Monday, December 21, 2020

AM Owners Selling More Tower Sites

 UPDATE The warehouse industry is considering AM radio tower sites as their needs expand. Older AMs often have tower sites sited decades ago, before the urban core grew around them. As land for these tower sites grows more valuable than station revenue, some station owners are selling.
Inside Radio cites Family Radio as an example. The WFME-FM New York owner recently sold its five-acre-tower site to Prologis for $51 million. The industrial area site is located on the border of New York City boroughs Brooklyn and Queens and will be used by the buyer for parking and storage.
Prologis Senior VP Jeremiah Kent told Transport Topics the site is located in one of the most densely populated markets where demand for logistics real estate is high and land is scarce. Continue Reading

Friday, December 18, 2020

Labor Dept, NATE & FCC Partner to Improve Tower Worker Safety

 The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has signed a national strategic partnership with NATE: The Communications Infrastructure Contractors Association and the FCC to improve worker safety in the communications tower erection industry.  

The goal of the three-year partnership is to eliminate worker injuries and fatalities while performing wireless and telecommunications, tower erection and maintenance operations. The partnership will address some of the industry’s frequently encountered hazards, including falls from height, electric, falling objects, tower collapses, and inclement weather. 

“Tower technicians do the hard, often gritty work to build, maintain and upgrade broadband networks throughout the country. The pandemic has further demonstrated everything our wireless workforce does to keep Americans connected, and it is imperative that we do everything we can to keep them safe,” stated FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “As the United States ramps up its 5G rollout, this national partnership agreement will only become more important. The FCC looks forward to working with OSHA and NATE to ensure the safe buildout of wireless infrastructure.” Continue Reading

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Mediacom Sues to Stop City’s Google Fiber Partnership

 West Des Moines had planned to provide ultra-high-speed Google Fiber internet throughout the city, but the effort is being halted by a lawsuit from internet provider Mediacom. The legal action states the city violated multiple state laws in its pursuit of connectivity, according to the Des Moines Register. 

The arrangement with Google was applauded by city officials at the time, saying it met the goals the city set forth in their WDM 2036 strategic plan. West Des Moines would be the 19th city nationwide to receive a Google Fiber network and the first in Iowa, according to the account. 

The complaint cites an Iowa law designed to bolster development of blighted areas with fiber optic cable. Mediacom said the law was misused and misinterpreted to favor Google by issuing bonds worth more than $40 million to build out the network. The company, which employs about 400 workers in West Des Moines, contends the city never opened the project for competitive bids. Continue Reading

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Some RDOF Winners’ Qualifications Questioned

 UPDATE The recent Rural Digital Opportunity Fund auction was structured differently than traditional FCC spectrum auctions. “Bidders” in the reverse auction were awarded funds based on different criteria, such as latency, speed and how fast they believe a company can bring broadband to a rural area.

But now, some observers question whether some of the largest winners, like Charter and Starry Internet, can actually complete the task as originally stated in their FCC applications, reports Telecompetitor. It quotes MuniNetworks observer Christopher Mitchell as stating in a blog: “The auction resulted in far more gigabit - 85% of locations I believe - than anyone expected, at far lower subsidy than expected. However, there is a lot of frustration and confusion because it is not clear that some of the top bidders can deliver.” MuniNetworks is an advocacy group that provides resources for those who want to build municipal broadband networks. 

Inside Towers reported that Charter Communications, listed as CCO Holdings, won the most locations, just over 1.05 million. Other big bidders include Windstream, which was awarded $522.9 million for 192,567 locations in 18 states; Frontier, which won $370.9 million for 127,188 locations in eight states and CenturyLink, which won $262.3 million for 77,257 locations in 20 states, according to the Commission. Continue Reading

Monday, December 14, 2020

FCC Begins Process of Ending China Telecom’s U.S. Operations

The FCC believes, based on national security concerns, it has enough evidence to revoke China Telecom’s ability to do business in the United States. Thursday, the Commission began a proceeding to revoke the company’s authority to provide domestic interstate and international telecommunications services under section 214 of the Communications Act.

In April 2020, several executive branch agencies recommended that the FCC revoke and terminate China Telecom Americas section 214 authority based on “substantial and unacceptable national security and law enforcement risks associated with [China Telecom Americas’] continued access to U.S. telecommunications infrastructure.”

China Telecom Americas is indirectly and ultimately owned and controlled by the government of the People’s Republic of China, according to the Commission. Continue Reading

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Possible Ramifications of Deadlocked FCC

 UPDATE Now that the Senate has confirmed Nathan Simington as the next GOP FCC Commissioner, what is the likely outcome from a 2-2 deadlocked agency on key issues? Plenty, according to consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge.

Inside Towers reported that with FCC Chairman Ajit Pai set to leave the Commission on Inauguration Day, January 20, 2021, Simington’s confirmation will prevent new President Joe Biden’s FCC from having a Democratic majority and pushing a new agenda early in the new administration. FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr urged the Senate to quickly confirm Simington to thwart the Dems’ agenda, Fox reported.

Biden will ultimately get a majority, after the Senate eventually confirms another Democrat. But that could take a while, according to Harold Feld, a long-time telecom attorney and senior vice president of Public Knowledge. Continue Reading

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

C-Band Auction Begins

 After more than a year of jockeying, the FCC began the C-band auction Tuesday. Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile are all expected to be active bidders. The Commission is making available 280 MHz of mid-band spectrum in the 3.7-3.98 GHz band.

“WIA members are thrilled this historic auction will at last put this spectrum to its highest and best use to deploy 5G across the country. This band enables more than capacity alone – this large block is critical for 5G. Given how much effort it took to get this much spectrum to auction, we thank Chairman Pai and the FCC for their success in getting it done,” WIA President/CEO Jonathan Adelstein told Inside Towers. 

There are 57 qualified bidders in Auction 107. Gross proceeds as of the first round yesterday were more than $1 billion, according to the FCC, at exactly $1,741,759,100. The auction kicks into higher gear today with three bidding rounds planned. Continue Reading

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

RDOF Auction Winners Are…

 The first portion of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund wrapped up last week and the FCC announced 180 winners on Monday. The allocation of $9.2 billion will be distributed over 10 years.

