Wireless Telecommunications

Communication at a distance, especially the electronic transmission of signals via cell phones

Public Knowledge Responds to D.C. Circuit SNR Wireless v. FCC Decision

The US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit remanded the SNR Wireless v. Federal Communications Commission case to the FCC. Senior Vice President at Public Knowledge Harold Feld said, “We’re extremely pleased that the D.C. Circuit agreed with our analysis that although the FCC had the authority to deny the small business credit, the agency should have given DISH Network, SNR Wireless and Northstar a chance to remedy the problem. As we noted in our amicus brief, the small business credit put licenses in the hands of new competitors and constituted the single largest win of FCC licenses by minority-owned businesses like SNR Wireless and Northstar."

Harvey Shows Progress on Emergency Communications Since Katrina

While connectivity was almost completely lost in Rockport (TX) which was hit hardest by the storm, the Federal Communications Commission says just 4 percent of the 7,804 cell sites in Harvey’s path were wiped out, affecting 148,565 people. By contrast, more than 1,000 cell sites were knocked out during Katrina, preventing millions of calls from going through, according to a post-Katrina FCC report. Now, Texas’s 9-1-1 system has been overloaded with calls, but “those calls are going through,” says Adm. Jamie Barnett, former chief of public safety and homeland security at the FCC. “By and large we’re hearing that the cellular networks stood up. That means there’s been some learning.”

USTelecom’s Deep Dive on FCC Broadband Data: 90% Can Get 25 Mbps, 10% Can Get a Gigabit

Ninety percent of US housing units had fixed wireless or landline broadband service at speeds of 25 Mbps downstream/ 3 Mbps upstream available to them as of mid-2016, according to an analysis of Federal Communications Commission broadband data conducted by USTelecom and CensusNBM. Ten percent of housing units could get service at downstream speeds of 1 Gbps (and any upstream speed), USTelecom/ CensusNBM said. If fixed wireless is not included in the analysis, both numbers drop by one percentage point.

The numbers also vary when urban and rural areas are broken apart. Just 64% of people in rural areas can get 25/3 Mbps fixed wireless or wired service, while 97% of people in non-rural areas can get service at those speeds, according to the report, titled “U.S. Broadband Availability Mid-2016.”

FCC Seeks Comment on Process for Relicensing 700 MHz Spectrum in Unserved Areas

In the 2007 700 MHz Second Report and Order, the Commission adopted rules for relicensing of 700 MHz Lower A, B, and E Block, and Upper C Block spectrum that is returned to the Commission’s inventory as a result of licensees’ failure to meet applicable construction requirements. The Commission set forth the overall rules and policies for the relicensing process and delegated authority to the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (Bureau) to implement those rules and policies. To the extent the 700 MHz Second Report and Order and other Commission rules set forth elements of the relicensing process, we cite to those rules, and, by this Public Notice, otherwise seek comment on the Bureau’s proposed approach to the remaining elements of the process, including the respective costs and benefits of the various proposals.

Cell Networks Suffer Outages in Harvey’s Wake

Wireless networks along the Texas coast suffered outages as a result of Hurricane Harvey, federal regulators said, leaving customers in some counties with limited or no cellphone service. Rockport (TX) near where the hurricane made landfall, was the hardest hit, according to the Federal Communications Commission. About 95% of cell sites there aren’t working, the agency said Aug 27, meaning cellphone users relying on the sites can’t send or receive phone calls or data. Of the 7,804 cell sites across the region, 320 are out of service, or about 4%. At least 148,565 people in the path of the hurricane were without cable or wireline service on Aug 27, the FCC said.

NAB, tech industry throw down over TV white spaces

The TV white spaces (TVWS) debate is cranking back up again thanks to a proposal that recommends that the Federal Communications Commision set aside three 6 MHz-wide TVWS channels for unlicensed use in every market across the country. The economic argument for broadband connectivity is undisputed and obvious: Without broadband connectivity, businesses can’t compete, and it’s more difficult for consumers to access critical educational, healthcare and governmental services. Today, approximately 34 million Americans currently lack basic broadband access, according to the FCC—and the majority of them, about 24 million, live in rural areas that simply do not have infrastructure in place to enable it.

