T-Mobile Ahead of Schedule After Incentive Auction

After this year’s incentive auction finished in April, the telecoms that acquired the 600 MHz spectrum licenses were expected to take up to three years to transition to the new frequencies. However, T-Mobile has already installed network sites broadcasting in the spectrum bands it purchased. The carrier acquired licenses to the spectrum between 617-652 MHZ and 663-698 MHz. Continue reading

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First Look at the New ANSI 222 Standards

An Inside Towers Exclusive

TO ORDER

In an industry where change comes frequently, new equipment, improved procedures, climatic events and accelerated demand have all contributed in pushing a new set of rules forward in the industry standards and practices. Through the collaboration of the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) and American National Standard Institute (ANSI), those new standards have been revised and today will be made available to the telecommunications industry and reissued as the ANSI/TIA-222-H.  Although the official announcement will be made later today, Inside Towers has been given an exclusive look at the new standards and permission, via TIA, to publish advanced access to the links to acquire the document itself.   Continue reading

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SoftBank and Lendlease Team Up for Tower Roll-up

In a joint venture with Australia’s Lendlease Group, SoftBank Group Corp. intends to buy approximately 8,000 cellular sites across the U.S. Lendlease will be the joint venture manager, asset manager and development manager.

The new infrastructure company, Lendlease Towers, aims to partner with major U.S. carriers to roll out further phases of their infrastructure plans to meet growing demand for data. The goal is to obtain $5 billion of telecom assets, “over the medium term,” through a development and acquisition-based strategy, says a Lendlease spokesman. Continue reading

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California’s SB 649 Vetoed by Governor Brown

UPDATE Earlier this month, Inside Towers reported on California’s Senate Bill 649 proposed by Sen. Ben Hueso (D-San Diego), aiming to lower the build-out cost for wireless infrastructure, allowing more telecoms to enter the market and compete, specifically regarding small cells. The decision came down to Gov. Jerry Brown, who vetoed the bill late Sunday, reported The Mercury News.

In a signing statement, Brown wrote that while he saw the value in “extending this innovative technology rapidly and efficiently,” the bill took too much control away from cities and counties.

Industry trade groups were quick to react.  “WIA is disappointed that Gov. Brown decided to veto this important piece of legislation,” said Jonathan Adelstein, President and CEO of WIA, “which would have spurred the widespread deployment of the wireless infrastructure that is needed to improve network capacity in the near term and provide a foundation for the deployment of 5G networks going forward. California needs to enact laws that streamline the permitting process and grant greater access to public rights-of-way or its residents will be left behind.”

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Wildfires Didn’t Take the Weekend Off

Communications in the region have been difficult since the fires broke out last weekend, with many residents losing their power and struggling to find reliable cell coverage. State officials said Wednesday morning that the National Guard has brought in a satellite cell system to help people connect with loved ones. (see AT&T article below about donating for relief efforts)

Of the 77 cell towers knocked out in the fires, all but eight have been restored, according to the California Office of Emergency Services. Continue reading

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Repack Tower Work Predicted to Peak Next Year

American Tower Corp. has been helping broadcasters with stations on its towers develop a repack plan. Of the 987 stations being repacked, the towerco has 218 licensees on 133 towers, according to James Stenberg, Principal Engineer, RF Broadcast for American.

The company has categorized the type of tower work needed, from antenna work to moderate modifications to complex jobs, such as candelabra towers or heavily loaded smaller towers, he told attendees at the IEEE Broadcast Symposium in the Washington, D.C. area last Thursday. “There’s a lot of work early on” in the schedule, he said. “The peak is next year.” Continue reading

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U.S. Justice Department Likely Opposed to Sprint/T-Mobile Merger

UPDATE  Reuters reported that when Sprint Corp and T-Mobile U.S. Inc bring their expected merger plans – agreed upon in late September –  to the U.S. Department of Justice for antitrust review, the staff will likely recommend putting a stop to any further plans.

Inside Towers previously reported on the current merger talks, which aren’t new. Three years ago, Sprint and T-Mobile discussed a deal, but the former abandoned it, due to opposition from U.S. antitrust regulators. Continue reading

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Carriers Mobilize Response to California Wildfires

Carriers are doing what they can to help California residents affected by the wildfires. Flames cut a fiber-optic cable that passes data and voice calls to and from several Napa-area cell towers, Sprint confirmed to the Napa Valley Register. The ability of Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T crews to repair tower damage is affected by extensive power failures and roadblocks cutting off evacuated areas. Continue reading

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U.S. Air Power Flies Portable AT&T Towers to PR

Federal agents from multiple law enforcement agencies are helping to restore communications in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency, Postal Service and others worked with the Air National Guard and the Air Force to bring and erect at least five AT&T portable cell phone towers to the San Juan area, according to the Department of Defense and the carrier. Normally, the towers are trucked in to a location; this marked the first time the mobile cell towers were flown to a location in need, according to AT&T. Continue reading

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FCC Okays Balloons to Restore Connectivity in PR

The FCC granted an experimental license for Project Loon, led by Google’s parent company Alphabet, to help provide emergency cell service in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. “More than two weeks after Hurricane Maria struck, millions of Puerto Ricans are still without access to much-needed communications services,” said Chairman Pai. Project Loon is a network of balloons that provides connectivity to users on the ground. Pai called the approach “innovative” and said more such ideas are needed to restore connectivity on the island.

“I’m glad the FCC was able to grant this experimental license with dispatch and I urge wireless carriers to cooperate with Project Loon to maximize this effort’s chances of success,” said Pai. Project Loon obtained consent agreements to use land mobile radio spectrum in the 900 MHz band from existing carriers operating within Puerto Rico.

The license extends from October 6, 2017 until April 4, 2018, and was granted to Ben Wojtowicz, a software engineer and member of Alphabet’s X lab who works on Project Loon. The experiment may be a shot in the arm to the technology (see more in Going Up).

October 10, 2017   

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