Friday, January 04
At Light Reading, Jeff Baumgartner reports satellite provider Dish is still looking for help in order to build out a wireless LTE network:
Dish Network Corp. acknowledges it needs a partner to make its Long Term Evolution (LTE) dreams come true, but there are no hints as to who that might be. “We need a [wireless industry] partner, that much we know,” Dish CEO Joseph Clayton tells the Denver Business Journal. “Who it is remains to be seen.”
Potential partners for Dish, Baumgartner writes, are AT&T and T-Mobile.
Wednesday, December 12
Speaking of deals — and LTE buildout — courtesy of Alex Fitzpatrick of Mashable, satellite provider Dish Network received some good news of its own yesterday:
Dish Network, the company you’re most likely familiar with as a provider of satellite television, has been trying for years to get government approval for its plans to build a nationwide LTE network. After extensive negotiations, the company’s LTE plans got the go-ahead from the Federal Communications Commission late Tuesday night.
The FCC unanimously approved Dish’s plan, which calls for using the company’s satellite network to build a new LTE network to compete with those of Verizon Wireless, AT&T and other companies.
“These actions will help meet skyrocketing consumer demand and promote private investment, innovation and competition, while unlocking billions of dollars of value,” said an FCC spokeswoman said in an e-mailed statement.
One of the FCC’s requirements for approval, interestingly, was that Dish must reach 70% of buildout on its network within six years.
Via Mike Dano of Fierce Wireless, it looks like Sprint may be looking to absorb all of wireless broadband provider Clearwire:
Sprint Nextel is reportedly in active discussions to purchase the 49 percent of Clearwire that it doesn’t already own, according to media reports. The transaction could be finalized by the end of this year.
CNBC, citing two people familiar with the situation, reported that Sprint is investigating the purchase. Separately, the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg, also citing unnamed sources, later reported the same thing. Both CNBC and the Journal noted that Sprint executives are talking to Clearwire shareholders such as Intel and Comcast, but that it’s unclear what Sprint would pay to acquire Clearwire’s outstanding shares. Clearwire currently commands a market value of $1.8 billion and holds around $5 billion in debt.
Sprint already owns 50.8% of Clearwire, but increasing their investment could substantially help in building out their LTE network.
Wednesday, October 31
Michael Shields of Reuters reports on a debate over spectrum, only this time it’s not here in America:
T-Mobile Austria could slash investment or even withdraw from the country if it is not allowed to compete with rivals that get frequencies needed for fourth-generation LTE mobile products, CEO Andreas Bierwirth told a newspaper.
The Deutsche Telekom unit is Austria’s second-biggest mobile provider after Telekom Austria. Two smaller rivals - France Telecom SA’s Orange and Hutchison’s H3G - are trying to merge in a deal that is under regulatory review.
When asked if T-Mobile would bail on Austria altogether, Bierwirth went on to say “I wouldn’t want to rule out any options for this case.”
Monday, July 09
Ultra-fast mobile broadband, also known as LTE, is slowly gaining traction here in America, according to Brad Reed of Boy Genius Reports, things are about to speed up:
Per Digitimes, the Taiwanese Market Intelligence & Consulting Institute research firm is projecting that LTE smartphones will total 586 million in 2016, more than nine times the 64 million smartphones projected to ship in 2012.
The question remains: Will wireless carriers have the spectrum they need to keep up with this latest mobile revolution?
Tuesday, June 05
Via Kevin Fitchard of GigaOm, a new report from Ericsson predicts a big leap when it comes to mobile broadband access worldwide:
It took 12 years for 3G technologies to touch half of the world’s population, but getting to 85 percent coverage will only take another five, according to wireless infrastructure vendor Ericsson. New HSPA+ and LTE network deployments will lead to a near blanketing of the world’s populated areas with mobile broadband by 2017.
Ericsson’s report is available on their website.
Monday, May 21
In an opinion piece for Politico, CTIA President and CEO Steve Largent makes the case that more spectrum for wireless will mean an explosion of innovation:
The world leadership we claim has been built over time, and today the U.S. is home to more than 69 percent of the global LTE subscribers, even though we have less than 5 percent of the world’s population and less than 6 percent of the world’s wireless subscribers.
