|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.)
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|Source:||https://www.iwatsi.com||click here to register|
FCC Opens T-Band to New Entrants
In a Public Notice released April 4, 2022, the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau and Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (the Bureaus) announced that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will open T-Band to new entrants. Beginning on April 2, the Bureaus began accepting:
The Bureaus retain a suspension on T-Band applications governed by Part 90 of the Commission's rules which do not meet the spectral efficiency requirements described above per the Bureaus’ 2012 Suspension Notice.
If you have any questions or would like assistance with an application for T-Band, please contact Denisse Montenegro at 703-797-5123 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
11175 Cicero Dr., Alpharetta, GA 30022
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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New FCC Application Fee Will Not Apply to Amateur Radio License Upgrades
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) staff has clarified in response to an ARRL request that the new $35 application fee will not apply to most license modifications, including those to upgrade an amateur radio licensee's operator class and changes to club station trustees. The FCC staff explained that the new fees will apply only to applications for a new license, renewal, rule waiver, or a new vanity call sign. As previously announced, the new fees take effect on April 19, 2022.
"We are pleased that the FCC will not charge licensees the FCC application fee for license upgrade applications," said ARRL Volunteer Examiner Coordinator (VEC) Manager Maria Somma, AB1FM. "While applicants for a new license will need to pay the $35 FCC application fee, there will be no FCC charge for future upgrades and administrative updates, such as a change of mailing or email address. Most current licensees, therefore, will not be charged the new FCC application fee until they renew their license or apply for a new vanity call sign."
ARRL previously reported that the new $35 application fee for amateur radio licenses will become effective on April 19, 2022. Further information and instructions about the FCC Application Fee are available from the ARRL VEC at www.arrl.org/fcc-application-fee.
|Source:||The ARRL Letter for April 1, 2022|
|PRISM IPX Systems|
|Prism IPX Customers|
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.
Experts in Paging Infrastructure
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.
11175 Cicero Dr., Alpharetta, GA 30022
How to minimize the effects of time-delay interference
In this article, we examine ways to minimize TDI’s effects, which will cripple system performance — even when excellent RF coverage exists.
Written by Urgent Communications Administrator 10th April 2012
Last week, we began a discussion of time-delay interference (TDI), which affects every simulcast system, regardless of whether it is analog or digital. In this article, we conclude by examining ways to minimize TDI’s effects, which will cripple system performance — even when excellent RF coverage exists.
Most radio receivers can handle a negligible amount of delay and this figure varies with manufacturer designs. Be sure that you know the maximum delay that your receiver can handle and design your system accordingly. If your system is an existing system and you suspect TDI, examine your link budgets and hire a qualified consultant to conduct a new propagation study to verify where these TDI areas should be, given your antenna types, effective radiated power, site location and antenna height and azimuth. You can work the process in reverse by verifying station output power, sweeping transmission lines and verifying system timing.
In a given design, even when the RF signal strength is high, the user will experience reduced DAQ in areas of excessive TDI. If you are designing a simulcast system, remember that you can have a strong signal, say –80 dBm and above. At –80 dBm, a DAQ of 3.4 or better easily is achievable. However, TDI can still be present in these areas and reduce your DAQ to 2.0 — or worse.
TDI cannot be avoided, but its effect can be minimized by carefully weighting design parameters to maximize the possibility that signals arrive at the center point of the overlapping area, either at the same time or within mere microseconds of each other. Main parameters to consider include:
Without question, simulcast systems are indispensable to agencies that need superior coverage with minimal frequencies. Time-delay interference can cripple these systems and leave the end-users believing they are using a system that delivers poor coverage, when in reality the system's non-capture areas are not optimized. Proper simulcast optimization will turn a mediocre-operating radio system into a well-functioning design. TDI is one design parameter to watch out for.
Ira Wiesenfeld can be reached at email@example.com; Minerva Chandler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; Chris Dalton can be reached at email@example.com.
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.
