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Pending the approved merger with Sprint, the company intends to offer in-home internet services to roughly 9.5M American households by 2024

BELLEVUE, Wash. — Sprint and T-Mobile announced their plan to merge back in April and are in the process of obtaining consent from the Department of Justice, the FCC and other federal regulatory bodies, and hope to close their proposed transaction by early next year. 

Many Wall Street analysts haven’t given the transaction very good odds, according to fiercewireless.com , “though that may be changing given AT&T’s recent move to close its purchase of Time Warner over the DoJ’s opposition.”

If regulators approve their merger proposal, Sprint and T-Mobile plan to offer in-home internet services to roughly 9.5 million American households by 2024, or about 13% of the country. The company said that figure would give it a market penetration of around 7%, making it the nation’s fourth largest in-home ISP, based on current subscriber counts, according to the same article. 

In their filing, Sprint and T-outlined their plans to sell services to in-home broadband users, in competition to established ISPs like Verizon, Charter and Comcast. “Today, 19% of households could eliminate their home broadband subscription entirely by tethering on a T-Mobile two-line plan. New T-Mobile will accelerate this trend by providing an increasingly viable alternative to in-home broadband. By 2024, 35 to 45% of households could completely eliminate their home broadband subscription and rely on New T-Mobile for all their broadband needs,” according to Fierce Wireless. 

In order to do this, the “new” T-Mobile would develop a “blended” 5G network with (what is now) Sprint, using high-, low- and mid-band radio spectrum, in order to deliver average network speeds of 450-Mbit/s, which is faster than many fixed DSL and cable offerings in the U.S. today, according to lightreading.com

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Some are playing down expectations for the standard ahead of investments

LONDON — At the recent 5G World Summit 2018 in London, European cell companies Swisscom and Three UK “…played down expectations of a 5G-related boost in customer spending or a capital expenditure increase by their own companies,” according to lightreading.com

Three UK CTO Bryn Jones said he saw no reason for much increase in capital expenditure as his company starts to build a 5G network. Heinz Herren, the Swisscom AG CTO, echoed those sentiments, saying that 5G investments could largely be managed within today’s “capex envelope.”

There may be capital increases associated with the use of more sophisticated antenna systems as well as investment in underlying fiber networks, according to Jones. “When you look at massive MIMO, those antennas are heavier and bigger and there is more spending in that area than we had in moving from 3G to 4G,” he said in the same Light Reading article. Jones noted that there is also a much higher requirement for fiber backhaul.

“The Swiss market is flat and so it is really difficult to add 5G and sell it and personally I think we are having too many discussions around the business case,” said Herren. “I think if your main business case is connectivity there is no question about doing 5G, but I don’t think you will see additional ARPU [average revenue per user],” he said, again from the same article.

Last month, Italy’s communications regulator Agcom announced plans to hold an auction for spectrum suitable for 5G next-generation services this September. It’s expected that the sale of the spectrum will allow the Italian government to raise at least €2.5 billion ($2.9 billion), with half of that revenue expected to come in this year, reports rcewireless.com . The starting bid for the 700 MHz spectrum, split in to six slots, is approximately 2 billion euros.

However, Italian broadcaster Mediaset and media group Cairo Communication have filed an appeal with a regional court against Agcom’s proposed auction of 5G frequencies, according to the same article. The frequencies in the 700 MHz band are currently used by several TV groups including Mediaset, state broadcaster RAI and Cairo, which would all have to give up the frequencies.

Italian cellphone operators Telecom Italia, Vodafone Italia, Wind Tre and Fastweb were initially expected to take part in the 5G auction — however, they were also considering a boycott of the 5G auction process as they believed that the starting price set by the regulator for the spectrum in the 700 MHz band was too high, according to the same article. Operators also considered that “the current rules of the auction were too rigid for them to participate.”

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The government said key use cases include smart cities, healthcare, education, connected and autonomous vehicles, entertainment and media and the Internet of Things

OTTAWA — Canadian carriers have been testing 5G technology in order to get ready for the future commercial launch of this technology. 

