Just as turkeys were being prepared for the oven last week, the FCC reheated an issue leftover from 2011 when it was petitioned by industry advocates to realign the pole rates telecoms pay utility companies and bring parity to cable companies. Late Tuesday, the commission issued its long awaited, much discussed 44-page decision which effectively reduced telecom rates to what cable providers pay. What’s really behind all of it is the commission’s desire to promote deployment of broadband service nationwide.
“The 2011 revisions sought to bring the telecom and cable rates into parity,” the FCC said in explaining its new rule. “In the intervening time, we have seen that our revisions did not fully achieve that objective. Today, we take the next logical step in achieving the goals set forth in 2011.” The commission added, “We additionally act to support incentives for deployment of broadband facilities, particularly in rural areas, and to harmonize regulatory treatment between states where the Commission regulates the rates, terms, and conditions for pole attachments and states where such matters are regulated by the state.” The Commission said subjecting cable operators to higher pole attachment rates “merely because they also provide telecommunications services, such as broadband Internet access, could deter investment in states subject to Commission pole regulation, which would undermine the Commission’s broadband deployment policy. By keeping pole attachment rates unified and low, we further our overarching goal to accelerate deployment of broadband by removing barriers to infrastructure investment and promoting competition.”
Pretty much everyone but the owners of poles — utility companies – were happy about the FCC moving forward. On Wednesday afternoon, amid the pushing and shoving at Reagan National Airport to get out of Dodge for the long weekend, PCIA – The Wireless Infrastructure Association said, “PCIA is pleased that the FCC has taken steps to ensure a competitive marketplace for broadband services — including wireless broadband — that leverage existing utility infrastructure. The Commission’s action is in keeping with efforts that PCIA is pursuing before state public utility commissions in Arkansas, Washington, and California to revise pole attachment rules and thereby spur the deployment of wireless infrastructure.”
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November 30, 2015 | Tower-Pro
If you tried to access the FCC’s website yesterday you realized that along with the government shutdown the FCC shutdown as well taking their website with it. Even the FCC tweeted, “We’re sorry, but FCC will not be tweeting or responding to @ replies during the government shutdown.” So what exactly does this mean?
Well the FCC posted their Plan for Orderly Shutdown Due to Lapse of Congressional Appropriations and it explains that, “Suspended activities include, among many others: Consumer complaint and inquiry phone lines cannot be answered; consumer protection and local competition enforcement must cease; licensing services, including broadcast, wireless, and wireline, must cease; management of radio spectrum and the creation of new opportunities for competitive technologies and services for the American public must be suspended; and equipment authorizations, including those bringing new electronic devices to American consumers, cannot be provided.”
However, the FCC explains that telecommunications companies must continue to use the Network Outage Reporting System, which will remain available during the shutdown. These companies will still be able to filed reports of telecommunication service disruption because this information is essential to maintain and improve the reliability and security of the telecommunications infrastructure.
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October 2, 2013 | Tower-Pro
Last week, the Federal Communications Commission released a report proposing an action to improve the wireless network reliability during disasters. They plan to do this by, “requiring wireless service providers to publicly disclose the percentage of cell sites within their networks that are operational during and immediately after disasters,” the FCC explains.
The FCC does understand that some wireless service interruptions may be unavoidable during emergencies but the goal is to minimize the number of interruptions. “For example, Superstorm Sandy disabled approximately 25 percent of cell sites in the affected region, with more than 50 percent of cell sites disabled in the hardest-hit counties, yet not all wireless networks were equally impaired,” the report noted. It was also mentioned that the practices that these wireless service providers use could play a role in the variation of the reliability of the structure during natural disasters.
“The FCC’s proposal would require wireless service providers to submit to the FCC, for public disclosure on a daily basis during and immediately after disasters, the percentage of operational cell sites for each county within a designated disaster area. Information yielding these percentages is already included in voluntary reports that wireless service providers submit to the FCC daily during disasters, albeit on a presumptively confidential basis and as part of a larger set of data,” the report explained.
September 30, 2013 | Tower-Pro
Today, the FCC announced that they will approve of AT&T’s acquisition of Alltel. At the beginning of the year, AT&T announced it would be buying Alltel’s customers and spectrum for $780 million. The FCC explained that they were going to stop their informal 180-day time clock to review the transactions because AT&T didn’t provide its plans for transitioning Alltel’s significant pre-paid customer base.
The FCC explained in their report that, “In this Memorandum Opinion and Order, we approve, subject to conditions, the applications of AT&T and ATN (together, the “Applicants”) for Commission consent to the transfer of control of, and assignment of, a number of cellular, Personal Communications Services (“PCS”), Lower 700 MHz Band B and C Block, and common carrier fixed point-to-point microwave licenses; spectrum leasing authorizations; and an international section 214 authorization from ATN’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Allied, to AT&T.”