Charter Communications, listed as CCO Holdings, won the most locations, just over 1.05 million. Other big bidders include Windstream, which was awarded $522.9 million for 192,567 locations in 18 states; Frontier, which won $370.9 million for 127,188 locations in eight states and CenturyLink, which won $262.3 million for 77,257 locations in 20 states, according to the Commission.

A range of providers competed in the Phase I auction, including cable operators, electric cooperatives, incumbent telephone companies, satellite companies, and fixed wireless providers. For example, the Rural Electric Cooperative Consortium won $1.1 billion for 618,000 locations in 22 states. Continue Reading

Monday, December 7, 2020

Carr Urges Senate Confirmation of New GOP FCC Commissioner

 FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr endorsed Nathan Simington’s nomination to the agency last week. He told Fox he needs another Republican alongside him on the five-member commission come Inauguration Day to stymie Democrats. “It’d be very valuable to get Simington across the finish line to help forestall what really would be billions of dollars worth of economic damage that I think a [Democratic] FCC would look to jam through from Day 1,” said Carr.

With FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and fellow GOP Commissioner Michael O’Rielly set to leave, Carr would be the sole Republican on the dais as of January 20. The Senate Commerce Committee last week passed Simington’s nomination to the Senate floor over Democrats’ objections, Inside Towers reported.

Senate supporters are hoping for a floor vote to confirm Simington this week, according to Politico. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said he’d block the vote. If successful in appointing Simington to the Commission, the FCC could be deadlocked 2-2 on critical issues come January. In that scenario, it may be a while until President-elect Joe Biden can nominate and get confirmation for an additional Democrat to the agency to gain a majority, according to Politico.

Friday, December 4, 2020

“Magic” Runs Into FCC Over Tower Lighting Violations

 Magic Broadcasting, licensee of WILN(FM), Panama, City, FL, agreed to pay $125,000 to resolve an FCC investigation into whether the broadcaster violated several tower lighting regulations. To resolve the issue and end the Enforcement Bureau probe, Magic agreed to pay a civil penalty, admitted it violated part 17 of the Commission’s rules and certified that each tower it owns or operates from is compliant with part 17. The broadcaster also agreed to enter into a compliance plan.

The bureau said the Consent Decree will promote aviation safety near towers.

The case began last fall, when the agency received an anonymous complaint that the tower had not been properly lit for more than a year. An agent from the Miami Field Office began to investigate and found that the company registered on file as the tower owner was no longer in business. In researching the current owner, the agent discovered that WVFT was licensed to operate from the tower and that WVFT was licensed to Magic Broadcasting. Continue Reading

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Utility Pole Attachment Fees Draw FCC Action

 The FCC determined that an electric utility in Maryland made Verizon pay unreasonable charges for attaching to their utility poles. The agency spelled out the maximum rate the utility company could charge the telecom.

Verizon Maryland filed a complaint with the Commission last fall, alleging the Potomac Edison Company was overcharging the telecom for utility pole access. Both companies have a Joint Use Agreement (JUA) that contains the rates, terms, and conditions for each party’s use of the other’s utility poles. Verizon complained the rates it was charged by Potomac Edison are “significantly higher” than the rates that Potomac Edison charges competitive local exchange carriers (LECs) and cable providers to attach to the same poles. Though the financial figures in the FCC’s decision were redacted, it shows Verizon pays more than its competitors.

Verizon contends that Potomac Edison used its “four-to-one pole ownership advantage” to charge Verizon rates that are more than the New Telecom Rate. It asked the agency to find the rates its being charged are “unjust and unreasonable,” require the utility to charge the telecom the New Telecom Rate prospectively and order Potomac Edison to give the telecom a refund of overages. Continue Reading

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Pai Plans to Leave FCC

 By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief FCC Chairman Ajit Pai Monday said he plans to leave the FCC on Inauguration Day, January 20, 2021. Stepping down when a new president is installed is an agency tradition. In a statement, he called being the first Asian-American to chair the agency “a particular privilege. As I often say: only in America.”

The Chairman listed accomplishments with his colleagues from his time at the helm of the Commission: “Together, we’ve delivered for the American people over the past four years: closing the digital divide; promoting innovation and competition, from 5G on the ground to broadband from space; protecting consumers; and advancing public safety. And this FCC has not shied away from making tough choices. As a result, our nation’s communications networks are now faster, stronger, and more widely deployed than ever before.” Continue Reading

Friday, November 20, 2020

Big 3 TowerCo 3Q20 Scorecard

 By many measures, the U.S. Big 3 tower companies – American Tower (NYSE: AMT), Crown Castle (NYSE: CCI) and SBA Communications (NASDAQ: SBAC) – are performing well after nine months into 2020 despite the pandemic. More importantly, with their carrier customers’ 5G deployments underway and a couple of major deal signings, the long-term prospects for these towercos look bright.   

AMT is a leading independent tower company worldwide. At the end of 3Q20, AMT had 179,391 towers between the U.S. and 19 other countries across Latin America, Africa, Europe, and India, its largest market with 73,499 towers. AMT ranks third overall behind Chinese state-owned China Tower that has 2,015,000 towers, and Indus Towers of India with 201,121 sites.

As the largest U.S. towerco, AMT has 40,602 towers in the U.S. or 23 percent of its total portfolio, that generates 56 percent of its overall site leasing or property revenues.

Through nine months, its U.S. property revenues were $3.3 billion, up 7 percent from $3.1 billion year-to-year. International property revenues grew 4 percent to $2.6 billion on 77 percent of the tower base. Continue Reading

Thursday, November 19, 2020

FCC Votes to Open Auto Safety Spectrum to WiFi, Despite DOT Concerns

 By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief In the second-to-last FCC meeting of the year, all five FCC Commissioners agreed to the plan to reallocate the 5.9 GHz auto safety band to enable WiFi use. That’s despite opposition from the Department of Transportation, which calls the planned changes dangerous. The new band plan designates the lower 45 megahertz (5.850-5.895 GHz) for unlicensed uses and the upper 30 megahertz (5.895-5.925 GHz) for enhanced automobile safety using Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything (C-V2X) technology.
It’s because of that opposition that Senate Commerce Committee Ranking Member Maria Cantwell (D-WA) wrote to Pai Tuesday and asked him to delay the vote. FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks called the continuing disagreement between federal agencies on spectrum issues “disappointing,” though he voted for the changes.

