|Wireless News Aggregation|
|Friday — October 23, 2015 — Issue No. 680|
Dear Friends of Wireless Messaging,
Welcome back to The Wireless Messaging News.
Facebook says it fixed iPhone battery issues
It appears Facebook has found answers to why its app for Apple's iOS platform is causing some iPhone to drain battery life faster than usual. A new version of the Facebook app will arrive on the App Store to address the issues.
It appears Facebook has found answers to why its app for Apple's iOS platform is causing some iPhone to drain battery life faster than usual.
A new version of the Facebook app will arrive on the App Store to address the issues with battery consumption, writes Ari Grant , engineering manager at Facebook.
Grant cites two key issues causing Facebook app's to consume more battery than normal. First is “CPU spin,” where the app would undergo a longer stretch of processing without any results. “This repeated processing causes our app to use more battery than intended,” says Grant.
The other issue was related to audio. After watching a video on Facebook, an audio session would remain open, keeping Facebook's app active. “The app isn't actually doing anything while awake in the background, but it does use more battery simply by being awake,” says Grant.
Concerns over Facebook's battery consumption started last week , following a Medium post claiming Facebook's app was guzzling battery life at a faster rate than usual.
Follow Brett Molina on Twitter: @brettmolina23 .
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Now on to the news and views.
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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.
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NEW COMPUTER FOR THE NEWSLETTER
It's Time To Help
NEW COMPUTER DONATION LOG
November 5 - 6, 2015
Join CMA and come back to the beach, November 5 & 6, 2015 in Myrtle Beach, SC. This is an exceptional opportunity to meet face-to-face and make quality connections with other carriers. Several members are providing key topics of interest to small business. As promised we have kept costs minimal with registration just $300 and overnight accommodations $89/night.
Conference Hotel (Deadline October 13)
To make reservations, please call 800-876-0010 and reference the Critical Messaging Association (CMA). You may also make reservations online. If you are booking online be sure to select the Royale Palms Hotel and then indicate that you have a special code and put in CMA in the group code.
Our group rate is $89 for a one bedroom ocean-view guestroom with balcony or $149 for a 2 bedroom/2 bath ocean-view room with balcony and a full kitchen. The Royale Palms Tower consists of condo rentals and is located at the north end of Myrtle Beach in Kingston Plantation. Guests have access to all of the amenities offered throughout the Kingston Plantation. You may receive complimentary wireless access if you are (or become) a Hilton Honors member.
NOTE: You are encouraged to make your reservations immediately in order to ensure you receive the group rate as once the room block fills rooms will be sold at the normal hotel rate.
Parking: Parking is at a discounted rate of $5/car/day.
Airport: The Myrtle Beach airport is approximately 12 miles away (30 minute drive). A taxi to the hotel costs approximately $38 one way.
We hope you are able to join us at this incredible and fun learning opportunity in Myrtle Beach.
BlackBerry launches US preorders for $699 Priv Android slider phone
By Chris Welch on October 23, 2015 11:12 am
BlackBerry's Priv will start shipping in the United States on November 6th, and you can preorder the Android smartphone with its slide-out keyboard beginning right now for $699. That's a bit less than the $750 figure we saw only a couple days ago , but it's still more expensive than or, at best, at parity with a number of fantastic Android flagships like the Nexus 6P, Galaxy Note 5, Moto X, and others.
For that price, you get a curved 5.4-inch Quad HD display, Snapdragon 808 processor, 32GB of storage, 3GB of RAM, an 18-megapixel camera, and that physical keyboard. The Priv also contains a pretty massive 3,410 mAh battery that BlackBerry says is good for over 22 hours of mixed use.
The Priv won't work on Verizon, Sprint, or US Cellular, according to BlackBerry, so your options among major US carriers are pretty much just AT&T and T-Mobile. Aside from all the Android apps you'd expect, BlackBerry is also putting big emphasis on its own software (BlackBerry Hub) and security / privacy with the Priv. A built-in tool, DTEK, will constantly monitor your phone's OS and apps for any security risks. The camera also sounds decent , features optical image stabilization, and is “certified by Schneider-Kreuznach,” if that means anything to you whatsoever. We're actually pretty excited to check out the Priv in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for more.
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Metro gets update on radio systems and cell coverage
By Ari Ashe
Tests conducted earlier this year found that only 27 percent of phone calls to 911 from Metro tunnels are received versus more than 95 percent from the platform. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
WASHINGTON — Local fire and emergency response leaders briefed Metro on the progress made toward upgrading radio systems for first responders in tunnels and enhancing cellular telephone service to allow riders to reach 911 in an emergency.
Metro reached a deal in principle with the wireless carrier networks to upgrade the fiber optic cables in tunnels to enhance coverage. The system currently runs on a legacy Verizon system that falters and does not work for riders with AT&T or other wireless networks.
“All that is left is to cross the T’s and dot the I’s,” says Metro Interim General Manager Jack Requa, who believes the contract will be signed within day or weeks at most.
Tests conducted earlier this year found that only 27 percent of phone calls to 911 from Metro tunnels are received, compared with more than 95 percent from platforms.
“There is a huge amount of the Metrorail system [in which] basically 911 service is very, very, very limited,” says Steve Souder, director of Fairfax County 911 communications.
Work is expected to begin in January to install the new cables to upgrade wireless capabilities in the tunnel, but Metro says the work could take five years to complete.
“What is currently proposed is unacceptable to us. Pressuring them for a more aggressive implementation is going to be at the top of our priority list in meetings coming forward,” says Prince George’s County Fire Chief Marc Bashoor.
