|Wireless News Aggregation|
Welcome Back To
This Week's Wireless News Headlines
NO POLITICS HERE
This doesn't mean that nothing is ever published here that mentions a US political party—it just means that the editorial policy of this newsletter is to remain neutral on all political issues. We don't take sides.
A new issue of the Wireless Messaging Newsletter is posted on the web each week. A notification goes out by e-mail to subscribers on most Fridays around noon central US time. The notification message has a link to the actual newsletter on the web. That way it doesn’t fill up your incoming e-mail account.
There is no charge for subscription and there are no membership restrictions. Readers are a very select group of wireless industry professionals, and include the senior managers of many of the world’s major Paging and Wireless Messaging companies. There is an even mix of operations managers, marketing people, and engineers — so I try to include items of interest to all three groups. It’s all about staying up-to-date with business trends and technology.
I regularly get readers’ comments, so this newsletter has become a community forum for the Paging, and Wireless Messaging communities. You are welcome to contribute your ideas and opinions. Unless otherwise requested, all correspondence addressed to me is subject to publication in the newsletter and on my web site. I am very careful to protect the anonymity of those who request it.
I spend the whole week searching the INTERNET for news that I think may be of interest to you — so you won’t have to. This newsletter is an aggregator — a service that aggregates news from other news sources. You can help our community by sharing any interesting news that you find.
Editorial Opinion pieces present only the opinions of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of any of advertisers or supporters. This newsletter is independent of any trade association. I don't intend to hurt anyone's feelings, but I do freely express my own opinions.
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There is not a lot of news about Paging these days but when anything significant comes out, you will probably see it here. I also cover text messaging to other devices and various articles about related technology.
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Service Monitors and Frequency Standards for Sale
(Images are typical units, not actual photos of items offered for sale here.)
EWA Elects New Board Members
For Immediate Release
Contact: Andrea Cumpston, Communications Director
May 27, 2021 (Herndon, VA) – The Enterprise Wireless Alliance (EWA) is pleased to announce the election of new members to its Board of Directors, which occurred during the first day of its Spring meeting on May 26. Newly elected EWA Directors are:
On the election, EWA President Mark Crosby made the following statement:
About the Enterprise Wireless Alliance
The Enterprise Wireless Alliance is an FCC-certified frequency advisory committee and leading advocate for business enterprises, private carrier operators, wireless sales and service organizations and private wireless equipment vendors. EWA provides spectrum acquisition strategies, frequency coordination, license preparation, license management and associated reporting services. Membership in EWA is open to users of wireless communications systems, vendors, system operators and service organizations. EWA develops cutting-edge services to support member businesses, such as Spectrum Intel, Cevo®, a powerful online frequency coordination solution, which simplifies the FCC-license application process and allows users to select their own frequencies, and Cevo Go™ a mobile app that delivers frequencies certified by EWA in hours, not days. More information about membership and services is available at www.enterprisewireless.org.
|Source:||Enterprise Wireless Alliance|
USB-C upgrade will more than double its power capacity to 240W
You'll probably need a new charger to take advantage of the "Extended Power Range," though.
S. Shah @eightiethmnt May 26th, 2021
Thanks to its compatibility with a range of devices, USB-C is the prime candidate for a common charger that could help alleviate the build-up of electronic waste. So, news of a major power upgrade bundled into its new standard will only boost its case. As CNET reports, the version 2.1 update to the USB-C specification could deliver up to 240W of power, more than double its current 100W capacity. The change would allow you to juice up beefier electronics like gaming laptops and larger monitors.
The industry group that develops the technology, known as the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF), calls the 240W option "Extended Power Range," or EPR. This is effectively a change to the "USB-PD" spec that you may have seen on fast chargers and battery packs. While the amperage of the system remains "configurable up to 5A," the voltage, which presently maxes out at 20V, will be configurable up to 48V under the new specification. As such, cables that support the additional power capacity will have additional requirements and carry specific icons so that people can easily identify them. The new cables will also need to support up to 5A and 50V to be compliant.
There's already a myriad reasons why USB-C is favored by electronics manufacturers. The connector is versatile: It works with a host of devices, from smartphones to laptops to external hard drives (and even the Nintendo Switch). It's also easy to use: You don't have to worry about which end is up when plugging it in, unlike a regular USB or micro-USB. The only caveat is that the number scheme for the cables, which points to the speed at which they transfer data, can be confusing for the lay user.
