburses FMs, low-power TV stations and TV translators for repacking expenses. Reply comments were recently due to docket 18-214 on the agency’s proposed catalog of reimbursable expenses, including tower mapping, rigging and new tower construction.

Broadcasters in phase one of the repack must be moved to their new channel by this Friday.
NPR suggested the FCC maximize relief and minimize obstacles for “innocent bystander” FMs so they can avoid or reduce the duration of service disruptions to listeners. NPR seeks flexibility to provide reimbursement for costs not listed in the
catalog and expenses that are higher than the suggested ranges.

Some stations may incur costs beyond the typical purchase of new equipment and tower rigging and installation, says NPR. Some stations are buying used gear to lower their Auxiliary site costs while their primary tower sites are disrupted. NPR is also exploring the possibility of loaning equipment for this purpose and would like the costs of testing, maintenance and re-tuning reimbursed. Continue Reading

Monday, November 26, 2018

Contractor’s Error Caused His Death, OSHA Reports

UPDATE  The collapse of the 1,890-foot KOZK tower in Missouri and resulting death of contractor Steve Lemay was recently ruled on by OSHA, as to the cause of the accident.  The report was obtained and published by Current, per its request of the documents, through the Freedom of Information Act.
In April of 2018, Missouri State University (MSU) contracted Tower Consultants, Inc. (TCI) to design the required structural modifications necessary to support the transmission line replacement.  MSU owned the KOZK tower, an 1,890-foot guyed tower along Highway FF north of Fordland, MO. TCI’s scope of work involved creating construction documents, reviewing submittal drawings, observing the construction process including producing progress reports and assisting MSU in the bidding and contractor selection process.  MSU selected Steve Lemay, LLC to serve as the contractor.
Continue Reading

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

A Dinner I’m Thankful For Letter from the Editor

Having attended one dinner last week in Washington D.C. hosted by WIA, honoring the founders of our industry, it gave me some added thanks to add to the dinner I’ll be having with family and friends tomorrow.

Among the many gratitudes I have for how life, crazy and unpredictable as it is, has blessed me over my 00* years, I need to save one for the tower market.  The D.C. dinner reminded me of how unformed the market was back in the primordial mist of the late ‘80’s and what it has become.  It is a thing of wonder and worthy of thanks. Continue Reading

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

FCC Commissioners Want to Avoid Utility, Telecom Crew Face-Off

FCC Commissioners Michael O’Rielly (left) and Brendan Carr

Trying to avoid needless fiber cuts after a major storm is a goal for the FCC. Chairman Ajit Pai recently formed a new working group for the agency’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee to develop recommendations for network restoration and resiliency. Commissioner Brendan Carr said after last Thursday’s FCC meeting, some 7,000 restoration personnel were in Florida when he was there after Hurricane Michael.

A lot of the network fiber survived the hurricane and subsequent storm surge, but telecoms complained of needless fiber cuts hampering restoration efforts, Inside Towers reported. O’Rielly said the situation improved after phone calls and face-to-face meetings between utility and telecom executives.

Saying his mom lives in the area affected by the hurricane, O’Rielly said the agency heard stories about “needless cuts” with “powercos powering through at will. They have communication companies sitting right there saying, ‘please don’t do this, we just fixed this,’ and they do it anyway.” He and Carr agreed the agency needs to figure out a better way to ensure network resiliency post-storm. Carr hasn’t determined if regulation needs to be developed to fix this situation. Continue Reading

Monday, November 19, 2018

FCC Vote Could Improve GPS Accuracy on U.S. Smartphones

U.S. device manufacturers will soon be able to establish a connection between smartphones and the EU’s satellite constellation known as Galileo. The result, say FCC officials, means consumers will be able to benefit from improved availability, reliability, and resiliency of navigation and timing services on their smartphones. The FCC approved a waiver of its rules so non-federal users can access specific signals transmitted from Galileo.

Since the debut of the first consumer handheld GPS device in 1989, consumers and industry in the United States have relied on the U.S. GPS system to support satellite-based positioning, navigation, and timing services that are integral to everyday applications, ranging from driving directions, to precision farming. During Thursday’s vote, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr said the changes will enable a broader ranges of services and applications on smartphones. Since it’s compatible with GPS, with Galileo, “real-time directions on your smartphone could see improvements, and 911 dispatchers can get a better fix on your location.” 

