President Barak Obama issued a memorandum to free up 500 megahertz of spectrum in the next 10 years, directing the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the Federal Communications Commission to free up federal and nonfederal spectrum.
The details of the president's four-point plan to bring more spectrum to commercial use are similar to his National Broadband Plan. “As demand for mobile services skyrockets, so too will the need for additional spectrum frequencies to facilitate this transformation. Without a strategy for freeing up more spectrum for wireless technology, the United States will fall behind in technological innovation and 21st-century jobs as cutting edge applications and technologies that depend on broadband wireless platforms are invented in countries with more advanced wireless infrastructure,” according to a fact sheet detailing the memorandum.
The president asked that NTIA and the FCC identify by Oct. 1 any spectrum that can be freed up within five years for exclusive or shared use and asked that the agencies create an inventory of spectrum to help identify what spectrum could be freed up, as well as create a timeline for such spectrum.
Along with freeing up 500 megahertz of spectrum, the president would like to change the rules so government and commercial spectrum holders can realize greater and earlier benefits from giving up their spectrum; value the spectrum the most, which means auctioning most of the spectrum, but setting some aside for unlicensed use and sharing spectrum when possible. Finally, the memorandum proposes using auction proceeds to aid public safety, reduce the federal deficit and create jobs in industries like smart grids.
“The administration has no official estimate of the auction revenues from this plan. The actual amount will depend on effective implementation and additional design details, but based on past auctions, many analysts believe the revenue potential could reach in the tens of billions of dollars. The proceeds would be invested in public safety, additional job-creating infrastructure investments and deficit reduction,” according to a fact sheet announcing the memorandum.
6/28/2010 5:34:59 PM
President Barak Obama issued a memorandum to free up 500 megahertz of spectrum in the next 10 years, directing the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the Federal Communications Commission to free up federal and nonfederal spectrum.
6/28/2010 5:24:09 PM
Spectrum Bridge Inc. said it is working with a California utility to use white-spaces technology to deploy a smart-grid network in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and offer wireless broadband service to area residents.
Spectrum Bridge is working with the Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative to manage the supply and demand of electricity, improve System Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) at substations, and with Google Inc., which is supplying its free PowerMeter sevice.
The project to show how a smart-grid network can work is part of Spectrum Bridge’s continuing push to show how white-spaces spectrum can be used as a Wi-Fi-like, next-generation technology, said CEO Richard Licursi. White-spaces spectrum can propagate through dense forestry and rugged terrain, reaching eight to 10 miles at a time, Licursi noted. Lake Mary, Fla.-based Spectrum Bridge eventually wants to sell its technology to original equipment manufacturers at the chip, device and access point level. As such, the company has built a wireless broadband network in a small Virginia town using white-spaces technology. The company has operated a smart city to show how wireless broadband via white spaces could be used for public security and telemetry applications. Licursi said the Gulf of Mexico oil catastrophe provides another example of how white-spaces technology could be used – to monitor water quality.
“PSREC currently employs a wide variety of wireless solutions across multiple frequency bands, but still faces challenges in some areas due to challenging terrain,” the companies said in a press release. “The applications deployed for the Plumas-Sierra ‘Smart Grid’ wireless network trial deliver real-time broadband connectivity to remote substations and switchgear, allowing PSREC system operators to manage the electrical system remotely, request critical data from substations, manage power flow and protect the system and employees while maintaining the local grid.”
Further, the access points in the home use Google’s PowerMeter product so residents can monitor their electrical use, said Licursi, explaining that Google wanted to sample how its product did in this environment. Residents also can deploy Wi-Fi in the home and use the white-spaces spectrum for backhaul to get broadband connectivity from the co-op.
The Federal Communications Commission approved white-spaces spectrum for unlicensed use. The agency was concerned, however, that the technology operating on the white-spaces spectrum, not interfere with existing uses of the frequencies, like TV broadcasting channels and wireless microphone uses. As such, white-spaces radios must “check in” with a white-spaces database to make sure the spectrum does not cause interference.
6/28/2010 5:17:45 PM
Sprint Nextel Corp. (S) and partner Clearwire Corp. (CLWR)continued their full-court WiMAX press this morning announcing a trio of new markets where service is available as well as a new device set to launch later this year.
Both companies said they are now offering WiMAX service in Salt Lake City; St. Louis; and Richmond, Va., pushing their total market coverage to around 40 markets. The Sprint Nextel offering is marketed under its “4G” brand, while the Clearwire service is marketed under its “Clear” brand.