Chairman Ajit Pai kept the agenda smaller than usual and restricted votes to bipartisan issues. House Democratic leaders recently asked Pai and the heads of 49 other federal agencies to restrict their decisions to consensus items for the remainder of the current administration’s term, Inside Towers reported. Continue Reading

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

DISH Signs Long-Term, Undisclosed Agreement With Crown

 With yesterday’s joint announcement of a long-term lease agreement by DISH and Crown Castle (CCI), analysts are viewing it as a plus not just for the participants, but the tower industry in general. DISH will lease space on up to 20,000 towers from CCI nationwide and, in turn, receive fiber transport services with the option to utilize Crown Castle for pre-construction services. No specific financial terms were given but in September, T-Mobile signed a 15-year deal with American Tower for an estimated $17 billion. 

“We view this deal as positive for CCI and for the tower sector more broadly,” said Spencer Kurn at New Street Research. “CCI accounts for 30 percent of the US tower market, which could suggest that DISH intends to install equipment on 65,000 sites if DISH’s network build is evenly distributed across the tower companies. We suspect this announcement implies that DISH will prioritize CCI towers wherever they have a choice, which could mean that CCI captures a greater share of DISH’s cell sites,” Kurn said. “Still, it seems that DISH plans to build to more than the 50,000 that we had assumed for their initial phase, so all of the towers are likely better off than we initially expected.” Continue Reading

Monday, November 16, 2020

West Virginia Lawmakers Still Want Frontier to Deliver Broadband

 In April, Frontier Communications filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, but the state of West Virginia has yet to approve Frontier’s plan, reported the Weirton Daily Times. Now, Democratic lawmakers are pressuring the West Virginia Public Service Commission to hold Frontier to their original agreement of expanding broadband in the state. 

The problem with this request is that the same West Virginia Legislature tied the commission's hands when it cames to regulating internet services in the state. In 2015, a law passed unanimously by the Legislature — Senate Bill 576 — prevents the commission from forcing Frontier to improve broadband services. 

In his letter to the Commission, Sen. Randy Swartzmiller wrote, “I want Frontier to be successful, I want to see them continue to provide good-paying jobs with benefits to their employees as well as provide the dependable services that their customers expect and deserve in the 21st century.” Continue Reading

Friday, November 13, 2020

Public Safety Groups Oppose CTIA’s Request for More Time on Vertical E911

 Seven public-safety organizations banded together to oppose CTIA’s request for more time for carriers to comply with timelines laid out in the FCC’s latest update for E911 location accuracy requirements. The update concerns vertical location data transmitted to first responders during emergency calls.
CTIA told the agency that COVID has upended the anticipated timelines. “Recently adopted and evolving government restrictions and building access limitations have delayed testing necessary to determine whether any technology can be validated for compliance with the sixth R&O’s requirements,” said CTIA in its Petition for Reconsideration. Continue Reading

Thursday, November 12, 2020

FCC Nominee Confirmation Murky; Senator Threatens Block

 Much of the Senate confirmation hearing for FCC nominee Nathan Simington on Tuesday was uneventful and the full body has yet to act. He appeared with nominees for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Department of Commerce, yet lawmakers only questioned him. Republicans asked questions meant to elicit what kind of FCC Commissioner he would be in general, while Democrats focused on a few specific topics such as 5G, rural broadband and a portion of communications law concerning social media. 

It’s the last topic that garnered the most controversial portion of the brief, one-hour hearing. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai recently said he’d move to “clarify” legal protections for social media after President Trump in May directed the Commerce Department to file a petition with the Commission to limit legal protections for platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Trump has said on Twitter they’ve not treated him fairly.

As Acting Ranking Member during the hearing, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said he’s “deeply concerned the President’s executive order is an assault on the FCC.” Continue Reading

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

WIA Asks Analyst for Post-Election Wireless Infrastructure Predictions

 By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief Will lawmakers pass an infrastructure bill in the limited time left in this session of Congress? If so, how much would be devoted to wireless infrastructure needs? Those are some of the questions Wireless Infrastructure Association President/CEO Jonathan Adelstein asked Blair Levin Tuesday in a members-only webinar.

Levin is the former chief of staff for FCC Chairman Reed Hunt. Levin, now an equity analyst at New Street Research, discussed with Adelstein his view of the election’s outcome on Congress, the Administration, the FCC and the wireless infrastructure industry.

Adelstein noted the House passed a multi-million infrastructure package this year, but he said the future control of the Senate is unknown. He asked Levin about the bill’s potential outcomes. Levin believes it’s possible lawmakers would pass a short-term stimulus package by year-end. However he doesn’t believe anything in that legislation would include funds for wireless infrastructure. Continue Reading

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Cambridge Consultants “Beaming Up” The World’s “Largest Airborne Antenna”

 Cambridge Consultants announced on November 2, “a visionary program to realize the dream of superfast 5G for everyone and everything across the globe.” In collaboration with U.K. start-up Stratospheric Platforms Limited (SPL), Cambridge Consultants has developed what it says is a unique wireless antenna delivering affordable connectivity from a fleet of zero-emissions aircraft, reported sUAS News. The technology is poised to be the world’s largest commercial airborne communications antenna.

SPL Chief Executive Officer Richard Deakin said: “This unique antenna is at the heart of SPL’s stratospheric communications system. It was essential that we overcame significant technical challenges in the design of the antenna to enable us to deliver massive data rates in a unique environment where power was limited, where weight was critical, and where cooling in the thin, stratospheric air was difficult.”

He added, “The development and testing of the antenna has met or exceeded the design criteria, and working with such a talented team at Cambridge Consultants has been one of the highlights of the program to date.” Continue Reading

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

AT&T Closes Sale of Puerto Rico, USVI Operations for $2B in Cash

 AT&T announced yesterday that it has completed the sale of its wireless and wireline operations in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to Liberty Latin America (NASDAQ: LILA and LILAK). The transaction includes employees, network assets and spectrum, real estate and leases, customers, including more than one million wireless subscribers; and contracts. A search of the Inside Towers Database showed 55 towers registered to AT&T in Puerto Rico and seven in the Virgin Islands.

The U.S. Justice Department recently called on the two companies to divest some fiber assets and customers to WorldNet Telecommunications to complete the deal.