Paging Transmitters 150/900 MHz
The RFI High Performance Paging Transmitter is designed for use in campus, city, state and country-wide paging systems. Designed for use where reliable simulcast systems where RF signal overlap coverage is critical.
Built-in custom interface for Prism-IPX ipBSC Base Controller for remote control, management and alarm reporting.
Prism-IPX Systems LLC.
The Wireless Messaging News
The Board of Advisor members are people with whom I have developed a special rapport, and have met personally. They are not obligated to support the newsletter in any way, except with advice, and maybe an occasional letter to the editor.
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Is Ham Radio Dead? Is Ham Radio Doomed?
Posted date: May 25, 2021
“Lots of speculation and knee-jerk reactions exist on social media about whether or not Ham Radio is Dead. I wonder what the statistics say? Let’s take a look at some real evidence about what is happening in Ham Radio inside of the USA and around the world”
* Other = US territories and possessions not listed above, plus APO/FPO
|PRISM IPX Systems|
|Prism IPX Products|
Providing Expert Support and Service Contracts for all Glenayre Paging Systems.
The GL3000 is the most prolific paging system in the world and Easy Solutions gladly welcomes you to join us in providing reliable support to the paging industry for many more decades in the future.
Easy Solutions provides cost effective computer and wireless solutions at affordable prices. We can help in most any situation with your communications systems. We have many years of experience and a vast network of resources to support the industry, your system and an ever changing completive landscape.
Please see our web site for exciting solutions designed specifically for the Wireless Industry. We also maintain a diagnostic lab and provide important repair and replacement parts services for Motorola and Glenayre equipment. Call or
I would like to recommend Easy Solutions for Support of all Glenayre Paging Equipment. This Texas company is owned and operated by Vaughan Bowden. I have known Vaughan for over 35 years. Without going into a long list of his experience and qualifications, let me just say that he was the V.P. of Engineering at PageNet which was—at that time—the largest paging company in the world. So Vaughan knows Paging.
GTES is no longer offering support contracts. GTES was the original group from Vancouver that was setup to offer support to customers that wanted to continue with the legacy Glenayre support. Many U.S. customers chose not to use this service because of the price and the original requirement to upgrade to version 8.0 software (which required expensive hardware upgrades, etc.). Most contracts ended as of February 2018.
If you are at all concerned about future support of Glenayre products, especially the “king of the hill” the GL3000 paging control terminal, I encourage you to talk to Vaughan about a service contract and please tell him about my recommendation.
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INTERNET Protocol Terminal
The IPT accepts INTERNET or serial messaging using various protocols and can easily convert them to different protocols, or send them out as paging messages.
An ideal platform for hospitals, on-site paging applications, or converting legacy systems to modern protocols.
Prism-IPX Systems LLC.
MAY 21, 2021
BlackBerry's move to healthcare — a timeline
From the world's most popular smartphone to a leader in healthcare cybersecurity, we look at key moments in BlackBerry's move to healthcare
1984 - 1995: Beginnings
Research in Motion (RIM) is founded by two engineering students from Canada. In 1988 the company becomes the first wireless data technology developer in North America. Products include a wireless modem made by Ericsson containing RIM firmware. An investment round of C$5 million funds the development of RIM's two-way paging system hardware and software.
1998 - 2008: Rapid growth
The company's growth leads to a listing on the Toronto Stock Exchange. In 1998 the first BlackBerry pager is released, so-called because of the keyboard's resemblance to the fruit. By 2008 BlackBerry is the leading smartphone around the world, until Apple launches the iPhone. BlackBerry responds by releasing its first touchscreen smartphone.
2013 - 2015: A new direction
The company changes its name from RIM to BlackBerry. John Chen is appointed as CEO, with a key goal to focus on the healthcare sector. The following year BlackBerry invests in NantHealth, a cloud-based clinical support platform. BlackBerry starts repositioning itself as a software company, acquiring several firms including WatchDox and AtHoc.
2016: Transitioning to cybersecurity
With its acquisition of UK firm Encription, BlackBerry signals its aim of focusing on cybersecurity. BlackBerry Secure, an enterprise mobile security platform for IoT, is released.
2018: Establishing a trusted brand
BlackBerry launches a number of products for the healthcare sector including Spark, its "Enterprise of Things" platform, and a blockchain solution for storing and sharing medical data anonymously. Additionally an operating system for the development of robotic surgical instruments, patient monitoring systems, and infusion pumps is released. This year the company also becomes a HIMSS Analytics certified consultant, enabling BlackBerry to help hospitals assess vulnerabilities in their IT infrastructure.