Some of the most advanced wireless devices were launched first in the U.S., including Apple’s iPhones and iPads, Samsung’s Galaxys, Motorola’s Droids and HTC’s EVO 4G. In addition, Americans may choose from more than 630 unique devices while, by comparison, those in the United Kingdom have fewer than 150 choices. But all this is at risk if the industry is allowed to become even more spectrum constrained.
In response to Largent’s piece, our own Bruce Mehlman left this comment:
American consumers are benefiting from increasingly robust nationwide wireless data services including mobile apps, real-time social media and streaming video. With new wireless subscribers signing up every day and more and more spectrum hungry services snacking on the available airwaves, of course there is less spectrum to go around. Saying that the spectrum crisis isn’t real is an excuse for inaction.
Tuesday, November 15
Last week, the Communications Workers of America reiterated its support of the AT&T and T-Mobile merger by pushing back against merger opponents over claims that joining the company and expanding AT&T’s LTE network won’t create jobs. From CWA:
Opponents of the merger have used inaccurate and false comparisons in their jobs numbers, the report found. Opponents include Sprint, which made a failed bid to buy T-Mobile, Public Knowledge, and others. The claim that the merger will eliminate jobs stems from a faulty and convoluted analysis of wireline and wireless employment characterized by “sloppy research and the inability to distinguish between the change in the number of wireline and wireless jobs” in a Sprint-commissioned study, CWA said.
Instead, the CWA report said, the merger will create up to 96,000 new jobs based on AT&T’s commitment to build out high speed wireless broadband to 97 percent of the population, and AT&T’s commitment to bring back a net 5,000 quality wireless jobs to the United States.
CWA’s full merger and jobs report, “The AT&T/ T-Mobile Merger and Jobs: The Real Story,” is available on their website.
Wednesday, October 19
In response to the Department of Justice’s move to block the merger of AT&T and T-Mobile, the Communications Workers of America has released a new report on the effect blocking the merger will have. Titled, rather bluntly, “Blocking the AT&T/T-Mobile Merger will Harm Consumers, Communities & the Economy,” the report covers everything from AT&T’s commitment to expand 4G LTE, to the effect the merger will have on much-needed job creation.
The entire report is a must-read, but there are a few points made that are worth highlighting, beginning with the argument that blocking the merger will be good for preserving competition. As CWA states:
“[T]here is no long-term future for a stand-alone T-Mobile as an effective competitor: it has neither the spectrum nor the capital to create a competitive network utilizing the latest wireless technology (called 4G LTE). In January 2011 the CEO of T-Mobile’s parent company, Deutsche Telekom (DT), stated that DT would not provide the capital for T-Mobile’s 4G LTE deployment. T-Mobile also is on a downward trajectory suffering from declining revenue, eroding profit margins and increasing customers defections.”
With Verizon, AT&T, and now Sprint making the shift to 4G LTE technology, the fact that T-Mobile will soon be left behind regardless of the merger continues to be overlooked. And given that only AT&T and T-Mobile are compatible when it comes to network technology, the idea that T-Mobile could simply merge with someone else simply isn’t realistic. From the report:
There are two separate technological family trees that are not easily compatible. GSM based systems have evolved through UMTS, HSPA+, LTE and, the next step, LTE Advanced. CDMA based systems have evolved to EVDO.
• The merger between AT&T and T-Mobile creates technological synergies because each of these companies utilizes GSM and HSPA based networks.
• A merger between Sprint and T-Mobile (these companies were in merger discussions) would have experienced significant technological challenges because the two companies utilize different and incompatible technologies. T-Mobile’s systems are GSM based while Sprint’s systems are CDMA based.
As for AT&T’s ability to expand its 4G LTE network to cover nearly every corner of America — a key point, as it dovetails with President Obama’s State of the Union pledge to bring advanced mobile broadband to everyone — CWA points out such an expansion wouldn’t be feasible without the merger due to capacity and spectrum constraints:
AT&T’s other options could not remotely approach the merger in terms of increasing capacity, utilizing spectrum more efficiently, improving service and expanding 4G LTE deployment… [I]t would take AT&T eight years to obtain and activate the number of cell sites it will obtain from T-Mobile. AT&T also could not depend on a possible federal auction to reallocate spectrum because it is a multi-year process that needs Congressional approval, a FCC rule making, the actual auction and then a period for relocation of incumbent licenses and integration of existing network and equipment with the spectrum — if the bid is successful.