Metro says the problem has to do with access to the tunnels and how to balance this work with all the other necessary track maintenance.
“We all think that is too long. We’ll do everything we can to move it up, but we have to have the system shut down to allow the work to be done in the tunnels. We’ll do everything we can to speed it up,” says Requa. He later added that single-tracking during the day and weekend station closures could also be an option to install cables.
The Federal Communications Commission wrote a letter on Wednesday asking the Federal Transit Administration to lean on Metro to speed up the timeline.
“The troubling timeline for the entire project — reportedly scheduled to take until 2020 — should inspire FTA to examine ways to expedite the work,” wrote FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly.
Metro’s previous attempt to upgrade cellular service in the system failed when the company behind the project went bankrupt.
Metro workers will likely install the fiber optic cables while they’re already in the tunnels also installing coaxial cables to improve the radio coverage. First responders during the L’Enfant Plaza smoke incident on Jan. 12 had trouble communicating over radio and had to use line-of-sight communication.
Still, interim work has been done to improve radio coverage until more permanent upgrades are made. Bashoor says they will not rest until 99.9 percent of the Metro system passes tests for radio reliability.
“When it was measured in the March time frame, it was around 90 percent,” says Stuart Freudberg, deputy executive director at the Council of Governments. “It’s probably in the low 90s now, based on all the testing and corrective actions. It has been improved, but it’s not 99.9 percent,” .
However, the timeline to get the radio coverage up to the goal will also take several years to complete.
“Getting WMATA’s emergency radio system in place is also critical. They have that budgeted and they’re in the process. But again, it’s a multi-year project and it won’t be fixed right away,” says Bashoor.
He adds that many steps have been taken since the L’Enfant Plaza incident to improve communications. Bashoor says tactical bidirectional amplifiers are now being used to boost the signal to assist during rescues, in addition to formalizing the line-of-sight communication as a backup. These amplifiers are portable units that can be brought to the scene of an incident and deployed if necessary.
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$13.9M project to improve emergency communications to go live in 2016
By Matt Gray | For NJ.com
Gloucester County plans to have its new 700 MHz public safety communications system up and running in early 2016, officials confirmed this week.
In 2014, the county announced plans to pursue the $13.92 million project to improve radio communications for emergency responders, contracting with Motorola Solutions, Inc. to construct the radio network.
With the advent of digital TV broadcasts in the early 2000s, public safety entities around South Jersey began experiencing interference on the 500 MHz band. In some cases, police officers working in the field were not able to communicate with dispatchers.
The Federal Communications Commission set aside a portion of the 700 MHz band for public safety communications, leaving agencies scrambling to fund the switch. That meant millions of dollars in new equipment.
Radios are being programed, work is wrapping up on infrastructure upgrades and system testing and training will soon begin, reported Freeholder Joe Chila, liaison to the county public safety department.
"It's progressing well," Chila said. "A lot of the system hardware is installed. We've had a lot of cooperation from fire chiefs and police chiefs associations with their input."
More than 3,000 radios, including mobile units for vehicles and handheld units, will be distributed to emergency responders around the county, including police, fire and EMS.
"We had our fire chiefs meeting last week and we are working on training sessions for end users," Chila said.
The project was funded in the county's 2013 capital budget.
Gloucester County officials are working with their counterparts in Camden County, which already has a 700MHz system, to ensure a "seamless interface" once Gloucester's system comes online.
The system consists of nine simulcast sites around the county that include microwave dishes, antennas, shelters for equipment and backup generators. These sites will receive and transmit radio signals across the county's 329 square miles.
"We had to build nine sites, including one from the ground up in Monroe," Butts said. "All nine sites will be up and on the air by the end of this month."
Last week, the county publicly expressed its thanks to operators of the Wheelabrator waste-to-energy facility for agreeing to allow installation of one of these sites at its facility in Westville.
Testing and adjusting of dishes will take place in November. Part of that testing involves ensuring full coverage across the county. According to its contract, Motorola must ensure at least 95 percent coverage reliability across the county.
The county's current communications system was built in the 1980s, upgraded in the '90s and has been in constant need of repair in recent years, county officials noted.
One huge difference with the new system, in addition to general coverage reliability, will come when storms knock out power. Uninterruptible power supplies hooked up at each simulcast site will maintain voltage and ensure emergency communications continue while backup generators kick in, Butts explained. In the past, the county had to set up portable generators to keep these systems operating in the event of a power outage.
The sites are also outfitted with security cameras, both inside the communications shelters and outside, Butts said.
Pitman Police Chief Robert T. Zimmerman, president of the Gloucester County Police Chiefs Association, said the association is looking forward to the system coming online.
"We're excited to experience the benefits of the new 700 MHz band radio system as its implemented throughout the Gloucester County law enforcement community," he said. "We've been working with the county for a couple years now preparing for this transition."
Better communication and less interference means improved safety for local officers, Zimmerman said.
"This is our life line and we look forward to reaping the benefits of the new system, as it will better serve our policing needs," he added.
Surface Book vs. MacBook Pro: It isn't twice as fast. It's three times as fast
Microsoft figured out how to put a discrete GPU into the Surface Book, and it paid off.
Gordon Mah Ung
Of course we had to pit the Surface Book vs. the MacBook Pro. It’s like Ford vs. Chevy, or Coke vs. Pepsi. Each side has its diehard fans, plus others who just want to know which is better.