Balan Nair, President and CEO of Liberty Latin America, said, “This is a great day for Liberty Latin America, the employees that will be joining us from AT&T, and most importantly the consumers and businesses in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands who will realize the benefits of this transaction. By creating the leading integrated provider, we will deliver added value to customers through expanded product offerings, more resilient infrastructure, and world-class customer service levels.” Continue Reading


Monday, October 26, 2020

FCC Grants First 2.5 GHz Licenses to Rural Tribes

 The FCC issued the first set of mid-band spectrum licenses through the agency’s first Rural Tribal Priority Window to tribal entities. The Wireless Telecommunications Bureau granted 154 applications for use of the 2.5 GHz band to provide broadband and other advanced wireless services, including 5G, to rural tribal communities.

These licenses provide for exclusive use of up to 117.5 MHz of 2.5 GHz band spectrum. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai called the grants “a major step forward” in the Commission’s efforts to close the digital divide. Continue Reading

Friday, October 23, 2020

Tower Crew Rescue and Recovery “Unprecedented,” Tragic and Heroic

 By Jim Fryer, Inside Towers Managing Editor  The tower-related fatal accident that occurred Tuesday near Mobile, AL, claiming the life of one climber, was an unprecedented and dramatic effort in rescue and recovery, according to Captain Clint Cadenhead of the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office. Cadenhead said the accident attracted the attention of multiple agencies across the state, including neighboring Escambia County, the Alabama State Police and fire department rescue squads from Mobile. “In my 26 years, I haven’t seen anything like it,” he told Inside Towers. “It was a remarkable mutual-aid response to get those men down.”

Cadenhead confirmed the identity of the deceased as Sirous Snider of Burleson, TX. He was employed by San Antonio-based Broadcast Construction Solutions, along with two other crew members who were injured in the accident. The incident, which was initially attributed to falling debris, has since been updated as being the result of a snapped wire that pulled the crew up into the tower. They were in the process of attaching a guy wire at the time of the accident. “A counter weight gave way, as I understand it,” Cadenhead said, “creating another break in some safety equipment. OSHA will do a detailed investigation of what actually happened.” Continue Reading

Thursday, October 22, 2020

CCA Explores the Rise of Wireless in a COVID World

 By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief Competitive Carriers Association President/CEO Steve Berry told attendees of the group’s annual convention Wednesday he’s “amazed” at how the country’s perception of wireless has changed almost overnight due to the pandemic. “If a student needs a connection today they can get online with a wireless hotspot instead of waiting for a service call and a wired connection. Wireless is the glue holding life and business together for so many people.”

The industry noted the change in consumer habits. Mid-March saw voice traffic increase from 20 to 40 percent on wireless networks, he said. “That’s a big uptick considering 80 percent of voice connections in the U.S. are wireless.” Berry said COVID drove up broadband demand 20 percent and major wireless providers reported a 25 percent increase in texting. Mobile hotspot use “soared,” he added.

Many CCA members rose to the occasion and kept life moving, according to Berry. He listed examples, such as Carolina West, which rolled out an assistance program for customers that included high-speed data. GCI in Alaska offered free upgrades and worked with local and federal governments to assist schools, students and individuals in need of basic wireless services. C Spire in Mississippi and Alabama worked with schools to provide free wireless accounts to approved learning sites for K-12 students. Continue Reading

Monday, October 19, 2020

Senate Gets Going on FCC Nomination

 The Senate Commerce Committee has slated a nomination hearing for Tuesday, November 10. Nathan Simington, President Trump’s nominee to replace Michael O’Rielly on the FCC, is to be one of three nominees at the hearing. The scheduling came after President Trump urged speedy action, according to Reuters. “Republicans need to get smart and confirm Nate Simington to the FCC ASAP!” Trump tweeted recently.

Pressure is building to push the full Senate to confirm NTIA Advisor Simington to the FCC by the end of December. That’s when O’Rielly will need to exit. O’Rielly said recently he’ll leave the agency regardless of the outcome of the election, Inside Towers reported.

If the Senate doesn’t fill the GOP seat this year, Republicans would no longer have a majority at the agency going into 2021; each party would have two seats and many issues could be deadlocked.

Such a vacancy could also give the Commission a Biden-era FCC a Democratic majority sooner, notes Politico

Friday, October 16, 2020

Back-Up Generators Must Be Standing By on January 1

 As if COVID isn’t bad enough, wildfires and power shut offs continue to impact large areas of California. Assembly Bill 2421, recently signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom, requires expedited permitting of applications to install emergency standby generators for macro cell towers. The law goes into effect on January 1, 2021, and will remain in effect until January 1, 2024.

The bill states: “Legislature finds and declares that the installation of emergency standby generators at wireless telecommunications facility sites as set forth in this section has a significant public safety impact in California and is a matter of statewide concern. Fragmented and lengthy permitting requirements could delay these public safety deployments by many months and in some cases could prevent them altogether.” Continue Reading

Thursday, October 15, 2020

FCC, USAID Agree to Cooperate On International 5G Deployment and Security

 The FCC signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the U.S. Agency for International Development Wednesday to promote secure and open 5G networks in the developing world. 

“As the United States and the world move ahead with next-generation, 5G wireless services, we must ensure these networks are both open and secure,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “American leadership is already helping to shape the global deployment of 5G and this agreement will ensure that our agencies’ respective expertise are leveraged to ensure the best results for both the American people and communities around the world. As Chairman, I’ve met with my counterparts from other countries and industry stakeholders and I know that our international partners look to us for 5G leadership in terms of technology, best practices, public policy, and establishing international standards.” Continue Reading

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Wireless Industry Adapts to Pandemic Needs


The wireless industry is adaptable, contributing to why networks have held up well during the pandemic, panelists agreed during an opening session of the Americas Spectrum Management Conference, Monday.

CTIA SVP Regulatory Affairs Mike Bergmann said private investment and a flexible regulatory framework have enabled strong and resilient networks. The industry adapted quickly to “the new normal,” he said, and supported efforts to keep consumers connected.

As many people shifted to working from home, “all of a sudden, every interaction with my team happened on this device,” said Bergmann, referring to his cell phone. Continued U.S. focus on spectrum and infrastructure policy is critical to wireless leadership and resiliency, he added. 
Continue Reading

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Co-location Makes FCC Voting Agenda

 The FCC has a plethora of telecom items to vote on later this month. Co-location of wireless equipment on existing towers is a top item, as are rules to create a new rural 5G fund.