In addition to the extended coverage Sprint Nextel unveiled details of its second WiMAX-enabled smartphone, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. Epic 4G. The device is based on Samsung's Galaxy S platform and joins the recently launched HTC Corp. Evo 4G with access to Sprint Nextel's WiMAX service.
Samsung said the Epic 4G device will include a 4-inch AMOLED screen, slide-out QWERTY keyboard, run Google Inc.'s Android 2.1 operating system, a 5-megapixel camera as well as a front-facing camera and is powered by a 1 GHz Samsung processor. Sprint Nextel is working on a Android 2.2 update for later this year and said it would announce availability and pricing for the device in the “coming months.”
Sprint Nextel began selling the Evo 4G earlier this month and noted that it was the fastest selling device in its history, though the carrier did not provide hard numbers.
A recent report from In-Stat noted that while worldwide revenues from WiMAX services could top $30 billion by 2014, future growth could be impacted by the decision of a number of infrastructure providers to pull back support for the technology in favor of LTE.
6/22/2010 12:16:14 PM
Verizon Wireless said it is hiring 200 customer care and technical support representiatives at its Henrietta, N.Y., call center to handle local and nationwide customer service inquiries.
“As our customer base grows and the devices and services they use become more sophisticated, providing an outstanding customer experience becomes even more important,” said Russ Preite, president of Verizon Wireless' Upstate New York Region. “We've been fortunate to continue to find top-quality, highly skilled talent in the Rochester area. Today's announcement further endorses our commitment to Rochester and to maintaining superior customer service for our customers.” The center employs nearly 1,200 people, having added more than 200 positions last year.
As customer service gets increasingly technical with smartphone adoption, a number of companies are selling products and services to try to aid consumers with one phone call, instead of passing the calls up to more experienced reps. A report from InnoPath Software earlier this year said smartphone support costs four times that of feature-phone support.
Verizon Wireless said it offers competitive salaries and benefits including health, dental and vision coverage that begin on the first day of employment, a 401(k) program with a 6% company match, an annual bonus program, profit sharing, merit increases, tuition assistance, adoption assistance, an on-site health and wellness facility and more.
6/22/2010 12:09:13 PM
WASHINGTON, D.C. – While the weather this time of the year in Washington, D.C., can only be described as oppressive, the mood of the telecommunications community in the nation’s capital can best be described as ambitious.
That ambition is being directly led by the Federal Communications Commission, which under the leadership of Chairman Julius Genachowski has laid out an ambitious plan of reforming the current telecommunications landscape that is susceptible to change following any of the elections that keeps this place hoping.
One of the most controversial initiatives undertaken by the FCC is the National Broadband Plan, which is looking to expand the availability of broadband services across the country. While many in the wireless industry were disappointed that the initial recommendations of the NBP did not include a greater emphasis on wireless services, the FCC’s audacious plan to unlock up to 300 megahertz of new spectrum over the next five years and 500 megahertz over the next 10 years has drawn considerable interest.
Ruth Milkman, bureau chief for the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, agreed that the target is an ambitious one and that the commission it will face challenges in freeing up much of that spectrum, which the commission hopes to wrestle from the hands of commercial television broadcasters. To do so the FCC is looking at changes to the current law that require proceeds from spectrum auctions be deposited into the national treasury so that it may instead use some of the proceeds to reimburse broadcasters for giving up their precious spectrum assets.
“We have to have a goal and we know that the 300 megahertz goal is ambitious, but we think it’s achievable,” Milkman said.
Milkman did add that the commission is comfortable with the current route in which spectrum is auctioned to interested telecom providers, a route that has seen nearly $35 billion in proceeds deposited into the national treasury over the past five years.
One change that does appear to be brewing is a possible crack in the traditionally strong regulatory front pursued by the industry’s nationwide operators and spearheaded by wireless trade association CTIA. A number of people we spoke with noted that the growing market share difference between the nation’s No. 1 and No. 2 operators Verizon Wireless and AT&T Mobility and the No. 3 and No. 4 operators Sprint Nextel Corp. and T-Mobile USA Inc. has started to cause a riff amongst the interest of carriers.
One analyst noted that Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile USA have recently begun to side more with the interest of rural operators that for years have struggled to compete against the industry’s nationwide operators.
“The wireless industry is still united on most issues,” explained Charles McKee, VP for state and federal regulatory issues at Sprint Nextel. “But, there are also some areas of tension that need to be acknowledged. … Trade associations have the difficult job of trying to reconcile amongst its members, but our goal is to promote our agenda that is beneficial to the wireless industry and not to the ILEC industry.”
