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Welcome Back To The Wireless Messaging News
5G Is A Big Deal
Just in case you haven't noticed 5G is one of the most important wireless developments in our lifetime. Please read the about some of the potential legal issues in the BloostonLaw section of this issue. More reports will be following in future issues.
ANOTHER GREAT ARTICLE THIS WEEK FROM REX LEE
“Step Big Brother” — Corporate Surveillance Tech Giants Surveil & Data Mine Children For Profits: Google & Apple May Be Violating FTC Child Privacy Laws!
We need your help. This is probably the only remaining news source about paging and wireless messaging.
Two contributions were received last week. Thank you very much.
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.
We are having a cold spell in Southern, Illinois
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.
TIME TO HUDDLE UP
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.
Prism-IPX Systems is growing and they are looking for more good software developers with communications experience. Additional information is available on their web site. Click here.
Service Monitors and Frequency Standards for Sale
(Images are typical units, not actual photos of items offered for sale here.)
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A Rogues’ Gallery of Robocallers
The FTC and FCC regularly crack down on scammers. Here are some of their recent catches.
By Consumer Reports
The Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission regularly bring actions against robocallers and Do Not Call violators in civil court, often with help from state authorities. Since 2003 the agencies have won more than $1.5 billion in penalties and restitution.
But only a small fraction of the money has been recovered, says Maureen Mahoney, policy analyst at Consumer Reports, because the culprits are difficult to track or the profits are spent.
Here are some of the FTC and FCC’s recent catches.
Malicious Spoofer: Adrian Abramovich
The pitch: The telemarketer pushed travel deals said to be from national brands, such as Marriott and TripAdvisor, only to switch the consumers to call centers that would try to sell Mexican timeshare packages, according to the FCC.
The scope of the scheme: The FCC found that the company spoofed more than 96 million robocalls in just three months. A medical paging company reported that the robocallers were disrupting its service, according to the FCC.
The judgment: The FCC imposed a $120 million penalty in 2018.
Credit Card Con Artists: All Us Marketing
The pitch: A web of companies and individuals, formerly operating under the name Payless Solutions, made illegal robocalls pitching a program to lower credit card interest rates.
The scope of the scheme: The 18 defendants phoned thousands of consumers, including many seniors, claiming they would save at least $2,500 in credit card interest payments with the rate-reduction program. The consumers paid $300 to $4,999 up front but received no rate reductions, according to the FTC and the Florida state attorney general.
The judgment: In 2017 a court imposed a judgment of $4.9 million on the 12 defendants alleged to be most responsible for the scam. Smaller judgments were imposed on three other defendants. For most, the judgment was entirely or partially suspended based on inability to pay.
Relentless Robocaller: Justin Ramsey
The pitch: Led companies that blasted out millions of robocalls, often to consumers on the Do Not Call Registry, according to the FTC, offering home security systems and other products.
The scope of the scheme: Despite an ongoing investigation by the FTC, allegedly continued unlawful telemarketing through a new firm, making more than 800,000 calls to DNC numbers.
The judgment: Ordered to pay $2.2 million in 2017 to the FTC, suspended upon payment of $65,000, based on inability to pay. Banned from placing robocalls, as well as calling and selling lists of DNC numbers.
Insurance Telemarketer: Philip Roesel
The pitch: Marketed health insurance allegedly by targeting vulnerable consumers, including the elderly, the infirm, and low-income people, according to the FCC.
The scope of the scheme: Using spoofed caller ID numbers, the FCC found that the company made more than 21.5 million robocalls in three months, averaging 200,000 per day.
The judgment: In 2018 the FCC imposed a forfeiture of $82 million on Roesel and his company.
California Scheming: Aaron Michael Jones
The pitch: A nine-person operation in California led by Jones engineered billions of illegal robocalls, offering extended auto warranties or search engine optimization services, according to the FTC. The operation also generated leads for other companies selling those goods and services, among others.
The scope of the scheme: The operation called phone numbers, including those on the DNC registry, at a rate of more than 100 million per year.
