Tuesday, April 23, 2019
Headlines Daily Digest
AT&T and Sprint have settled a lawsuit over AT&T’s “5G Evolution” branding, which Sprint claimed was fooling customers into believing its 4G LTE network was a full-fledged 5G network. “We have amicably settled this matter,” an AT&T spokesperson said. Apparently, AT&T will keep using “5G E” in its marketing material. Earlier in 2019, AT&T started displaying a “5G E” logo on certain upgraded parts of its LTE network. The phones weren’t actually connecting to 5G networks, and the move was roundly derided: T-Mobile, Verizon, and Sprint all criticized AT&T’s new logo, with Sprint’s CTO claiming it was “blatantly misleading consumers.” A month later, Sprint sued AT&T for false advertising, citing a survey where more than half of participants (incorrectly) said AT&T’s 5G E network had comparable speeds to real 5G.
While all four major nationwide carriers in the US have overhyped 5G to varying degrees, T-Mobile made a notable admission about 5G's key limitation. T-Mobile Chief Technology Officer Neville Ray wrote that millimeter-wave spectrum used for 5G "will never materially scale beyond small pockets of 5G hotspots in dense urban environments." That would seem to rule out the possibility of 5G's fastest speeds reaching rural areas or perhaps even suburbs. Ray wrote his blog post primarily to complain about AT&T and Verizon claiming to be the first carriers to offer 5G, so his statement about high-frequency limitations was made partly to explain why T-Mobile hasn't yet launched 5G. T-Mobile intends to use millimeter-wave spectrum to provide "massive capacity over a very small footprint," Ray wrote. "It holds big promise for speed and capacity in dense urban areas and venues where large numbers of people gather." But low- and mid-band spectrum will still be needed to cover wider areas with 5G, he wrote.
All those TV station employees wondering whether they dodged a bullet in the 2017 broadcast incentive auction can now search for that information. The Federal Communications Commission has made that information public, plus more data on the reverse auction, after placing a two-year hold on publicizing which broadcasters got outbid. The information shows that there were 858 stations willing to give up spectrum, or a little under half of the 1,800 stations the FCC was interested in getting bids from. Those 858 bids totaled a whopping $187,391,861,235. The FCC had already revealed that a total of 175 TV stations got payouts for giving up spectrum in the broadcast incentive auction, and 50 wireless bidders—including Comcast/NBCU and Dish—got that spectrum, with the largest single TV station payout $304 million. The largest payout for a noncommercial station was $194 million.
While telecommunication giants are boasting faster, unlimited wireless connectivity for their mobile phone users under the long-awaited fifth generation wireless network (5G), the energy industry is worried. Energy groups are warning regulators that a 5G rollout without securing adequate bandwidth for the sector could cause major harm to the nation’s electric grid and critical infrastructure. Joy Ditto, president and CEO of Utilities Technology Council, is on the front lines in Washington urging the Federal Communications Commission, Congress, Energy Department officials, and members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to work with the FCC to ensure space on the 5G network for utility operations. “We want them to pay attention to what the FCC is doing and how it impacts energy provisions. We want them weighing in on resilience and spectrum issues. We would welcome direct oversight of what FCC is doing, and I’d love to see a hearing about how communications policy affects energy,” Ditto said. “I don’t think the FCC is doing well for the economy or the energy sector,” Ditto said. “They have the mandate [to advance 5G] and they are fulfilling their mandate. They aren’t really listening to us [in the energy sector].”
[Dipka Bhambhani runs communications for the U.S. Energy Association, a bipartisan group that represents the U.S. energy sector and advances the realities of global energy issues in the 21st century.]
Benton (www.benton.org) provides the only free, reliable, and non-partisan daily digest that curates and distributes news related to universal broadband, while connecting communications, democracy, and public interest issues. Posted Monday through Friday, this service provides updates on important industry developments, policy issues, and other related news events. While the summaries are factually accurate, their sometimes informal tone may not always represent the tone of the original articles. Headlines are compiled by Kevin Taglang (headlines AT benton DOT org) and Robbie McBeath (rmcbeath AT benton DOT org) — we welcome your comments.
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