Microsoft claims its new Surface Book is “twice” as fast as its equivalent MacBook Pro. Well, we ran some benchmarks, and hate to say it, but Microsoft lied. The Surface Book isn’t twice as fast.
It’s three times as fast.
Read on for the details.
What Microsoft meant
First, let’s clarify what Microsoft meant when it said the Surface Book would smoke the MacBook Pro. The company specifically means the MacBook Pro 13 inch model. That’s a very important distinction, because the MacBook Pro 15 is a different class of laptop. It’s larger, heavier, and packs a quad-core CPU and fairly beefy AMD discrete graphics. For Microsoft to say the Surface Book out performed the MacBook Pro 15 would be absurd. It would be like Apple saying the MacBook Pro 15 outperforms, oh, an MSI GT 80 Titan SLI laptop in gaming. So the target for the Surface Book is the MacBook Pro 13. Microsoft even compares the two directly in its reviewers guide.
How I tested
For my tests, I had access to a 2015 MacBook Pro 13. But the only Surface Book I had with the discrete graphics chip had an Intel Core i7-6600U.
That's not a fair comparison, but I had a workaround. Microsoft had also provided a Core i5 Surface Book without discrete graphics. Microsoft is still pretty secretive about the GPU in the Surface Books, but I don’t believe it’s putting a different GPU in the higher-end models. I just plugged the Clipboard section with the Core i5 into the base with the graphics chip in it. Neat.
So for the record, I tested a Retina MacBook Pro 13 with an Intel Broadwell Core i5-5752U, Iris 6100 graphics, 8GB of RAM and PCIe SSD, and the latest El Capitan build. Its rival was a Surface Book with an Intel Skylake Core i5-6300U, GeForce graphics, 8GB of RAM and PCIe SSD with Windows 10.
First up were some CPU tests. Cinebench R15 is a cross-platform test that uses a real-world 3D rendering engine from Maxon. The test is pure CPU, so let’s see how Microsoft’s “twice as fast” statement holds up here.
Not what you expected, PC fans? Consider the CPUs. The MacBook Pro 13 uses a pretty high-wattage, dual-core 28-watt chip with a base clock speed of 2.7GHz. That means it sticks to 2.7GHz even when under a load, and it’ll Turbo Boost to 3.1GHz. The Skylake dual-core in the Surface Book is a 15-watt chip; its minimum clock speed is 2.4GHz with a Turbo Boost of 3GHz.
Even though the Skylake CPU is faster than the Broadwell CPU in the MacBook if all things are equal, the chip in the MacBook most likely runs at higher clock speeds all the time. If you want to peep the specs of the chips in use here, I’ve lined them up at Intel’s ARK for you to compare .
Let's move on to Geek Bench 3, which uses “real world” algorithms to measure CPU speed. It’s another squeaker win for the MacBook Pro 13, but a win nonetheless. The same rule applies here as with Cinebench R15: The greater clock speeds of the hotter chip in the MacBook Pro is just cranking at too high a frequency for the Surface Book’s Skylake chip to keep up.
I could show you a few more benchmark charts between these two platforms, but it won’t change unless I use something that might favor a new feature in the Skylake CPU, such as SpeedShift. Let’s just agree that on the vast majority of CPU-bound tasks, the Core i5 MacBook Pro is probably going to be a smidge faster than the Core i5 Surface Book.
I'd generally rule it a tie in CPU performance, though, and this is why. Skylake is a 15-watt chip going up against a 28-watt chip. That’s a huge thermal and power difference. Given that disparity, Skylake still comes out looking pretty good.
Was Microsoft fibbing!?
If you’re thinking Microsoft’s mouth was writing checks its hardware couldn’t cash, take a step back. Microsoft has never told me exactly what tests it used to determine the “twice” boost (believe me, I asked), but I always suspected it was mainly built around the GeForce chip.
Of the many ground-breaking features Microsoft pulled off with the Surface Book, one of the crowning achievements is that GPU under the keyboard. You can see what a difference it makes in GPU-intensive benchmarks.
First up is LuxMark 3. It’s a test designed to measure the OpenCL performance of a chip. OpenCL stands for Open Compute Language, and it’s an attempt to move general purpose CPU chores onto the GPU.
For my test I ran the LuxBall load because other workloads crashed on the MacBook Pro 13. I wasn’t sure how this one would break, as Intel’s OpenCL performance has come a long way, but the result is certainly something that’ll make PC fans happier.
That’s a pretty hefty performance advantage in OpenCL in the Surface Book’s win column. As fast as Intel’s Iris 6100 is with its 48 execution units, it’s still not enough. The performance gap in the next test opens up that lead even more.
Heaven 4.0 performance
Next I ran Unigine’s Heaven 4.0 graphics test. The test was run at 1366x768 resolution with 2x AA, no tessellation and medium quality. I did this because the MacBook Pro 13 defaulted to many of those settings when started. On the Mac, the only graphics API is OpenGL, while the PC has DirectX and OpenGL. I opted for DirectX, as I don’t think it would have been fair to use OpenGL on the PC—Windows is all about DirectX, and it’s a big advantage for the platform.
Full disclosure: I ran the same test with different settings to see how the graphics in both stacked up. Most of the tests showed the Surface Book with the same big performance margin, though I could also find settings that would drag down both laptop’s performance so they were the same. Still, I think is a fair representation.
Let’s try a real game
Rather than rely on a synthetic game benchmark, I also decided to throw a real game at it. Square Enix’s Tomb Raider is available on Steam on both platforms. It’s a fairly recent game and came out for PC and consoles in 2013. Feral Interactive ported the game to OSX the same year.
