Three reasons FCC 5G proposal won’t work according to Blair Levin

The Coalition for Local Internet Choice and the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors recently asked Blair Levin for his take on the FCC’s proposal to cap the fees that state and local governments may charge for small-cell attachments. The FCC says this will save the industry $2 billion and result in $2.5 billion in investment in rural areas.

He has three reasons this won’t work. Here’s a very abbreviated version below…

First, focusing on state and local government fees and processes is a distraction from the real obstacles to accelerated and ubiquitous deployment of next-generation mobile services, which are that broadband deployment economics are very challenging and have to be addressed at all levels of government and through creative collaboration with the private sector. Fees for access to public property represent only one of many, many costs of doing business a carrier will encounter. A focus on reducing or eliminating one (relatively marginal) cost of doing business does not solve the challenging economics of broadband deployment and serves only to obscure the true challenges. Indeed, even if one accepts the FCC claim about the $2.5 billion—which is highly questionable—that amount is about 1% of what the FCC and industry claim is the necessary new investment needed for next-generation network deployments, and therefore is not likely to have a significant impact. …

Second, local governments have a strong recent track record of endeavoring to enable and facilitate broadband deployment, as the Google Fiber experience conclusively demonstrated. Vilifying them based on fees for use of public property is not only a distraction but also unfair. Indeed, rather than acknowledging that carriers have a proven ability to negotiate advantageous fees with localities, the FCC’s draft order infantilizes carriers by preempting state and local government, presumably on the theory that carriers cannot protect themselves in negotiations with states and localities.

This is absurd. As the carriers themselves have acknowledged, they have sufficient leverage to walk away from any locality that creates too many obstacles to deployment and that leverage has led them to strike the same kinds of deals that numerous fixed broadband providers were able to strike in the wake of the Google Fiber efforts.  …

Third, the FCC’s draft order is based on a fallacy that no credible investor would adopt and no credible economist endorse: that reducing or eliminating costs for small cell mounting on public property in lucrative areas of the country (thus reducing carriers’ operating costs), will lead to increased capital expenditures in less lucrative areas– thus supposedly making investment more attractive in rural areas.

That simply is not how investment decisions are made. …

MVTV Wireless helps out Frontier customer after PUC meeting

I heard from a lot of people after I posted about the PUC-Frontier meetings last week. Systemically, people in rural areas are frustrated by lack of choice and competition in broadband providers.

I did hear one happy ending story from MVTV Wireless, a provider that offers another option in some areas. Julie Foote, at MVTV, had reached out to someone who gave public comments at the meeting and was able to get them a better connection. I wanted to share the story – especially if it helps connect someone else to the broadband they need. Here is the Q&A on it…

How did Joe connect with you?  I reached out to Joe after reading the Blandin Blog. I was able to track him down thru work (googled him and found his LinkedIn account). Joe was surprised by how much attention the article was getting, and seemed to be glad that it was making a positive impact. Joe had never heard of MVTV Wireless Internet but was willing to give us a try. He agreed to allow our tech to check his location for Line Of Sight (LOS).

How were you able to help? Signal was available from our Worthington Access Point (AP), our tech installed the radio and Joe’s family now has 25Mbps!

As a member-owned not-for-profit Cooperative, if we had not been able to find LOS to Joe’s home, we would have tracked it as a ‘miss’ and continued to work on a solution if possible. …cause that’s what coops do. We focus on member needs.

This is how MVTV determines where we need to build/expand to next. Each new community is served due to an expressed need for alternative broadband internet choices. This practice enables us to go where we are needed and not waste resources on areas already being served sufficiently.

What speeds and prices are available? MVTV Wireless Internet provides unlimited fixed wireless broadband internet service at speeds ranging from 5Mbps to 25Mpbs. If a business were to need more speed, our Business Sales Team would work with them to find the appropriate technology for their bandwidth needs and mission critical tech support. For a list of plans, go to https://www.mvtvwireless.com/our-products/wireless-internet/ or call our office in Granite Falls at 320-564-4807. The prices listed are exactly what you pay. …no hidden fees. And we do not have contracts.