The judgment: Jones was ordered to pay $2.7 million to the FTC. He and the other defendants were banned from robocalling and abusive telemarketing activities; penalties totalling $9.9 million were imposed on the others, with all but $510,000 suspended because of inability to pay.
Robocall Ringleader: Kevin Guice
The pitch: Ran two telemarketing companies and 11 shell companies from a boiler room in Florida. Offered a credit card debt elimination service, charging between $2,500 and almost $26,000 up front.
The scope of the scheme: Raked in more than $23 million from more than 10,000 consumers, according to the FTC.
The judgment: Ordered to pay $23 million by a Florida federal court in 2018 for damages and restitution to defrauded consumers. Required to surrender personal property, including a 55-foot yacht, to a court-appointed receiver.
Tricky Travel Deals: Caribbean Cruise Line
The pitch: Hired a company that ran an allegedly illegal telemarketing campaign that promised consumers a free two-day Bahamas cruise if they answered a political survey. The calls were designed to push more costly products and services to customers, generating millions of dollars, according to the FTC.
The scope of the scheme: The operation made billions of robocalls that relied on ID spoofing, disguising the names that would appear on caller IDs, according to the FTC.
The judgment: Caribbean was fined $7.73 million in 2015, partially suspended after payment of $500,000. With other defendants, was banned from making robocalls and engaging in abusive telemarketing practices.
Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the May 2019 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.
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.
Back To Paging
Still The Most Reliable Protocol For Wireless Messaging!
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.
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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“Step Big Brother — Corporate Surveillance”
Tech Giants Surveil & Data Mine Children For Profits: Google & Apple May Be Violating FTC Child Privacy Laws!
By Rex M. Lee
My daughter brought to my attention that the high school she attends forces the students to use intrusive Google apps plus Gmail (Google) which could be considered “forced participation” regarding predatory surveillance and data mining business practices employed by Google.
My daughter expressed concern that schools are enabling Google to data mine students via Gmail plus Google student-centric apps such as Google Classroom, Google Docs and Google Family Link for Parents.
All of these Google student related apps are distributed through Google Play plus the Apple App Store (Google Classroom).
I decided to do a deep dive on the app permissions that support Google Classroom, Google Docs, Google Family Link for Parents and the Gmail app that supports Gmail.
As I’ve been reporting for The Epoch Times, apps that support smartphones, tablet PCs and connected products are nothing more than legal malware that enables the app developer to monitor, track, and data mine the product user for financial gain even at the expense of the user’s privacy and safety.
Regarding the predatory surveillance and data mining business practices employed by Google, it is no surprise that the Google student-centric apps are in fact malware that enables Google to surveil and data mine the product user for financial gain which includes teachers, teens, and children.
This is no surprise since Google’s business model is based on Surveillance Capitalism which many parents and educators need to understand.
What is surprising is the fact that school districts nation-wide are adopting intrusive technology such as Google apps enabling companies such as Google to surveil and data mine students that could include children under the age of 13 which could be a violation of child privacy laws.
Surveilling and data mining children for financial gain under the age of 18 is bad enough much less children under the age of 13 which could be a violation of the FTC Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (“COPPA”).
Understanding Surveillance Capitalism 101
Before we examine COPAA compliance to see if tech giants such as Apple and Google may be violating FTC COPAA compliance, let’s review the app permissions that support Google Classroom, Google Docs, and Gmail which students at my daughter’s high school are being forced to use without parental consent.
Google Classroom, Google Docs, & Gmail App Permissions- Distributed by Google Play and the Apple App Store (Google Classroom)
The Google Classroom App is marketed to students and teaches as a way to connect the student and the teacher to support activities such assignments and homework. Below is the actual description of how the app works from Google Play:
Like Google Docs and Gmail, Google Class Room is another free application that provides convenience but is the app really free?
Is Google a non-profit company that spends millions on R&D to develop “Free Stuff” that they give away to the public?
Of course Google is not a non-profit. Google loves profits especially when it comes to surveilling and data mining their product users for financial gain after all Google’s intrusive business plan is based on Surveillance Capitalism which means that companies such as Google monetize their product users such as you.
Like Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook, Google views their product users as “uncompensated information producers” whom are to be exploited for profits at the expense of the user’s privacy whether the user is an adult, teen, or child or in this case a teacher or student.