One caveat here: As a port there’s clearly a lot of things that could be different between the PC version and the Mac version. For my test, I ran it at 1400x900, which was the default resolution on the Mac, and selected the “Normal” quality setting on both. I also poked around the game’s graphics settings to see if there was any variance between them that got lost in translation.
The result is a bone-crushing blow for the MacBook Pro 13: Tomb Raider ran at a pathetic sub-24 fps, while the Surface Book whizzes along at 74 fps.
If Microsoft based its marketing statements on this test alone, it could have safely said “ triple the performance of a MacBook Pro.”
To be fair, if you've read this far, you know the Surface Book isn't twice as fast or three times as fast as the MacBook Pro 13 in all things. In this one game, however, at these settings it is and it does approach a being twice as fast in many tasks. And that's Bench-marketing 101 for you. Is it fair? Maybe not in some people's books, but then I'm sure they'd agree claiming an iPad is faster than 80 percent of portable PCs is wrong too.
The GPU in the Surface Book isn’t just about gaming. Sure, that’s a nice bonus over integrated graphics, but the GPU really plays to other applications that need more graphics performance. CAD/CAM users, for example, can use it, and other professional-level applications should see a nice bonus with the discrete graphics chip in the Surface Book. That’s why my last performance benchmark will be Adobe Premiere Pro Creative Cloud.
Premiere Pro has used GPU acceleration for years. It originally supported only Nvidia’s CUDA but has since added OpenCL. Luckily it runs on both platforms, too.
For my test I installed a Premiere Pro CC on both laptops, imported a 6.5GB 4K resolution .MOV video file, and then exported the movie to H.264 using the Vimeo preset at 1080p resolution with the maximum render quality setting enabled. On the Mac, OpenCL was used. On the Surface Book, CUDA was my choice because it’s an Nvidia chip.
The result? Another crushing blow in favor of the Surface Book. For a professional, less time spent rendering means more productivity. On the Surface Book, it was done literally minutes ahead of the MacBook Pro 13.
This wouldn't be complete without a battery run down test. As I can't run MobileMark 2014 on OSX, I resorted to a standard video run down test.
I calibrated both laptops to the same 260 nit brightness, disabled screen dimming, and turned off the wireless. I also set the volume to approximately the same volume by listening to a test tone with a set of Samsung ear buds in each computer. Audio was left on with the same ear buds in the laptops.
For a test file, I used the same 4K-resolution Tears of Steel .MOV file from my Premiere Pro encoding test. Normally, I like to run the same player, such as VideoLAN, to make it neutral. The last time I did that resulted in belly aching that the test is unfair because it doesn't use each OSes' optimized player.
So for this test, I used the QuickTime player on OSX El Capitan. I would have used iTunes as Apple does on its official run down tests but an apparent bug in it prevents videos from looping. The QuickTime player is the default player anyway which some argue is what you should use. On the Surface Book I used Windows Movies and TV player which is also highly optimized for power and Windows 10.
Both manufacturers actually claim 12 hours of battery life for movie play back. The MacBook Pro 13 has a massive 75 watt-hour battery while the Surface Book's is about 68 watt hours. That gives the MacBook Pro 13 about a 10 percent greater battery capacity over the Surface Book.
After 8 hours, I called it a day. The MacBook Pro 13 was reporting 19 percent battery life with 2 hours of estimated battery life left. The Surface Book was reporting 29 percent with 2:26 left. I could have taken both down to zero, but I wasn't going to sit in my cubicle and watch the moon rise.
I give the Surface Book the win by a small margin. What's really impressive is the Surface Book does it with a touch-screen which can consume 10 percent of run time and a smaller battery too. Both laptops actually offer fairly excellent run time overall but neither would have hit their rated life for lower-resolution file playback.
The next morning
When I clocked in the next morning, I decided to finish draining both laptops. I had shut both down and left them in place but decided to pick up where I left off. Full disclosure: I brain faded on the Surface Book and it didn't loop after the first run and instead sat on a black screen at the end of the video for three minutes (which is how far the MacBook Pro 13 had gone into the second loop.) I then paused the MacBook Pro 13 and started the Surface Book playback while letting the MacBook Pro 13 sit paused for three minutes. I then started both at the beginning with it set to repeat.
The MacBook Pro 13 tapped out at 1:41 which was a little short what it had predicted. The Surface Book ran for almost an hour longer giving up about 2:37 of run time on the remaining charge from the night before.
If you add both together, that gives the MacBook Pro 13 about 9:41 of playing 4K content with the Surface Book running for 10:37. This isn't an ideal battery run down test condition but probably realistic as plenty of people turn off their computers during take off and then turn them back on in the air.
But, but, but...
There's one last issue to address: Price. Some may argue it should be the $1,500 Surface Book against the $1,500 MacBook Pro 13.
This cuts to exactly what Microsoft is likely arguing: We figured out a way to put a GPU in a 13-inch laptop, while Apple and all other PC makers couldn’t or wouldn’t do it.
The Surface Book's premium price is what a premium is about. You can’t get discrete graphics in any MacBook Pro, but you can on the Surface Book. And the payoff is clear.
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Your Feedback is Building a Better FCC.gov
by: Dr. David A. Bray , FCC CIO
You spoke; we listened. Since our last update on our FCC.gov modernization project , we built a new Beta ( i.e. test) version of FCC.gov based on your input, and we need your feedback again. Building upon the foundation of extensive user research done earlier this year — and coupled with additional input we will receive during this Beta period — the new FCC.gov will be more useful and accessible to FCC stakeholders.