2020: The leader in healthcare IoT security
A report by consultants Frost & Sullivan finds that BlackBerry is responsible for securing 96% of the enterprise IoT threat landscape. This includes solutions like BlackBerry Identity and Access Management, which prevents breaches by allowing enterprises to manage the network of users and their access to devices and data.
2021: Innovation in cybersecurity
Frost & Sullivan names the company an Innovator in Healthcare Cybersecurity after studying over fifty organisations and top cyber threats. Toronto-based University Health Network (UHN), the largest health research organisation in North America, selects BlackBerry Spark to protect its entire public research and teaching hospital network.
Commenting on these recent accomplishments, Neelam Sandhu, Senior Vice President and Chief Elite Customer Success Officer, said: "BlackBerry Spark is trusted by healthcare experts and organisations around the world for its next-gen AI cybersecurity that ensures critical workflows. Our platform is also HIPAA and HITECH compliant, giving healthcare organisations the peace of mind they need to focus on what is most important, while we seamlessly protect, prevent and remediate cyber threats.
"As we look to the future of the healthcare industry, there is no doubt that cyber attacks will continue to increase. BlackBerry facilitates and augments the great work accomplished on a daily basis by healthcare workers across the world to ensure you are safe and secure."
Paging Data Receiver PDR-4
The PDR-4 is a multi-function paging data receiver that decodes paging messages and outputs them via the serial port, USB or Ethernet connectors.
Designed for use with Prism-IPX ECHO software Message Logging Software to receive messages and log the information for proof of transmission over the air, and if the data was error free.
Prism-IPX Systems LLC.
Wireless Network Planners
Is Your Ransomware Mistake Worth $5 Million?
May 17th, 2021
The Colonial Pipeline is running again after the company paid a $5 million ransom.
William G. Wong Related To: Electronic Design
What you’ll learn
If you have a non-electric car, then you’re aware that the cost of gasoline has been going up due to the shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline caused by a ransomware attack perpetrated by a criminal organization called DarkSide. We may not know the details of what went wrong. However, it’s easy to guess what happened.
It’s one thing to take over a single PC, but the attack like the one on the Colonial Pipeline is different, and not just because of its magnitude. For a single PC, the attack can come in the form of a corrupted file or e-mail. It’s also possible to attack a PC attached to the Internet remotely through bugs in the network software.
An attack on a larger network like the one controlling the pipeline usually starts through a single PC, but the security hole is then exploited by the attacker. Ransomware on a PC will likely notify the user almost immediately. However, an attacker assaulting a larger system will likely remain under the security radar for a long time, maybe months. This allows for examination of the system and creating additional holes in any security so that the attacker can get back in—even if one of those holes, including the original one, are closed.
Once an attacker is inside a system, then it’s a matter of how restricted they might be and what systems they may need to compromise. One potential point of attack for the pipeline would be the supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) controls commonly used in this type of environment. These should not be directly accessible via the Internet, but even keeping them behind a firewall is insufficient if other computers on the same LAN are compromised.
What is Ransomware?
On the PC, ransomware is often a single application that’s compromising a system. The attack by DarkSide may have started using similar tools. Still, there was a good deal of interactive probing and setup prior to demanding a ransom. To make this attack effective, they had to compromise the system by doing things like encrypting data that’s critical and not available via a backup. The typical recourse for ransomware on a PC is to either wipe the PC and restore from a backup, or install a new system and lose the data that was held for ransom.
The other way to force payment of the ransom is to take over a piece of hardware that’s critical in such a way that it can’t be replaced or reset. This is harder to accomplish but possible in some instances. It also requires significantly more insight into the overall system, whereas encrypting data only needs access to the data and know what is worth encrypting.
A big issue is that most infrastructure systems like the pipeline aren’t taking a zero-trust approach to their control systems. Zero-trust security assumes any communications should not be trusted unless they are authenticated first. Most IoT frameworks and services already take a zero-trust approach, requiring authentication all of the time in addition to using encrypted connections.