By way of the Google student-centric apps, Google is enabled to collect a lot of valuable sensitive user data known as a person’s digital DNA which is the most valuable commodity on earth.
Why do you think that Google and Apple are some of the most valuable corporations on earth? Is it because they give away “Free Stuff”?
No of course not, these companies have become some of the most valuable companies on earth by profiting off of the use of their operating system (“OS”) product user’s personal and professional digital DNA which includes surveillance data (e.g. location data) and sensitive user data.
Understanding Intrusive and Exploitive Apps 101
Now that you understand Surveillance Capitalism let’s understand how intrusive and exploitive apps work.
Exactly how much personal and professional digital DNA does the student-centric Apps enable Google to collect, use, share, sell, and aggregate for financial gain?
The Answer: “A lot according to my analysis of the app permissions associated with each student-centric app.”
The collective student-centric android apps are granted many intrusive application permissions per app enabling Google to collect highly confidential personal and professional digital DNA from the student and teacher who uses these apps.
I will highlight only a few of the app permissions associated with Google Classroom, Google Docs, and Gmail plus other android app permissions that are relevant to the use of android apps in general:
Access to accounts means that Google can collect information on any account set up on the device such as banking, medical, social media, personal accounts and other highly confidential account information.
Don’t take my word for this claim, read a few of the android application permissions associated with access to accounts, social media accounts, contacts and user identity of which these types of permissions are associated with apps such as Google Class Room App, Google Docs, and Gmail (App):
Android Account Application Permission Statement. “Allows the app to get the list of accounts known by the phone. This may include any accounts created by application you have installed. This means non-Google applications as well.”
Regarding the collection of messages from social media apps, note that the android social media app permission is an example of how much information Google can collect from a social media account even social media accounts that are not associated with Google products such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and other accounts.
The amount of personal and professional information Google can collect from an account set up on the device is astonishing and concerning to say the least.
Potential Violation of Medical Information Laws (HIPAA). Parents need to consider that teens and children may have apps associated with their healthcare providers on their smartphone of which are considered accounts. This means that Google and other app developers can access medical accounts by way of preinstalled and third-party apps such as Google Classroom.
The contacts application permission not only allows Google to collect the user’s electronic contact address book but also enables Google to surveil the app user by tracking how the student communicates with their family, friends, teachers and others by phone, email and other ways such as text messaging or instant messaging.
Violation of Consumer Laws Governed by the FTC and State AGs- Hidden Product Warnings. Like the android social media account application permission statement, the contacts app permission statement also contains a product warning that is hidden from the app user which I believe is illegal according to existing consumer laws governed by the FTC and state AGs which should be concerning to parents and educators.
“Should adults, teens, children, students and teachers be using intrusive and exploitive apps that are supported by hidden application product warnings?”
Hiding application legalese and app product warnings I believe is illegal according to existing consumer laws.
Deceptive Trade Practices- Personal Identity. Like other people who are under the impression their identifiable personal information associated with products such as smartphones and table PCs is protected by companies such as Google, you have been deceived as the android personal information app permission confirms.
Regarding the Facebook and Google congressional hearings in 2018, Mark Zuckerberg, Chairman/CEO of Facebook and Sundar Pichia say that Facebook and Google do not sell or share identifiable personal information to third-parties such as data brokers like Cambridge Analytica.
However the hidden android application permission statement above confirms that app developers such as Google and Apple can identify the app user plus forward the user’s identity and contact information to “Others”.
“Others” sounds like third-parties to me. Educators, Parents, and Students should be highly concerned that apps enable app developers to identify the app user which includes children under the age of 18 and 13 which would be a violation of FTC COPAA compliance (see enclosed info for details).
Harmful Use of a Child or Student’s Personal Information (“digital DNA”)
Telecom providers such as AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint were in the news recently regarding the sale of their paying customer’s location data to data brokers such as Zumiga and Locationsmart* who used the information in a harmful manner.
Over the past two years there have been numerous reports of abuse, negligent, and harmful use of personal and professional information by tech giants that include Google, Apple, Facebook and other tech giants.