Check out the Beta site at https://prototype.fcc.gov and please tell us what you think. What works? What doesn't? And don't worry: you can still access the old content and features at FCC.gov while we perfect the new site.
The new Beta site is Drupal-based and responsive, meaning the display will optimize based upon the device you are using to view the site such as PC, mobile phone, or tablet.
The Beta website is also connected to our document databases, EDOCS and ECFS , via application programming interfaces (APIs). The APIs allow real-time EDOCS and ECFS updates to display in ' Headlines ' and ' Most Active Proceedings '. FCC applications will also be updated and increasingly cloud-based, similar to our new Consumer Help Desk .
All of the content that resides on the current FCC.gov has already been migrated to the new, Drupal-based site. We are currently integrating this content into new information architecture, meaning additional and improved ways of accessing and interacting with all the information currently available on FCC.gov.
Finally, with considerable help from FCC's Bureau and Office staff, we have created a new taxonomy that will be used to classify web content. This will allow us to use Drupal features that make search easier, allow for better content discoverability across the site, and automate lists of content on a variety of topics.
We will be looking for your feedback, and encourage you to keep an eye on the Beta site for bi-weekly code updates, new content, and blog updates highlighting what’s changing.
Based on the additional feedback we receive during the website's extended Beta period, we intend to complete the switch to the new site fully later this fall with more details to be shared in the weeks ahead.
On behalf of everyone at FCC, thanks for all of the feedback we've received to date. You can continue submitting input for consideration and/or any bugs you find on https://prototype.fcc.gov/ via a web form or email .
Updated: October 9, 2015 - 11:01 AM
Selected portions of the BloostonLaw Telecom Update, and/or the BloostonLaw Private Users Update — newsletters from the Law Offices of Blooston, Mordkofsky, Dickens, Duffy & Prendergast, LLP — are reproduced in this section with the firm’s permission.
FCC Issues Incentive Auction Application Procedures, Including Upfront Payments and Minimum Opening Bids for Forward Auction; Applications due January 28.
After the close of business on Friday, the FCC released two items that are critical to the upcoming Incentive Auction: the Application Procedures Public Notice and the final opening bid prices for broadcast stations. Forward auction bidding units, upfront payments and minimum opening bids for 600 MHz PEA licenses are described in an appendix to the Application Procedures Public Notice. With the release of these procedures and payment information, the stage is not set for interested bidders to rapidly finalize their auction plans and prepare to file a participation application. Forward auction bidders must file their “short form” participation applications by 6 p.m. on January 28, 2016. Interested clients that would like our help with planning, applying for and/or participating in the auction should contact us as soon as possible. The application disclosures and eligibility determinations are far more complex in this auction than in all prior auctions.
“For potential Incentive Auction participants, today is a watershed moment," said FCC chairman Tom Wheeler. "For all practical purposes, we’ve fired the starting gun: the release of final opening bid prices – combined with the detailed application procedures and other data released yesterday – provides broadcasters with all of the information they need to decide whether to apply to participate in the auction. Stations that miss the December 18th deadline will not be able to participate in this historic auction. Commission staff stand ready to educate and assist applicants as they prepare.”
The 230-page Application Procedures PN also contains detailed attachments covering matters such as the technical details regarding the procedure for determining the spectrum clearing target, the algorithms for the reverse and forward auction bid processing determination procedure, and the bidding units for determining upfront payments and minimum opening bids in the forward auction. Concurrent with the Application Procedures PN, additional data and information related to the incentive auction, including the final interference “constraints” and the associated supporting files, are being made available on the FCC’s Auction 1000 website: http://www.fcc.gov/auctions/1000
Important dates and deadlines for the forward auction to 600 MHz flexible-use licenses are listed below:
The FCC’s release of opening bid prices for broadcasters completes the package. For each eligible station, the Incentive Auction Task Force has provided prices for each of the possible bid options available to a station: the option for a station to relinquish its license in full, the option for a UHF station to move to a high-VHF channel, or the option for a UHF or high-VHF station to move to a low-VHF channel. The top bid will be in New York—$900 million for WCBS-TV. A station is identified as “Not Needed” if the FCC has determined it will not need to offer to buy in order to clear sufficient spectrum in that market. Most of the offers will decrease in price in successive rounds of the reverse auction until the bidding system determines the amount needed to meet the spectrum clearing target.
The FCC has set 6 p.m. on December 18, 2015, as the date by which interested broadcasters must file their applications. Once applications are filed, FCC staff will review them for accuracy and completeness. On March 29, 2016, broadcasters that filed an acceptable application by the December 18, 2015, deadline will make their initial bid commitment and the auction will begin.
The auction PN also includes a list of which nationwide providers will be eligible to bid on the “reserve spectrum” in each PEA. The reserve spectrum is a portion of the reclaimed 600 MHz broadcast spectrum that will not be available for bidding by licensees that the FCC has determined already have a significant amount of the low band (below 1 GHz) spectrum that offers superior propagation. Their eligibility turns on whether they already have rights to at least 45 MHz of low band spectrum at the start of the auction. While it was hoped that this spectrum reserve mechanism would help to ensure that there would be available licenses for bidding by small businesses and rural telephone companies, the PN attachment reflects that there are several markets where nationwide carriers will be eligible to bid on the reserve. The eligibility of a carrier to bid on the reserve spectrum has been determined pursuant to a formula created in the recent Mobile Spectrum Holdings Report and Order. If anyone wishes to challenge the eligibility of a carrier to bid on the reserve in a particular market, it must file a request for correction of the eligibility determination by November 16.
