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Congress Considers Plans to Improve Mapping, AT&T Launches 5G Phone

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After wide bipartisan acknowledgement that broadband map currently being used by the Federal Communications Commission is wildly inaccurate, Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., has introduced the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability Act, urging the FCC to halt decisions on broadband funding until more accurate data is available.

The bill will require the FCC to gather granular service availability data from wired, fixed wireless, and satellite broadband providers under strong parameters, as well as asking the FCC to consider collecting verified coverage data from other local governments and entities.

It will also create a process to allow consumers, state and tribal governments, and other groups to challenge FCC maps without an unreasonable burden.

The Broadband DATA Act is co-sponsored by Sens. John Thune, R-S.D., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Gary Peters, D-Mich., proving its bipartisan appeal.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai responded to the bill, which was introduced in an FCC oversight hearing, by announcing that he was already taking steps to improve the accuracy of the maps, such as requiring providers to report numbers below the census block level and incorporating other public feedback.

The Commission will vote on Pai’s proposed changes at its August meeting.

AT&T to launch first 5G phone

AT&T is launching its first phone to operate on a 5G network, the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, to business customers next Monday. The provider currently has a millimeter wave 5G network throughout 19 cities across the United States.

The 5G speeds will be capped at 2Gbps, although AT&T has suggested that this will be increased in the future.

The Galaxy S10 5G has been available on Verizon’s network since May and is expected to come to Sprint and T-Mobile in the near future as the major providers continue to fight for 5G dominance.

Reporter Em McPhie studied communication design and writing at Washington University in St. Louis, where she was a managing editor for the student newspaper. In addition to agency and freelance marketing experience, she has reported extensively on Section 230, big tech, and rural broadband access. She is a founding board member of Code Open Sesame, an organization that teaches computer programming skills to underprivileged children.

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FCC Permit ‘Shot Clocks’ Provides ‘Predictability’ to Wireless Infrastructure Builds: T-Mobile

Shot clocks are important to industry players, argued T-Mobile’s Tim Halinski.

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Photo of Nancy Werner, partner at Bradley Werner, LLC.

WASHINGTON, November 8, 2022 – Panelists on a Federal Communications Bar Association web panel discussed Monday whether benefits of the Federal Communications Commission’s “shot clocks,” which limit how long states and local governments can review wireless infrastructure applications, outweigh the increased pressures they place on state and local governments.

A shot clock’s deadline puts pressure on city officials’ negotiations with providers over the terms of infrastructure projects, said Nancy Werner, partner at Bradley Werner, LLC, a telecommunications legal and consulting firm. They also “put a lot of pressure on local governments…to make sure (they) have a reason to deny” a provider’s application if an agreement cannot be readily reached, Werner added.

Tim Halinski, corporate counsel for T-Mobile, argued Monday that shot clocks are important to industry players, although he acknowledged the validity of Werner’s concerns. T-Mobile and other providers benefit from expeditious permitting processes, as they look to accelerate the build out of 5G wireless technology.

“There’s no one size fits all,” Halinski said, “But it’s at least the starting point and provides that predictability in deployment that we need.”

The comments come as the FCC fields comments on new standards that would streamline the division of costs between third party attachers and pole owners. Critics say the financial and time delay burden in getting access to these poles have slowed and will slow the expansion of broadband in the country.

In 2018, the FCC instituted shortened shot clocks for small wireless infrastructure projects: “60 days for review of an application for collocation…using a preexisting structure and 90 days for review of an application for attachment…using a new structure.” The commission said the new, limited timeframes would facilitate the deployment of wireless infrastructure.

The FCC’s revised shot clocks for small wireless deployments was but one portion of the agency’s so-called “Small Cell Order” of 2018, which aimed to promote the expansion of 5G. To accomplish this goal, however, the order sought to eliminate regulatory roadblocks by limiting state and local governments’ authorities over wireless infrastructure permitting and their own rights of way. This tactic drew criticisms from many experts and local officials.

Nonetheless, in August 2020, the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals largely upheld the order in City of Portland v. United States.

“(The Ninth Circuit’s) decision is a massive victory for U.S. leadership in 5G, our nation’s economy and American consumers,” said then–FCC Chairman Ajit Pai shortly after the ruling. “The court rightly affirmed the FCC’s efforts to ensure that infrastructure deployment critical to 5G…is not impeded by exorbitant fees imposed by state and local governments.”

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5G Demand Needs More Fiber Infrastructure, Conference Hears

‘We’re in the early innings now of this 5G evolution and really the fourth industrial revolution,’ said a Verizon partner.

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Screenshot of Jeff Hulse, vice president of Verizon Partner Solutions, (left) and Curtis Heffelfinger, vice president of wholesale sales at Brightspeed.

