For years, Verizon appeared to bend over backwards to avoid the prepaid wireless segment, where service plans traditionally targeted the cheaper end of the market and customer turnover runs higher. But with the nearly $7 billion agreement to buy prepaid leader Tracfone from América Móvil, Verizon is jumping in with both feet.
The battle over the 12 GHz band – one that some say could provide much-needed mid-band spectrum for 5G in the US – is heating up, including among a group of unlikely collaborators. SpaceX disclosed that CEO Elon Musk was among those on a conference call with Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai that included discussion of the 12 GHz band.
Dish Network is making progress on its one-of-a-kind open radio access network (RAN) in the US. Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen said “we’re just going to go do it,” rather than try to convince skeptics about what they’re doing. Dish needs to get through the RF planning, permitting and site acquisition processes and the actual installation of gear like antennas, but it’s still looking to launch one market before the end of the year. Dish is supposed to build a 5G network that covers 70% of the U.S. population by June 2023.
The Wireless Broadband Alliance trying make Wi-Fi roaming as easy as cellular roaming with the acceptance of Cisco Systems’ OpenRoaming technology. WBA is inviting organizations in the Wi-Fi ecosystem to join the WBA OpenRoaming program and become part of a globally available Wi-Fi federation that offers automatic and secure connection to millions of Wi-Fi networks. The idea is to create a world where Wi-Fi users move from one network to another without needing to constantly re-register or sign in.
Alphabet-owned Loon will be able to respond more quickly and effectively to disasters worldwide thanks to a new partnership with AT&T. Under the deal, Loon has integrated its system with AT&T’s network, which happens to be pretty big since it has roaming partners around the world.
The 5.9 GHz band is at the center of several fights as the Federal Communications Commission considers opening the band for Wi-Fi after years of the spectrum laying mostly fallow. The week of April 20, the FCC adopted a plan to make 1,200 megahertz of 6 GHz spectrum, which is next door to the 5.9 band, available for unlicensed use. That was considered a watershed moment for the Wi-Fi industry, and while that was a complicated proceeding, the 5.9 GHz band has been described as even more so.
The closure of the T-Mobile merger with Sprint kicked off a round of questions about how the new entity will work, including for Sprint affiliate Shenandoah Telecommunications (Shentel), which offers services under the Sprint brand. Shentel received a Conversion Notice from T-Mobile pursuant to the terms of its affiliate agreement with Sprint which sets forth a cascade of deadlines and potential outcomes. First, there’s a 90-day period for the companies to negotiate mutually agreeable terms and conditions for Shentel to continue as an affiliate of the new T-Mobile.
T-Mobile’s attempt to buy Sprint and close the deal faced another setback when US District Judge Timothy Kelly extended his Tunney Act review of the Department of Justice settlement into mid-February. He said he would consider friend-of-the-court briefs on the proposed transaction. The briefs must be limited to 20 pages and filed by January 24, with the parties responding by February 7. “We had initially expected this routine review to end in mid-November.
Verizon Wireless is asking the Federal Communications Commission for permission to use a portion of the 37.6-40 GHz band in part of northwest Arkansas for testing purposes as it develops different healthcare-related use cases and devices with an unnamed corporate partner. The application seeks a testing schedule of 12 months. Ericsson is noted as supplying three demonstration units and “multiple mobile manufacturers” for supplying 20 demo units.
For all the talk about 5G, operators still prefer to keep some things to themselves, such as exactly how many 5G cell sites they’re deploying. CTIA, which lobbies for the big wireless carriers in the US, has estimated the industry may need more than 800,000 small cells by 2026.