The National Cybersecurity Picture
Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for many legacy systems within our national infrastructure. Adding new, more secure devices to the mix will help and beefing up firewalls is a good step forward, but most of the infrastructure in the U.S. is privately owned. Investment into security was at the bottom of the list. The $5 million that Colonial Pipeline paid in cryptocurrency is just the tip of the iceberg. DarkSide indicated that they have more people on the hook with their ransomware attack.
Likewise, paying a ransom may not get the results promised. Colonial Pipeline’s recovery was a combination of restoring from backups and using information provided by DarkSide after the ransom was paid. The latter took more time to implement because restoration wasn’t instantaneous.
Unfortunately, our critical infrastructure includes more than just one pipeline and protections—much of this infrastructure is on par with Colonial Pipeline. Many have been influenced to make changes, but we don’t know how many or how effective these efforts will be in preventing such attacks.
It’s unlikely that we’ve seen the last of these types of attacks or that there are only a few bad actors. The almost daily news about security breaches has been with us for decades. It’s now a question as to whether selling names and info on the dark web will be more profitable than extorting money from large corporations.
Brad Dye, Ron Mercer, Allan Angus, Vic Jackson, and Ira Wiesenfeld are friends and colleagues who work both together and independently, on wireline and wireless communications projects.
Click here for a summary of their qualifications and experience. Each one has unique abilities. We would be happy to help you with a project, and maybe save you some time and money.
Note: We do not like Patent Trolls, i.e. “a person or company who enforces patent rights against accused infringers in an attempt to collect licensing fees, but does not manufacture products or supply services based upon the patents in question.” We have helped some prominent law firms defend their clients against this annoyance, and would be happy to do some more of this same kind of work.
Some people use the title “consultant” when they don't have a real job. We actually do consulting work, and help others based on our many years of experience.
“If you would know the road ahead, ask someone who has traveled it.” — Chinese Proverb
Remote AB Switches
ABX-1 switches are often used at remote transmitter sites to convert from old, outdated and unsupported controllers to the new modern Prism-IPX ipBSC base station controllers. Remotely switch to new controllers with GUI commands.
ABX-3 switches are widely used for enabling or disabling remote equipment and switching I/O connections between redundant messaging systems.
Prism-IPX Systems LLC.
Iridium Invests in GNSS Accuracy Solution Provider
Monday, May 24, 2021
Iridium Communications made a strategic investment in DDK Positioning, an Aberdeen, Scotland,-based provider of enhanced global navigation satellite system (GNSS) accuracy solutions.
DDK uses the Iridium network to provide global precision positioning services that can augment GNSS constellations, including GPS and Galileo, to significantly enhance their accuracy for critical industrial applications. DDK is also developing similar services for other GNSS constellations, such as GLONASS and Beidou. Terms of the investment were not disclosed.
Standard positioning accuracy through a system like GPS is typically within 10 meters; however, by using the Iridium network, DDK's enhanced GPS accuracy service brings incredibly precise positioning of five centimeters or less. This advanced level of accuracy is ideal for autonomous vehicles like unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), precision agriculture applications, offshore infrastructure projects such as windfarm construction, and automotive applications like driverless cars, as well as a host of construction, mining, surveying and Internet of things (IoT) use cases. Historically, there have been limited geostationary satellite provider options for this type of service, but they suffer from line-of-sight blockage issues and coverage limitations in and around Arctic and Antarctic regions.
"We are delighted to have embarked on this journey with such a strong and well-respected company as Iridium,” said DDK CEO Kevin Gaffney. “This partnership is a perfect fit for DDK Positioning, with Iridium's satellite communications network and our GNSS solution, we are in a position to deliver a truly unique service which is robust, resilient and secure. The investment made by Iridium will also allow us to grow the company even further whilst expanding our service offering globally."
According to a report published by the European Global Navigation Satellite Systems Agency, augmentation services like those offered by DDK will account for $76.5 billion (€65 billion) in global GNSS market revenue by 2029, while the global GNSS downstream market, including services delivered and hardware devices, is estimated to reach $382 billion(€325 billion).
"We are impressed with the team that DDK has put together and see great potential for this technology and how it takes advantage of the Iridium network," said Iridium CEO Matt Desch. "DDK's enhanced positioning is a unique capability that adds a high-value solution on top of our existing portfolio of custom network services. Solutions from Iridium and DDK partners that are focused on precision agriculture, autonomous systems, maritime and infrastructure projects can now experience incredibly precise GNSS accuracy from anywhere on the planet."
|Source:||Radio Resource International|
|Inside Towers Newsletter|
Thune Leads Bipartisan Bill to Advance Rural Broadband
U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-SD), ranking member of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Media, and Broadband, Thursday led U.S. Sens. Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Jerry Moran (R-KS), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) in introducing the bipartisan Rural Connectivity Advancement Program (RCAP) Act of 2021. The legislation would dedicate a portion of proceeds from congressionally mandated FCC spectrum auctions to be used for rural broadband network buildouts.
