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Tag Archives: AT&T

Verizon, AT&T to Improve Network Communications for Law Enforcement

With the help of Axon, a law enforcement technologies company, Verizon and AT&T are working to increase their connectivity solutions for public safety.

Axon integrates wireless technology into a range of products for law enforcement to capture and upload photo and video data into the digital evidence management solution, Evidence.com. Wireless product offerings include body-worn cameras, in-car camera systems and Signal technology that reports events such as a patrol vehicle door opening and light bar activation. Dependable wireless connectivity is crucial for law enforcement to be able to capture and upload evidence.

AT&T, Verizon Launch ‘5G’ But it’s Not Exactly What 3GPP Had in Mind

By J. Sharpe Smith, Senior Editor

Verizon today announced that it has plans to launch 5G technology in Houston as part of its four market 5G plan in the second half of 2018. Verizon previously announced Sacramento and Los Angeles.

AT&T announced last week that it is adding Charlotte and Raleigh, North Carolina; and Oklahoma City to its list of cities where it is building out 5G. These cities will join its previously announced cities of Dallas, Atlanta and Waco, Texas. Before the end of the year six more cities will join the list. But it will not have the features that the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), originally intended for the 5thgeneration of wireless.

The 3GPP, which comprises seven telecom standard groups, uses a calendar-based plan for successive releases designed to provide developers with a stable platform for the implementation of additional features. Originally, the features that comprise the 5G standard were due out at in October 2020 with Release 16. Then the “race to 5G” began on a number of different levels, from government spectrum allocation to carrier marketers.

According to sources, pressure the marketing departments pushed 3GPP to move its deadline for Release 16 back to the end of 2019; and Release 15, which gave us the non-standalone “New Radio” was renamed 5G Phase 1 and Release 16 became 5G Phase 2.

Release 16 will have more features than Release 15, more capacity, a platform for IoT and additional spectrum bands.

All headlines aside, even when Release 16 comes out at the end of next year, it will still take 12 to 18 months to produce product, test it and deploy it in the field. So consumers will not begin to experience full-featured 5G until the late 2020-2021 timeframe.

The two-step process created for 5G actually might be good for towers. Release 15 requires new radios be installed on all the towers, and Release 16 will require another touch on the towers with new antennas. This might explain the pressure from AT&T to lower its costs for amendments to existing towers.

Meanwhile, Back at the LTE Deployment

While 5G has all the cache, the real advancements regarding data speed are coming from the AT&T’s deployment of LTE Advanced technology (AT&T calls it 5G Evolution), which provides theoretical speeds of 400 megabits per second in 140 markets. Additionally, the carrier has launched LTE-LAA in parts of eight markets –– Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Texas; Little Rock, Arkansas; San Jose, California; Tampa, Florida; and Tuscaloosa, Alabama –­– bringing it to a total of 15 markets. Using carrier aggregation, LTE-LAA has peak theoretical wireless speeds reaching up to 1 gigabit per second.

J. Sharpe Smith
Senior Editor/eDigest
J. Sharpe Smith joined AGL in 2007 as contributing editor to the magazine and as editor of eDigest email newsletter. He has 29 years of experience writing about industrial communications, paging, cellular, small cells, DAS and towers. Previously, he worked for the Enterprise Wireless Alliance as editor of the Enterprise Wireless Magazine. Before that, he edited the Wireless Journal for CTIA and he began his wireless journalism career with  Phillips Publishing, now Access Intelligence.  Sharpe Smith may be contacted at: [email protected]

Smart Sensors Will Mean Safer Portland, Ore

Installation of one of Portland’s Current by GE CityIQ nodes (Photo: Business Wire)

The City Portland, Oregon is moving forward on its Traffic Sensor Safety Project, which is the first milestone for Smart City PDX, the city’s effort to use data and technology identify inequities and disparities in the city and then strategically apply data and technology to address those challenges.

For the Traffic Sensor Safety Project, the City is installing 200 Current by GE CityIQ sensors, powered by Intel IoT technology, AT&T, Current by GE and Portland General Electric, on three of Portland’s deadliest streets. The sensors will provide around-the-clock counts of vehicles and pedestrians as well as information about vehicle speeds. With this new data, city traffic engineers can improve street safety design and support Portland’s Vision Zero goal of making the streets safe for all users.

The sensor project, which installed new mast arms and the sensors on street light poles on the three corridors, costs $1,012,000. It was funded with general transportation revenue, system development charges and contributions by the project’s private sector collaborators.

The data gathered from the sensors will be collected in the Portland Urban Data Lake (PUDL). Part of the overall Smart City PDX initiative, PUDL will collect, store, combine, and analyze data from a variety of sources including the Traffic Safety Sensor Pilot. The goal of PUDL is to provide a foundation for data-driven decision making, helping the City of Portland to harness the power of data to improve City services.

In addition to improved data insights, the CityIQ open platform is designed to handle future growth using the exact same street lighting infrastructure, so Portland can continue adapting and developing new applications that meet the specific needs of the city and its residents.

Austin Ashe, Smart Cities General Manager for Current by GE, said his company will be working with Portland to extract bicycle data to better understand the bicycle traffic volume and cyclists’ interactions with vehicle and pedestrian traffic.

The safety project is part of Smart City PDX, the City of Portland’s urban data and technology strategy.



Court Approves AT&T/Time Warner Deal: Good Thing, Bad Thing?

By J. Sharpe Smith, Senior Editor

With the ruling of U.S. District Judge Richard Leon this week that the U.S. Government failed to meet its burden to prove that the proposed AT&T/Time Warner merger would be anticompetitive, the wireless carrier landscape has been forever changed.