For example, in the spring, Shaw Communications completed its first 5G technical trials in Calgary, in partnership with Nokia. The 5G trial used 28 GHz millimeter wave spectrum and 3.5 GHz spectrum, and was conducted using pre-commercial equipment at Shaw’s Barlow Campus Technology Center in Calgary, according to rcrwireless.com . Shaw conducted comparative testing between 28 GHz and 3.5 GHz spectrum to better understand the interoperability between two of the bands, using Rohde & Schwarz gear to measure 5G and LTE signals simultaneously.

Rogers Communications recently announced a multi-year plan by which it aims to deploy 5G technology in partnership with Ericsson. Rogers’ network plan includes the continued rollout of its gigabit LTE network with technology and equipment based on the latest global 3GPP standards, including 4×4 multiple-input-multiple-output, four-carrier aggregation and 256 QAM. 

The company also plans to build up its network with both small cells and more traditional radio sites across the country, according to the same article. Through the partnership with Ericsson, Rogers will trial 5G technology in Toronto and Ottawa, in addition to select cities over the next year.

Earlier this year Telus , in partnership with Huawei, launched a 5G wireless-to-the-home (WttH) trial service using specially-designed 5G customer premise equipment, at Telus’ downtown Vancouver “5G Living Lab.”

The Canadian government said that key use cases for the next-generation network technology include smart cities, healthcare, education, connected and autonomous vehicles, entertainment and media and the Internet of Things, and it confirmed plans to auction key wireless spectrum for the provision of 5G services in 2020, again according to the same article. 

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The pubcaster says sharing should mean exclusive spectrum for incumbents, wireless broadband

WASHINGTON — Public radio is waving a caution flag as the Trump Administration pushes to open up the C-band (3.7-4.2 GHz.) for broadband, echoing comments by the National Association of Broadcasters.

Its advice is to divide if it wants to conquer in the race to 5G. National Public Radio has told the FCC it should reserve some C-band spectrum for wireless broadband, but should reserve the remainder for exclusive use by incumbents, like NPR’s fixed satellite delivery of its programming.

The FCC sought comment on how to free up C-band satellite spectrum for sharing with broadband services as it seeks to advance 5G and nationwide broadband deployment, including how best to share it. NPR had plenty to say.

NPR says that the best thing to do is give incumbents and new users their own designated spectrum rather than mandate sharing of the same spectrum by both commercial wireless and fixed satellite users like NPR. Those fixed satellite users also include TV broadcast networks and cable operators. “[T]he only feasible way to share the C-band spectrum without causing harmful interference to current users is to subdivide it, and in so doing to ensure adequate protections for existing uses through guard bands and appropriate licensing requirements,” NPR said.

NPR dropped some familiar programming names whose distribution depends on C-band spectrum to get to 42 million people via 1,270 public radio stations, including Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Marketplace.

Some wireless companies, including T-Mobile, have said that shielding and filtering can allow both to share the same spectrum, but NPR says no. “Shielding can be effective in limited circumstances to remediate interference between two fixed devices,” said the public broadcaster, “but there is currently no shielding technology that could provide the kind of dynamic, all-encompassing protection that would be required to protect against interference from mobile devices.

Similarly, filtering can be useful to block out interfering signals within a certain range, but it reduces the effectiveness of the downlink signals it protects, and it does not create the kind of clear, interference-free transmission zone that is essential to public radio’s programming distribution needs.Mobile broadband should be allowed in the band only if it does not create such interference of threaten access to all that content–including emergency alerts and local journalism–on the stations, the filing concluded.

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The Flying COW drone will be one of two types of drones that AT&T will offer for its Network Disaster Recovery system


BEDMINSTER, N.J. — Broadcasters (including myself) like to tout how we’re able to keep our systems up and running during natural disasters, especially in comparison to cellular systems. (Puerto Rico is only the latest example .)