These are just a few of the salient points CWA makes about the merger. There’s much more to be found in the full report, including the effects blocking the merger will have on job creation and efforts to close the digital divide. You should definitely dig in.
Wednesday, September 28
Our Honorary Chairman Rick Boucher recently appeared on WRKF’s Jim Engster Show to talk about expanding broadband access, LTE mobile broadband, and the merger of AT&T and T-Mobile. Click here to download a MP3 of the show.
Thursday, September 22
Earlier this week, the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland released a study, “The Facebook App Economy,” which estimated the app ecosystem of the popular social networking is now directly responsible for over 182,000 jobs. And that’s just a drop in the job creation bucket. The study also estimates the entire Facebook app economy has produced over 235,000 jobs and contributed some $15 billion to the U.S. economy.
While the current app craze may not last — at least not at its current fever pitch — there’s no denying that right now the ecosystem is thriving. And producing. And it’s not just Facebook that is growing in the app environment. Amazon, Microsoft, and the Android mobile platforms each boast healthy app stores of their own, thereby creating additional jobs, encouraging investment, and adding value to the entire economy.
Then there’s Apple’s App Store, which this past July hit two impressive milestones: over 500,000 apps available, and over 15 billion — that’s right, billion — app downloads. Think that’s impressive? Think about the number of people working on mobile apps for Apple’s service right now. Then think about the fact the company’s App Store didn’t even exist four years ago.
Just five years ago, the online economy mainly brought to mind services or advertising. But the unprecedented adoption of mobile broadband has launched a new platform where everything from a 99¢ game to an entire online book store can create careers and inspire businesses.
The mobile broadband platform has the power to drive innovation and investment for decades to come. Three short years ago, the second iPhone helped ignite the mobile broadband explosion when it made “3G” a household term. Now mobile broadband is moving into the next generation.
The LTE era is right around the corner. We should all be excited for what it will bring.
Friday, September 02
Over at Politico, Eliza Krigman has an interesting piece on rumored wireless plans from the DISH network:
DISH, it said in a filing with the FCC last week, wants to “deploy the most advanced wireless broadband service using the LTE Advanced standard.”
The satellite TV firm requested permission to combine its $1.375 billion bid for TerreStar with an earlier $1 billion purchase of DBSD North America. That, and a host of alterations to its spectrum requirements, would allow DISH to emerge as a major player in the wireless space, the company claims.
“We’re doing exactly what FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and what President Obama wants: Get spectrum used that is currently going unused,” a DISH executive said.
Monday, August 22
Speaking of LTE mobile broadband deployment — and the many benefits thereof — Roger Cheng at CNet highlights a new study from Deloitte that found some impressive numbers for jobs and the overall economy as providers build out their networks:
The wireless carriers’ investment in 4G networks could be the salve that the ailing U.S. economy is looking for.
The carriers could invest between $25 billion and $53 billion in building out their 4G network through 2016, according to a study from Deloitte. That in turn could lead to the creation of 371,000 to 771,000 jobs, and gross domestic product growth of $73 billion to $151 billion.
In the study (available here in PDF form), Deloitte notes those numbers for buildout are “conservative,” and when you factor in jobs beyond installing networks — new businesses and jobs spurred by expanded access and powerful technology — the overall effect on America’s economy could be enormous.
Friday, August 19
Olga Kharif and Alex Sherman of Bloomberg report that Sprint is in talks with cable giant Comcast to increase Sprint’s ownership of Clearwire in order to keep plans afloat to build out next-generation LTE mobile broadband:
Sprint and Comcast, which are already investors in Clearwire along with Time Warner Cable Inc. and Bright House Networks LLC, are discussing ways to provide funding to the money-losing Kirkland, Washington-based company so it can build out its high-speed wireless network. Clearwire plans to spend about $600 million to upgrade its network to so-called long-term evolution, or LTE, technology, to compete against AT&T Inc. and Verizon Wireless, the company said this month.
Tuesday, August 09
Competition in the next-generation mobile broadband market is heating up. With Verizon already deploying its LTE network nationwide, and AT&T pledging to expand its network to the majority of the country following its proposed merger with T-Mobile, provider Clearwire — partnering with Sprint — is gearing up to be one of the world’s first operators to launch what’s known as LTE TDD, or Long Term Evolution Time Division Duplex.
