Friday, October 29, 2021

American Tower Rocks Double-Digit Growth

 By John Celentano, Inside Towers Business Editor American Tower (NYSE: AMT) reported its Q3 results with double-digit growth across all key metrics on a year-over-year basis.

Total property revenues grew to $2.4 billion in 3Q21, up over 19 percent from $2.0 billion in 3Q20. In AMT’s domestic markets, comprising the U.S. and Canada, revenue grew 10 percent to $1.2 billion, accounting for 52 percent of the total. 

International markets showed the biggest revenue gains from organic growth and acquisitions, particularly Telxius in Europe, growing 32 percent to $1.1 billion. AMT closed the last tranche of the Telxius deal during the quarter, adding 4,000 towers in Germany. In the same period, Adjusted EBITDA grew nearly 20 percent to $1.6 billion while consolidated AFFO increased 13 percent to $1.2 billion.  Continue Reading

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Biden Nominates Rosenworcel as Permanent FCC Chair

 By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief President Joe Biden yesterday nominated Acting FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel to lead the agency. The action makes her the first woman to chair the almost 100-year agency, according to the White House. Biden also nominated former FCC official Gigi Sohn to the open Democratic seat on the Commission and attorney Alan Davidson to head the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

Rosenworcel said she was “deeply humbled” by the designation as FCC Chair. “It is an honor to work with my colleagues on the Commission and the agency’s talented staff to ensure that no matter who you are or where you live, everyone has the connections they need to live, work, and learn in the digital age,” said Rosenworcel in a statement. She also congratulated Sohn and Davidson. Continue Reading

Friday, October 22, 2021

Crown Castle Surfs the Wireless Build Out Tsunami

 By John Celentano, Inside Towers Business Editor Crown Castle International (NYSE: CCI) is enjoying “outsized” results as its major mobile network operator tenants – T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon – accelerate their 5G deployments. This high level of network infrastructure construction is driving cell site modifications and upgrades to existing sites among the Big 3 MNOs. Newcomer DISH Network is adding new cell sites on CCI’s existing towers.

Through the nine months ending September 30, CCI’s 2021 consolidated site rental revenue was nearly $4.3 billion, up 7 percent over the same period in 2020. Services revenue grew 16 percent YoY to $441 million. Adjusted EBITDA reached $2.8 billion, a 12 percent increase and adjusted funds from operations (AFFO) grew 20 percent to $2.2 billion. Continue Reading

Thursday, October 21, 2021

RWA Asks FCC to Make Carriers Keep 3G Operating For Now

 By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief The Rural Wireless Association (RWA) urged the FCC to require the three major nationwide carriers — AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile — to delay the shutdown of their 3G networks. Each carrier has announced plans to sunset 3G service on dates ranging from December 31, 2021, (T-Mobile) to mid-2022 (Verizon and AT&T).

The RWA told the agency its rural member carriers need more time to transition to VoLTE (Voice over LTE) roaming before 3G is shut down nationwide. Rural Americans served by RWA members are already experiencing the effects of these shutdowns, the association told the Commission. “RWA carrier members across the country are receiving reports from their rural customers of degraded or nonexistent 3G coverage in advance of these 3G sunset deadlines announced by the nationwide carriers,” said RWA attorneys in an FCC filing. Continue Reading

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Phoenix Tower Agrees to Own and Operate Towers in the French West Indies

 Phoenix Tower International (PTI) and Outremer Telecom yesterday announced they have entered into an exclusivity agreement regarding the acquisition by Phoenix of 203 wireless towers, together with newly constructed wireless towers over 10 years across the French West Indies through a build-to-suit program. The transaction gives PTI over 437 towers in that market. The deal will result in Phoenix and Outremer Telecom establishing a long-term partnership whereby Outremer Telecom would occupy the sites for at least 20 years.