11175 Cicero Dr., Alpharetta, GA 30022
Wireless Network Planners
R.H. (Ron) Mercer
HOW DID DOLBY DIGITAL SOUND WORK ON FILM?
by: Jenny List April 5, 2022
When we go to the cinema and see a film in 2022, it’s very unlikely that what we’re seeing will in fact be a film. Instead of large reels of transparent film fed through a projector, we’ll be watching the output of a high-quality digital projector. The advantages for the cinema industry in terms of easier distribution and consistent quality are obvious. There was a period in the 1990s though when theaters still had film projectors, but digital technology was starting to edge in for the sound. [Nava Whitford] has found some 35mm trailer film from the 1990s, and analysed the Dolby Digital sound information from it.
The film is an interesting exercise in backward compatibility, with every part of it outside the picture used to encode information. There is the analogue sound track and two digital formats, but what we’re interested in are the Dolby Digital packets. These are encoded as patterns superficially similar to a QR code in the space between the sprocket holes.
Looking at the patent he found that they were using Reed-Solomon error correction, making it relatively easy to decode. The patent makes for fascinating reading, as it details how the data was read using early-1990s technology with each line being scanned by a linear CCD, before detailing the signal processing steps followed to retrieve the audio data. If you remember your first experience of Dolby cinema sound three decades ago, now you know how the system worked.
The film featured also had an analogue soundtrack, and if you’d like to know how they worked, we’ve got you covered!
|Source:||Hack A Day|
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.
11175 Cicero Dr., Alpharetta, GA 30022
Do 5G providers need to own a fiber network too?
AT&T and Verizon – two of the nation's biggest 5G mobile network operators – own extensive fiber holdings around the country, and both argue that such ownership is critical to their long-term success. T-Mobile and Dish Network, on the other hand, are building extensive 5G mobile networks (though Dish hasn't yet switched on commercial services) without owning any fiber whatsoever. And, according to both Dish and T-Mobile, that's just fine.
So, which side is right?
Naturally, the answer isn't straightforward. But it's an important topic considering a commercial 5G network cannot exist without somehow connecting into the world's broader fiber Internet backbone. That connection – called backhaul – can account for around 15% or more of a mobile network operator's total spending, according to estimates from the GSMA.
"While T-Mobile and Dish do not own a fixed network, they lease fiber connections to cell sites and use microwave where fiber is not available," explained analyst Jimmy Yu with research and consulting firm Dell'Oro Group, in response to questions from Light Reading. "AT&T and Verizon use their fixed network for backhaul, lease fiber from other carriers where needed and use microwave when fiber is not available. I'm not sure any one operator's [mobile network] performance is better than the other's due to ownership of backhaul. It may improve their long-term costs to own the backhaul."
The leasing model
According to Dish Network's Dave Mayo, the company doesn't need to own a fiber network in order to offer cheap, speedy 5G. "Fiber is a commodity," he said, noting that Dish has had no trouble obtaining inexpensive fiber backhaul connections at its cell sites.
Mayo isn't the only executive who believes in the commoditization of fiber backhaul.
"We've had tremendous success in the backhaul space ... securing 10-gig circuits and for tremendous pricing, high quality," T-Mobile CFO Peter Osvaldik said during a recent investor event, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript.
Analyst Joe Madden, with research and consulting firm Mobile Experts, agreed. "It is a commodity," he said of fiber backhaul, in comments to Light Reading. Madden explained that, in the early days of cellular, backhaul could often be difficult or pricey to obtain, but that's no longer the case.
"The pricing is not predatory," he said of today's backhaul market. "There's sort of established prices out there."
Mobile Experts estimates that, over a 10-year timeframe, it costs 50% more to lease fiber backhaul than to own it outright. He said that, for companies like Dish, the expense makes sense considering that leasing is cheaper at the outset.
"I don't know that they're really in the business to be in the business for 50 years," Madden said about Dish, which has long promised to offer wireless services across its spectrum holdings but hasn't yet launched commercial offerings.
But for T-Mobile, which traces its corporate origins back to the 1990s, the situation may be different.
The ownership model
"We're investing in a scaled fiber network with a deliberate wireless strategy. By owning and operating both, we have stronger flexibility to [be] the leader that captures growth by providing high-quality broadband in more places for businesses and consumers," AT&T's Jeff McElfresh said during his company's recent analyst day, according to a transcript from the company.
Verizon CFO Matt Ellis agreed and offered some very clear numbers to back up his assertion.
