Updating FCC Broadband Coverage Map Critical to Rural Expansion

The FCC’s National Broadband Map is outdated and updating it is key to any infrastructure package hoping to boost the nation’s high speed internet. Several witnesses speaking at a House Communications Subcommittee hearing Wednesday suggested the FCC continue to concentrate on ensuring areas that don’t have broadband at all are targeted by public and private investment rather than upgrading areas that do have some broadband service.

Subcommittee Chair Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and full House Commerce Committee Chair Greg Walden (R-OR) said they intend to learn from past mistakes and get the map right first before distributing any federal funds. Continue reading

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Hasty USF Fund Changes Could Leave ‘Rusty Towers’ Across Rural America

C Spire’s Eric Graham and NTCA’s Shirley Bloomfield testified on Capitol Hill Tuesday. Photos by Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers

Ten years of flat funding in the FCC’s Mobility Fund have led to a situation of wireless carriers “robbing” from potential new rural customers in order to keep existing broadband service operating. Witnesses told lawmakers on a subcommittee of the Senate Commerce Committee on Tuesday the FCC needs to hit “pause” before going ahead with planned funding changes to re-distribute monies for rural broadband.  They said the FCC needs to fix a few things first to ensure money goes where it will actually do some good.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has criticized the Mobility Fund, which is part of its Universal Service Fund, for “wasteful” spending of some $25 million each month to subsidize wireless carriers in areas where private capital has been spent building out networks. Continue reading

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CTIA, WIA to FCC: Speed Up Historic Preservation Infrastructure Siting

CTIA and the Wireless Infrastructure Association have several suggestions how the FCC can update the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), so federal agencies can determine whether historic sites are present near proposed wireless infrastructure projects and, if so, whether those projects might impact important Tribal sites located on non-Tribal lands.  Antiquated procedures are hindering the build-out of wireless networks, say the trade associations.  The associations also cited how the FCC has historically administered NHPA, resulting in long delays and unreasonable costs. Continue reading

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FCC Plans Action on FirstNet, Blue Alerts This Week

The FCC has been voting up a storm at its public meetings since the administration change and Pai’s appointment to Chairman; the meeting this week is no exception. The agency will consider six telecom-related issues on Thursday. Two items are emergency-related. One is a proposal to add a Blue Alert code to EAS to deliver actionable information when a law enforcement officer is in trouble. Blue Alerts can be transmitted to cell phones and wireless devices, broadcast stations, overhead highway message signs, and other secondary alerting mechanisms – in the same way that Amber Alerts are commonly issued. While the Commission is initially proposing to add such alerts to EAS, it’s considering whether to add the code to Wireless Emergency Alerts too. Continue reading

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State DOT Challenges FCC “Shot Clock” Sharing Policy

The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) alerted the FCC to concerns regarding barriers to wireless infrastructure siting at the state and local level, advising that both industry and localities should carry the weight of issuing timely permits, reports Law360. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai proposed plans to ease wireless infrastructure deployment; some local officials have expressed concern about the potential preemption of local authority, Inside Towers has reported.

The FCC uses a “shot clock” for wireless siting applications and if a local authority goes beyond the prescribed timeline, carriers can take the issue to court, according to experts, cites Law360. Continue reading

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FCC Awards Over 2,300 600 MHz Licenses

The FCC granted more than 2,300 licenses in the 600 MHz band to wireless bidders; this is the broadcast television spectrum the carriers bid on in the incentive auction. We knew how much the carriers bid on the spectrum, a total of about $10 billion. What’s new, is how many licenses each bidder won and the markets those licenses are for. Continue reading

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Wireless Cyber Security Threats Real

More than half of mobile data traffic originates on mobile phones and that data is becoming more vulnerable to being hacked, especially as more devices connect to the internet. Holding up a smartphone, Symantec lobbyist Bill Wright told members of a House Communications and Technology Subcommittee on Tuesday “We need to start viewing these as computers and protecting them as computers.”

Though 4G LTE is ubiquitously deployed in the U.S., vulnerabilities exist in 2G and 3G mobile networks mainly outside the U.S., said Virginia Tech Professor Dr. Charles Clancy. Continue reading

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‘Partners in Broadband’ Forms for Rural America

Several rural infrastructure groups announced a joint campaign Monday to help promote collaboration and partnerships to deploy and operate broadband networks in unserved parts of rural America. The “Partners in Broadband” campaign focuses on creating alliances through a website that looks to connect those interested in delivering broadband to unserved rural communities with nearby partners that share a community commitment and have expertise in broadband network deployment and operation.

NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association, the National Information Solutions Cooperative, NRTC and National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corp. developed the new site, and will promote it to their customers and members, representing more than 1,500 community-based broadband and electric service providers in 49 states. Continue reading

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Report Shows U.S. Lags Behind in Mobile Internet Speeds

Akamai Technologies, using its Akamai Intelligent Platform, analyzed and recently released its first quarter 2017 State of the Internet Report, which measures important metrics, like connection speeds, broadband adoption metrics and notable internet disruptions.

“Increases in connection speeds and broadband penetration have helped enable the internet to support levels of traffic that even just a few years ago would have been unimaginable,” David Belson, the editor of the report, said in a company press release. “One need only look to January’s U.S. Presidential Inauguration, which broke traffic records for live coverage of a single news event delivered by Akamai.” Continue reading

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American Tower Makes Fortune 500 List

American Tower (NYSE: AMT), made its debut on the Fortune 500 at No. 449 with revenues of $5.78B, profits of $956M and a total revenue increase by 21 percent over last year.  American was ranked above brand name companies like Clorox, Arthur Gallagher, Citizens Financial, Mattel, Western Union and Yahoo, according to Fortune Magazine.

June 9, 2017       

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