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