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AT&T, Verizon Delay C-Band Service Due to Possible Aviation Inference

AT&T and Verizon Communications have agreed to delay by a month the commercial launch of their C-band wireless service pending an assessment of any effect on aviation safety. Both carriers had planned to launch their C-Band networks in early December, but have postponed deployment until early January.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the FCC said in a joint statement they would “continue to coordinate closely to ensure that the United States keeps pace with the rest of the world in deploying next-generation communications technologies safely and without undue delay.”

Both carriers agreed they would delay deployment at the Transportation Department’s request. AT&T said it would “continue to work in good faith with the FCC and the FAA to understand the FAA’s asserted co-existence concerns. It is critical that these discussions be informed by the science and the data.”

In August, just a few months before the C-Band spectrum was scheduled to be put to use commercially, aviation groups started pressing the FCC to halt the auction of that spectrum until more research on the effects of 5G operations in the C-Band can be understood and aviation groups can improve the resilience of future radar altimeter designs. Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile have collectively spent more than $100 billion on C-band spectrum licenses for 5G so far this year.

“The deployment of 5G in the C-band could lead to possible harmful radio frequency interaction with radar altimeters,” David Silver, AIA vice president for civil aviation, told Aviation Today magazine earlier this year. “Protecting the frequency bands used by these sensors, which provide direct measurements of an aircraft’s clearance height over terrain or other obstacles, is imperative to the safe operations of thousands of civil aircraft and the well-being of the flying public.”

USAF Chooses FirstNet for Public Safety Communications Across 15 Bases

The U.S. Air Force has selected AT&T’s FirstNet nationwide public safety broadband wireless network for use by its public safety personnel on 15 bases across the country.

The agreement struck between the Air Force Civil Engineer Center (AFCEC) and AT&T provides for the delivery of FirstNet connectivity for 21 years, which is the remaining life of the public-private partnership between the U.S. government and AT&T. Included in the agreement is preemption, a mission-critical feature that enables first responders on the FirstNet network to communicate and coordinate during emergencies.

According to AT&T, the FirstNet network is the only nationwide high-speed broadband communications platform built with and for first responders and those who support them — to deliver what AT&T called reliable, always-on priority communications. The Air Force is investing to improve network coverage and adopting FirstNet initially across 15 bases while it considers expanding FirstNet accessibility to others.

The FirstNet network offers a wide range of mission-centric capabilities to support communications among base first responders and public safety personnel, AT&T said. The company said it supports reliable, secure and interoperable communications among on- and off-base public safety personnel when collaborating to mitigate incidents that threaten the safety of airmen and the general public. Unlike commercial networks, FirstNet is built to public safety’s strict specifications and requirements, according to AT&T.

In addition, with FirstNet, these U.S. Air Force bases will have access to a dedicated nationwide fleet of 100-plus land-based and airborne portable cell sites stationed across the country to provide connectivity during significant events in support of public safety’s mission, AT&T said. It said that these critical response assets are available continuously.

With a physically separate, dedicated core, the FirstNet network provides public safety personnel always-on priority and, for first responders, preemption, across LTE – Band 14 spectrum plus all of AT&T’s commercial LTE spectrum bands, according to AT&T. Band 14 is nationwide spectrum set aside by the government specifically for FirstNet that allows for capabilities that other spectrum bands do not, AT&T said. In addition, AT&T said that the FirstNet core has been upgraded to enable reliable 5G connectivity.

“We aim to be the network provider of choice as the Air Force moves more deliberately toward consuming advanced communications capabilities,” said Lance Spencer, client executive vice president for defense, AT&T Public Sector and FirstNet.  “It’s an honor to deliver FirstNet to support base personnel and first responders to help ensure the safety of each base and its surrounding community.”


Corning, AT&T Address Broadband Demand With Manufacturing

Corning and AT&T are expanding collaboration to extend their spending on fiber infrastructure, expand U.S. broadband networks and accelerate 5G deployment, according to Corning. The company said that because of AT&T’s commitment to its network buildout, Corning would spend $150 million on optical cable manufacturing in North Carolina, initially adding 200 jobs.

The company said this step is an example of how Corning promotes transformation through leadership in glass and ceramic science, optical physics and proprietary manufacturing methods. It said the company’s value-creation model enables the invention of breakthrough products, while making us of an existing footprint that can be scaled up. When demand exceeds capacity, Corning said, the company captures growth opportunities through investments in innovation and technology and keeps risk to a minimum by obtaining customer commitments.

AT&T previously announced plans to expand its fiber footprint, and the decision to expand its work with Corning spotlights AT&T’s commitment to meet that objective while supporting American manufacturing jobs, Corning said.