And how would someone know if you were available in their area? MVTV serves SW MN and a map of our footprint can be found here: https://www.mvtvwireless.com/our-products/wireless-internet/coverage-maps/

And/or on a more macro level – are you interested in talking to new service areas? ABSOLUTELY! Since our $1.85M middle mile network upgrade (which was completed last summer), we are now able to offer faster speeds and reach more areas. Since then, we’ve been actively back-filling areas we had not been able to serve in the past. In just one year, we’ve delivered service to dozens of new communities throughout our footprint.  Residents and businesses should check back with us if they had tried us in the past. We’ll be happy to send a tech for a recheck at no charge.

AT&T invests over $1 billion in Minnesota since 2010

Here’s the latest from AT&T…

AT&T Invests Nearly $375 Million Over 3-Year Period to Boost Local Networks in Minnesota

 

AT&T Has Invested More Than $1 Billion in Our Minnesota Networks Since 2010

 

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn., Sept. 6, 2018 — At AT&T[i], we’ve invested nearly $375 million in our Minnesota wireless and wired networks during 2015-2017, including more than $275 million in the Minneapolis, St. Paul and Bloomington areas. These investments boost reliability, coverage, speed and overall performance for residents and businesses. They also improve critical services that support public safety and first responders.

 

In 2017, AT&T made significant investments in the Twin Cities to prepare for the 2018 Big Game and beyond, including investing $40 million in our Minneapolis wireless networks and launching 5G Evolution in parts of the city. 5G Evolution offers customers a taste of the future of entertainment and connectivity on their devices.

 

In addition, in 2017, we made 976 network enhancements in 299 communities across Minnesota, including new cell sites, the addition of network capacity and network upgrades.

 

From 2010 to 2017, AT&T has invested more than $1 billion in our Minnesota networks, with our investments continuing in 2018. Expanding our network in the area has given AT&T the most wireless coverage in Minnesota.

 

“We are proud of the significant investments we have made in our networks across Minnesota, especially the upgrades we have made to prepare Minneapolis for the future of next generation connectivity,” said Paul Weirtz, state president, AT&T Minnesota. “The investments we’re making prepare us for the future of 5G and innovations like smarter cities, telemedicine and virtual reality.”

 

“For Minnesota to continue to thrive and attract new jobs and innovation, sustained investment by the private sector is crucial,” said Doug Loon, president of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce. “By continuing to build state-of-the-art infrastructure in our state, AT&T is not only helping to boost Minnesota’s competitiveness, but also providing residents with access to the latest technologies they want to stay connected and entertained.”

 

The AT&T LTE network now covers more than 400 million people in North America. Notable Minnesota network enhancements in 2017 included:

  • Launching 5G Evolution in parts of Minneapolis to provide AT&T’s latest network technology;
  • Upgrading the Distributed Antenna System (DAS) at the football stadium in Minneapolis to now offer nearly 220% more LTE capacity than at the start of the 2017 pro football season. We also added more than 800 antennas hidden throughout the stadium to help manage heavy wireless traffic and give fans strong coverage throughout game day;
  • Upgrading or installing new DAS at 16 locations throughout the Minneapolis area, including upgrading the DAS at the airport and installing a new DAS at the convention center in Minneapolis, to provide better, faster wireless coverage; and
  • Completing 178 new or enhanced cell sites in the Minneapolis area to improve coverage.

 

By building out our 4G LTE network, we’re laying the foundation for 5G, the next advance in network technologies. We’re boosting network speeds and capacity, as we continue to expand the availability of our network using the latest technology.

 

Since the formation of the FirstNet public-private partnership a little over a year ago, governors from all 50 states, 5 territories and D.C. recognized the value of FirstNet, joining in its mission to strengthen and modernize public safety’s communications capabilities.

 

FirstNet is a new nationwide communications platform dedicated to America’s public safety community. As we build, deploy and evolve FirstNet, we will build upon our current and planned investments in Minnesota to help ensure public safety’s network delivers the coverage and cutting-edge capabilities first responders expect – today and for decades to come.

 

For the 4th year in a row, AT&T earned the top spot in the telecommunications industry on FORTUNE’s Most Admired Companies list in 2018. We also placed No. 49 among the 50 most admired companies across all industries.

 

We were ranked first or second in all 9 attributes used to compile the list, including innovation, people management, quality of management, long-term investment value, quality of products/services and global competitiveness.

 

To learn more about our coverage in Minnesota, or anywhere in the U.S., visit the AT&T Coverage Viewer. For updates on the AT&T wireless network, please visit the AT&T network news page.