The big carriers are doing their best to keep systems up and running though, even in the worst of conditions.

AT&T has designed an all-weather drone to help keep its wireless network up and running during and after natural disasters. The all-weather Flying COW drone — designed by AT&T with help from manufacturers and first responders — will be one of two types of drones that AT&T will offer for its Network Disaster Recovery system, reports rcrwireless.com . AT&T designed its “Extreme-Weather Drone” to be to fly through rain or snow and handle tropical wind gusts up to 50 mph, and it can handle extreme temperature conditions as well.

The Extreme-Weather Drone took its first flight recently in Bedminster, N.J. It was also flown by University of Washington engineering students in Redmond, Wash., where students tested LTE antennas they designed specifically for the drones, according to the same article. The system tethers the drone to the ground with a thin fiber cable that feeds power and signal to the airborne drone, which then sends the signal out over the air to customers.

Last year AT&T’s flying COWs provided data, voice, and text services to customers and recovery teams in Puerto Rico and carried dozens of gigabytes of data, and thousands of calls and texts.

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But the company is still committed to unlocking the FM chip in all phones and carriers

INDIANAPOLIS — NextRadio recently announced the launch of FM radio streaming capabilities for all smartphones, including an iOS version for iPhone mobile device users in Mexico , according to TagStation .

TagStation’s NextRadio app utilizes the enabled FM chip inside select Android devices to tune to local FM stations; if a listener’s Android device has the FM chip enabled, NextRadio saves data and battery life (when compared to streaming) and works when power is out and cell towers are down.

“We want to empower all users to enjoy local FM radio without having their content restricted by geographic location or choice of device,” Tagstation President Paul Brenner said in a press release.

Even though NextRadio now features the option to stream on unsupported devices, it is still committed to unlocking the FM chip in all phones. However, NextRadio developed this streaming version until the goal becomes a reality.

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Verizon’s fixed 5G service is intended to compete with wired internet services and cable MSOs by “blasting” a 5G connection from a nearby cell site to receivers

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Samsung recently acknowledged the FCC certified both the company’s indoor and outdoor 5G home routers. The company said the new routers are meant to work with Verizon’s 28 GHz fixed wireless deployment, according to fiercewireless.com .

Samsung described the router as “a small consumer device that receives and transmits the 5G signal to provide ultra-high speed broadband wireless service…[that] can enable broadband service up to 18x greater than the current average U.S. broadband.”

Verizon’s fixed 5G service is intended to compete with wired internet services and cable MSOs by “blasting” a 5G connection from a nearby cell site to receivers either outside or inside users’ homes or offices. Mobile 5G, on the other hand, is designed for portable devices like smartphones and tablets. Verizon announced late last year that it would turn on fixed 5G services in up to five cities, including Sacramento , in the second half of 2018.

Verizon’s mobile 5G service will launch around six months after the carrier turns on its fixed 5G service, according to Verizon’s CEO Lowell McAdam. “Those comments are notable because Verizon hasn’t offered too much detail about how it might roll out mobile 5G — although Verizon’s CFO said last year the carrier wouldn’t launch mobile 5G services in 2018,” according to the same article.

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If approved by regulators, the new company would be henceforth known as T-Mobile

BELLEVUE, Wash., and OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — T-Mobile US and Sprint Corporation on Sunday announced they have entered into a definitive agreement to merge. The combined company will be called T-Mobile.

The combined company will have “lower costs, greater economies of scale, and the resources to provide U.S. consumers and businesses with lower prices, better quality, unmatched value, and greater competition,” according to this press release about the merger. “The New T-Mobile will employ more people than both companies separately and create thousands of new American jobs.” The same document goes on to say that from the first day Sprint and T-Mobile combine and every year thereafter, the new company will employ more people in the U.S. than both companies would separately; more than 200,000 people will work on behalf of the combined company in the US at the start.

[Read about Sprint and T-Mobile’s on again , off again merger history.]