“We see expansion of our fiber infrastructure as central to the growth of our broadband reach, for consumers as well as business customers,” said Mo Katibeh, senior vice president of AT&T Network Infrastructure & Build. “By extending our collaboration with Corning, we’ll create American jobs through manufacturing investments, and also through the economic benefits that broadband brings to our communities.”

On Corning’s part, Michael A. Bell, the senior vice president and general manager of Corning Optical Communications, said that the need for connectivity has pushed demand on networks to record levels, and that Corning is investing to support network buildouts.

“This capacity expansion in particular supports the growth plans of AT&T, who we’ve valued for more than three decades,” Bell said. “We’re turning once again to the highly skilled local workforce in North Carolina to help us meet the demand. We deeply appreciate the support of local and state officials, particularly Gov. Roy Cooper, Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders and state lawmakers.”

The governor said, “Corning understands North Carolina’s strengths as a business location, thanks to their firsthand experience with our skilled workforce, customized training programs and great quality of life.”

Corning said that government spending on broadband facilities is expected to further fuel the demand for network infrastructure.


5G at Sea: AT&T, NPS to Research 5G, Edge Computing

AT&T and the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) will explore and develop 5G and edge computing-based maritime solutions aimed at benefiting national defense, homeland security and industries such as shipping, oil and gas and recreational boating, according to an agreement between them.

The NPS and AT&T experiments with 5G and edge computing are expected to result in the identification of advanced technology solutions such as a connected system of unmanned and autonomous vehicles that can improve critical elements of national defense, such as multidomain situational awareness, command and control, training, logistics, predictive maintenance and data analytics, according to AT&T.

The research includes the use of edge computing, where data is processed locally near a device to speed the completion of computing tasks. AT&T said that the company and NPS entered into a three-year collaborative research and development agreement (CRADA). Under the agreement, super-fast, low-latency AT&T 5G networking and edge computing capabilities will support a broad array of 5G-focused experiments on NPS facilities incorporating artificial intelligence, robotics, internet of things, machine learning, data analytics and smart base solutions.

“As part of the CRADA, one initiative is the Naval Postgraduate School’s Sea Land Air Military Research (SLAMR) program,” a statement from AT&T reads. “SLAMR conducts activity at Camp Roberts in South Monterey County and, to a lesser extent, on the NPS main campus and at SLAMR’s beach lab north of the main campus in Monterey, California.”

AT&T said that the NPS SLAMR program will explore the development of 5G and edge computing-powered sea applications that connect crewed and non-crewed vessels and sensors. It said that experiments will be conducted within the SLAMR’s multi-domain laboratory. According to AT&T, the program is also focused on providing all-domain maritime solutions for a broad array of defense, industry and commercial applications.

“The vision guiding the SLAMR program is to eventually have a command and aquatics operations facility with which to perform localized, unmanned aerial, surface, and underwater robotic vehicle activity,” the statement reads. “It is expected the facility and some of the experimental vehicles will be connected and powered by AT&T networking capabilities, including 5G and edge computing services.”

The placement of AT&T’s 5G networking infrastructure is underway at NPS in accordance with a real estate license, AT&T said. The company said it includes a tower and a short-range antenna on a pre-fabricated pad that is to be located at the SLAMR beach lab within walking distance from the main NPS campus. A key goal of the equipment placement, AT&T said, is ease of access for faculty and students conducting autonomous vehicle research at a former waste-water treatment facility on the site. AT&T said that the equipment placement at the NPS main campus and SLAMR beach lab was reviewed and approved by applicable Department of Navy (DON) offices.

“Under the CRADA, an NPS master’s degree student research project involves exploring the possibility of using virtual and augmented reality in combat medical care when medical evacuations are not possible,” the statement reads. “A separate student-led research project will study the application of 5G-powered waterborne autonomous systems for operations in the littoral environment. The projects have significant potential for military and non-military applications, and are a part of NPS’ support to a Department of the Navy effort to help grow a 5G-ready workforce.”

AT&T said it expects the first 5G and MEC nodes to be installed at the SLAMR site and available for use during the first quarter of fiscal year 2022.

Telecom Carriers Aim to Reduce 5G Carbon Footprint

By Mike Harrington

The nonprofit Green America Wireless Scorecard measures clean energy usage and reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions within the wireless industry.

For all the bright, sunny positives that 5G wireless communications technology offers to consumers, businesses and first responders — increased capacity, speed, reliability and connectivity — a large looming cloud persists: Power-hungry 5G base stations can consume up to three times more power than 4G and LTE networks. This massive electricity consumption leaves a bigger carbon footprint on the environment and could be a big problem for countries that depend on fossil fuels for electricity generation.