5G networks will require deployment of a significant number of additional antennas. Many of those antennas could be placed on existing infrastructure, but existing towers may need additional ground equipment to support the new gear, says FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in a blog.

“To facilitate the co-location of antennas and associated ground equipment, the Commission will vote on a proposal to further streamline the state and local government review process for limited modifications to existing wireless infrastructure,” writes Pai. Congress limited state and local jurisdictions’ authority to deny these modifications in 2012, under section 6409(a) of the Spectrum Act. Under the order, the agency will vote on this month, “excavation and deployment up to 30 feet in any direction outside of the existing site would not ‘substantially change’ the physical dimensions of the facility, and therefore would not disqualify the co-location from streamlined state and local review,” says Pai. Continue Reading

Monday, October 5, 2020

Carriers Fined for Not Filing 911 Reliability Certifications

 The FCC Enforcement Bureau Friday reached settlements with seven telecoms that either didn’t file or filed late 911 service reliability certifications last year. Each telecom agreed to pay a civil penalty and abide by a compliance plan to ensure it meets its filing responsibilities going forward. The penalties total $21,600 and range from $4,000 to $2,400 per carrier.

The Commission’s rules require 911 service providers—generally, the wireline phone companies that route both wireline and wireless calls to 911 call centers or provide administrative lines directly to 911 call centers—to take reasonable measures to provide reliable and resilient 911 service. The rules require 911 service providers to certify annually that they have either implemented certain industry-backed best practices or acceptable alternative measures concerning circuit diversity, central office backup power, and network monitoring.

“When you call 911, your call should go through,” said FCC Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau Chief Lisa Fowlkes. “The telecommunications providers that route emergency calls are responsible for taking 911 service reliability measures and certifying to the Commission each year that they have done so.” She said the action should remind the industry to take the obligation seriously. Continue Reading

Friday, October 2, 2020

Appeals Court Denies Utility, Electric Request to Stay FCC 6 GHz Order

 A federal appeals court won’t block the FCC’s plan to open the already occupied 6 GHz band up to unlicensed wireless services. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said Thursday that opponents haven’t satisfied the “stringent requirements” to stay the order pending court review.

Utilities and public safety groups, including the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials, sought an emergency stay; they told the court the FCC ignored important evidence about harmful interference.

In a tweet, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai called the decision, “Great news for consumers, who stand to benefit from super-fast” WiFi services “in the home, and on the go!” Continue Reading

Thursday, October 1, 2020

In Party Line Vote, FCC to Enable States to Lease 4.9 GHZ to Utilities, Others

 In a meeting rife with disagreements and connectivity snafus, the FCC Wednesday adopted rules permitting expanded use of 50 megahertz of mid-band spectrum in the 4.9 GHz (4940-4990 MHz) band. The agency majority says the band used by public safety agencies is underused. However scores of fire, police and medical representatives told the Commission the change threatens the public, especially during a pandemic.

Under the new rules, states could lease the spectrum to third parties such as utilities, FirstNet and commercial operators to boost wireless broadband, improve critical infrastructure monitoring, and facilitate public safety use cases. The band has been dedicated for public safety use for 18 years; however, only about 3.5 percent of all potential licensees use it this way because of restrictions, according to Chairman Ajit Pai.

He called the current rules governing the 4.9 GHz band flawed: “The Commission’s rules put the spectrum in a silo which led to a limited amount of niche specific equipment available for use in the band. The story of the 4.9 GHz band became one of spectrum haves, primarily in large cities such as New York City, Los Angeles and Seattle and have-nots, namely the 96.5 percent of potential licensees that have not obtained licenses for the 4.9 GHz spectrum, particularly the smaller and rural jurisdictions that cannot afford to deploy in that band.” Continue Reading


Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Muni’s, Utilities Want Full Appeals Court Review of Small Cells Decision

 Municipalities and power companies asked the full ninth circuit appeals court to review a panel decision concerning small cells. They say the August 12 order too easily enables telecoms to deploy 5G infrastructure in local markets and on utility poles, reported Bloomberg.

The judge’s August decision mostly upheld the FCC’s order aimed at speeding wireless and wireline infrastructure deployment. The panel said the agency’s order was largely “in accord with the congressional directive” and “not otherwise arbitrary, capricious, or contrary to law,” Inside Towers noted. Continue Reading 

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Labor Department Awards WIA Funding to Develop 5G Workforce

 The Wireless Infrastructure Association (WIA) announced yesterday that the U.S. Department of Labor (DoL) awarded it a major contract to perform as the 5G Industry Intermediary to develop the wireless workforce. DoL provided WIA a multi-million-dollar contract as the National Sponsor of the Telecommunications Industry Registered Apprenticeship Program (TIRAP). The objective of the funding is to expand the industry’s multi-employer apprenticeship model to meet employers’ occupational and skills development needs. The contract will enable WIA to assist employers in developing over 600 apprentices in the next year with multi-year options to renew thereafter. It also provides $400,000 per year in incentive funds for employers that adopt registered apprenticeship and serve under-represented populations. WIA was named the National Sponsor of TIRAP by the Department of Labor in 2017.

“WIA is grateful for DoL’s focus on 5G as a driver of job growth for the entire economy. With the resources provided by DoL, WIA can offer more support to employers as they train their workers to meet the demands of winning the race to 5G,” said WIA President and CEO Jonathan Adelstein. “In-the-field experience and mentorship are imperative for wireless jobs, so apprenticeships are ideal for offering future employees viable career paths. As 5G deployments continue taking off, apprenticeships help employers recruit, train, and retain employees that can deliver higher quality work more safely.” Continue Reading

Monday, September 28, 2020

Tower Tech Dies From Fall in Connecticut


Source: Google Earth

Manchester (CT) Police reported on Friday a tower worker died from a fall from an “unknown height” at a site located on Mitchell Drive. The accident occurred at around 2:30 p.m. at a site owned by Marcus Communications. Police said the man was 34 years old and described as a contractor working on the 80 foot structure. EMTs at the scene said the man was found unresponsive. They are calling it "a fatal industrial accident." 

Local authorities cordoned off the scene following the tragedy. Officials from OSHA were said to be at the site later in the afternoon.