DENVER, October 26, 2022 – More fiber deployment is “critical” to meet increasing demands for 5G, said a telecom executive at the 2022 INCOMPAS Show.

“[Fiber]’s where the industry is shifting and you’re going to have to shift with the industry,” Curtis Heffelfinger, vice president of wholesale sales at telecom Brightspeed, said on a Monday panel.

5G wireless builds will use fiber to many cell sites to deliver on the promise of ubiquitous connectivity in many areas. 5G technology promises faster cell speeds and lower latency – the time it takes for a communication to be sent from a device to a network and back.

“Today we’re in the early innings now of this 5G evolution and really the fourth industrial revolution,” said Jeff Hulse, vice president of Verizon Partner Solutions.

Industry incumbents are moving toward rapid expansion of fiber builds. Just last week, Bloomberg reported AT&T is in talks to initiate an eight-figure fiber-deployment project.

Hulse said his company is “thinking big about big bandwidth,” and although Verizon has “a ton of legacy products out there on copper wires,” the telecom giant is working to transition networks towards the future.  Heffelfinger said Brightspeed is modernizing as well, although it also still owns many “aged assets.”

The INCOMPAS Show is a communications industry event that facilitates networking and business deals. The 2020 show, held in Denver, featured executives from Verizon, DISH, FiberLight, and other industry players, as well as officials from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and state broadband offices.

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Johnny Kampis: Wireless Survey Shows 5G’s Role in Closing Digital Divide

5G has experienced a quantum leap in growth since it first began rolling out in 2018.

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The author of this Expert Opinion in Johnny Kampis of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance

There was universal consensus that 5G wireless technology would be a game changer for closing the digital divide. The question was whether or not private investment would be enough to deploy the needed infrastructure. A new report shows that capital expenditures from wireless providers reached a record high in 2021, as 5G saw tremendous growth and will continue to help connect households now unserved by broadband.

CTIA’s 2022 Annual Wireless Industry Survey shows that wireless providers invested $35 billion into growing and improving their networks, the fourth consecutive year of industry growth.

CTIA said this is “a powerful trend that emphasizes the societal importance of wireless connectivity and underlines the industry’s commitment to building a robust platform for innovation that connects all communities.”

5G has experienced a quantum leap in growth since it first began rolling out in 2018, as infrastructure reforms that eased deployment barriers have resulted in 5G growing twice as fast as 4G. Since the Federal Communications Commission and state legislatures worked to modernize key siting regulations that could have stymied the technology’s growth, wireless providers have added 70,000 active cell sites. There are now nearly 420,000 operational cell sites across the U.S.

As CTIA notes, “More cell sites enhance coverage, encouraging adoptions and helping to close the digital divide.”

Clearly consumers want faster mobile internet speeds as the number of connective 5G devices grew more than a whopping 500 percent this past year from 14 million to Accenture 85 million. About one-third of American now possess an active 5G device.

CTIA points out that the number of connections that require wireless technology is helping fuel the growth – everything from smart watches to medical sensors. Such data-only devices represent about 42 percent of all wireless connections.

Wireless providers have invested nearly $121 billion into their networks since the launch of 5G.

CTIA notes that in an age of incredible inflation, the wireless industry’s investment, combined with increased market competition, has led to lower prices, “providing a welcome contrast to an economy where consumers have faced priced increases for 94 percent of tracked goods and services nationwide.”

Since 2010, the cost of unlimited data plans has declined 43 percent while wireless speeds have increased 85-fold over the same period.

Investment and competition have also led to new innovations such as 5G for home broadband and 5G fixed wireless. The latter is particularly useful in connecting rural areas where it’s hard to make a business case for fiber due to the cost of the last-mile connections. CTIA notes that 5G home broadband is available in more than 40 million households, providing home connections via spectrum with high capacity and low latency rather than a wired connection.

The report also points out that 5G is helping mitigate the impacts of climate change by creating green jobs in key industries. Accenture has found that 5G-enabled use cases should delivers 20 percent of the U.S.’s emission reduction targets by 2025.

5G is clearly helping usher in a new age of connectivity in this country. CTIA’s statistics are encouraging signs that the latest wireless technology is helping make broadband access available to more Americans than ever before. The best part of this growth is that taxpayer dollars are not being spent.

Johnny Kampis is director of telecom policy for the Taxpayers Protection Alliance. This piece is exclusive to Broadband Breakfast.

Broadband Breakfast accepts commentary from informed observers of the broadband scene. Please send pieces to commentary@breakfast.media. The views reflected in Expert Opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Broadband Breakfast and Breakfast Media LLC.

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