“With this transaction, PTI would continue to expand its presence across European territories and its disciplined investment strategy,” stated Phoenix Tower International CEO Dagan Kasavana. “The increased presence of PTI, a neutral host independent tower company, in the region would facilitate increased coverage expansion for all wireless operators and ultimately enhanced connectivity for the population of French West Indies. PTI is proud to be working with the mobile network operators across the world and is pleased to have entered into advanced discussions with the Altice Group on this transaction,” he added.

“I am enthusiastic about the prospect of creating a new tower partnership in the French West Indies. Phoenix Tower International would be a long-term partner of the highest quality who shares our vision to invest in leading infrastructure,” stated Outremer Telecom CEO Mathieu Cocq.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Maryland Beach Resort Seeks to Dismiss Crown Castle Suit

 UPDATE The town of Ocean City, MD filed a motion last week to dismiss a civil suit concerning its denial of proposed small cell sites in uptown residential neighborhoods. It asserts the “no” decision was not a denial of a formal application from a telecom company.

Crown Castle applied in June to install three small cell towers in the north end of town. Crown Castle has wireless facilities in other parts of the resort and contracts with providers such as Verizon to provide hardware, according to mdcoastdispatch. Continue Reading

Monday, October 11, 2021

AT&T and Frontier Communications Strike Network Deal

 AT&T will work with Frontier Communications to bring fiber-optic connectivity to large enterprise customers outside AT&T’s current footprint. The two companies signed multi-year agreements that will also support deployment of AT&T’s 5G mobility network.

The companies say this is important as the demand for edge computing and 5G networks grows, so too does the need for resilient fiber pathways for connectivity. Enterprises need more bandwidth to keep data moving fast. By collaborating with Frontier, AT&T says it will be able to offer large enterprise customers high-speed, low-latency and highly secure connectivity in markets where it does not own a fiber network or currently plan to build one. AT&T will tap Frontier’s Ethernet network to boost connectivity between cell towers and the core network. Continue Reading

Friday, October 8, 2021

FCC Cleaning Up RDOF Fund Releasing Nearly $164 Million for Broadband

 The FCC is ready to authorize a total of nearly $164 million to 42 providers in the second round of funding for new broadband deployments through the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund. The Commission also continues to work to refocus the program to ensure that funding goes to unserved areas that need broadband.

In this funding wave, broadband providers will bring fiber-to-the-home gigabit broadband to approximately 65,000 locations in 21 states over the next 10 years. The Commission continues to closely review long-form applications of other winning bidders that were previously announced to ensure they meet the technical, financial, and operational capabilities to comply with program obligations. Continue Reading

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Tower Company Heads Give Mayo and DISH Buildout High Marks

 By J. Sharpe Smith Inside Towers Technology Editor The heads of major tower companies said the nationwide buildout of DISH Wireless is providing a “flood of work” and gave Dave Mayo, Executive VP, Network Development, a vote of confidence during The View From the Top session yesterday at the Connectivity Expo in Orlando. “They have come out of the gates very quickly. They organized a team. I understand it's well over 1,000 folks strong now,” said Jeff Stoops, President and CEO, SBA Communications.  “They're busy, They are prepared. They are organized. They are real, and the network build is happening. Dave has put together a very good machine there and it's working.”

DISH has a build program that is set to run for four years. By June 2022, DISH Wireless must cover 20 percent of the nation’s POPs, and 70 percent of the population by June 2023, which is considered nationwide coverage. It has another deadline pushes cover out to 75 percent of the population in each economic area by June 2025 for even more coverage.

Steve Vondran, Executive VP and President, U.S. Tower Division, American Tower, said it is “very exciting” because of the level of capital that DISH Wireless is investing in its network. “We are going as fast as we can for Dave,” Vondran said. “I think we will be busy for years to come.” Continue Reading

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

After 18 Months, Connect(X) Finally Reopens Live in Orlando


WIA President and CEO Jonathan Adelstein addresses
Connect(X) attendees with opening remarks
Photos by J. Sharpe Smith

A year and a half after having to suspend its annual live conference due to COVID, WIA President and CEO Jonathan Adelstein opened the event Tuesday expressing his gratitude and thanks for being able to reconvene under new parameters. Adelstein drew laughter and applause from the audience by appearing in “Zoomware” attire, … a sport coat, tie, and patriotic shorts...before realizing he was in front of a live audience and quickly retiring for a brief wardrobe adjustment. Although firm attendance numbers were not yet available, Adelstein told Inside Towers he estimated they were similar to previous gatherings with little attrition. 