The question is, how and why will that happen? According to the same release, “the New T-Mobile plans to invest up to $40 billion in its new network and business in the first three years alone, a massive capital outlay that will fuel job growth at the new company and across related sectors. This is 46% more than T-Mobile and Sprint spent combined in the past three years.”

“This combination will also force AT&T, Charter, Comcast, Verizon, and others to make investments of their own to compete, driving billions more in accelerated investment.”

You really need to take what is said in press releases like this with a grain of salt but let’s give them the benefit of the doubt right now.

“Neither company standing alone can create a nationwide 5G network with the breadth and depth required to fuel the next wave of mobile Internet innovation in the U.S. and answer competitive challenges from abroad. Only the combined company will have the network capacity required to quickly create a broad and deep 5G nationwide network in the critical first years of the 5G innovation cycle – the years that will determine if American firms lead or follow in the 5G digital economy.” 

This will be accomplished using Sprint’s 2.5 GHz spectrum and T-Mobile’s nationwide 600 MHz spectrum, and other combined assets. “Compared to T-Mobile’s network today, the combined company’s network is expected to deliver 15x faster speeds on average nationwide by 2024, with many customers experiencing up to 100x faster speeds than early 4G.”

Time will tell if that comes true of course. First the merger has to really happen. Following the closing, the new company will be headquartered in Bellevue with a second headquarters in Overland Park.

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This launch will increase the total number of Iridium Next satellites in space to 55



Iridium Next satellite

HAWTHORNE, Calif. — Iridium Communications announced that its sixth batch of five Iridium Next satellites are in processing at SpaceX’s west coast launch site, Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. This launch will increase the total number of Iridium Next satellites in space to 55.

Iridium Certus is the new service platform powered by the Iridium NEXT constellation. 

“With better coverage than any other mobile wireless network and a wide range of available speeds, it will deliver global, reliable, enterprise-grade services while redefining the capabilities of mobile satellite communications,” according to Iridium. The service will offer speeds between 22 kbps up to 1.4 Mbps once fully deployed, offering everything from low-bandwidth data applications and email to full internet and HD video.

The Iridium constellation now comprises a total of 66 satellites divided into six polar orbiting planes with 11 satellites in each plane. All five satellites from the next launch will be deployed to orbital plane six. To date, five Iridium Next launches carrying 10 satellites each have been completed, and over half of the Iridium Next constellation were activated. 

Iridium contracted with SpaceX to deliver 75 Iridium Next satellites to orbit, 66 operational and nine on-orbit spares, through a series of eight launches, according to Telecompaper.com .

The next launch, the third Iridium launch to use a “flight-proven” SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, is scheduled for May 19 at 1:04:24 pm PDT (20:04:24 UTC). 

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And how do these cell companies prevent interference to the little guys using unlicensed spectrum in the vicinity?

DALLAS — The big cellular companies are now making use of LTE-LAA. It’s been a while since we looked at just what that means, so let’s review some, with the help of Qualcomm .

“Licensed Assisted Access (LAA) is introduced in 3GPP release 13 as part of LTE Advanced Pro. It uses carrier aggregation in the downlink to combine LTE in unlicensed spectrum (5 GHz) with LTE in the licensed band. This aggregation of spectrum provides for a fatter pipe with faster data rates and more responsive user experience. For example, a mobile operator using LAA can support Gigabit Class LTE with as little as 20 MHz of licensed spectrum. By maintaining a persistent anchor in the license spectrum that carries all of the control and signaling information, the user experience is both seamless and reliable.”

So just how do these big cell companies prevent interference to the little guys (like you and me) using unlicensed spectrum in the vicinity? 

“Fair Wi-Fi coexistence is a key principle in LAA. This is accomplished by dynamically selecting clear channels in 5 GHz to avoid Wi-Fi users. If there is no clear channel available, LAA will share a channel fairly with others. This is accomplished by a feature called Listen Before Talk (LBT). LBT will be used by all technologies in unlicensed spectrum to ensure fair coexistence globally.”

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