"This investment in our own fiber connectivity provides us with material benefit that others in the industry cannot match, including more flexible product offerings, end-to-end performance and quality control as well as improvements in our cost to serve," Ellis said, according to a Verizon transcript of the company's recent analyst day. "We estimate that we saved approximately $300 million of access costs in 2021 due to cell sites being on our own fiber. And ultimately ... we expect annualized access cost savings to approach $1 billion by 2025."
At the end of 2021, 45% of Verizon's cell sites connected directly to the company's fiber network. By the end of this year, the company expects that figure to rise to 50%.
However, it's worth noting that Verizon does not appear to be passing those savings on to its mobile customers. For example, T-Mobile's unlimited 5G service plans are among the cheapest in the industry, whereas Verizon's remain among the most expensive.
Although backhaul is the most direct link between a wireless network and a wired one, it's not the only reason to own both.
"We have an opportunity to cross-sell in our fiber footprint," said AT&T's Jenifer Robertson during the company's analyst day. "We've proven we can grow wireless relationships where we have fiber. In fact, our wireless market share is 50% higher in our fiber footprint."
Indeed, that's the exact argument that T-Mobile has made in regards to its burgeoning fixed wireless access (FWA) business. Company executives have said that 40% of the operator's FWA customers are new to T-Mobile, creating an opportunity for the operator to make them mobile customers too.
"Bundling services has helped operators' top line," agreed Dell'Oro Group's Yu.
That situation may explain why T-Mobile is testing the sale of fiber in New York City. As noted by The Verge, T-Mobile is offering fiber connections from an unnamed local provider to select residential buildings in Manhattan.
Mobile Experts' Madden said that there is one more oblique benefit to operating both a wireless and wired network: capex stability for Wall Street investors. For example, he said that Verizon's capital expenses have remained relatively steady during the past several years, which is good for investors who don't like surprises. Madden said that Verizon has kept its capex smooth by focusing its spending on fiber after finishing the bulk of its 4G network, and then shifting that spending back to its wireless network when additional spectrum became available for 5G.
Google Maps is getting toll pricing and other route details
Sam Rutherford — Senior Writer, Reviews
With road trip season about to commence, Google Maps is getting an update that should help make vacation planning a bit easier thanks to enhanced details and a new feature that will calculate estimated toll prices.
Previously, while Google Maps could tell you which routes had tolls or not, you didn't get much info beyond that. But now, in an update rolling out later this month that will cover more than 2,000 roads across the US, India, Japan and Indonesia, users will be able to see estimated toll pricing sourced from local authorities.
This means you should have more information when trying to figure out the cheapest way to get to your destination, with Google Maps even factoring in things like different payment methods (e.g. paying with a pass versus cash/credit), the day of the week or even the specific time you're expected hit a toll. And of course, if you want to save as much money as possible, Google will still surface toll-free routes and provide an option to completely block routes with tolls from being displayed.
On top of that, to help make driving through unfamiliar territory a bit less scary, Google Maps is also getting enhanced details. Soon, you'll be able to see things like traffic lights and stops signs along with additional info regarding nearby points of interest and even more precise building outlines. Google also says that in select cities, users will be able to spot details like the shape of the road, including features such as medians and islands. The update is slated to roll out to Android, iOS, Android and CarPlay throughout select countries in the coming weeks. Finally, for those with iOS devices, Google is adding a few extra features for use across Apple's ecosystem. On iPhones and iPads, Maps is getting a new trip widget that will let you pin your next trek to your home screen. Additionally, the standard Google Maps search widget is also getting a size reduction, so you can quickly lookup a destination without the widget taking up too much screen real estate.
Meanwhile, for those who want to travel super light, Google is adding deeper support for Google Maps to the Apple Watch. This will allow you to look up a destination and even see directions on your wrist, all without ever having to pick up your phone. Additionally, iOS Spotlight, Siri and the Shortcuts app are also getting Google Maps integration in the coming months, so you can more easily search for a place using voice commands.
|Inside Towers Newsletter|
House Gives Bipartisan Support to Two Telecom Bills
By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief
The House voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to pass two bills to strengthen communications networks and improve public health data. The measures now go to the Senate. Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) introduced H.R. 2501, the “Spectrum Coordination Act.” It would require the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the FCC to update their two-decade-old memorandum of understanding on spectrum coordination.