“It really feels like a family reunion” he said in his opening remarks, citing the 29 months since WIA’s last in-person trade show. “So, let’s treat each other like family, let’s get through this together -- safely.”  

“I’m grateful we’re all here together at Connect(X) 2021. It’s lining up as the best WIA has ever put on. It’s been 18 months in the making. I can’t thank you all enough for making the trek and joining us this week,” Adelstein said, adding a somber note of remembrance. “Some of you have lost members of your family. Many have lost friends. People we know, people we love. Taken too soon by this cruel pandemic. Friends like Jake Macleod. A friend of many of yours -- a friend of WIA -- and a friend of mine. A big strong man who loved life, his family, loved to hunt and fish. And contributed so much as the first leader of our Innovation and Technology Council. We lost him last year before the vaccine. Gone too soon,” he said. “Thinking of Jake -- and so many others – let's take care of each other this week.” Continue Reading

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Infrastructure Bill Hangs in The Balance - Again

 By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief Democrats have a new deadline to enact President Joe Biden’s agenda. The party will try to pass both a bipartisan infrastructure bill and a broad spending package by the end of this month, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) told his caucus Monday. So far, the infrastructure legislation still contains $65 billion in broadband deployment grants. The party hopes to pass the plans before the October 31 expiration of major transportation funding programs, which the infrastructure legislation would renew.

Democrats will have to satisfy progressives who thought the original $3.5 trillion price was too small and at least one centrist who wants to spend no more than $1.5 trillion. Negotiations around the plan kicked into high gear last week as lawmakers tried, and failed, to meet their self-imposed Thursday deadline to get both bills passed in the House. Talks would need to yield an agreement in the coming days for lawmakers to write and pass a measure in time, according to CNBC. Continue Reading

Monday, October 4, 2021

New York's 50-Mile UAS Corridor to Test 5G Network for Drones

 5G is coming to the New York State 50-mile unmanned aircraft systems corridor between Syracuse and Rome, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced last week. What is said to be the first FAA-designated UAS test site with a bespoke 5G network will be installed by the MITRE Engenuity Open Generation 5G Consortium, which is a collaborative effort to accelerate 5G use cases for Uncrewed Aircraft Systems (UAS) programs, public safety, remote healthcare, smart cities, and autonomous vehicles.

NUAIR, a New York-based nonprofit UAS organization, manages New York's 50-mile unmanned aircraft systems corridor and will help to implement the 5G network. With coordination from NUAIR, the corridor will include an experimentation hub with more than 100 square miles dedicated to 5G beyond-visual-line-of-site testing and long-range flight paths. Continue Reading

Friday, October 1, 2021

FCC Votes to Update Network Telecom Outage Reporting Rules

 By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief The FCC wants to improve cell network resiliency during natural disasters as well as its own communications reporting system. That’s why the Commissioners voted 4-0 on Thursday to adopt a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on these topics as well as strategies to mitigate the effect of power outages on communications networks.

The NPRM seeks comment on proposed improvements to the Wireless Network Resiliency Cooperative Framework, a voluntary industry agreement that includes mutual aid during disasters. One of those questions is whether broadband service outages should be reported in the agency’s mandatory Network Outage Reporting System.

Both Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel and Commissioner Brendan Carr went to Louisiana this week to see damage from Hurricane Ida. Carr said at one 911 call center they visited, messages poured in from residents during the hurricane. One message read: “Water in house. Stuck in attic,” he said during the vote. He’s hopeful for changes that would ensure “seamless” call roaming during disasters and deepen coordination between power and telecom repair crews, noting accidental fiber cuts still happen during restoration. Continue Reading