“Access to high-speed broadband services is critical, now more than ever before,” said Thune. “This bipartisan legislation would provide the FCC with the necessary resources to continue bridging the digital divide in rural America. I strongly support finding common-sense ways to effectively and efficiently deliver reliable broadband services to Americans who need it, and our bill is a step in the right direction.”
"Member companies of NATE: The Communications Infrastructure Contractors Association are on the front lines of deployment, working on a daily basis to close the digital divide,” said NATE President/CEO Todd Schlekeway. He said the association endorses the bill “that will ultimately provide an infusion of funds from proceeds generated from congressionally mandated spectrum auctions to promote broadband deployment services and communications infrastructure expansion.”
“Policies that focus on bringing infrastructure to unserved or unconnected parts of the country make good sense,” said Jonathan Spalter, president and CEO of USTelecom — The Broadband Association. “This bill recognizes the essential public-private partnership necessary to deploy high-speed broadband to every corner of the country and narrow the digital divide.”
Kelly Cole, senior vice president of government affairs of CTIA, said members “stand committed to ensuring all Americans have access to broadband and continue to roll out 5G networks in communities big and small across the country.”
And the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association praised the measure was well. The bill “puts forward a solid common sense and flexible solution toward eradicating the rural divide,” said WISPA VP Government Affairs Christina Mason.
If enacted, the Rural Connectivity Advancement Program (RCAP) Act of 2021 would:
|Source:||Inside Towers newsletter||Courtesy of the editor of Inside Towers Jim Fryer.
Inside Towers is a daily newsletter by subscription.
REMINDER: FCC FORM 395, EMPLOYMENT REPORT DUE JUNE 1
Common carriers, including wireless carriers, with 16 or more full-time employees must file their annual Common Carrier Employment Reports (FCC Form 395) by May 31. However, because the 31st is a Holiday this year, the filing will be due on June 1. This report tracks carrier compliance with rules requiring recruitment of minority employees. Further, the FCC requires all common carriers to report any employment discrimination complaints they received during the past year. That information is also due on June 1. The FCC encourages carriers to complete the discrimination report requirement by filling out Section V of Form 395, rather than submitting a separate report.
Clients can send their scanned Form 395 (PDF format) to firstname.lastname@example.org for filing.
BloostonLaw Contact: Richard Rubino.
Commissioner Carr Calls for USF Contributions by Edge Providers
On May 24, in a Newsweek op-ed, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr outlined a new approach to funding the federal government’s efforts to close the digital divide. Specifically, he called for “Big Tech” – including Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google to “pay their fair share.”
According to Carr, “online streaming services provided by just five companies—Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime, Disney+ and Microsoft—account for a whopping 75 percent of all traffic on rural broadband networks. The same study shows that 77-94 percent of total network costs are related to adding capacity or otherwise supporting the delivery of those streaming services.”
Further, he posits that since Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google generated nearly $1 trillion in revenues last year, “[i]t would take just 0.009 percent of those revenues to eliminate entirely the unsustainable 30 percent tax that currently hits consumers on their monthly bills.”
The full piece can be found here.
BloostonLaw Contacts: Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and John Prendergast.
FCC Proposes to Accelerate STIR/SHAKEN Compliance for Small Carriers that Originate High Volumes
On May 21, the FCC released its Third Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in its STIR/SHAKEN proceeding, in which it proposes to accelerate the date by which small voice providers that originate “an especially large amount of call traffic” must implement the STIR/SHAKEN caller ID authentication framework. Comment deadlines have not yet been established.
As we reported in a previous edition of the BloostonLaw Telecom Update, the FCC determined that an extension for small voice service providers until June 30, 2023 was appropriate, and defined small voice service providers as those with 100,000 or fewer voice subscriber lines. The FCC seeks comment on a proposal by USTelecom to exclude from the existing STIR/Shaken implementation deadline extension for small voice service provider extension those small carriers that either (1) receive more than half their revenue from customers purchasing services that are not mass-market services or (2) originate more than 500 calls per day for any single line in the normal course of business.