It will also be important for applicants to make sure that no one associated with their application is considered to be in default on an obligation owed to the Federal government, or it could cost them the opportunity to bid. We can help to determine if an entity is considered to be in default by the FCC, due to e.g., a bounced filing fee check or missed user fee payment. But interested companies will need to check for default status with other Federal agencies.
The FCC is also taking up various tertiary but important aspects of the 600 MHz auction at its October 22 meeting, such as how to deal with interference between broadcasters and auction winners, and how to handle the details of the transition as broadcasters shut down to clear the way for wireless operations.
While the minimum opening bid for several rural licenses is less than $30,000, many approach or exceed $100,000, and not always with obvious rhyme or reason. For instance, the Bismarck, ND bidding starts at $125,000, while the Minot, ND minimum opening bid is only $15,000, even though Minot has a larger population in the market. This difference appears to be the result of the FCC’s use of a “weighted pops” formula based on the amount of clear broadcast spectrum in the area.
Any clients that would like our help in identifying relevant information about the auction or understanding the application procedures should contact us promptly.
FCC Reminds ETCs to Use High-Cost Support for Intended Purposes
On October 19, the FCC issued a Public Notice reminding all ETCs that receive support from the USF’s high-cost mechanisms of their obligations to use such support only for its intended purposes of maintaining and extending communications service to rural, high-cost areas of the nation. The FCC also reminded rate-of-return carriers that section 65.450 prohibits them from including expenses in their revenue requirements unless such expenses are “recognized by the Commission as necessary to the provision” of interstate telecommunications services. See the article below for more information, including a non-exhaustive list of expenditures that are not necessary to the provision of supported services and therefore may not be recovered through USF support.
FCC Provides List of Non-Recoverable Corporate Operation Expenses; Reminds ETCs of Penalties
In its continuing effort to limit the recovery of corporate operations expenses, the FCC released a public notice to remind all eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs) that receive support from the Universal Service Fund’s high-cost mechanisms "of their obligations to use such support only for its intended purposes of maintaining and extending communications service to rural, high-cost areas of the nation" and provided a list of corporate operating expenses that are not recoverable. (WC Docket Nos. 10-90 and 14-58) The FCC also reminds ETCs that misusing legacy high-cost or Connect America support "may subject the recipient to recovery of funding, suspension of funding, enforcement action by the Enforcement Bureau pursuant to the Communications Act of 1934 or our rules, and/or prosecution under the False Claims Act."
Section 254(e) of the Communications Act specifies that high-cost support must be used “only for the provision, maintenance, and upgrading of facilities and services for which the support is intended.” In the Notice, the FCC states that "[w]hile ETCs are eligible to receive support to recover a portion of their costs relating to corporate operations, those expenses must fall within the scope of the statutory requirement that support be used for the provision, maintenance, and upgrading of facilities and services for which the support is intended."
The FCC also reminds rate-of-return carriers "that section 65.450 of our rules prohibits them from including expenses in their revenue requirements unless such expenses are 'recognized by the Commission as necessary to the provision' of interstate telecommunications services." According to the FCC, "it takes seriously any inclusion of inappropriate expenses for recovery by ratepayers, and will take appropriate steps to ensure that expenses are used and useful and prudently incurred."
The FCC provides the following list of expenditures that it states are not necessary to the provision of supported services and may not be recovered through universal service support:
The FCC admonishes ETCs to "take all necessary steps to ensure that they and their agents, contractors, consultants, and representatives scrupulously adhere to the rules governing legacy high-cost and Connect America Fund program support." The FCC also encourages state commissions "to look carefully at the information provided to them in advance of the annual [universal service] certification and to report any areas of concern to the Commission for further investigation and potential enforcement action." The FCC also states that it intends to take further action "to ensure that high-cost funding is used for its intended purposes, and that ratepayers of rate-of-return carriers are not made to subsidize excessive expenditures." The accompanying statement from Commissioner Clyburn encourages the FCC to initiate a proceeding "in the coming months."
Effective Date Established for Copper Retirement Requirements
On October 19, the FCC published its Report and Order and Order on Reconsideration on copper retirement processes in the Federal Register, establishing an effective date of November 18 for those portions of the rule not requiring approval by the Office of Management and Budget.
Specifically, as of November 18, an incumbent LEC that obtains authority to discontinue, reduce, or impair TDM service in an area in which it offers IP service, it must, as a condition of such authority, provide any requesting telecommunications carrier wholesale access reasonably comparable to the level of wholesale access it previously provided on reasonably comparable rates, terms and conditions. This requirement applies to i) a special access service that is used as a wholesale input by one or more telecommunications carriers and (ii) a service that is used as a wholesale input by one or more telecommunications carriers to provide end users with voice service and that includes last-mile service, local circuit switching, and shared transport.
Upon OMB approval, the 90-day minimum notice period for copper retirements will be extended to 180 days, and particular provisions for the methods and timing of providing required notices will come into effect.