Once this transaction is complete, approximately 620,000 customers, along with network equipment and other assets, will be transferred from Allied to AT&T.
September 20, 2013 | Tower-Pro
Duke University Professor, Bates White Partner, and former FCC Chief Economist Leslie Marx submitted a report to the FCC that states that proposals to restrict Verizon’s and AT&T’s participation in the upcoming Incentive Auction would “put at risk its twin priorities of raising significant revenue and reallocating a substantial amount of spectrum from broadcast to mobile wireless services.”
The proposed rules to the Incentive Auction would limit Verizon’s and AT&T’s ability to bid for spectrum. The motive behind these rules is to encourage smaller firms to participate in the auction, but Dr. Marx explains that, “I have analyzed proposals to restrict the participation of Verizon and AT&T in the Incentive Auction in order to prevent the anticompetitive foreclosure of smaller rivals. The evidence does not support assertions that anticompetitive foreclosure is likely.”
The FCC is expected to reach a decision concerning the Incentive Auction by the end of the year. Dr. Marx conducted this research on behalf of Verizon Wireless. The report was submitted to the FCC on September 18, 2013.
September 20, 2013 | Tower-Pro
On July 15, 2013 the Federal Communications Commission announced its intention to hold an auction of licenses in the 1915-1920 MHz (Lower H Block) and 1995-2000 MHz (Upper H Black) bands. The auction is set for January 2014 and Sprint believes the FCC should keep the auction as schedule. However, T-Mobile US Inc. and Dish Network Corporation is pushing for the FCC to consider waiting until later in 2014 to hold the auction so that additional frequencies will be available and can attract more money.
In a January auction, “It is possible that only one bidder will participate,” T-Mobile, the fourth-largest U.S. mobile provider, told the FCC in an August filing.
In an auction like this, carriers like to buy adjacent frequencies so they can deploy a single channel. There is no hard evidence that pushing the auction date back a few months will increase government revenues. Companies aren’t required to disclose whether or not they are participating in the auction until the filing deadline.
According to the FCC, “To get filing instructions, filers should send an e-mail to [email protected], and include the following words in the body of the message: ‘get form.’ A sample form and directions will be sent in response.”
September 6, 2013 | Tower-Pro
There has been a lot of discussion about the wireless spectrum and its finite capabilities. The CTIA discussed how the spectrum is the backbone of wireless because wireless technology is connecting people in ways previously thought impossible.
“Spectrum is the fuel that makes this wireless connection possible, but it’s a finite resource that is highly valued. That’s why the wireless industry has been calling for the government to take unused and underutilized spectrum and auction it for its highest and best use,” the CTIA explained.
The FCC will be conducting a spectrum auction next year where TV station owners will be able to auction off their spectrum licenses to broadband wireless carriers. By using auctions, the FCC seeks to award licenses to those who value them most and who will have an incentive to use them most effectively.
“The need for more spectrum has never been greater, and although the U.S. wireless industry is the most efficient user of spectrum in the world, it will need more in the near future to meet the significant demand of consumers and businesses and continue providing them with the world’s best and most innovative mobile products and services,” the CTIA said.
September 3, 2013 | Tower-Pro
While often time’s members of communities are upset over the possibility of a cell tower, the residents of Alamosa County, Colorado couldn’t be more pleased about Verizon’s plan to bring six new cell phone towers to the Valley. The first location was approved this past Wednesday for Highway 160.
The communications provider intends to install the six towers to fill the cell phone service void in eastern Alamosa County and northwest Costilla County, placing three towers in each, said Verizon representative Kelly Harrison, Closser Consulting during the ACC’s regular meeting. (Source: Valley Courier)
These new towers will enable Verizon’s 4G LTE data capabilities and provide the nearby emergency responder with more defined information from 911 calls. The FCC estimated that about 70% of 911 calls are placed from a cell phone and that number is only growing.
“While the location of the cell site closest to the 911 caller may provide a general indication of the caller’s location, that information is not usually specific enough for rescue personnel to deliver assistance to the caller quickly,” the FCC explains.
The 4G LTE data is able provide more detailed information to emergency responders, which will help when someone dials 911 from a cell phone. However, when calling 911 from a cell phone make sure to give your address first so the responders will be able to locate you quickly.
August 30, 2013 | Tower-Pro
Wireless phone carrier, AT&T, is suing Corrales, NM in U.S. District Court claiming that the village council violated the federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 in denying AT&T’s request to construct a 65-foot tower on a commercially zoned site. Last week the village planning and zoning commission denied AT&T a special use permit for the tower.
AT&T is required by the federal law to provide service, and in order to do so, the company must “consistently update its technology, facilities and network to keep up to date with its customers’ ever-growing demand for mobile services,” the complaint said.
The Corrales Planning and Zoning commission denied the application for a permit back in April because they believed the proposed tower wasn’t compatible with nearby residential properties and the agricultural character of the village.
August 28, 2013 | Tower-Pro