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said the change would also benefit the aviation, rail and maritime industries. “Those with satellite-connected devices will have more eyes looking at them,” said Pai. Continue Reading

Friday, November 16, 2018

In The Path of Hell

Inside Towers’ database shows over 150 registered tower sites within a 30-mile radius of Chico, CA, the epicenter of the Camp Fire.  A full list of sites within that zone can be found on the Inside Towers database.
A report on ASR-registered tower sites in that radius shows all three of the major towercos have an equal footprint in the area.  Carriers, broadcasters and state-owned towers are in the path possible destruction as well. Continue Reading

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Industry Founders Honored By WIA

WIA President and CEO Jonathan Adelstein welcomed the assembled congregation at the Washington Hilton last night who came to honor, in Adelstein’s words, “the first class of the Mobile Infrastructure Hall of Fame.”

“Tonight, we’re honoring pioneers in the relatively short history of mobile infrastructure,” he said. “We’ve grown so fast, that each of them complained they’re too young to be in a Hall of Fame,” he said, “But, like the industry, they’re maturing gracefully.”

The honorees included John Kelly, former CEO of Crown Castle, Steven Bernstein, founder and former CEO of SBA, Neville Ray, Executive VP and CTO of T-Mobile (introduced by T-Mobile CEO John Legere) José R. Mas, CEO of Mastec and Steven Dodge, Founder and former CEO of American Tower. Continue Reading

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

5G Rollout Causes “Chaos” in Baton Rouge

AT&T is installing 80 new small cell 5G poles on the streets of Baton Rouge, and it “has created a lot of chaos downtown,” according to City-Parish Chief Administrative Officer Darryl Gissel. In mid-October, an AT&T subcontractor struck an underground power line during one installation creating a massive power outage in the city. 

Adding to the deployment woes, local residents expressed shock and opposition to the 29-foot black metal poles upon unexpectedly seeing their installation. Executive director Davis Rhorer said several property owners have contacted the Downtown Development District to dispute the locations of the towers, and how close they will be to their businesses and homes.  Metro Council passed an ordinance establishing the regulations for small cell installation in 2017, allowing the poles to be built in the public right-of-way, according to Business Report

According to Business Report, Darryl Gissel said local law does not allow officials to turn down a tower site proposal based on aesthetic reasons, and there must be a “compelling reason” such as it being a safety risk or a historical site. Continue Reading

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Carriers Work to Maintain, Restore Networks in CA Wildfires

FirstNet mobile cell site (SatCOLT or Satellite Cell on Light Truck) 
is up and running at Canyon View Drive in Paradise, CA  Tweet: Leland Kim.

Even though yesterday was a federal holiday, some personnel at the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau were in contact with carriers and safety agencies in California as the wildfires continued to burn. FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr tweeted that agency staff are “engaged and closely coordinating” efforts to maintain and restore communications in the affected areas.

AT&T said its Network Disaster Recovery team deployed four portable cell sites, or SatCOLTs (Cell on Light Trucks) to affected areas, including the Los Angeles Fire Command Camp and the Paradise Police Department. The SatCOLTs sites will provide connectivity for customers and first responders in areas where traditional cell sites have been damaged or affected by power outages. The carrier has additional assets staged throughout the state for quick deployment once conditions allow. It opened up its network to other carriers’ customers.  Continue Reading

Monday, November 12, 2018

The Red Devils: Connecting on the Field of Battle

Paratroopers from the Army’s 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, nicknamed the Red Devils, are on the front lines of military technology, testing phone connectivity under battle conditions at Fort Bliss in Texas.  The Fort Bliss Bugle explains the unique field concerns that soldiers face.  While civilians rely on a network of cell towers to connect their calls, the Army has to carry its own network with it.  The digital network that was in force, Nett Warrior, had too many limitations and was unwieldy to use. “Nobody was using the Nett Warrior devices,” said Maj. Andrew Miller.

Armed with commercial available smartphones and tablets, the soldiers began their assault on the new Integrated Tactical Network (ITN).  The ITN seeks to extend the range and flexibility of communications on the field. Following the lead of the Special Operation Forces team, the Army set out to create a decentralized system that would allow soldiers to talk within their units without needing to link back through a command center first.  The signal would also need to circumvent attempts to jam a signal or disrupt satellite communications. The Red Devils have continued to test the ITM during each continued phase of its development. Continue Reading

Thursday, November 8, 2018

What a Divided Congress Means for Telecom

A Democratic House and Republican Senate can, in theory, align on issues that affect telecom. However the window is short due to the looming 2020 presidential election. Infrastructure has a chance at bipartisan cooperation, but according to Roll Call, Democrats want to spend more federal government dollars than Republicans, who prefer to rely more on private-sector investment.  Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who hopes to regain her role as House Speaker, committed to pursuing broadband development as one of her goals in the new session of Congress.