According to the text, the legislation is meant to “(1) improve the process for resolving frequency allocation disputes in shared or adjacent spectrum bands, (2) ensure the efficient use of spectrum, and (3) establish reasonable timelines for information exchanges between the Administration and the Commission.” The House passed the measure by a vote of 418 to 6.
Reps. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), and Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) introduced H.R. 1218, the “Data Mapping to Save Moms’ Lives Act.” The bill would require the FCC to integrate data related to maternal mortality and morbidity into the agency’s broadband health mapping platform. The aim is to better understand “how access to broadband can improve our country’s response to maternal challenges and, ultimately, save mothers’ lives,” said Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Mike Doyle (D-PA). The House passed the bill by a vote of 409 to 11.
House Commerce Committee Ranking Member Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Communication and Technology Subcommittee Ranking member Bob Latta (R-OH) said: “Securing American leadership in next generation communications technology is essential to winning the future. The bipartisan bills will enhance interagency spectrum coordination, as well as improve our existing broadband health mapping tools by incorporating public data on maternal health.”
The telecom industry reacted positively to the votes, and specifically to the Spectrum Coordination Act. “Our technology has advanced significantly since the memorandum of understanding was agreed upon in 2003, and given the historical investments in broadband infrastructure and the possibility of more spectrum auctions, it’s imperative that our federal agencies are closely aligned and working as effectively as possible,” said NATE Director of Government Relations Todd Washam.
Competitive Carriers Association President/CEO Steve Berry said, “Spectrum coordination between the FCC and NTIA is extremely important to ensure disputes are addressed well before spectrum is designated for commercial use.”
“With the deployment of 5G and future generations, it is crucial that government agencies coordinate closely so we can continue to lead the world in wireless innovation,” WIA SVP Government and Public Affairs Matt Mandel.
|Source:||Inside Towers newsletter||Courtesy of the editor of Inside Towers, Jim Fryer.
Inside Towers is a daily newsletter by subscription.
Form 481 Filing System Now Open; Limited Waiver of July 1 Filing Deadline Adopted
On April 1, the FCC issued a Public Notice announcing that all eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs) participating in the High Cost and/or Lifeline programs may now access the Federal Communications FCC Form 481 through the USAC E-file/Okta One Portal and begin the annual Form 481 filing process.
The FCC also announced that it has adopted, on its own motion, a limited waiver of the July 1 deadline for ETCs to file and certify this form. The waiver is a result of the fact that Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) approval for the annual data collection by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is still pending. The FCC will announce new filing deadline in a subsequent public notice.
BloostonLaw Contacts: Gerry Duffy and Sal Taillefer.
FCC Announces Tentative Agenda for April Open Meeting
On March 31, the FCC issued the tentative agenda for its March Open Meeting, currently scheduled for April 21. At the meeting, the FCC is tentatively scheduled to consider the following items:
The FCC will also be considering two restricted adjudicatory matters, and one enforcement action.
Each summary above contains a link to the draft text of each item expected to be considered at this Open Meeting. However, it is possible that changes will be made before the Meeting. One-page cover sheets prepared by the FCC are included in the public drafts to help provide an additional summary.
BloostonLaw Contacts: Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and John Prendergast.
FCC Opens Up the 470-512 MHz T-Band to New Applicants
The FCC has just released a Public Notice which modifies the application freeze from incumbent licensees and new applicants who seek to license facilities in the 470-512 MHz band (T-Band), provided that the applications meet the FCC’s requirements for spectrum efficiency. This may offer our clients an opportunity to obtain a UHF channel in order to meet their communications needs.
With the close of the special incumbent-only filing window, the FCC has determined that it will now accept the following applications from incumbents and new entrants for T-Band facilities as of Monday, April 4, 2022:
The FCC has noted that it will not accept any Part 90 Private Land Mobile T-Band applications that do not meet the spectral efficiency requirements described above. This means that interested applicants should carefully plan their proposed facilities in order to make sure that the T-Band frequency proposals will meet the FCC’s processing requirements.