For example**, some of the reports include the Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal, Apps share personal info with Facebook and Google forgetting to tell Nest customers that secret microphones are embedded in their products, and the list goes on.
After numerous examples of abuse, negligent, and harmful use of personal and professional information, where is the FTC and state AGs when it comes to enforcing existing consumer laws?
The question that the FTC, state AGs, law makers, parents, and educators need to ask at this point is:
”Is Google using student and child personal information acquired from apps such as Google Classroom in a manner that can bring harm to the child or teacher?”
People tell me all of the time, “I’m not a terrorist or breaking the law so I don’t care if Google is surveilling and tracking every aspect of my personal and professional life.”
This is the worst statement regarding a person’s privacy of all time.
Per the telecom Zumiga/Locationsmart and Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandals, companies such as Google sell access to their product users to data brokers such as Aleksandra Kogan.
Mr. Kogan developed an innocent looking Facebook survey app that enabled him to surveil and data mine millions of Facebook users for financial gain and then sold the Facebook user’s personal and professional digital DNA to Cambridge Analytica who exploited the user data for financial gain at the expense of the user’s privacy and safety.
This means that personal and professional digital DNA acquired by apps such as Google Classroom could end up in the hands of data brokers, employers, state actors, institutions of higher learning, law enforcement, insurance and bank underwriters, and other entities that could bring harm to the user such as student or teacher.
Google Exposes Children to Child Predators.*** Another example of online harm by way of an app is the recent story regarding the fact that YouTube continually poses harm to their users including children such as the case involving child predators who engage children who are viewing content from companies such as Disney.
Addictive, Intrusive, Exploitive and Harmful Apps Disguised as Social Media and Gaming Apps
As I’ve reported several times, Sean Parker, Co-founder of Facebook and Tristan Harris, former product designer for Google have publicly admitted that Facebook and Google intentionally develop addictive platforms, apps and technology in order to exploit their product users for financial gain even at the expense of the user’s privacy and safety whether the user is an adult, teen, or child.
Don’t take my word of this claim, Mr. Parker explains it better than I can per an Axios interview from 2017:
At this point we need to ask the question: “How come the FTC, state AGs and law makers are not protecting the public from addictive, intrusive, exploitive and harmful technology?”
The answer: major media news organizations plus the FTC, state AGs, and law makers have turned a blind eye to these types of public admissions made by senior executives and product designers for Facebook and Google. Why?
How Laws are Written in Washington D.C. 101. Erich Schmidt, former chairman Alphabet Inc. (Google), explains how telecom and tech giants have invested millions into lobbying efforts that have resulted in the reason why the FTC, FCC, state AGs and law makers may have turned a blind eye to incriminating admissions made by Mr. Parker and Mr. Harris:
I did not learn this in my high school civics classes.
Now that we understand that companies such as Facebook and Google write consumer laws associated with privacy plus addictive, intrusive, exploitive, and harmful technology, we can now understand why agencies such as the FTC, FCC plus state AGs and law makers are not protecting us.
Aside from Google and Facebook addictive and harmful apps, parents and educators need to be concerned with third-party apps such as Pokémon Go which I also believe are not complaint with FTC COPAA.
To understand why, all you have to do is view the android and Apple app permissions associated with the Pokémon Go app to realize how intrusive, exploitive, and potentially harmful this app is.
The Pokémon Go app permissions explain how much surveillance data and personal information the app developer, Niantic (former Google Company), is enabled to collect from teens and children who use the app and platform.
Below are some of the intrusive and exploitive app permissions granted to Niantic by Google:
Android Location Data, Physical Activity App Permissions & Auto Telematics: “Allows the app to get your precise location using the Global Positioning System (GPS) or network location sources such as cell towers and Wi-Fi. . . Apps may use this to determine where you are. . . Allows the app to receive periodic up-dates of your activity level from Google, for example, if you are walking, driving, cycling or stationary. . . Access your car’s speed.”
Another question to ask?: “What parent would knowingly allow complete strangers to conduct audio, video and physical surveillance on their children, 24x7 365 days a year?”