Nearly all agreed that while there is competition on the commercial side of the wireless industry, they questioned the same level of competition when it comes to the behind-the-scenes aspects, including special access and certain legacy government programs. Those targeted for having an advantage in these regards included both large companies like Verizon Communications Inc. and AT&T Inc., as well as regional and rural wireline players.
“When it comes to issues like special access we have to look hard to find competition in that space,” said Kathleen O’Brien Ham, VP of Federal Regulatory Affairs for T-Mobile USA.
Telecom Act redux?
One topic no one seemed willing to broach was the possibility of a rewrite of the 1996 Telecom Act that has been mentioned by some lawmakers. While there was acknowledgement that the telecommunications, and more specifically the mobile industry, is vastly different today than it was 14 years ago, the thought of trying to revamp that overarching document would be a tall order.
Sprint Nextel’s McKee noted that any talk of a rewrite is fraught with peril, but acknowledged that the telecommunications industry today is vastly different from the one in 1996 when the act was passed.
''The Telecom Act did a lot to change the industry and in a very positive way,” McKee said. “But there is no way we could have predicted how much the industry has changed and where we are now. Rewriting the Telecom Act? Talk about a huge undertaking.''
6/14/2010 12:30:18 PM
The Global mobile Suppliers Association said that it expects 22 LTE networks to be up and running by the end of this year with an additional 23 networks operational by the end of 2012.
The GSA added that 80 operators have made ''firm commitments to deploy LTE networks in 33 countries,'' an increase from 64 network commitments two months ago, and that 110 operators in 48 countries are “currently investing in LTE networks.”
Spurring the deployment plans were the recently completed spectrum auctions in Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands. Spectrum being looked at for LTE deployments around the world include 700 MHz in the Americas, and 800 MHz, 1.8 GHz and 2.6 GHz in Europe.
Those domestic plans include Verizon Wireless and MetroPCS Communications Inc., which have said they plan to have networks up and running by the end of the year, as well as AT&T Mobility, which is on track for network trials in 2011 and commercial deployments in 2012. WiMAX supporter Clearwire Corp. has also said that it was looking at possible LTE deployments using its extensive 2.5 GHz spectrum holdings, a move already announced by Russian operator Yota.
LTE technology is also expected to get a boost from the TD-LTE protocol that is gaining supporters in China.
“'The success of recent LTE systems launches, newly completed spectrum auctions in 2.6 GHz and 800 MHz bands, and the continuing strong upsurge in mobile broadband worldwide are combining to produce the huge momentum for LTE we see right now,” said Alan Hadden, President of GSA. “LTE is essential to take mobile broadband to the mass market.''
6/14/2010 12:20:48 PM
Canadian cable company Videotron is planning to launch wireless service in Quebec this summer, although the company is staying mum on launch specifics.
In an address at the 2010 Canadian Telecom Summit in Toronto, Robert Depatie, president and CEO of Videotron, shared some insight into the company's launch. "We are engaged in extensive network testing and are on the verge of launching Quebec's most competitive, and its most complete wireless service. Our 3.75 generation network will be fast, able and stable, with technology and entertainment capabilities that will go above and beyond what is presently out there. Our wireless network will soon be at the heart of our strategies and our wireless plan, like all our service and product plans, will be focused on the customer and on how will we deliver value."
The Canadian company, a subsidiary of Quebecor Media, won AWS spectrum licenses for Quebec, Toronto and eastern Ontario, paying more than $554 million (Canadian) for the license. Videotron today operates as an MVNO with 85,300 customers, but its main business is cable TV and broadband Internet service. It counts nearly 1.8 million cable TV customers in Quebec and nearly 1.2 million cable modem customers.
"We see our wireless network as an excellent means to extend the Videotron experience to mobile users, certainly, but also to fixed users who are beyond the reach of our fixed broadband services," Depatie said. "Our goal is to provide our customers with an ecosystem, an environment that can respond to customer requests and requirements and that can create new services. ... Full choice, full flexibility, full ubiquity. With this, our customers will have three screens, three different formats, which means three different types of challenges for our systems and processes. Our job is to make it work, to put the customer in control and make sure that the choice, the flexibility and the ubiquity are truly there. All of these three equal the Videotron technological ecosystem," Depatie said.
Videotron has inked roaming agreements with Rogers in Canada and T-Mobile USA Inc. in the United States.
