Category Archives: 4G

President Signs Executive Order Accelerating Broadband Deployment

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President Obama signed an executive order in June facilitating the deployment of broadband infrastructure on federal lands, buildings and rights of way, among other areas, particularly in underserved communities. The federal government has a wealth of possibilities for infrastructure development; it controls nearly 30 percent of all land in this country, owns thousands of buildings and funding for state and local transportation infrastructure, which can be used for broadband infrastructure.

“While broadband infrastructure has been deployed in a vast majority of communities across the country, today too many areas still lack adequate access to this crucial resource,” according to the Order. “For these areas, decisions on access to Federal property and rights of way can be essential to the deployment of both wired and wireless broadband infrastructure.”

The executive order creates the Broadband Deployment on Federal Property Working Group to coordinate the implementation of agency procedures related to access of federal lands, buildings, and rights of way.

U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) applauded President Obama’s move, saying it help his efforts to promote more rapid and cost-effective expansion of broadband networks.

Currently, the procedures for approving broadband infrastructure projects on properties controlled or managed by the federal government vary depending on which agency manages the property. Because of the executive order, agencies that manage federal properties and roads must take specific steps to adopt a uniform approach for allowing broadband carriers to build networks on and through those assets.

“This executive order will help bring broadband to underserved communities across Virginia and the nation while saving both money and time with limited federal investment,” Warner said. “These are commonsense ideas, and I’m pleased the administration is moving forward with this initiative.”

One of Warner’s proposals authorizes the installation of wireless base stations in all publicly accessible federal buildings in order to increase indoor coverage wireless coverage and reduce the load on the macrocellular network.

Shirley Bloomfield, CEO, National Telecommunications Cooperative Association, was not as hopeful. In her blog she opined that the president’s goals are out of touch with regulatory realities that stunt telecom infrastructure growth in rural areas.

“There is a big disconnect between the administration’s goals-which are laudable-and what is taking place on the ground and in the regulatory arena,” Bloomfield said.

Hundreds of millions of dollars in stimulus funding have been returned by NTCA members or will not be drawn down, because of regulatory uncertainty and their potential inability to repay the funds, she said.

“Telcos have not been able to receive RUS funding as the agency waits for new financials. Companies are sitting, waiting to receive approval on USDA broadband loans that have been in the pipeline for months,” she said.

DT’s U.S. CAPEX Investment in 2013 Good for Towers

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Deutsche Telecom is putting its money where its mouth is in the coming year, funding T-Mobile’s  LTE and HSPA + rollouts, according to Rene Obermann, CEO, Deutsche Telecom,  at the carrier’s Capital Markets Day, Dec. 6, in Bonn, Germany.

The biggest chunk of Deutsche Telecom’s total CAPEX next year will be spent in the United States to the tune of $4.7B to $4.8B, compared with the last three years, which averaged $2.7B. Then it will drop to $3B in 2014 and 2015.

“While the company had already announced plans to spend $4B on its U.S. network modernization plan, we view this longer-term spend as especially positive in terms of further visibility for the tower sector’s pipeline,” wrote Jennifer Fritzsche, Wells Fargo senior analyst, a research note. “Recall, all three major tower players (AMT, CCI and SBAC) have secured master lease agreements.”

Flush with cash and additional spectrum from the failed AT&T/T-Mobile merger, Deutsche Telecom is spending CAPEX on refarming the spectrum in the PCS band, as well as network modernization. More than 37,000 sites are being modernized in 2012 and 2013.

“T-Mobile gained more spectrum in a deal with Verizon, which enabled us to build a more efficient network and to have better LTE coverage, and we announced a tower transaction worth $2.5 billion gives a chance to maintain our operational flexibility,” Obermann said.

MetroPCS Spectrum Catalyzes T-Mobile LTE Push

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Neville Ray, chief technology officer, T-Mobile USA, expounded on how the combination of MetroPCS and T-Mobile is accelerating the carrier’s LTE strategy, as Deutsche Telekom hosted a Capital Markets Day at its headquarters, Dec. 6, in Bonn, Germany.

T-Mobile’s LTE rollout will reach 100 million pops in the first half of 2013 and 200 million pops at the end of the year. It will achieve a two-by-10 MHz LTE position in nearly 90 percent of the top 25 service areas in 2013 in the AWS band and then expand to a two-by-20 MHz position in 2014 and 2015. Release 10-capable LTE equipment and tower top amplifiers will be implemented at 37,000 cell sites across T-Mobile’s network.

“We are excited about what the MetroPCS combination does for us in allowing the deployment of LTE in the AWS band, rapidly accelerating our deployment,” Ray said. “We have a lot of capacity coming online to support the migration of MetroPCS customers. Look to see the completion of the migration in 2015, which is when we will begin to decommission their CDMA system.”

Complementing its 225 million pop HSPA+ AWS position, T-Mobile is also rapidly expanding its HSPA + footprint in the 1900 MHz band, which will surpass 100 million pops  by year end 2012, reach 170 million pops in the first half of next year and then to 200 million pops by year end 2013.  In Bonn, T-Mobile announced another three service areas – Atlanta, Minneapolis and Seattle in addition to the 15 markets already announced, which included Miami; Phoenix; San Francisco; Mesa and Tucson, Ariz.; Modesto, Oakland, San Jose and Stockton, Calif.; and Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

“We are in the middle of refarming, replacing GSM [at 1900 MHz],” Ray said. “We have completed clearance of the band and are now rapidly introducing HSPA+ in 1900 MHz PCS spectrum.”