FCC to Release Data for “Do Not Disturb” Technology
On October 21, the FCC announced that the Commission will release robocall and telemarketing consumer complaint data weekly to help developers build and improve “do-not-disturb” technologies that allow consumers to block or filter unwanted calls and texts. The data, including originating phone numbers of telemarketers and automated robocalls, will be released and available on the FCC’s Consumer Help Center’s website. The data will be available here as it is released: http://go.usa.gov/3S7Aj
According to a press release, the data is similar to the data released periodically by the Federal Trade Commission. “Do Not Disturb” technologies use this information to determine what numbers might be originating unwanted calls. Companies may use data like this to further improve their services in determining what calls and texts a consumer might choose to block or filter ( i.e. sent directly to voicemail).
The announcement is the product of a June clarification by the FCC that there are no legal barriers to service providers offering robocall-blocking technologies to consumers.
Law & Regulation
FCC Issues Agenda for October 22 Open Meeting
The FCC has issued the agenda for its October 22, 2015 Open Meeting. At the meeting, the FCC will consider:
The meeting, which is scheduled to start at 10:00 am Eastern time, will be webcast live at ww.fcc.gov/live.
FCC Fines Alaskan Company for Cell Tower Violations
On October 20, the FCC announced a $620,500 settlement with General Communication, Inc. (GCI), parent company of The Alaska Wireless Network, for failing to register numerous communications towers through the Commission’s Antenna Structure Registration (ASR) system. Specifically, prior to constructing or upon acquiring these towers, GCI did not register 118 cellular communications facilities and failed to properly light three of them to comply with aviation safety rules.
The registration rules generally require owners of communications towers to register with the FCC any tower that is taller than 200 feet or that may interfere with the “glide slope” associated with the flight path of nearby airports and heliports. The tower owner must seek and be granted marking and lighting instructions from the FAA and include those instructions in its ASR registration with the FCC prior to construction.
In early 2014, the company self-reported to the FCC that it had discovered numerous apparent violations of the tower registration requirements, including for many towers that it had recently acquired. The FCC Enforcement Bureau’s subsequent investigation revealed that approximately 118 GCI-owned communications towers had not been registered in the ASR system prior to construction or upon acquiring them. The investigation also found that three towers were not properly lighted, and worked with the company to settle the investigation and secure a plan to ensure towers are appropriately registered and lit.
International Bureau Provides Guidance on In-Line Interference in KU-BAND
On October 20, the FCC’s International Bureau responded to several inquiries by providing formal guidance concerning the criteria for avoidance of in-line interference events among Ku-band non-geostationary-satellite orbit fixed-satellite service (NGSO FSS) systems. Specifically, the Bureau clarified that Ku-band systems must use the same sharing criteria as Ka-band NGSO FSS systems, which are codified in Section 25.261 of the Commission’s rules. Ku-band criteria were adopted in 2002, but never codified.
House Subcommittee to Hold Hearing October 27 on Economic Impact of Open Internet Order
On October 20, the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology announced it will hold a hearing on October 27, entitled Common Carrier Regulation of the Internet: Investment Impacts. The purpose of the hearing is to review the economic impacts of the FCC’s decision to implement, in Rep. Greg Walden’s words, “heavy-handed utility-style regulation” of the Internet. The subcommittee will examine the effect of the FCC’s rule on investment and deployment of broadband networks and what that means for American consumers, jobs and innovation.
“We’re less than a year removed from the commission’s vote for Title II and common carrier regulation of the internet, and we’re already seeing the ripple effect of economic harm,” said Walden. “Rather than heed bipartisan calls for a true light touch as our legislation would do, the commission did an end run in the opposite direction. These misguided rules are now having serious ramifications on how quickly consumers can expect upgrades and innovation in their Internet service. We are undeterred as job creation and economic growth are still our top priorities. Next generation breakthroughs and advancements are on the line, and our work continues on behalf of consumers.”
More information can be found here as it becomes available.
Court Rejects Sprint Claim that NY Sales Tax on Interstate Mobile Phone Services is Unconstitutional
Various media sources, including Reuters, CNET, Wireless Week and the Kansas City Business Journal are reporting that in a 4-1 decision, the New York Court of Appeals rejected Sprint’s argument that the imposition of New York state sales tax on interstate mobile phone services violated the U.S. Constitution.
The suit, which was brought by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, was based upon whistle blower information that Sprint deliberately ignored the New York sales tax law in an effort to “gain an advantage over its competitors by reducing the amount of sales taxes it collected from customers and, thereby appearing to be a low-cost carrier.” The Court found that that this practice started in July 2005 when it unbundled its charges within its flat-rate monthly plans and declined to collect taxes on those charges that it attributed to interstate and international calls. New York’s complaint also alleged that Sprint deliberately ignored the advice of a New York tax department field auditor on two occasions – in 2009 and 2011, after being informed that Sprint’s tax practices were illegal.
Even though the State of New York lost $100 million in tax revenues, it is seeking triple damages (or $300 million) as a result of Sprint’s false tax filings.
The Sprint cases illustrates that in a competitive environment, telecom carriers face hard decisions concerning tax withholding and other matters, and must weigh what measures to take in order to keep consumer costs low while avoiding having to pay far more in money, penalties and bad press on the back end. The question of what customer revenues are truly “interstate” is a thorny one in the age of bundling, and it is not yet known whether Sprint will appeal the adverse ruling. In those circumstances where clients have questions regarding the appropriateness of a particular course of action is correct, we recommend that you contact our office or local counsel as appropriate.