The Canadian government in 2008 auctioned more spectrum to bring greater wireless competition to the country. Rogers Wireless, Telus Corp. and Bell Mobility dominate the marketplace today. New entrants include Vidoetron, Globalive Holdings and Mobilicity.
6/14/2010 12:18:36 PM
India’s Broadband Wireless Auction ended after 117 rounds, raking in nearly $5.5 billion for the government. Infotel Broadband Services Ltd. was the big winner, paying $2.74 billion for licenses in all 22 circles. Interestingly, Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries Ltd. announced that it is buying 95% of Internet service provider Infotel.
State-owned operators Bharat Sangar Nigam Ltd. and Mahanagar Telelphone Nigam Ltd. are required to match the auction prices paid for their spectrum, bringing the auction proceeds to more than $8 billion.
Reliance, which is paying about $1 billion for Infotel, said it will use LTE technology to bring mobile broadband services on its new spectrum. “RIL sees the broadband opportunity as a new frontier of knowledge economy in which it can take a leadership position and provide India with an opportunity to be in the forefront among the countries providing world-class 4G network and services. A single 20-megahertz TDD spectrum when used with LTE (Long Term Evolution) has the potential of providing greater capacity when compared to existing communication infrastructure in the country,” the company said. Reliance is India’s largest private-sector company, with a net worth of $30.6 billion.
Qualcomm Inc., which entered the auction to push LTE technology for the BWA licensees rather than WiMAX, picked up licenses in Delhi, Mumbai, Kerala and Haryan, paying just over $1 billion for the licenses. The San Diego-based company said it would soon announce its Indian partners to comply with Indian Foreign Direct Investment regulations.
Of the 11 bidders, six won licenses. Other winners include Bharti (four licenses); Aircel, (eight licenses); Tikona, (five licenses); and Augere, (one license).
All licenses are provisional wins by the Indian government at this point.
The Indian government concluded its 3G auction last month, raising nearly $14.6 billion.
6/1/2010 5:15:27 PM
As the Wholesale Applications Community takes steps to form in July, widget companies like Snac are hoping to see operators embrace widgets as another way to drive data traffic, said Snac CEO Mark Caron.
The WAC initiative, announced at Mobile World Congress earlier this year, is a way for wireless operators to make themselves relevant , and get relevant revenues, from delivering mobile applications to end users. Today device manufacturers/operating system providers and developers share that revenue, leaving operators largely out of the picture. As such, 29 companies, mostly operators, now have joined the WAC community to re-insert themselves into the revenue equation.
WAC laid out an aggressive timeline to launch earlier this month. The group will officially form in July, announcing its board of directors and laying out its business model, said Tim Raby, who is acting CEO of the WAC and also the managing director for the Open Mobile Terminal Platform. The first specifications will be announced in September and the group plans to hold its first applications developer event in November. Then at MWC in 2011, the WAC initiative should be open for business, Raby said at an analyst briefing earlier this month.
The problem with so many OSes and devices is well documented: the market is fragmented, forcing applications developers to choose which platform and device to pin the success of their app on. For many, the Apple iPhone has been the first choice. (Apple is not a member of WAC and not likely to join.) But Apple only represents a small percentage of the overall market, Caron noted. WAC is hoping the 3 billion end users its operators count and its global geographic scale will lure developers to write for the specification, which blends three application platforms: the Joint Innovation Lab, or JIL, OMTP’s Bondi platform and the GSMA’s One API. “The application world is becoming increasingly decoupled from the investment that’s required to support them,” Raby said. “The investment is required to support the applications going forward, whatever the platform.”
Operators will be able to use their network assets, including billing and customer care, to enable all kinds of new applications once the WAC initiative is working, Caron said.
“A long-term opportunity for us is to license our technology to carriers and device vendors,” Caron said. “We’re talking with carriers but we’re not waiting for them.” Today Snac courts it partners to have their own widgets for people to download off-deck.
Widgets are still important for even as smartphone adoption increases, Caron said, because widgets can drive so many more applications than native applications preinstalled on a device. People will access wireless applications three ways, Caron noted. Native applications are flourishing and will continue to do so, he said. The deep integration that happens when an app is written to run on a specific device is impressive, but it is expensive to write and limited to one OS. At the other end of the spectrum are mobile applications that access the Web, which also brings scale but not always a great user experience.
In the middle sit widgets, which run in the background on a device, and are light and fast so they don’t drain a device’s battery.
6/1/2010 4:37:35 PM
Mobile broadband technologies, including LTE, HSPA and CDMA2000 1x EV-DO technologies, are set to dominate the mobile space over the next 10 years, though the rise is not expected to hit its stride until the middle of the current decade, according to a report from WiseHarbor Research.