John Legere, CEO of T-Mobile USA, confidently announced that the carrier will soon be able to AT&T’s network.

“All the growing pains of getting this huge modernization and transformation process are done,” he said. “It took a while to ramp up to full speed, but we will hit those targets.”

Even as Smart Phone Sales Skyrocket, AT&T Keeps Eye on Connected Future

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In the first two months of the fourth quarter, AT&T sold more than 6.4 million smart phones, which would beat its second largest quarter for smart phone sales and it still has December holiday sales to come, Ralph De la Vega, president and CEO, AT&T Mobility, told an audience at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference, Dec. 5, in New York.

“We had a tremendous start to the holiday season. Smart phone sales are on a record pace,” De la Vega said. “This puts AT&T at more than 23 million in smart phone sales so far and on track to exceed 26 million by the end of the year.”  He credited the carrier’s smart phone and tablet lineup and the success of its Mobile Share program for the growth.

Even as AT&T rides the smart phone wave, moving at a clip of more than 100,000 smart phones sold every day, it appears to be prepared for the day when the market is saturated with the devices. De la Vega also announced milestones in the carrier’s efforts to bring wireless to our cars, homes and wallets.

“We are seeing the emergence of new billion dollar opportunities in wireless, such as Digital Life, the Mobile Wallet and the Connected Car,” de la Vega said. “All of this is creating a ton of momentum for our wireless business. The best is yet to come.”

De la Vega announced that AT&T has been granted UL approval for an all-IP, all-digital wireless home security, monitoring and automation system, known as Digital Life, which features wireless sensors and wireless connectivity to the carrier’s call center. And it is controlled by, you guessed it, smart phones and tablets. The product will be available in AT&T’s retail stores and dealerships in early 2013.

“The home security and automation market is an $18 billion dollar industry with 35 percent margins,” De la Vega said. “We feel very good that we have a new technology that sits on top of our great wireless infrastructure. It will be available nationwide, wherever AT&T has service.”

De la Vega stressed that the carrier’s recently announced $14 billion initiative to build out its network to cover 300 million pops lays a foundation for future growth opportunities, like Digital Life and Connected Car, which will leverage the 4G LTE base that it is building with the smart phones and tablets.

“Now we can put on top of that [network] value-added services that are beyond just data access,” de la Vega said. “They are a whole new wave of services that generate revenue for AT&T.”

De la Vega also discussed AT&T’s Connected Cars initiative, in which the carrier is working with manufacturers and software developers to create connectivity from vehicle to vehicle, vehicle to infrastructure, as well as to backseat infotainment systems. Vehicle software and firmware will be updated remotely, and passengers will be able to purchase and down load songs, audiobooks and guides wirelessly.

“This a huge growth opportunity,” de la Vega said. “By 2016 [ABI Research] has said telematics will grow to where 53 percent of cars will have connectivity, but I think that estimate is low. Having a nationwide low-latency network will be important.”

AT&T is not alone in this push toward the connected future, beyond using smart phones for texting and surfing the Web.  In January 2012 at the Consumer Electronics Show, Verizon Wireless and In Motion Technology announced the development of a mobile gateway that turns a vehicle into a secure, mobile hotspot. The onBoard system also includes a network management system that monitors network health and communications, with a mobile-optimized VPN server providing end-to-end security.

In June 2012, Verizon Communications bought Hughes Telematics, which plays in the automotive and fleet telematics marketplace. This purchase gave Verizon an introduction into the emerging machine-to-machine (M2M) services applications field.  Hughes is implementing connected services for vehicles based on safety, security, convenience and infotainment.

Deutsche Telecom is striving for $10 billion in revenues from mobile Internet, including connecting cars and cameras, as well as homes.

“The trajectory looks very good. We have only scratched the surface,” Rene Obermann, DT CEO, told analysts early in December in Bonn, Germany. “The cars get connected. Cameras from Samsung now have a radio interface for connectivity. You don’t need much imagination to see the possibilities of connectivity and it has just taken off.”

GTP Tower Unscathed After Copter Incident

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Sept. 10 — The cell tower that was struck by medevac helicopter in Texas last month with enough force to knock off one of its skids apparently was left unharmed by the incident, according to officials at Global Tower Partners, which owns the tower.

“We did not find any evidence of that chopper hitting any portion of that tower,” Bernard Borghei, senior vice president, operations, Global Tower Partners, told AGL Bulletin. The helicopter company and hospital authorities are also analyzing the incident.

As soon as GTP received news of the incident, it dispatched a tower crew to the site to make sure the guy wires were intact and that the tension was at the correct levels. An engineering analysis was completed and sent to the tower company.

“We inspected the integrity of the tower itself, the anchor bolts and the structure. We found nothing that was out of compliance,” Borghei said. “We also checked with Flash Technologies [which was monitoring the site]. There was no NOTAM. Our lighting system was working fine.”

On August 5, a helicopter heading to San Antonio Military Medical Center from College Station collided with the cell tower, forcing an emergency landing at a local airport. Airport employees piled mattresses stabilized by gym weights on the helipad to soften the landing.

As for whether the GTP tower was not actually the structure that was hit, Borghei notes that there are no other cell towers in the area that could have been hit instead.