Inmate Calling Providers Threaten Legal Action over New Rules
Capitol Hill news source The Hill is reporting that the three largest providers of inmate calling have threatened legal action concerning the FCC’s new rules on inmate calling, scheduled to be heard at tomorrow’s Open Meeting. According to The Hill, Securus Technologies, Telmate, and Global Tel Link have made clear through a number of filings and meetings that, unless the new rules are changed, they will seek judicial review. The companies are particularly concerned with a new cap on inmate calling under which prison inmates would not be charged more than 11 cents per minute for any call, which represents a cut of more than 50% of the current cap on interstate calls.
OCTOBER 26: COMMENTS DUE ON SECTION 214 DISCONTINUANCE CRITERIA AND PROCESS. The FCC is seeking comments on a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) which asks whether the Commission should revise its rules concerning the 214 application process and proposes specific criteria for use in evaluating applications to discontinue retail services pursuant to section 214 of the Act.
OCTOBER 29: COMMENTS DUE ON APPLICABLITY OF TELEMARKETING RULES TO GOVERNMENTS. A petition for declaratory ruling (CG Docket No. 02-278) asks the FCC to find that the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and the Commission’s implementing rules do not apply to calls made by or on behalf of federal, state, and local governments, including calls made by legislative, judicial, and executive bodies, and those who act on behalf of such government entities, when such calls are made for official purposes.
NOVEMBER 1: FCC FORM 499-Q, TELECOMMUNICATIONS REPORTING WORKSHEET. All telecommunications common carriers that expect to contribute more than $10,000 to federal Universal Service Fund (USF) support mechanisms must file this quarterly form. The FCC has modified this form in light of its decision to establish interim measures for USF contribution assessments. The form contains revenue information from the prior quarter plus projections for the next quarter. Form 499-Q relates only to USF contributions. It does not relate to the cost recovery mechanisms for the Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) Fund, the North American Numbering Plan Administration (NANPA), and the shared costs of local number portability (LNP), which are covered in the annual Form 499-A that is due April 1.
|This newsletter is not intended to provide legal advice. Those interested in more information should contact the firm. For additional information, please contact Hal Mordkofsky at 202-828-5520 or email@example.com .|
|Friends & Colleagues|
Wireless Network Planners
The Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2015 bill in the US House (H.R. 1301) now has 106 cosponsors! ARRL President Kay Craigie, N3KN, credited ARRL members “who understand the importance of the legislation” with making it possible to reach that milestone.
“They have signed letters at hamfests and conventions all over the country, at booths staffed by Directors, Vice Directors, Section Managers, and other ARRL officials,” President Craigie said. Backing up those efforts have been recent personal visits to Capitol Hill by ARRL Directors Dick Isely, W9GIG, and Mike Lisenco, N2YBB, as well as by General Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD.
The 100th cosponsor of H.R. 1301 was Rep Larry Bucshon [R-IN], who signed aboard on October 16. Six more cosponsors added their names on October 20 and 21. They are Reps Steve Chabot, [R-OH], Mike Bost [R-IL], and Frank LoBiondo [R-NJ]; Katherine Clark [D-MA]; Thomas MacArthur [R-NJ], and Sheila Jackson Lee [D-TX].
The Amateur Radio Parity Act would direct the FCC to extend its Part 97 Amateur Radio Service rules relating to “reasonable accommodation” of Amateur Service communications to include private land use restrictions. There are two bills, one in the US House and one in the US Senate. US Rep Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) introduced H.R. 1301 on March 4 with 12 original cosponsors from both sides of the aisle. US Sen Roger Wicker (R-MS) introduced S. 1685 into the US Senate on June 25, with Sen Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) as the original cosponsor.
“We are not done by any means,” President Craigie added. “Let's push the numbers up and keep our representatives and senators aware of how much we care about this issue.”
She noted that Scouting's Jamboree On The Air ( JOTA ) over the October 17-18 weekend introduced thousands of youngsters to Amateur Radio. “Let's make sure their interest can blossom, even if their parents have chosen to live in communities that don't allow antennas at this time,” President Craigie urged. “These young people need what Amateur Radio has to offer, and Amateur Radio certainly needs them. Please help them be the future.”
The ARRL recently introduced a “Clarity on Parity” video , and not only has it been made available on Capitol Hill, it would make an informative Amateur Radio club meeting program. A “Clarity on Amateur Radio Parity” document stresses many of the same points.
The ARRL Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2015 page provides more information and explains how members can become involved.
|Source:||The ARRL Letter|
|LETTERS TO THE EDITOR|
Dear Valued Partner,
We take this opportunity to reintroduce our next generation Model 24-67 Tone Remote Controller technology. This controller supersedes all of the IDA’s earlier analog models.
Since many of you have used our earlier tone remotes, Model 24-67 core functionality includes most the features offered as an Option in our earlier models. As a result, Model 24-67 is industry best price / performance remote control technology to date. 24-67 is our first in the family of next generation products to exceed your requirements.
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|UNTIL NEXT WEEK|
|THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK|
“Life is too short to spend your precious time trying to convince a person who wants to live in gloom and doom otherwise. Give lifting that person your best shot, but don’t hang around long enough for his or her bad attitude to pull you down. Instead, surround yourself with optimistic people.”
— Zig Ziglar
|PHOTOS OF THE WEEK|
DID YOU KNOW?
INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT WATER DISTRIBUTION
(WOODEN WATER PIPES)
It’s hard to say exactly when someone hollowed out a material for the transport of water but the Romans are generally credited with first mass use of pipes to transport water. In fact the word plumbing is derived from the Latin word for lead “plumbum”, the substance the Romans used for their water pipes.
|Source:||Platte Canyon Water and Sanitation District||(Littleton, CO)|
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