Last week, AT&T announced its plans to target eliminating 1 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, working with Microsoft, universities and other alliances to unleash the power of 5G and other broadband technologies through the AT&T Connected Climate Initiative.

AT&T says it has set an industry-leading target to help businesses collectively reduce a gigaton of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions — 1 billion metric tons — by 2035, an effort which will contribute to a better, more sustainable world. A gigaton is equal to approximately 15 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and nearly 3 percent of global energy-related emissions in 2020 — or 1.6 billion flights from Los Angeles to New York.

AT&T will work with businesses including Microsoft, Equinix and Duke Energy, along with research universities, and a range of other organizations to deliver broadband-enabled climate solutions at global scale. This collaborative builds on AT&T’s standing commitment to aggressively reduce our own emissions, while enabling the transition to a net-zero economy.

Meanwhile, the other major telecom carriers have their green energy environmental programs in place.

T-Mobile moved early on renewable energy. In June 2020, the nonprofit Green America Wireless Scorecard, which measures clean energy usage and reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions within the wireless industry, named T-Mobile the top carrier for Clean Energy Commitment — for the third year in a row.

According to a company spokesperson, T-Mobile was the first in the industry to set two carbon reduction targets validated by the Science-Based Targets Initiative to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and prevent the worst effects of climate change: 

Target 1: Reduce combined absolute Scope 1 and Scope 2 GHG emissions 95 percent by 2025 from a 2016 base year;

2020 Progress: Combined Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions decreased by 22.2 percent since 2016;

Target 2: Reduce Scope 3 GHG emissions 15 percent per customer by 2025 from a 2016 base year;

2020 Progress: Scope 3 emissions intensity decreased by 14.5 percent per customer since 2016.

T-Mobile also set an industry first in 2018 by joining the RE100 pledge, a global initiative bringing together the world’s most influential businesses committed to 100 percent renewable electricity. “A few years and one historic merger later, we’re still on track,” the T-Mobile spokesperson said, detailing this progress: “RE100 Pledge: Source renewable energy equivalent to 100 percent of our total electricity usage by the end of 2021. 2020 Progress: As the supercharged Un-carrier, 25.3 percent of T-Mobile’s electricity usage relied on renewable energy. 2021 Progress: We’ve signed renewable energy contracts for over 3.5 million MWh. Through June 30, 2021, we have sourced 75 percent of our electricity usage from renewable sources and are tracking to reach 100 percent by the end of the year.”

Verizon remains the only U.S. telecom company to complete the full allocation of two green bonds.

Meanwhile, in 2019, Verizon set an ambitious goal to achieve net zero operational emissions by 2035 and committed to source or generate renewable energy equivalent to 50 percent of its annual electricity consumption by 2025. In January 2021, Verizon announced that it became a leading corporate buyer of U.S. renewable energy, entering into thirteen long-term renewable energy purchase agreements totaling nearly 1.7 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy capacity since December 2019. Verizon also activated more than 8 megawatts (MW) of additional on-site solar energy at eight of its facilities during 2020. Since 2013 the company has installed more than 28 MW of green power at 26 onsite locations.

Two weeks ago, Verizon issued its Green Bond Impact Report, outlining the full allocation of the nearly $1 billion of net proceeds from its second green bond. Verizon became the first U.S. telecom company to issue a green bond back in February 2019. In September 2020, the company issued its second green bond, and remains the only U.S. telecommunications company to complete the full allocation of two green bonds.

“To date, we have issued $2 billion in green bonds that support the transition to a greener grid and help us achieve our ambitious goal of net zero emissions in our operations by 2035,” said Matt Ellis, Verizon’s executive vice president and chief financial officer. “Verizon’s green bond projects demonstrate our long-term commitment to minimize our environmental impact, drive operating efficiencies and benefit the communities we serve.”

Matt Ellis, Verizon executive vice president and chief financial officer

Verizon has fully allocated the net proceeds of its second green bond entirely to virtual power purchase agreements for renewable energy projects. These projects are for approximately 1 GW of new renewable energy generating capacity across seven states, of which about 83 percent is solar energy generating capacity and 17 percent is wind energy generating capacity.

The use of proceeds from the bond is part of Citizen Verizon, the company’s responsible business plan for economic, environmental and social advancement. The Green Bond Impact Report can be found on the company’s fixed income investor relations site. For more information, visit https://www.verizon.com/about/investors/green-bond-reports.

Mike Harrington is a contributing editor