The merger will be good for wireless, because it allows AT&T to bundle multiple service is key for its growth going forward, Tim Courtney, VP sales and strategy, Further Enterprise Solutions, told AGL eDigest.

“The cable companies know how to add customers by bundling phone, internet and TV, and wireless companies are going to have to do the same thing,” Courtney said. “Clearly AT&T is in the lead of figuring that out. It is a good thing for the wireless industry for sure.”

John Celentano of Technology Marketing & Sales Consulting was concerned about the concentration of the infrastructure across a range services.

“There is no real counterweight to compete with a combined AT&T/Time Warner,” Celentano said. “Smaller players don’t have the capex and wherewithal to mount a response. Are we reconstituting the Bell System?”

The combined entity will carry $249B of debt, according stats provided in a colorful MoffettNathanson blog, which noted that if AT&T were a country, it would rank 32nd on the list of highest total debt burdens, between Indonesia and the United Arab Emirates. Senior Analyst Craig Moffett adds that the EBITDAs supporting the debt at both companies are shrinking.

“AT&T is now – by far – the world’s largest issuer of investment-grade debt,” according to a research note that Moffett wrote. “But credit metrics like these – nearly 4x leverage against declining revenues and declining EBITDA – would typically be High Yield. AT&T will be under enormous pressure from the credit rating agencies to de- lever.”

Some question how the servicing of this size of a debt load will affect AT&T’s wireless infrastructure capex. “That is the burning question,” said Carrie Ortolano, general counsel, CTI Towers. “Where is AT&T going to get the money for all the infrastructure that needs to be deployed?”

The truth is AT&T will receive success-based payments of $6.5 billion over the next five years to build out the FirstNet network, and it is also using those visits to its existing and new towers to deploy equipment that can be upgraded to 5G with a software upgrade.

No matter how AT&T pays its bills, the additional video content that will be easily accessible to consumers will drive usage of its network, which must continue to be built out, according to Phil Burtner, chief engineer, NB+C Engineering Services. “My daughter currently uses 15 gigs a month and I see that number going up for young people who don’t even have cable TV,” Burtner said.

American Tower Noncompete Clause Rattles Tower Service Contractors

By J. Sharpe Smith, Senior Editor

The wireless infrastructure industry is abuzz over a letter contained in an email that American Tower sent to its contractors last week, expressing its concern about the practice of building new towers near existing towers.

The letter responds to wireless communications carrier efforts to lower their antenna space rental costs by building towers near sites where they already have antennas and where they believe the rent is too high. The letter from American Tower says the practice of placing new towers nearby, known as overbuilding, is “not sustainable or scalable.”

“American Tower believes that building such towers is unnecessary, short-sighted and reckless,” the letter from Jared Morley, director of supply chain at American Tower reads. “It harms existing landlords, needlessly clutters otherwise peaceful neighborhoods, wastes precious resources and does nothing to improve the coverage, capacity or quality of today’s stressed wireless networks.”

The letter includes a noncompete amendment to American Tower’s master contract agreements. By signing the amendment, a contractor agrees to not to work for a wireless communications provider on any “new wireless communications asset” within one-half mile from an American tower site. If that agreement is violated, American Tower reserves the right to remove the contractor from its preferred contractor list.

Contractors have until June 15 to sign the agreement and until Aug. 17 to discontinue any work that is not allowed in the agreement.

A battle between a public tower company and the carriers is not really too surprising. It has been coming on for a while.

Last year, the carriers took direct actions to lower tower costs. In November 2017, AT&T and Verizon opted to use Tillman Infrastructure to build towers for their use and committed to leasing and co-anchoring the towers. The purpose was to make it possible to relocate equipment to new towers as leases for space on current towers expire. As recently as April 26, AT&T continued to move away from the traditional tower building and leasing model by signing a build-to-suit agreement with CitySwitch. Under the agreement, CitySwitch will begin tower construction as early as the second half of 2018 and will lease completed sites to AT&T.

SoftBank Group’s $400 million joint venture with Lendlease Group to develop or buy 8,000 towers and rooftop sites will reduce site rental costs for Sprint.

Tower contractors have been caught in the middle of the feud between AT&T and American Tower and essentially will have to choose sides. Some said they believe the letter was heavy-handed, and they feel blindsided by it. Some also expressed concerns that the amendment is too vague. Although the letter asks them not to participate in the development of any new towers, the amendment uses broader language, referring to new wireless communications assets.  They say, the broader language would keep contractors from laying fiber, or installing in-building wireless or outdoor DAS and small cell systems, within a half-mile of an American Tower site.

Some contractors also complained about the letter’s tight deadlines. For some, signing the noncompete amendment to the master contract will probably be a no-brainer. American Tower will provide them with far more work than any company overbuilding for the carriers. Some companies will no doubt test American Tower’s resolve and refuse to sign, while others simply do not know whether to sign the new agreement. Either way, the clock is ticking.

J. Sharpe Smith
Senior Editor/eDigest
J. Sharpe Smith joined AGL in 2007 as contributing editor to the magazine and as editor of eDigest email newsletter. He has 29 years of experience writing about industrial communications, paging, cellular, small cells, DAS and towers. Previously, he worked for the Enterprise Wireless Alliance as editor of the Enterprise Wireless Magazine. Before that, he edited the Wireless Journal for CTIA and he began his wireless journalism career with  Phillips Publishing, now Access Intelligence.  Sharpe Smith may be contacted at: [email protected]