That’s certainly a complicated moniker, but thankfully Dan Jones at Light Reading has provided a handy explanation of what LTE TDD is, and what makes it exciting.
Tuesday, July 26
In response to the opinion piece “If Phone Giants Merge: A Rural Take” by Parul Desai, IIA Honorary Chairman Rick Boucher penned the article below (also found here on Daily Yonder), which provides a different “rural take” on AT&T’s proposed purchase of T-Mobile.
“We commend the commission for the goals and the vision in this plan to bring affordable, high-speed Internet access to all Americans.”
— Consumers Union praising the FCC’s National Broadband Plan, March 16, 2010
For rural communities, broadband Internet service means additional jobs and the ability to integrate more fully into our nation’s economic mainstream. In rural areas, for example, employment jumps by 0.2 to 0.3 percent for every percentage point increase in broadband penetration, according to a study from The Brookings Institution.
During my 25 years in Congress, I worked to advance Rural America, with improved Internet access as a leading strategy. My reason was simple: expanded broadband access not only helps create employment opportunities, it also opens up access to education, healthcare, government services and information.
The power of broadband, for instance, provides new tools to farmers and ranchers to grow their enterprises and enables entrepreneurs to locate their businesses locally. For eight more ways that high-speed Internet transforms rural areas, check out an Internet Innovation Alliance report, titled “10 ways broadband helps rural communities.”
Accordingly, it is disappointing that my friends at Consumers Union would introduce a skewed, misleading argument about rural broadband service as part of their criticism of AT&T’s proposed purchase of T-Mobile.
As part of the merger, AT&T has pledged to deploy 4G LTE broadband — the fourth generation of wireless network technology with greater capacity and faster speeds — to more than 97 percent of Americans. This groundbreaking achievement should cheer progressives and conservatives alike: it helps President Obama realize a valued goal of universal broadband at no cost to taxpayers.
But missing the forest for the trees, the Consumers Union is attempting to move the goal post. Instead of connecting Americans, they say our aim should be to deploy high-speed Internet to all of our country’s land area — regardless of whether anyone actually lives there.
The argument is nonsensical. Deploy service in the Mojave Desert? Or the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park in Alaska? Or Denali or Death Valley? Any such service would be exorbitantly expensive to deploy and maintain, and there would be minimal consumer use (although all consumers would ultimately have to foot the bill to maintain the service).
Beyond this argument is an even more crucial issue for policymakers. Right now, wireless networks in far too many small towns cannot handle the demands of today’s users. The arrival of 4G LTE broadband service in these areas means mobile consumers will finally have a new choice for their Internet service. No longer will they be relegated to choosing only from the services of wired broadband providers.
As history goes to show, the arrival of a new competitor offering a better product or service will quickly spur the rest of the market to action. In this case, it will encourage other wireless carriers to deploy new technology and implement alternative pricing plans, which makes the consumer the winner.
Broadband allows businesses to take advantage of the lower costs and excellent quality of life that rural communities offer. The Washington State Department of Information Services reports that the Internet helps farms and food processors reduce their costs and increase their competitiveness. And the Benton Foundation finds that telehealth made possible by broadband access can save an estimated $670 per household per year in healthcare costs — not to mention the expanded emergency access to 911.
The benefits of high-speed mobile Internet access are wide-ranging, great and many. For business and policymakers alike, the goal should be to deploy this service as quickly as possible, to as many Americans as possible. The only ones who’ll miss cell towers in the middle of Death Valley are a few iguanas.
— IIA Honorary Chairman Rick Boucher
Thursday, June 30
LightSquare, the plucky — and somewhat mysterious — company that is looking to build a nationwide mobile broadband network continues to hit a road block. Computerworld’s Stephen Lawson reports:
LightSquared plans to build a terrestrial LTE (Long-Term Evolution) network to supplement its satellite-based mobile data system across the U.S. But to use its radio spectrum for that purpose, the startup needs to resolve interference with GPS (Global Positioning System) devices that are designed to work on frequencies close to its own. In January, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission ordered LightSquared to convene a joint working group with the GPS industry and test for possible conflicts.
