The FCC granted 5,676 licenses today for wireless operations in mid-band radio-frequency spectrum, also known as C-band spectrum in the range from 3.7 GHz to 3.98 GHz. The licenses went to high bidders in the FCC Auction 107 that concluded on Feb. 17. Twenty-one bidders spent about $81 billion for the licenses. “Today’s action keeps the transition of this band to flexible use on track, paving the way for carriers to use this spectrum to provide 5G and other advanced wireless services,” a statement from the FCC reads.
The FCC’s acting chairwoman, Jessica Rosenworcel, said, “These mid-band licenses are the sweet spot for 5G deployment. That’s because they have the right mix of capacity and propagation that will help us reach more people in more places faster. With these licenses in hand, more carriers can deploy mid-band 5G, which means faster speeds over much wider coverage areas and more robust competition.”
Among the bidders, Verizon Wireless, under its business name of Cellco Partnership, spent $45.5 billion for 3,511 licenses. AT&T spent $23.5 billion for 1,621 licenses. T-Mobile spent $9 billion for 142 licenses. U.S. Cellular spent $1.3 billion for 254 licenses. NewLevel II, a bidding entity for Grain Capital, spent $1.2 billion for 10 licenses. Canopy Spectrum, a joint venture of Jennifer Fritzsche and Ed Moise, spent $197 milllion for 84 licenses.
The initial authorizations have a term not to exceed 15 years from the date of initial issuance or renewal, the FCC said. The FCC imposed lengthy, detailed construction requirements upon the license-holders in an effort to see to it that they build facilities to put the spectrum to use.
Satellite operators Intelsat, SES, Telesat, Eutelsat and Star One are working to clear the portion of the C-band that was auctioned, according to a story in Via Satellite. “The operators have agreed to clear the spectrum in exchange for relocation costs and incentive payments for clearing the spectrum on an accelerated timeline,” the story reads. “The FCC decided on $9.7 billion of accelerated relocation payments, most of which will go to Intelsat ($4.87 billion) and SES ($3.97 billion). The operators must first clear 120 megahertz of spectrum in 46 partial economic areas by Dec. 5, 2021. In a second phase, they must clear the lower 120 megahertz in the remaining areas, plus an additional 180 megahertz nationwide, by Dec. 5, 2023.”
Don Bishop is executive editor and associate publisher of AGL Magazine.
U.S. Cellular and Nokia are working on an intelligent operations system to better predict and determine network performance, combining advanced analytics and “smart” data sets. The goal is to build out small cells to accommodate the usage patterns of wireless users as they change. U.S. Cellular’s engineering organization will go live with the solution in the second quarter 2018, with additional roll-outs planned through the rest of next year.
“Using Nokia’s innovative technology, this system will revolutionize the way we apply our various network data inputs to gain insights, predict outcomes and align resources to directly impact how our customers experience our network,” said Michael S. Irizarry, executive vice president and chief technology officer at U.S. Cellular.
The system will leverage Nokia Cognitive Analytics for Customer Insight, a machine learning-powered application gives a view of customer satisfaction, revenue, and device and network performance. By providing insights from a combination of network performance and customer usage data, this new solution will enable U.S. Cellular to resolve issues caused by unusual network activity or more efficiently plan cell site and small cell build-outs.
U.S. Cellular and Ericsson have completed joint testing of various 5G use cases at 28 GHz. The tests, a significant step toward the launch of a 5G network, were conducted in rural and suburban environments in Madison, Wisconsin.
The trials were conducted under a variety of real-world conditions, and they achieved peak throughput speed of 8.5 Gbps. In addition, virtual reality was tested, achieving peak speeds of 4 Gbps. This virtual reality test was one of the highlights of the trial, as it proved how the ultra-high speeds and low latency of 5G will enable VR applications. The companies also tested augmented reality, advanced beamforming and massive MIMO.
The live over-the-air trials expanded on 5G trials between the two companies in 2016 that achieved 9 Gbps at 15GHz.