The analyst firm, which laid out a number of forecasts for the coming decade, said it expects mobile broadband technologies will bridge the digital divide through the current decade for Internet and data communications by 2020 and will follow the lead that GSM and CDMA2000 1x achieved in the voice and text space.
WiseHarbor noted that LTE will mirror the success of GSM technologies, but that it won't be until 2016 before LTE accounts for more than 25% of mobile broadband device sales, and that it won't match device sales from CDMA-based technologies and HSPA/HSPA+ technologies combined until 2019.
The Asia Pacific region is expected to lead the world in mobile broadband and LTE device sales beginning next year, according to the report, which added that developed nations will lead in devices sold per capita. Device revenues from handsets, wireless modems and embedded modules is expected to peak in 2015 before being hit by falling selling prices and saturated demand. Revenue growth will then come from non-traditional devices that will see an increase in connectivity options.
WiseHarbor also noted that the growth of the TD-LTE standard will result in the demise of WiMAX beginning in the second half of the decade.
''Whereas WiMAX has made significant commercial progress by occupying the unpaired spectrum that tends to be much cheaper than the paired spectrum used for CDMA-based technologies including EV-DO and HSPA, TD-LTE will eclipse WiMAX by prevailing in the use of unpaired spectrum as well as the paired spectrum already employed commercially by LTE,'' the report explains. ''Commitment to TD-LTE by China Mobile in particular and significant commonalities between LTE technologies and manufactured products with TDD and FDD modes will marginalize WiMAX in the marketplace over the next few years.''
6/1/2010 4:31:58 PM
AT&T Mobility said its wireless employees in its Southeast Region (CWA District 3) have voted to ratify a four–year agreement with the Communications Workers of America. The agreement covers about 11,200 CWA members in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.
AT&T has the largest number of CWA employees in the wireless sector as Verizon Wireless employees are not unionized. Midwest CWA employees reached a three-year agreement with AT&T last August. These latest agreements have been much less contentious than previous pacts. In early 2009, the CWA voted to strike after failing to reach agreements with AT&T Mobility.
6/1/2010 4:25:23 PM
Clearwire Corp. officially launched service in Kansas City and Washington, D.C., and expanded service in Baltimore. The WiMAX operator is offering an online-only mobile Internet promotion with plans starting at $15 per month for two months after a $50 service credit in all three markets.
In Baltimore, Clearwire said it expanded to service to now cover 1.7 million people. The coverage area now goes as far north as Bel Air, as far south as Annapolis and west to Owings Mills and east to Dundalk and Essex. Dean Young has been named general manager for the market.
In central Washington, D.C., Clearwire said it covers nearly 1 million people, including the communities of Chevy Chase and Silver Spring, Md., Alexandria and Falls Church, Va., as well as College Park, Md. Jeff Fugate has been named general manager for the area.
Clearwire also launched service in partner Sprint Nextel Corp.'s headquarters of Kansas City, Kan., and neighboring Missouri, where its service covers more than 1.1 million people. The company named John O'Donnellas GM for the region.
Clearwire CEO Bill Morrow said in its first-quarter operating results that it is on track to cover 120 million potential customers by the end of the year. The carrier plans to turn on service in St. Louis, Mo., Salt Lake City, Utah, and Nashville, Tenn., yet this summer.
Clearwire has said that its WiMAX deployment has allowed it a first-to-market 4G advantage, although the rhetoric over 4G continues to intensify, with T-Mobile USA Inc. announcing what it calls 4G speeds on its HSPA+ network as it rolls out 21 Megabit per second technology in some Northeast markets, while Verizon Wireless plans to cover 100 million pops by the end of the year.
Meanwhile, amid speculation that Clearwire will shift to LTE technology eventually, research company WiseHarbor just released a report that says WiMAX sales will peak by 2015, as the introduction of TD-LTE service will spur the demise of WiMAX technology. “ Whereas WiMAX has made significant commercial progress by occupying the unpaired spectrum that tends to be much cheaper than the paired spectrum used for CDMA-based technologies including EV-DO and HSPA, TD-LTE will eclipse WiMAX by prevailing in the use of unpaired spectrum as well as the paired spectrum already employed commercially by LTE. Commitment to TD-LTE by China Mobile in particular and significant commonalities between LTE technologies and manufactured products with TDD and FDD modes will marginalize WiMAX in the marketplace over the next few years.”