By way of background, on April 26, 2012, the FCC suspended the acceptance and processing of certain applications for Part 22 (Public Mobile Services) and Part 90 (Private Land Mobile Radio) services operating in the T-Band. Ostensibly, the froze the acceptance of applications in order to “maintain a stable spectral environment pending implementation of Section 6103 of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, which mandated the Commission reallocate and auction frequencies used by public safety eligible entities in the T-Band.” The Section 6103 T-Band Mandate was repealed on December 27, 2020 when the President signed the Don’t Break Up the T-Band Act into law as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021.
Since January 19, 2021, the FCC opened a special filing window in which it would accept Part 22 and Part 90 applications for T-Band facilities from incumbent licensees through a special filing window. That window ended on April 1, 2022.
BloostonLaw Contacts: John Prendergast and Richard Rubino
USAC Automates the Lifeline Continued Eligibility Process
On April 4, USAC announced that it has implemented a new process to confirm existing subscribers’ Lifeline program eligibility. USAC will utilize this process if there is reason to believe that a subscriber is no longer eligible for their Lifeline service. USAC will outreach to the subscriber and direct them to the National Verifier to verify their eligibility through a continued eligibility application.
According to the announcement, this new process functions similarly to the Death Master File (DMF) monthly process. In response to USAC’s outreach, consumers are able to confirm their eligibility using the National Verifier consumer portal, National Verifier service provider portal, Eligibility Check API, or via mail. USAC will de-enroll subscribers who do not complete a qualified continued eligibility application five business days after the end of their 30-day resolution window.
Service providers can access the Continued Eligibility Subscriber Status Report in NLAD in order to see which of their subscribers are going through the process. The report provides detail for each subscriber, including the contact information, Application ID, expiration date, and errors to be resolved. Subscriber de-enrollment information is also listed (if applicable).
The announcement further states that the Continued Eligibility Subscriber Status Report updates daily, based on data received from the National Verifier, and that this new process does not impact the recently extended Lifeline COVID-19 Waivers, and USAC will implement this process in accordance with those waivers.
BloostonLaw Contacts: Gerry Duffy and Sal Taillefer.
Comment Sought on Petition for Waiver of Affordable Connectivity Program Rules
On April 1, the FCC issued a Public Notice seeking comment on a petition filed by Competitive Carriers Association (CCA) seeking a temporary waiver of the FCC’s rules which, if granted, would provide an additional 60 days from April 15, 2022 for providers to apply the Affordable Connectivity Program benefit to all plans. Comments are due April 8.
According to the petition, “While CCA’s member companies who participate in the ACP have worked diligently to be ready for the April 15 deadline, the deadline has not provided enough time for all members to make the necessary modifications to their systems. Work is underway, but some necessary adjustments will not be complete by the April 15, 2022 deadline. A limited, temporary extension of the deadline by 60 days will allow providers to ensure that all their Internet plans are ready and will have little impact on consumers in the meantime.” Carriers considering participation in the ACP should be mindful of issues like these that other carriers are running into. As we reported in a previous edition of the BloostonLaw Telecom Update, a similar petition was filed by AT&T last week.
BloostonLaw Contacts: John Prendergast and Sal Taillefer.
Law and Regulation
Tracfone Enters Into $13.4 Million Settlement over Lifeline Investigation
On April 4, the FCC announced that it and the DOJ have reached a $13.4 million settlement with TracFone Wireless in connection with violations of FCC Lifeline program rules. Specifically, the settlement resolves allegations that TracFone violated the False Claims Act by signing up more than 175,000 ineligible customers for the Lifeline program during 2012-2015 and that the false claims resulted from TracFone’s lax oversight and monitoring of its Lifeline program.
According to a Press Release, a detailed investigation by the FCC Office of Inspector General revealed that TracFone did not have adequate internal controls and other Lifeline compliance measures in place over an extended period of time. As a result, TracFone failed to detect that for several years its contract sales agents in Florida were improperly targeting and marketing Lifeline services by exploiting a loophole in TracFone’s process for verifying Lifeline eligibility. In particular, this scheme took advantage of non-low income veterans, Medicare patients, law enforcement, and other people who did not qualify for the Lifeline program.
The settlement resolves a qui tam action in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, makes the Universal Service Fund whole, and provides damages to the Government for TracFone’s misconduct. Under the settlement, the Universal Service Fund will retain $10,927,372 in previously refunded over-payments and TracFone will pay an additional $2.5 million in damages to the Government. Further, TracFone has agreed to enter into a comprehensive, three-year compliance agreement to help ensure strict adherence to the FCC’s rules for the Lifeline program going forward.