Michael S. Irizarry, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, U.S. Cellular, says: “This was an important trial for us to understand the propagation characteristics and path loss at 28Ghz, and we are pleased with our learnings. Our customers deserve to have a network that keeps up with their lifestyle, so we are constantly working to ensure that they will always have access to the latest technology and data speeds available.”
Niklas Heuveldop, Head of Market Area North America, Ericsson, says: “5G activities continue to accelerate across North America as all operators prepare for deployments. U.S. Cellular is aggressively testing 5G to determine how to best leverage the new capabilities for its customers. Working with U.S. Cellular on this series of 5G trials has been greatly beneficial for Ericsson as we continue to explore innovative applications that 5G networks will enable.”
To enhance the wireless experience for business customers, U.S. Cellular has introduced “ConnectHQ,” a self-service portal that allows customers to manage connectivity to all of their wireless data devices in a centralized dashboard. As the Internet of Things (IoT) becomes more established in many business operations, the number of connections a customer will want to manage can range from dozens to tens of thousands, and ConnectHQ gives them control.
“We offer a rapidly growing set of certified devices and B2B products and services that increase the competitiveness of local businesses and improve the efficiency of government operations,” said Scott Scheuber, director of product management at U.S. Cellular.
ConnectHQ allows customers and value added partners to mass-activate and manage their IoT devices and monitor and get alerted to unusual usage whenever and however they choose. Additionally, business owners can track usage trends over time to right size their operations costs by adjusting data plans through a rich set of controls and reporting tools.
“By working with an established and proven company like Nokia, we can provide our customers with an intuitive connectivity portal that enables them to quickly add and manage all the IoT devices on our reliable, high-speed wireless network,” Scheuber said.
ConnectHQ is powered by Nokia’s connectivity management technology, which manages high volumes of connections from sensors and devices, and offers flexible deployment and modules for capabilities such as billing, mediation, and CRM. Connectivity management is part of Nokia IMPACT, a secure, standards-based platform for building and scaling new IoT services. The Nokia IMPACT IoT platform manages data collection, event processing, device management, data contextualization, data analytics and applications enablement for any device, any protocol and across any application.
October 16, 2014 — The M&A market picked up in the third quarter with the two major announcements of tower sales by carriers. But while the press likes to hype the blockbuster billion-dollar deals, the market for smaller portfolios will remain robust, Jason Nicolay, vice president, Media Venture Partners told AGL Link.
Verizon Wireless, has hired TAP Advisors to explore the sale of its towers, estimated at 12,000 in number, and U.S. Cellular is selling 595 non-strategic cell towers outside of its core markets.
Potential buyers are now evaluating Verizon’s towers on an individual and portfolio basis and the carrier hopes to have a deal done by the end of the year, according to Nicolay.
“If Verizon is the only tenant on a particular site, buyers will be looking at whether the sites are good collocation prospects for the other carriers to increase the cash flow on a per-site basis,” he said.
Verizon’s tower sale will not adversely impact the sale of smaller portfolios, according to Nicolay, because not that many tower companies will be capable of buying such a large portfolio.
“A lot of tower buyers will still be interested in buying one to 10 sites or more from middle market developers,” he said. “There is very little inventory of cell towers and a lot of demand right now.”
With two major tower portfolios on the market, the large tower aggregators will be busy doing their due diligence, perhaps opening up opportunities for smaller buyers.
“Verizon’s proposed transaction will take a lot of time from the bigger, likely buyers to analyze how it might affect them operationally and financially. That gives an opportunity for some smaller tower buyers to acquire assets in cases where it might have not have been possible,” Nicolay said. “That said, the market is so hungry for assets that smaller buyers are still paying prices that are attractive to sellers.”
While Verizon is the last major carrier to sell its tower assets, there are plenty of other smaller carriers with tower portfolios.
“Every deal doesn’t have to be 12,000 towers or even 1,000,” Nicolay said. “The tower market is still highly fragmented, and there are still a lot dollars chasing space. There are going to be buyers out there in the market.”