Marcus Communications issued the following statement: “We are sad to learn a tower climber fell from our communications tower this afternoon. He was not employed by Marcus Communications and was completing work on the tower. We are devastated and our deepest sympathies go out to the victim’s family.”

Friday, September 25, 2020

FirstNet Asks Congress to Cut Red Tape for Tower Build


FirstNet is not only helping first responders communicate in regular disasters, the broadband communications platform is also boosting communications needs in hospitals and other healthcare locations during the pandemic. Officials told Senators on the Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet Subcommittee Thursday that FirstNet is making good progress on deployments as laid out in its contract with AT&T.

FirstNet is half-way through its initial five-year schedule. Jason Porter, senior vice president, FirstNet Program at AT&T, said the carrier finished installing Band 14 capability about a year early. He and FirstNet Executive Director Edward Parkinson agreed deployments lay the groundwork for 5G.

Concerning the pandemic, Porter said dealing with COVID has been like responding to a flood, fire or tornado in every city in the country at the same time. The communications platform for first responders includes healthcare workers, according to Porter, as he discussed efforts to provide communications on hospital ships and on tribal reservations. Continue Reading   

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Bobcat Wildfire Threatens Mount Wilson Towers


The Bobcat wildfire is again threatening southern California’s Mount Wilson, home to a reported $1 billion worth of land, towers and broadcast and government agency transmission equipment. By Tuesday, at least 29 structures were destroyed in Los Angeles County. The number could reach 85, reported The Los Angeles Times.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Forest Service estimated the fire expanded to more than 113,000 acres. Tuesday night it was just 17 percent contained, however that number grew to 38 percent Wednesday, according to Angeles National Forest officials, City News Service in Monrovia reported.

Overnight aerial video Tuesday showed flames approaching broadcast towers at the top of the mountain, including 24 Los Angeles TV stations, such as KPCC, KTLA and KNBC. About nine FM radio station towers are sited on Mt. Wilson, including: KRRL, KIIS, KOST, KBIG, KCBS, KTWV, KRTH, KPCC and KKLQ, according to WikipediaContinue Reading

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Spectrum Sharing is The Future, But Getting There is Too Slow, Experts Agree

 by Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief Experts discussing future spectrum needs stressed the need for standards, including signal propagation models, during yesterday’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s annual spectrum symposium, a key forum on 5G wireless policy.  

NTIA’s Charles Cooper summed up the key points, noting standards would help the U.S. use spectrum more efficiently. “It’s not always about 5G,” he said. “It’s also about U.S. manufacturing.”

During a panel on federal spectrum use and future sharing, Kate O’Connor of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said: “If we’re going to make large swaths of spectrum available, it needs to be done in a holistic way.” Congress believes NTIA should be the coordinator, she noted, adding: “We can’t have agencies working in silos.” Continue Reading

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

DoD Tests The Water on Plan to Share Spectrum With Commercial Industry

 The Department of Defense seeks wireless industry suggestions for spectrum-sharing to speed 5G deployment. CTIA is cautious about the DoD action, which some experts have likened to a possible “nationalization” of 5G. The Request for Information comes as FCC Commissioners last week told House lawmakers they’d oppose nationalization of 5G, Inside Towers reported.
Issued Friday, DoD says the RFI seeks “insight into innovative solutions and technologies for dynamic sharing of the department’s current spectrum allocation.” The intent is to ensure the greatest effective and efficient use of the Department of Defense’s spectrum “for training, readiness, and lethality,” according to DoD.
“We hope our industry partners will come forward with innovative ideas to address the questions in this RFI,” said DOD Chief Information Officer, Honorable Dana Deasy. “DOD’s partnership with industry is imperative in this extremely technical and competitive field. What we learn in this effort has potential to benefit the entire nation and keep the U.S. as the global leader of 5G technology for many years to come.” Continue Reading

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Wicker Pushes for Mapping, “Rip & Replace” Funds As Dell Pushes Open RAN


Senate Commerce Committee Chair Roger Wicker (R-MS) is pushing lawmakers to allocate funds for so-called “rip & replace,” and to improve the FCC’s broadband mapping this month. Congress is also considering proposals to devote money to R&D for Open RAN 5G network protocols.

During a keynote session for INCOMPAS Monday, Wicker said the Commission’s broadband coverage maps are woefully inaccurate. The internet and competitive networks association represents companies that provide broadband voice, video, internet, and data offerings, using both wireline and wireless networks to reach their customers.

Concerning the maps, Wicker said in Mississippi, they show the state has 98 percent broadband coverage, a claim the Senator called “utterly ridiculous.” Yet he recognizes the agency needs $65 million to implement changes. Continue Reading

Monday, September 14, 2020

Pai Wants Answers About Wireless Industry Efforts to Update WEA Geo-targeting

 Wireless Emergency Alerts are now more geographically targeted and the FCC expects that to improve over time as more updated smartphones reach the market. Since last December, in response to FCC rules changes, participating wireless providers are required to deliver alerts to the entire area targeted by emergency management officials with no more than a one-tenth of a mile overshoot.

If that’s not technically feasible, wireless providers must continue to deliver alerts to their best approximation of the target area, the agency standard since 2017. That’s a big change from when the WEA system began in 2012 and alerts were sent on a county-wide basis.

All new “WEA-capable” mobile devices offered for sale after last December must support this enhanced geo-targeting. FCC rules also require wireless providers to support enhanced geo-targeting on WEA-capable mobile devices that were released before last December and can be upgraded. Continue Reading

Friday, September 11, 2020

County on Cloud 1 Over Lawsuit

 Cloud 1 Services, LLC filed a lawsuit on Thursday against Madison County, Iowa, and its Board of Adjustment for denying its applications to construct cell towers within the county. Law Street reported that the complaint was filed in the Southern District of Iowa, and Cloud 1 has requested an expedited review of the action. In May, Cloud 1 submitted applications for Special Use Permits (the ‘Macksburg Application’ and the ‘Winterset Application’) to install two 300-foot towers to support AT&T services, including FirstNet on land zoned agricultural. Both properties were chosen based on coverage location and owners willing to enter into lease agreements.