BloostonLaw Contacts: Gerry Duffy and Sal Taillefer.
Windstream Settles Investigation of Rural Healthcare Program Violations for $1.2 Million
On April 5, the FCC announced that it has entered into a settlement with Windstream Communications to resolve its investigation into the company’s practices for determining rural rates and retention of Rural Health Care Program (RHC) documents. To resolve this matter, the FCC indicates that Windstream will pay a settlement amount of $1,204,445.24, which includes a $200,000 civil penalty, and implement enhanced compliance measures in connection with its participation in the RHC Program.
According to a Press Release, the FCC’s investigation found that Windstream failed to use any of the three rate-setting methods available to service providers under FCC rules, instead opting to use its own methods to prepare bids and seek Universal Service Fund (USF) support. Windstream was not able to provide the FCC with sufficient documents to demonstrate the processes used to set its rural rates. Through its investigation, the FCC determined that Windstream received over $1 million in improper payments from the USF related to rural rate violations in connection with services provided in Funding Year 2017 through Funding Year 2020. The company will now repay that entire amount to the Universal Service Fund.
BloostonLaw Contact: Sal Taillefer.
House Members Express Concern Over RUS ReConnect Program
On March 29, Congresswoman Kat Cammack (R-FL-03) and Congressman Jim Costa (D-CA-16) led a letter with their colleagues to urge USDA Secretary Vilsack and the Department of Agriculture to “ensure the ReConnect Pilot Program serves rural America and the underserved communities that need it most.” Specifically, the Representatives said:
Other signatories to the letter included Reps. Al Lawson (D-FL), Anthony Brown (D-MD), Austin Scott (R-GA), Barry Moore (R-AL), Chris Pappas (D-NH), David Rouzer (R-NC), David Valadao (R-CA), Deborah Ross (D-NC), Doug LaMalfa (R-CA), Dusty Johnson (R-SD), G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), Jim Baird (R-IN), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Julia Letlow (R-LA), Kurt Schrader (D-OR), Mary Miller (R-IL), Michael Cloud (R-TX), Randy Feenstra (R-IA), Rick Allen (R-GA), Rodney Davis (R-IL), Salud Carbajal (D-CA), Sanford Bishop (D-GA), Tracey Mann (R-KS), Trent Kelly (R-MS), Troy Balderson (R-OH), and Vicky Hartzler (R-MO)
BloostonLaw Contacts: Ben Dickens and Sal Taillefer.
USAC Announces National Verifier Transition to NV.FCC.GOV; Adjusted Lifeline Income Qualifications
On March 31, USAC announced that the Lifeline’s National Verifier portal, Checklifeline.org, will officially transition to NV.FCC.gov on March 31, 2022. Checklifeline.org will automatically redirect to NV.FCC.gov for one year. The primary change is in the URL and webpage changes will be minimal. A modal message will be available upon clicking hyperlinks within NV.FCC.gov to inform consumers they are redirecting to a non-fcc.gov page, including usac.org and LifelineSupport.org.
USAC also announced the adjusted Lifeline Income Qualifications for 2022. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released the 2022 Federal Poverty Guidelines (FPG), which are used to determine if a consumer can qualify for Lifeline based on their income. Accordingly, USAC has updated its income standards to reflect that a consumer is eligible for Lifeline when their income is at or below 135% of the 2022 FPG. Service providers may review the updated standards on the Income Eligibility page.
USAC reminds service providers to update their forms and systems as soon as possible. Service providers that have state-issued forms should follow their state's guidance (e.g., the NLAD opt-out states – California, Oregon, and Texas).
USAC also released National Verifier data from Q4 2021, which is now available on the Lifeline Program Data webpage. During the fourth quarter of 2021, the NV received 4,379,229 applications. Of the applications received, 49% were qualified automatically, and 7% were qualified through manual documentation review. The overall qualification result is determined after eligibility is checked and includes further checks related to identity and duplicates. Of the applications submitted, 1,927,028 applications were determined to be “Not Qualified” because they did not meet the program criteria and were not resolved by the applicant within 45 days.