For more information, contact:     

Mark Giga

AT&T Corporate Communications

612-206-0193

Mark.Giga@att.com

 

 

National League of Cities releases model code for small cell equipment policies

Route Fifty reports…

The National League of Cities has released a model code that municipal leaders can consult when deploying small cell wireless infrastructure, emphasizing local needs over federal and industry interests.

Small cells form the backbone of fifth-generation wireless, or 5G, broadband service that internet providers have promised to begin rolling out in 2018.

Minnesota came up with a lot of statewide policies in 2017, in time to help smooth the path to 5G in and around US Bank stadium for the Super Bowl, but it still might helpful or at least interesting to see what the National League of Cities recommends.

Senators are asking the FCC about the validity of the broadband maps

MultiChannel reports…

There appears to be bipartisan consensus that the FCC doesn’t know its maps from a hole in the ground.

That would be the broadband coverage maps the FCC is planning to use to decide where to put more than $4.5 billion in rural broadband subsidies. 

The FCC earlier this year put out the broadband maps of areas eligible for Mobility Fund Phase II money over the next decade as part of its move to redirect wireless carrier subsidies from where private capital was already at work to, as FCC Chairman Ajit Pai put it at the time, “something far more useful: bringing 4G LTE service to rural Americans who don’t have it today.

But legislators are asking questions…

That did not seem to assuage a restless group of legislators from rural states.

Sen. Jon Tester was the most vocal in his criticisms of the maps. “They stink,” he said. 

Tester said he was not sure that the challenge process to take care of the problem was going to work. He asked whether if he gets a text to send on one side of his house, but not the other, does that constitute coverage?

“I can send texts based on where the sun is in the sky, basically. And I can get voice calls…sometime, depending on which direction I’m driving the tractor,” he said, calling out Frontier for getting subsidy money but not spending it. 

Tester said they still don’t have 1G where he lives, much less five. 

Senator Klobuchar (and others) chimed in too…

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) said she would take a “Minnesota nice” way of registering the same criticism as Tester. 

Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune, a Republican from the equally rural state of South Dakota, summed it up: “I think what you guys are hearing is bipartisan concern about the maps and making sure that we are accurate and not overbuilding [or underbuilding, as Tester seemed more worried about] and that those areas that truly need the help are getting it.”

 

Fixed wireless project in Southeast Minnesota to start later this summer

Wallaces Farmer recently posted details on the fixed wireless happening in Southeast MN. The describe fixed wireless…

Fixed wireless broadband works in a similar fashion to cellphone communication with towers carrying a signal. Customers of fixed wireless broadband have a radio at a fixed location, maybe at home, on their farm or at a business, that communicates to an antenna on a nearby tower. Signals can be sent through a line of site to the tower approximately 5 to 7 miles depending on the strength of the radio.

And the team working on it…

Earlier this summer a unique partnership between Mabel Cooperative Telephone Co., MiEnergy Cooperative and Spring Grove Communications was announced that will bring expanded broadband access to rural residents, businesses and communities in northeast Iowa and southeast Minnesota. …

With the partnership announcement, MiEnergy Cooperative is joining Mabel Cooperative Telephone Co. and Spring Grove Communications in ownership of Harmony Telephone Co. From this partnership a new company called MiBroadband will be formed.

And the importance of broadband…

“Improved broadband access in rural areas will change the dynamic and outcome of rural America,” Finstad adds. “At USDA, we are always looking for ways to create a vibrant and future-looking community that has vitality and that can compete in a global market. This partnership is creating opportunities for families like mine to be here in rural Minnesota for generations to come.”

New broadband company to serve rural southeast Minnesota

Post Bulletin reports…

Three local cooperatives announced Tuesday they will work together to create a new broadband company that will provide broadband to underserved rural areas.

According to a release, Mabel Cooperative Telephone Co., MiEnergy Cooperative and Spring Grove Communications will create a new company, MiBroadband, and will work to supply fixed, wireless broadband to areas of Southeast Minnesota and Northeast Iowa.

It also said rural areas typically are defined as having less than four subscribers, and that low density makes it more difficult to plow fiber in rural areas. While still in the early stages, the three companies announced this decision stemmed from the belief rural areas should not have hindered access to high-speed internet.

Looks like they will be open for business this fall…

MiBroadband is planned to launch in late fall/early winter, with services rolled out to the Cresco and Rushford areas first. The release said other areas will be announced at a later date.