That goal dovetails with what the Wireless Infrastructure Association would like to see. While still sorting through the results yesterday, WIA Head of Legislative Affairs Matt Mandel told Inside Towers that, in general, “Our job remains the same regardless of who controls Congress: to educate all members on the important role wireless infrastructure plays in economic growth, broadband deployment, and global competitiveness. I think infrastructure will certainly be a priority and our belief, which is shared by members of both parties, is that broadband infrastructure should be a part of any comprehensive infrastructure package.” Continue Reading

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Rural Broadband Group Presses Harder for TV White Spaces

The 44 groups that make up the Connect Americans Now Coalition, including the Rural Wireless Association, Microsoft, the App Association and the National Rural Education Association, want the FCC to allow TV white spaces to be used for rural broadband deployment. The network operators, equipment providers and rural broadband advocates are using a combination of wired and wireless technologies to do this now, including fiber, as well as terrestrial and satellite fixed and mobile wireless, using several frequencies.

The FCC opened up more of the white spaces between television channels for unlicensed use. The coalition, formed this January, supports Microsoft’s TV white spaces proposal. The coalition wants the agency to go further. “Our deployments are giving us real-world experience in how a set of pragmatic changes to FCC rules would allow us to reach even more Americans, without causing harmful interference to incumbent licensees,” writes the coalition in a letter to the FCC. Continue Reading

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

IBM Sues Corning for “Botched” Falcons’ Stadium Design

IBM is suing Corning in federal court in Georgia for a “botched” design of a cellular distributed antenna system installed at the Atlanta Falcons’ Mercedes-Benz Stadium, reports Mobile Sports Report. IBM contends Corning failed to deliver a working DAS, according to the court filing, and that the Falcons and the NFL needed to spend additional “millions” to make the system operational. The issue is of interest, as the stadium will host the Super Bowl in February 2019.

IBM does not list a specific compensation amount in the suit. Instead, it intends to seek “damages in an amount to be proven at trial.” In its filing, IBM asserted it bought about $20 million in equipment and materials from Corning to build the DAS.

In response, Corning told MSR in a statement: “Corning is a company of the highest integrity. We are confident that the company had conducted itself in an honorable manner and has been fully compliant in meeting its contractual obligations.” Continue Reading

Monday, November 5, 2018

Manhattan DA: Locked Phones Thwart Crime-Solving

While law enforcement can use the location data from nearby cell phone towers to locate criminals, “warrant-proof” smartphone encryption on the devices continues to impede justice for crime victims, says
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance. A new report his office released Thursday, summarizes the “cat and mouse” game involving lawful hacking workarounds. “Apple’s and Google’s encryption decisions have created a new market for private entities to develop and monetize encryption ‘workarounds,’” he states.

In the report, Vance accuses tech companies of consistently putting profits ahead of society’s best interests. He points to Cambridge Analytica’s misuse of Facebook user data and Google’s plans to launch a censored version of its search engine in China as evidence that “certain technology companies have made their decisions, not based on what might be prudent public policy, but — understandably — based on what is in their shareholders’ economic interest.”

From May 2018 through August 2018, the Manhattan D.A. Cyber Lab tried to access 589 mobile devices in connection with live criminal investigations. 366 (or 62 percent) were passcode-locked. Of those 366 devices, 165 remain inaccessible despite court-ordered warrants to search the devices, according to the report. Continue Reading

Friday, November 2, 2018

Look Who’s Planning to Bid for 5G Spectrum

Forty out of fifty companies that applied, have qualified and made upfront payments to bid in the 28 GHz auction, set to begin November 14.  AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile are among them, according to the FCC. In addition to the wireless companies, DISH — filing under the name Crestone Wireless — and Frontier Communications also made the cut. Continue Reading

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Could Some New Entrants Get CBRS Licenses by Year-end?

Some of the new entrants on the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) could be operating on the band by year-end. There will be plenty of opportunities for new uses, according to K.C. Halm and Van Bloys, attorneys for Davis Wright Tremaine. They described FCC changes and potential future CBRS band use cases in a Wireless Infrastructure Association webinar yesterday.

Halm noted that several WIA members acquired experimental licenses for the band, a hot topic at this spring’s ConnectX in Charlotte, NC.
150 MHz of contiguous spectrum will be available for commercial use “in the very near future on a shared basis for licensed and unlicensed use,” said Halm. He described shared spectrum rights by tier (see image.)   Continue Reading