Google is enabling Niantic to indiscriminately monitor, track and data mine the app user, which includes teens and children 24x7 365 days a year whether or not the teen or child is using the Pokémon Go app or on the platform.
Like Facebook, Amazon, Google and Apple, the Pokémon Go app user does not have to be actively using the apps or be on the platforms associated with the apps in order Niantic to monitor, track, and data mine the app user for financial gain.
In addition, Google is enabling Niantic to collect personal information from the teen and child that has nothing to do with the use of the Pokémon Go app or platform.
For example, Niantic is enabled by Google to collect the user’s contacts, audio and video of the user’s activities, physical activity data and location data associated with the user’s activities even when the teen or child is not using the app or on the platform.
Violation of COPAA Compliance- Child Surveillance and Data Mining for Profits
To collect personal information from a child 13 and under, a company such as Google must receive parental consent according to FTC COPPA ******:
****** Source: FTC COPAA
One would have to ask at this point: “Are companies such as Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon, Niantic and other tech giants getting lawful consent from parents regarding predatory surveillance and data mining business practices?”
I think not. The exceptions to this rule are too deep to list in this article but I can tell you that I believe companies such as Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon and other tech giants are not in compliance regarding FTC COPAA regarding a number of issues I’ve documented in this article.
To find out more, I suggest parents and educators visit the FTC COPAA website:
The FTC and state AGs need to start enforcing existing consumer laws that protect adults, teens, and children from companies that employ predatory and harmful surveillance & data mining business practices.
Tips on Protecting Your Child’s Personal Digital DNA
It is a fact of life that children will need to use smartphones, tablet PCs, and connected products supported by the android OS, Apple iOS, and Microsoft Windows OS.
Last question: “What can parents do to protect their child’s privacy and personal information (digital DNA)?”
Enclosed below are a few tips for protecting your child’s digital DNA:
|Source:||Rex M. Lee|
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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.
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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.
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Remote AB Switches
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ABX-3 switches are widely used for enabling or disabling remote equipment and switching I/O connections between redundant messaging systems.
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5G Takes Center Stage at Wireless Connect
By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief
While 5G is getting a lot of hype, it’s a long-term play, according to wireless industry experts speaking Thursday at Wireless Connect 2019. Wells Fargo Analyst Jennifer Fritzsche said at the event held at the University of Maryland in College Park, the heart of the issue is whether people will pay more to get 5G connectivity.
“To ask the consumer to pay more, I think, is a hard ask right now,” she said. Unlike previous generations where the connectivity speed drove the use case, 5G has “flipped the script,” she said, adding there’s so many projects in development that will become apparent later.
David Young of Verizon agreed, saying uses like Uber weren’t “obvious” when 4G was deployed. Verizon launched 5G in two cities this week, Inside Towers reported. He does believe it’s important “not to overhype” the technology. “Last year we launched our 5G to the home, which competes with cable modems and DSL services. This will be a multi-year build-out,” he said.
Vertical Bridge CEO and Co-Founder Alex Gellman told Inside Towers he also believes 5G is going to be a longer-term play, perhaps 10 years or so as carriers complete a build-out, see how that goes, and then plan the next deployments.
Some 300 attendees registered for the event, according to organizers. The show is an effort to connect various stakeholders of wireless eco-systems: Operators, Service Providers, Infrastructure Providers, OEMs, Policy Makers, and City Planners.
WIA President/CEO Jonathan Adelstein called 5G “a good news story.” He cited support from the FCC, Congress and the White House. 5G means the creation of 850,000 jobs, he said, citing data from Accenture. “We’re going to need a lot more workers to get this done,” he said, citing WIA efforts like WIA’s Telecommunications Education Center and TIRAP.
The WIA executive gave FCC Commissioner O’Rielly kudos for keeping things moving at the federal level, citing small cell reforms and the agency’s efforts to free up more spectrum for wireless use.
FCC Commissioner O’Rielly gave attendees an update on where various spectrum auctions stand at the Commission. He said the agency “must keep up with market realities. My past efforts to get more spectrum into the marketplace are starting to come to fruition.” O’Rielly noted the FCC recently completed the 28 GHz auction and has a 24GHz auction underway, with more bands “still waiting to be teed up.”