According to the FCC, small carriers that originate a large amount of traffic are more likely to originate unlawful robocalls because, to originate large-scale robocall campaigns, it is necessary to originate a large number of calls. In addition to comments on the validity of its rationale, the FCC also seeks comment on the burdens and barriers of implementing STIR/SHAKEN for the subset of small voice service providers for which we propose shortening the extension.
BloostonLaw Contacts: Ben Dickens, Mary Sisak, and Sal Taillefer.
Comments on Secure Networks Reimbursement Program Due June 23
On May 24, the FCC issued a Public Notice seeking comment on the proposed application filing process for the $1.9 billion Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Reimbursement Program (Reimbursement Program). The FCC also seeks comment on proposed information fields to be collected on forms eligible providers of advanced communications services will be required to submit to request funding allocations and disbursements from the Reimbursement Program. Comments are due June 23.
Specifically, the FCC is developing an online portal through which applicants and recipients would electronically submit all filings related to the Reimbursement Program, including the Application Request for Funding Allocation. The FCC also proposes to utilize a version of the previously developed Reimbursement Fund Administration System (RFAS) to process requests and coordinate interactions between program participants, the Fund Administrator, and the FCC. Comment is sought on the information fields associated with these processes.
The FCC also proposes to collect an initial estimate of costs reasonably incurred for the permanent removal, replacement, and disposal of covered communications equipment or services. Such estimates may be based on either detailed engineering analysis and vendor quotes or the predetermined estimated costs identified in the final Catalog that will be made available by the FCC in the future. For purposes of reviewing initial estimated costs, the FCC proposes to base its evaluation on the average between the minimum and maximum costs listed in the cost estimate range for a particular itemized expense listed in the Catalog, rather than allowing applicants to choose any amount within the cost estimate range.
The FCC proposes to use a filing window to accept applications, and to issue funding allocation within 90 days of the close of the filing window. Following the approval and issuance of a funding allocation, a recipient may, as provided by the FCC’s rules, file a Reimbursement Claim Request for the draw down disbursement of funds from the recipient’s funding allocation.
The FCC also proposes to require recipients to link actual costs incurred and the supporting invoice documentation to these itemized initial cost estimates, submit invoices through the online portal, and to provide specific details related to the invoice (vendor name, date issued, description of contents, etc.) to assist reviewers in linking invoices to specific itemized cost estimates. Recipients seeking disbursements will also be required to provide vendor and supplier quotes with the Reimbursement Claim Request.
Carriers interested in commenting on the FCC’s proposed reimbursement procedures may contact the firm for more information.
BloostonLaw Contacts: Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and Mary Sisak.
NTIA Announces $288 Million in Funding Through Broadband Infrastructure Program
On May 19, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced the availability of $288 million in grant funding for the deployment of broadband infrastructure. According to a press release, grants will be awarded to partnerships between a state, or political subdivisions of a state, and providers of fixed broadband service.
NTIA’s Broadband Infrastructure Program was established by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021. In the priority order defined by the Act, NTIA will accept applications for projects that are designed to:
NTIA will group applications based on the priority above that each application addresses, and will sequence its review of application groups in the statutory order listed above.
“As a former governor, I know that state and local leaders have the best understanding of the gaps in their broadband infrastructure. This program will allow states and localities to partner with providers to target this funding toward the areas where it is most needed and can do the most good,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo. “While these grants will lay the foundation, we know that we need even bolder investments in broadband expansion to finish the job. President Biden’s American Jobs Plan will provide the resources to continue these broadband infrastructure build-outs until one hundred percent of Americans have access to high-speed, affordable, and reliable broadband.”
Law and Regulation
FCC Relieves Certain Carriers of “Mixed Support” Merger Conditions
On May 20, the FCC adopted an Order on Reconsideration relieving certain “mixed support” merging companies from a merger condition cap intended to prevent improper cost shifting post-transaction between affiliates that receive both model-based and cost-based universal service support.
Specifically, in January 2021, the FCC approved a mixed support-conditioned section 214 transfer of control of Lavaca Telephone, a cost-based support company, to Dobson Technologies, a model-based support company. Dobson also holds a non-controlling minority ownership interest in Fort Mojave Telecommunications, a cost-based support company. Dobson petitioned the FCC to exclude Fort Mojave’s operating expenses from the mixed support cap because it shared no costs with Dobson and maintained separate books and accounts.