The formal report on that testing was expected early Thursday. According to findings that were publicized in advance of the report, the report will show big problems: GPS unavailable to airline pilots, public safety workers, farmers, consumers and other users, over varying distances from LTE cell towers.
Lawson’s full story offers a good breakdown of the technological issues. Check it out.
Tuesday, June 14
Reforming the Universal Service Fund (USF) for the broadband era, using spectrum more efficiently and the joining of AT&T and T-mobile offer the best hope for meaningfully advancing broadband deployment and availability in 2011.
“The nation’s foremost telecommunications challenge is the need for universal broadband. Broadband is the bridge that ties rural communities to the American economic mainstream. The widespread deployment of high-speed Internet services promotes a national connectivity that benefits both rural and metropolitan interests.”
— IIA Honorary Chairman Rick Boucher
For decades, the primary purpose of USF has been to fund voice services through the equivalent of a tax on inter-state phone services. We at IIA strongly support the Federal Communication Commission’s unanimous decision in February to adopt a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) that focuses on reforming the Universal Service Fund to include broadband. Modernization of the USF to bring high-speed Internet services to unserved and underserved areas is a major step toward achieving universal broadband.
“Given the explosion of broadband-enabled traffic, our nation urgently needs more spectrum to continue fueling our high tech engine. We can’t make spectrum, so we have to make sure it is efficiently used and identify policies that encourage innovation so more can be done with the spectrum that is available.”
— IIA Founder and Co-Chair Bruce Mehlman
In line with our longstanding focus on the exaflood — the exponential explosion of digital content on the Internet through additional users and new bandwidth-hungry applications — we foresee ever-growing opportunities for our economy and our nation, as long as we have the Internet infrastructure in place to support it. Wireless technology faces challenges and constraints similar to land-based broadband with a limited amount of spectrum available to support the burgeoning population of mobile users.
“Expanding the availability and reliability of wireless broadband are the most important benefits of uniting AT&T and T-Mobile. When it comes to telecommunications policy, the true underdogs are underserved Americans in rural areas and communities of color throughout the country who need better access to high-speed broadband Internet. Bringing the assets and resources of these two companies together should give them that access.”
— IIA Co-Chair Jamal Simmons
After reviewing the business plans for the proposed joining of AT&T and T-Mobile, submissions made to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), analyses by experts in technology and finance and assessments by community leaders, we believe that uniting the strengths of AT&T and T-Mobile will move our nation significantly closer to achieving universal broadband, advancing our society across the board. The combined resources of the two companies will bring 4G LTE, with wireless speeds approximating the fastest wired connections to more than 97 percent of Americans, advancing education, health care, our economy and high-tech innovation, and particularly, opportunities in rural areas and communities of color.
Thursday, May 12
At yesterday’s Senate hearing on the proposed combination of AT&T and T-Mobile, AT&T chief executive Randall Stephenson told Antitrust subcommittee Chairman Herb Kohl he would accept a condition of not using Universal Service Fund (USF) money to help fund the company’s mobile broadband buildout.
Given AT&T has combining with T-Mobile will allow it to deploy LTE mobile broadband technology to reach over 97% of the U.S. population Stephenson’s statement is certainly significant in that AT&T would go a long way toward achieving President Obama’s goal of connecting every American to the “digital economy,” only with private funding.
Monday, May 09
Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology has a lot of promise, especially in efforts to close the digital divide. With theoretical speeds on par with wired broadband, it has the potential to provide a broadband connection to rural areas where building out wired infrastructure can be cost prohibitive.
Verizon has already launched its LTE network in many markets, and AT&T, as part of its proposed joining with T-Mobile, has said it will expand its own LTE buildout. Now, via Boy Genius Reports, another major carrier, U.S. Cellular, is getting in on the LTE action as well. From the provider’s official press release:
U.S. Cellular (NYSE: USM), in conjunction with its partnership with King Street Wireless, announced today that it will deliver high-speed 4G LTE services and 4G-enabled devices to more than 25 percent of its customers across two dozen markets in time for the holiday season. U.S. Cellular customers with 4G LTE devices and service will experience significantly faster data speeds when browsing the web, accessing e-mail, playing games and viewing and streaming videos.
Encouragingly, U.S. Cellular’s initial launch won’t be in the traditional mega-markets and coastal regions, with cities like Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Racine, Wisconsin, and Greenville, North Carolina first on the list.