“Most of my attention has been on mid-bands,” O’Rielly said. The CBRS band is likely to be the first mid-band spectrum available for 5G, however, “I’ve been informed it may take until next year” for PAL licenses to be auctioned. The 3.5 GHz CBRS spectrum, “should be available shortly,” he said. Progress has been made in testing the spectrum sharing technology for the CBRS band, “including testing with Navy incumbents,” said O’Rielly. (We will be releasing Inside Towers Tower Talks podcasts from the event featuring interviews with Jonathan Adelstein, Alex Gellman and Jennifer Fritzsche.)
|Source:||Inside Towers newsletter||Courtesy of the editor of Inside Towers.|
Selected portions [sometimes more — sometimes less] 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 of The Wireless Messaging News with kind permission from the firm. The firm's contact information is included at the end of this section of the newsletter.
BloostonLaw In the News
At the end of last year, NETCOM, an association for network and communications studies in France, published an article co-authored by BloostonLaw partner Ben Dickens “Consequences of Fifth-Generation Mobile Telephony on Tele-Geography.” Along with Dr. Edward Roche and L. Walker Townes, he discusses the policy issues associated with the fact that 5G will represent the first time the physical communications infrastructure will be separated from the logical or “virtual” infrastructure. See below for more information.
BloostonLaw Contacts: Ben Dickens and Sal Taillefer.
BloostonLaw Publishes 5G Article in French Telecom Journal
At the end of last year, NETCOM, an association for network and communications studies in France, published an article co-authored by BloostonLaw partner Ben Dickens “Consequences of Fifth-Generation Mobile Telephony on Tele-Geography.” There, he discusses policy questions arising from the coming 5G transition alongside Dr. Edward Roche and L. Walker Townes:
The article goes on to discuss the international reference model for 5G architecture, which defines a software defined network system that sits on top of its physical network infrastructure. This arrangement, the article continues, allows the software to call on services for different paths, technologies, or frequency sets as needed, and as available. In addition, the architecture includes separately defined modules for critical functions such as billing, customer records, network packet prioritization, and selection of available paths. These modules are accessed through a common set of APIs. The authors posit important emerging policy questions: is the degree to which the architecture is opened up to competition: for example, if two paths are available, but are supplied by two different providers, then what rules determine the selection? If the billing module is opened up, then can companies with a competitive advantage in billing graft their services into the architecture? If the architecture is open, then it will allow the emergence of telecommunication providers that own no infrastructure at all, but act as lower-cost virtual providers. The article assumes that those dominant providers coming first to the market with 5G in the United States will restrict the open nature of the reference model for their own advantage, and proposes that this will generate important public policy challenges for regulation of telecommunication services and the survival of healthy competition.
A copy of the complete article is available (in English) upon request.
BloostonLaw Contacts: Ben Dickens and Sal Taillefer.
FCC Plans Additional Auction of 5G Spectrum Before End of 2019
In its April Open Meeting (scheduled for Friday, April 12th) the FCC will consider a Public Notice seeking comment on procedures for an auction of Upper Microwave Flexible Use Service (UMFUS) licenses in the 37, 39 and 47 GHz bands. Clients who may be interested in acquiring millimeter wave spectrum for high-capacity backhaul or emerging 5G services should strongly consider participation in this licensing opportunity, as well as in comments to ensure the Commission adopts favorable policies for small businesses and rural service providers. The tentative comment cycle for the Auction 103 Procedures item would have comments due May 15 and reply comments due by May 30.
This opportunity, known as Auction 103, comes hot on the heels of the FCC’s auctions for similar millimeter wave spectrum bands such as the 28 GHz Band (Auction 101) which ended in January, and for 24 GHz spectrum (Auction 102) which is underway now. Limited information about Auction 101 and Auction 102 participants has been reported in the industry trade press due to the tight scheduling of the two auctions and the FCC’s “prohibited communications” auction rules that prevent participants from discussing their bids and/or post-auction plans until after the post-auction payment deadline for Auction 102.