The mixed support merger condition – also colloquially referred to as the Hargray conditions – was first implemented in 2018 to deter potential cost shifting when, for example, an acquiring company that receives fixed model-based high-cost support acquires a rate-of-return company that receives cost-based support.
BloostonLaw Contacts: Ben Dickens and Sal Taillefer.
Broadband Bill Round-Up
May 20 saw the introduction of several broadband-related bills in Congress. Specifically:
House Agriculture Republicans introduced the Broadband For Rural America Act, which provides more than $7 billion in authorizations for USDA broadband connectivity programs. Specifically, the bill:
Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) led Energy and Commerce Republicans in introducing the American Broadband Act. This bill would:
Congressman Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) introduced H.R. 3346, the No Rate Regulation of Broadband Internet Access Act. This legislation would prohibit the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) from regulating the rates charged for broadband Internet access service.
Congressman G. K. Butterfield (NC-01) introduced the Expanding Opportunities for Broadband Deployment Act to increase access to and speed the deployment of broadband to households and small businesses currently without this vital service. The bill will enable more broadband service providers to participate in the FCC’s Universal Service Fund (USF) programs by eliminating an outdated requirement that only Internet service providers designated as eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs) may receive USF dollars.
BloostonLaw Contacts: Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and Sal Taillefer.
FCC Issues Over $500 Million in Fines for Misuse of Radio Location Spectrum
On May 20, the FCC fined Air-Tel, LLC and IOU Acquisitions, Inc. $327,290 and $207,290 respectively for providing unlicensed wireless broadband-based GPS services under the guise of providing radar-based location services. The companies also altered equipment to provide these services and to operate outside of the spectrum band for which they are authorized.
Specifically, Air-Tel and IOU hold authorizations to provide Radiolocation Services in the 3300-3650 MHz band. These services are generally radar-based and rely on the propagation properties of radio waves to determine the position of an object for non-navigation purposes. Instead, the companies offered technologically distinct wireless broadband-based GPS services which rely on satellite communications and wireless broadband, not radiolocation. To offer this different service than was authorized under their FCC licenses, the companies altered the settings of wireless equipment both to support this unauthorized service and to operate outside the authorized frequency bands allowed for the equipment.
The FCC investigation was prompted by a complaint about the companies’ misuse of spectrum. An FCC field agent visited their joint facility in Denver, Colorado and a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture was issued in 2018. Both companies have ceased operating on the licenses at issue in this case.
FCC Announces 1 Million + Emergency Broadband Benefit Program Initial Enrollment
On May 20, FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel announced the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program enrolled more than one million households in the first week of the program’s debut, and that over 900 broadband providers have agreed to take part in the program.
Households can qualify several ways such as through their use of existing assistance programs like SNAP, Medicaid, Lifeline or if a child relies on reduced-price school meals programs. The Emergency Broadband Benefit is also available to households who are eligible for a broadband provider’s existing COVID relief program, to those who have received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year, and to those low-income households who suffered a large loss in income during the pandemic due to job loss or furlough since February 29, 2020.
“The high demand we’ve seen for the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program demonstrates what many of us already knew to be true – too many families are struggling to get online, even in 2021. Help is here. As an agency, we’re continuing to focus our efforts on reaching as many communities as possible, so they can get the support they need,” said Rosenworcel.
Lynk Files FCC Application for Direct-to-Cellphone Satellite System
On May 25, Lynk Global, Inc. announced that it has filed for a commercial operator's license with the FCC, and that its commercial service is expected to begin around the world starting next year upon FCC approval. According to a press release, the startup's patented technology will eventually allow anyone with an existing cell phone to stay connected, anywhere in the world, at all times, via its satellite network, without any changes to the phone. That is to say, existing cell phones will work.
Lynk’s initial commercial license application intentionally uses the FCC's new streamlined process for up to 10 small satellites to accelerate the license. Previous applications suggest this streamlined process will take 10-12 months, allowing Lynk to begin global service next year. This is the first step in Lynk's plans for a larger constellation that will grow to several thousand satellites to begin continuous global service in 2025. Ultimately, Lynk's full constellation will reach 5,000 satellites to provide broadband speeds to customers’ phones.