In August, the Board of Adjustment held a public hearing. It determined that the applications were “consistent with the Madison County Comprehensive Plan,” and no effects were identified that “would result in any detrimental impact on adjoining or neighboring properties,” nor would it affect property value. However, at the end of the meeting, the Board unanimously denied both applications. Continue Reading

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Air Force Seeks Infrastructure Buildout on 50 Bases

 The U.S. Air Force is looking to recruit companies to install cellular infrastructure on at least fifty more of its military bases. Verizon has already partnered with ten bases across six different states and is continuing its 5G rollout, reports Bringing high capacity LTE service to cellular users will be the first step on the march to advancing 5G. The full solicitation can be seen here.

In what it refers to as "fence-to-fence coverage,” the Air Force is making it easier for providers to add outdoor small cell antennas to the leased property within the base to improve the level of connectivity. The process includes a government Lease for Cellular Infrastructure that will allow a provider to operate at no cost to the government. The solicitation reads: “The goal is to team with commercial industry for the installation of additional cellular infrastructure to deliver expanded coverage and increased capacity on Air Force bases. To ensure all bases receive enhanced cellular coverage and capacity, the Air Force is grouping bases into regions and evaluating commercial lease opportunities to identify the best solution for each region. This opportunity is focused on Phase II USAF Midwest, which includes 20 installations ranging from Arizona up to North Dakota.” Continue Reading

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Verizon and Samsung Have 6.6 Billion Reasons to Make 5G Work

 Verizon's $6.6 billion handshake with South Korea's Samsung Electronics is being seen by analysts as a huge sign of faith between the two companies and the future of 5G development. The contract was inked last week, reports Yahoo Finance, and is quite a boost for Samsung's networking gear operations. 

“With this latest long-term strategic contract, we will continue to push the boundaries of 5G innovation to enhance mobile experiences for Verizon’s customers,” stated Samsung in an emailed announcement.

While Huawei still supplies much of the world's telecommunication components, its influence is shrinking as countries like the United States and Australia fear security breaches and ban the use of their products. Samsung, however, is on the rise and is currently the world's largest producer of memory chips and electronic support circuitry, according to the account. The company's decision to tackle the global market has affected not only rival Huawei, but also leading players like Nokia and Ericsson. Continue Reading

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Confusing 911 Process Leads To Teen’s Drowning

 On June 4, first responders arrived too late to save a drowning 16-year-old in the Potomac River, reported WTOP News. Now, the reason for the delay is under investigation, putting a series of transferred 911 calls, confusion over the victim’s location, and a decades-old policy on emergency agency jurisdiction under the microscope.

In a Loudoun County Board of Supervisors meeting on September 1, a 77-page report — jointly conducted by the fire and rescue departments of Loudoun County, VA and Montgomery County, MD — revealed operational and technological shortcomings that lead to the death of Fitz Thomas. The teenager was swimming with friends, who placed emergency calls from cell phones received by operators in both Loudoun and Montgomery counties. Loudoun County Fire Chief Keith Johnson said efforts were hampered by technical issues, difficulty ascertaining the teen’s location and a long-standing response protocol. Continue Reading

Friday, September 4, 2020

FCC Proposes $163K Fine Against ISP for Allegedly Overstated Service Data

 The FCC proposed a $163,912 fine against an internet service provider for apparently overstating its subscriber numbers. The figure, levied against Barrier Communications Corporation d/b/a BarrierFree, is the maximum amount allowed by law.

In a revised March 2018 filing, and in September 2019 and March 2020 filings, the agency said BarrierFree apparently reported having vastly more broadband subscribers than there were housing units in the Suffolk County, New York census tracts where it reported providing service. The company also apparently failed to submit its March 2019 broadband deployment data Form 477 filing, provide accurate responses to Letters of Inquiry issued by the Commission’s Enforcement Bureau during the investigation, and fully respond to inquiries.

In proposing this fine, the Commission also explained that BarrierFree apparently failed to file any Form 477s before 2018, even though the company had been offering service since 2004, and “vastly overstated” its broadband deployment in its original March 2018 Form 477 filing. However, the Commission acknowledged that those apparent violations of Commission rules fell outside the one-year statute of limitations. Continue Reading

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Winning Bidders in The 3.5 GHz Auction Are…

 Verizon Wireless was the big winner in the FCC’s recent auction of Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) licenses. The telecom bid more than $1.89 billion for Priority Access Licenses (PALs) in the 3550-3650 MHz band (Auction 105), the FCC said Tuesday. The agency explained the auction made available the greatest number of spectrum licenses ever in a single FCC auction.

Dish Network, using the name Wetterhorn Wireless, committed the second-highest amount of money — over $912.9 million. Charter Communications, Comcast and Cox Communications rounded out the top five, bidding more than $464 million, $458 million and $212 million, respectively.

By license count, Dish won the largest amount at 5,492 PALs. SAL Spectrum LLC came in second at 1,569 PALs. AMG Technology Investment Group was next at 1,072 licenses. Windstream Services and XF Wireless Investment/Comcast rounded out the top five at 1,014 PALs and 830 PALs, respectively. Continue Reading

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

CTI Towers Sells 1,150 Tower Portfolio to Melody Investments

Melody Investment Advisors, an alternative asset manager focused on mission-critical communications infrastructure, yesterday announced the entry into a definitive agreement to acquire CTI Towers. CTI has been majority owned by Comcast Ventures, Comcast Corporation's venture investment arm.

“It is very exciting to be working with Melody,” Tony Peduto, CTI’s CEO told Inside Towers. “I have known John Apostolides for 12 years and look forward to growing the company with him, Omar Jaffrey and their team. It was a great ten year run with Dave Zilberman and Comcast Ventures. Dave has been first-class since the day we met,” Peduto said. “Our employees are excited to continue operating and contributing to the vital industry of which we are a part.”

CTI Towers, based in Cary, NC, owns and manages approximately 1,150 towers in 47 states. The management team of CTI Towers will continue to operate and manage the company. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. The transaction is expected to close later in 2020, subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions. Continue Reading

Monday, August 31, 2020

Cable Asks Appeals Court, FCC to Stop C-Band Repack; NAB Opposes

Small cablecos are taking the next step in their fight with the FCC over C-band repack reimbursements. ACA Connects, the association that represents small cable companies, asked a federal court and the FCC to stay the Commission’s September 14 deadline. Broadcasters, who are also impacted by the C-band repack, opposed the request, calling cablecos greedy.