BloostonLaw Contacts: Ben Dickens and Sal Taillefer.
Ligado Networks to Launch 1526-1536 MHz Band Operations in September
On April 1, TR Daily reported that Ligado Networks, LLC (“Ligado”) said, in a quarterly report with the FCC, that it planned to commence operations in the band “on or after September 30, 2022.” The report continued:
A copy of the report, along with the referenced map, can be found here.
MAY 31: 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. 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 May 31. 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.
[WAIVED; NEW DEADLINE NOT YET ESTABLISHED] 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.
|Blooston, Mordkofsky, Dickens, Duffy & Prendergast, LLP is a telecommunications law firm representing rural telecommunications companies, wireless carriers, private radio licensees, cable TV companies, equipment manufacturers and industry associations before the FCC and the courts, as well as state and local government agencies. Our clients range from Fortune 500 companies to small and medium-sized enterprises whose vitality and efficiency depend on the effective deployment of communications.|
|LETTERS TO THE EDITOR|
As many of you are aware, after earning a RN degree from Harper Community College in Illinois, and then a BA in Journalism from Georgia State in 1992, Judi completed her formal nursing education by attaining a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree at the age of 69, from Clayton State University. Their nursing program provides a high quality, yet affordable, nursing education program through their affiliation with the University of Georgia.
Many of the nursing applicants qualify for need-based financial aid to complete their education. So in order to offset some of the needed financial aid for deserving nursing students Karen, April, and I have created an endowed scholarship in Judi’s name to offer assistance where needed to at least 2 or more students each year. Our thought was to provide that last bit of financial support that might make the difference in that student achieving their goal of becoming a registered nurse.
A bit of history — When we first came to Atlanta in 1981, Judi joined a neighborhood investment club to learn how the stock market operated. During that period each member contributed a small amount to a combined pool and that was the resource used to purchase stock as voted by the club members. The club was designed to terminate after 2 years and at that time the members divided up the commonly held stocks based on a formula agreed at the start. Judi ended up with shares of a company called Apple, Inc.
Over the 40+ years the Apple shares remained in her brokerage account and grew and split and were still there when she passed on July 28, 2021. After some reflection, we thought it should be used to benefit things she would have thought important. As Clayton State’s program says, nursing is in high demand and the profession needs individuals who can combine nursing practice with patient-centered care. Clayton State welcomed Judi as a non-traditional student, and the degree she earned opened doors for her continued work in medical journalism for many years.
The Judith L. Kanne RN, BSN Scholarship will be available to the incoming class in the fall of 2022 and will endure through the endowment fund of the university. Each year, scholarship awards will be taken from earnings of the fund and be awarded by the school to the students deemed most academically qualified and who have a demonstrated financial need.
If you have an interest in supporting this fund in Judi’s memory, you may also donate directly to the program by using this link: https://www.clayton.edu/give-now. There is drop-down window that lists specific funds where your gift will flow. Judi’s fund is being added to this list. But for now, please select “Other Fund” and type in “Judith Kanne Endowment” in the box below the list to direct your gift to the scholarship in Judi’s name.
The university is holding its annual day of giving, April 6-7. This would be a wonderful time to join us in this legacy project. We know Judi would have been pleased.
Brad, clearly the green buss runs to the ground bag. At issue, I believe, is the capacity of earth in this circuit. One would hope that neutral is bound to the ground buss so that neutral current IR values do not lift the internal AC plugs appreciably off the ground bag electric potential.
Obviously, the earth bag is insulated by the plastic container; and hopefully, the cabinetry that it is mounted upon is also at earth potential.
I do have to observe that the capacity of the earth bag is, perhaps, no more that a few microFarads at best, and its conductivity might be minimal as well. Therefore, under the stress of, say, a significant lightning strike, we might expect that the transient earth bag potential could rise arbitrarily until a local plasma event would occur. In this case, the earth bag would vaporize, and unmitigated damage would occur to any electronic equipment within this facility as the normal values of ground, neutral and phase became unstable.
I would suggest that the minimal intervention here would be to add an OC3 tube to the bag. It should be sufficient to just open the earth bag and drop the OC3 in.
[Brad: Allan is my "go to" for answers to difficult technical questions.]
Analysts think copper is likely to linger in US
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