To address the gap, strategies for making inexpensive unlicensed spectrum available to ISPs have been a cornerstone of the FCC’s plan to bridge the digital divide. The FCC previously ruled that the 600 MHz duplex gap between 652-663 MHz and Channel 37 would be not be sold to wireless carriers and would be available on an unlicensed basis, once the recent TV spectrum incentive auction was over—given that that broadcasters would be vacating that real estate. The FCC also has an unfinalized notice of proposed rulemaking that would reserve an additional 6 MHz channel in each broadcast market for unlicensed use, at 54-608 MHz. It’s the future of this last band that’s at stake. A bipartisan coalition of 43 Congressional representatives asked the FCC earlier this summer to reserve at least three TV white space channels in the 600 MHz band to support rural broadband deployments—a plan first proposed by Microsoft.

Before Hurricane Harvey, wireless carriers lobbied against upgrades to a national emergency alert system

For years, the Federal Communications Commission has endeavored to upgrade the sort of short text-based messages — often accompanied by a loud alarm — that authorities have used since 2012 to warn Americans about rising floods, abducted children and violent criminals at large. But efforts to bring those alerts into the digital age — requiring, for example, that they include multimedia and foreign-language support — have been met with skepticism or opposition from the likes of AT&T, Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile, and even some device makers, too. Carriers have argued that some of those changes could prove technically difficult or costly to implement, while congesting their networks — and in recent months, they’ve encouraged the FCC to slow down its work. Tech giants like Apple and Microsoft, meanwhile, also have lobbied the agency against some proposed rules that might put more burden on them for delivering emergency alerts to smartphones. It all amounts to a great deal of well-lawyered bickering in Washington (DC) and it stands in stark contrast to the dire Category 4 megastorm that’s poised to cause immense rainfall, flooding and damage in Texas.

FCC Releases Data on Mobile Deployment as of June 30, 2016 and December 31, 2016 Collected through FCC Form 477

The Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (Bureau) today released data from two separate data collections representing mobile voice and broadband deployment as of June 30, 2016, and December 31, 2016. These deployment data were collected through FCC Form 477.

1 million people pay nothing for cellphone service, so how does FreedomPop make money?

There are times when FreedomPop founder Stephen Stokols would get better coverage or service using a competing cellular carrier. Like when he got booted from his own provider after getting tripped up by confusing settings. But Stokols — along with his 2 million customers — has been willing to suffer occasional headaches in exchange for an unbeatable deal. Half the people using FreedomPop pay nothing for cellphone service, including mobile Internet access. There are limits on monthly usage (500 megabytes in the U.S.) and caps on calling and texting (three hours and 500 messages). Finding a shop, reaching a customer service agent or buying a phone from FreedomPop can be complicated. And users need a credit card.

Stokols contends, though, that many should find the trade-offs attractive because he pegs median mobile data usage in the U.S. at about 700 megabytes per month. FreedomPop can afford to slash prices thanks to its departures from industry conventions, including accepting lower profit margins. FreedomPop’s investors say that the company is special because its marketing costs, about $10 per customer, are lower than anyone else’s. Free offers tend to get noticed with little spending on advertising. That lets FreedomPop charge customers less.

Small Business Benefits of Rural Broadband are Plentiful

There are many small business benefits of rural broadband, argues ACT – The App Association in a well-researched blog post that cites numerous real-world examples of those benefits. ACT, an association of small technology firms, wrote the blog post to advocate for TV white spaces (TVWS) broadband, but the benefits cited would apply to other high-speed broadband technologies as well. The business benefits of rural broadband that ACT references include:
Small and medium businesses that access global markets over the internet have a survival rate of 54%, which is 30% higher than for SMBs that are not internet-connected, according to the World Economic Forum.
30% of companies that sell goods online through Etsy are based in rural areas – and considering that $2.84 billion in goods were sold through Etsy last year, those rural retailers apparently are generating considerable revenues online. Etsy sellers generally are small businesses, which the company refers to as entrepreneurs and “internet-enabled microbusinesses.”
Small businesses create roughly two thirds of jobs in rural America, according to the U.S. House of Representatives small business website, highlighting the important economic benefits those businesses could generate, provided that they have high-speed broadband available to them.