By the deadline, earth station operators that choose a lump sum reimbursement for vacating the lower portion of the band must do so. The FCC wants to auction frequencies in the lower portion of the band for 5G.

The original deadline was August 31, but the FCC extended it based on a request from the Society of Broadcast Engineers, Inside Towers reported. ACA Connects asked the agency to stay the deadline and reconsider the underlying decision; it also asked for a decision on the stay by August 26, which did not happen, reported Multichannel News. Continue Reading

Friday, August 28, 2020

NOT an Exit Interview: Inside Towers Talks to Jennifer Fritzsche

Having recently left her position as Senior Market Analyst for Wells Fargo Securities, Jennifer Fritzsche has quietly rested, regrouped, re-evaluated and, in another capacity, returned to the wireless infrastructure space. As a well known analyst and pundit on towers, Fritzsche took the time for an exclusive talk with Inside Towers. 

Inside Towers (IT): So, Jennifer, can we call this an exit interview?
Jennifer Fritzsche (JF): I will say this as firmly as I can, this is NOT an exit interview! I am just shifting the lens through which I am looking at the communications infrastructure space.

IT: So you’re still in the game? Great to hear. What was behind your decision to leave Wells Fargo?
JF: It was such a tough decision to leave Wells – and ironically I resigned 25 years to the day I was hired at Wells….or predecessor firm they acquired along the way. During my time as a sell-side analyst, I used to listen to all my internal analyst colleagues speak about their respective areas of, healthcare, retail, etc…. and think I won the lottery ticket of stock coverage. This space continues to be everchanging – which makes it all the more exciting. Continue Reading

Thursday, August 27, 2020

FCC Concludes First 5G Mid-Band Spectrum Auction

The FCC Tuesday announced the successful conclusion of bidding in its auction of Priority Access Licenses in the 3550-3650 MHz band. This auction, which was designated as Auction 105, made available the greatest number of spectrum licenses ever in a single FCC auction. This 70 megahertz of licensed spectrum will further the deployment of 5G, the next generation of wireless connectivity, as well as the Internet of Things and other advanced spectrum-based services.

Bidding in the auction of 70 megahertz of Priority Access Licenses (PALs) in the 3550-3650 MHz band (Auction 105) concluded yesterday following round 76. Gross proceeds reached $4,585,663,345, and bidders won 20,625 of 22,631, or more than 91.1 percent, of available licenses.

The FCC will announce details of auction results in a few days, including the names of Auction 105 winning bidders, payment deadlines and more.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Shared Backhaul Access Points Could Accelerate 5G

The hype about 5G is usually aimed at consumers whose fast and fancy smartphones are expected to blossom with 5th generation possibilities. While 5G is on a rapid roll-out, the promise of fabulous universal connectivity is an incomplete and ongoing process. Tapping into 5G's backhaul potential could bring immediate benefits to areas where it is now available, says

Farpoint Group principal Craig Mathias explains that an arrangement that allows both infrastructure and end users to connect through the same 5G access points could benefit from a 5G backhaul set-up. He says that looking at 5G as its own entity rather than as a wireless component will open up different avenues for its use. "5G is not about augmenting wire," he said. "It's about replacing it." Continue Reading

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

O’Rielly’s Re-Nomination Withdrawal Causes Backlash

UPDATE Inside Towers reported yesterday the White House reversed course and withdrew Michael O'Rielly's nomination for another five-year term on the FCC. The action came after a Senate committee approved his reappointment on July 22.

The White House gave no explanation for the change. Speculation Tuesday centered around O’Rielly’s comments last week warning against government intervention into speech on social media. President Donald Trump in May ordered the Commerce Department to petition the FCC to impose new regulations on social media moderation practices. The order directed the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to draw up a proposal to the FCC to limit the liability protections that tech platforms currently enjoy for third-party content on their sites under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

First Amendment advocates have raised doubts that such a move would withstand constitutional scrutiny, but the FCC on Monday opened up the proposal for public comment, according to Deadline. It now will go through a 45-day period for comments. Continue Reading

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Panel Sends O’Rielly FCC Nomination to Full Senate

The Senate Commerce Committee sent the re-nomination of GOP FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly to the floor Wednesday. The vote provided clues to his prospects in that chamber.
In a voice vote, the committee passed his re-nomination. However four Democrats opposed it. Ranking member Maria Cantwell (WA) voted “no,” as did fellow Democrats Amy Klobuchar (MN), Richard Blumenthal (CT), and Brian Schatz (HI). Cantwell explained that in 2018, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel determined that O’Rielly violated the Hatch Act with political comments made at a conservative political action conference.   

Cantwell also said that O’Rielly “had recently injected, I believe, politics into part of the spectrum issue,” which she said she found “disturbing.” It wasn’t clear what she was referring to. 
The comments may be an indication O’Rielly’s nomination could get mired in the various Hill conflicts surrounding 5G spectrum battles that have dominated the congressional calendar this year, reports Politico. The Senate Commerce telecom subcommittee is holding a hearing today to review how the FCC and the administration have handled recent wireless decisions.

However Committee Chairman Roger Wicker (R-MS) said he looked forward to advancing O’Rielly’s nomination. “The COVID-19 pandemic has Americans relying more on broadband than ever, [and] technologies like telehealth and remote learning are advancing rapidly,” Wicker said. “I appreciate O’Rielly’s commitment to speedy services and ensuring we are targeting the areas that need it most.” Continue Reading

Friday, July 17, 2020

FCC Takes Another Step to Secure 5G Networks

With a 5-0 vote, the FCC yesterday took more steps to protect the communications infrastructure supply chain. The issue is at the heart of so-called “rip and replace,” the effort to find and fund replacement of rural carriers’ untrusted network equipment purchased from Huawei and ZTE. The vote took place during a week when the U.K. reversed an earlier decision and decided to block untrusted Chinese-made gear from its 5G networks.

FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly said all federal agencies should be on the same page “before publishing a list of equipment that could cause concern,” referring to a list the agency will develop and maintain. His colleague, Commissioner Brendan Carr said Huawei’s response to other country’s concerns about having its gear in their networks has been: “why would we risk our reputation by making our products insecure? Why would the Chinese regime risk that?”

Carr said: “These were meant to be rhetorical questions.” But after the Chinese government crackdown in Hong Kong, he emphasized, “they can’t be.” Continue Reading