JUNE 1: FCC FORM 395, EMPLOYMENT REPORT. Common carriers, including wireless carriers, with 16 or more full-time employees must file their annual Common Carrier Employment Reports (FCC Form 395) by May 31. However, because the 31st is a Holiday this year, the filing will be due on June 1. This report tracks carrier compliance with rules requiring recruitment of minority employees. Further, the FCC requires all common carriers to report any employment discrimination complaints they received during the past year. That information is also due on June 1. The FCC encourages carriers to complete the discrimination report requirement by filling out Section V of Form 395, rather than submitting a separate report.
BloostonLaw Contact: Richard Rubino.
JUNE 30: STUDY AREA BOUNDARY RECERTIFICATION. In addition to the obligation to submit updated information when study area boundaries change, all ILECs are required to recertify their study area boundary data every two years. The recertification is due this year by June 30. Where the state commission filed the study area boundary data for an ILEC, the state commission should submit the recertification. However, where the state commission did not submit data for the ILEC and the ILEC submitted the study area boundary data, then the ILEC should submit the recertification by June 30.
BloostonLaw Contacts: Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and Sal Taillefer.
JULY 1: FCC FORM 481 (CARRIER ANNUAL REPORTING DATA COLLECTION FORM). All eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs) must report the information required by Section 54.313, which includes information on the ETC’s holding company, operating companies, ETC affiliates and any branding in response to section 54.313(a)(8); its CAF-ICC certification, if applicable; its financial information, if a privately held rate-of-return carrier; and its satellite backhaul certification, if applicable.
BloostonLaw Contacts: Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and Sal Taillefer.
JULY 1: MOBILITY FUND PHASE I ANNUAL REPORT. Winning bidders in Auction 901 that are authorized to receive Mobility Fund Phase I support are required to submit to the FCC an annual report each year on July 1 for the five years following authorization. Each annual report must be submitted to the Office of the Secretary of the FCC, clearly referencing WT Docket No. 10-208; the Universal Service Administrator; and the relevant state commissions, relevant authority in a U.S. Territory, or Tribal governments, as appropriate. The information and certifications required to be included in the annual report are described in Section 54.1009 of the FCC’s rules.
BloostonLaw Contacts: John Prendergast and Sal Taillefer.
JULY 31: FCC FORM 507, LINE COUNT DATA (A-CAM AND ALASKA PLAN RECPIENTS). Sections 54.313(f)(5) and 54.903(a)(1) of the FCC’s rules requires all rate-of-return telecommunications carriers to provide line count information on FCC Form 507 to USAC, the universal service Administrator. Carriers receiving Connect America Fund Broadband Loop Support (CAF BLS) must submit this information annually on March 31st of each year, and may update the data on a quarterly basis. Carriers that receive Alternative Connect America Model (A-CAM) I, A-CAM II, or Alaska Plan support are required to file by July 1st of each year. For 2020, the FCC has extended the A-CAM filing deadline until July 31.
BloostonLaw Contacts: Gerry Duffy and Sal Taillefer
JULY 31: CARRIER IDENTIFICATION CODE (CIC) REPORTS. Carrier Identification Code (CIC) Reports must be filed by the last business day of July (this year, July 31). These reports are required of all carriers who have been assigned a CIC code by NANPA. Failure to file could result in an effort by NANPA to reclaim it, although according to the Guidelines this process is initiated with a letter from NANPA regarding the apparent non-use of the CIC code. The assignee can then respond with an explanation. (Guidelines Section 6.2). The CIC Reporting Requirement is included in the CIC Assignment Guidelines, produced by ATIS. According to section 1.4 of that document: At the direction of the NANPA, the access providers and the entities who are assigned CICs will be requested to provide access and usage information to the NANPA, on a semi-annual basis to ensure effective management of the CIC resource. (Holders of codes may respond to the request at their own election). Access provider and entity reports shall be submitted to NANPA no later than January 31 for the period ending December 31, and no later than July 31 for the period ending June 30. It is also referenced in the NANPA Technical Requirements Document, which states at 7.18.6: CIC holders shall provide a usage report to the NANPA per the industry CIC guidelines … The NAS shall be capable of accepting CIC usage reports per guideline requirements on January 31 for the period ending December 31 and no later than July 31 for the period ending June 30. These reports may also be mailed and accepted by the NANPA in paper form. Finally, according to the NANPA website, if no local exchange carrier reports access or usage for a given CIC, NANPA is obliged to reclaim it. The semi-annual utilization and access reporting mechanism is described at length in the guidelines.
BloostonLaw Contacts: Ben Dickens and Gerry Duffy.
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