Auction 103 would offer 100 megahertz blocks of spectrum licensed by Partial Economic Area (PEA) service area. Clock auction bidding procedures (where bid prices for a particular category of licenses will increase only when demand exceeds supply) would allow bidding on generic blocks in two categories – one for 37 GHz and 39 GHz and one for 47 GHz – in each PEA in successive clock bidding rounds. The clock phase would also determine the amount of incentive payments due to incumbent 39 GHz licensees that opt to relinquish their spectrum usage rights to promote the reconfiguration of the 39 GHz band.
The FCC’s draft incentive auction proposal would have an aggregate net revenue requirement, whereby the auction would advance to the assignment phase only if at the end of the clock phase, auction proceeds, net of bidding credits, are sufficient to cover incentive payment obligations. The assignment phase would allow bidding for frequency-specific license assignments, while ensuring that all winning bidders will have contiguous block assignments.
Consistent with the Commission’s statutory obligation to promote opportunities for Designated Entities (or “DEs”), the current Auction 103 proposal would include bidding credits of up to $25 million for eligible small businesses and up to $10 million for rural service providers or rural consortia. Combined with the Commission’s recently-adopted policy of substantially reducing upfront payments as well as minimum opening bids for rural markets, it is possible that our clients will be able to secure licenses for their area(s) of interest for a relatively affordable price.
The FCC has not yet set a firm schedule for the 5G Incentive Auction, but consistent with the FCC’s priority of making the maximum amount of 5G spectrum available for auction as quickly as possible, this item looks to be on a fast track. If the Commission is able to review comments and finalize auction procedures by early July, short-form applications for Auction 103 could be due as early as this August. We therefore urge clients who may wish to bid to speak with vendors regarding 5G millimeter wave equipment and services that may be suitable for rural areas and to begin developing a budget and business plans now. And we urge such clients to contact us now to discuss the most appropriate applicant structure for their purposes.
BloostonLaw Contacts: John Prendergast and Cary Mitchell
FCC to Look at Partitioning, Disaggregation and Spectrum Leasing
As part of the Congressional mandate under the Making Opportunities for Broadband Investment and Limiting Excessive and Needless Obstacles to Wireless Act (MOBILE NOW Act), the FCC has opened a rule making proceeding to consider reforming the rules governing the partitioning or disaggregation of spectrum licenses and spectrum leasing, to increase availability of advanced telecommunications services in rural areas and spectrum access by small carriers. Comments in this proceeding will be due June 3, 2019 and Reply Comments will be due July 1, 2019.
Specifically, the MOBILE NOW Act requires the FCC to commence a rule making proceeding in order to “assess whether to establish a program, or modify existing programs, under which a licensee that receives a license for exclusive use of spectrum in a specific geographic area . . . may partition or disaggregate the license by sale or long-term lease” in order to make unused spectrum available to either
First, the FCC seeks comment on whether reduced performance requirements for partitioned or disaggregated licenses would facilitate the deployment of advanced telecommunications in rural areas. Aspects of this issue include potential modifications to its current requirements that could increase service to rural areas while ensuring that reduced performance requirements do not lead to reduced service in rural America. The FCC is also asking whether adjustments may be appropriate in the context of performance requirements to partitioned or disaggregated licenses that would reduce build-out requirements or temporarily extend construction deadlines.
Second, the FCC asks for comment on whether it should expand its consideration to other classes of licensees, such as those that provide service on a non-common carrier basis or use spectrum for internal use if “it would promote the availability of advanced telecommunications services in rural areas.” In this regard, we note that licenses have been assigned by common carriers to non-common carriers and private firms so that spectrum could be used to meet private internal communications needs. Other issues include conditions that may need to be placed on transfers and assignments of spectrum in order to allow covered small carriers a reasonable build-out period following license grant.
Third, the FCC asks whether it should consider relaxing its spectrum leasing rules in order to facilitate spectrum leases and sales – especially administrative burdens such as obtaining FCC consent, allowing license term extensions or modified performance requirements. In particular, the FCC is asking whether or not its prior consent rules deter transactions and if so, does it have a disproportionate effect on transactions with covered small carriers or unaffiliated carriers that seek to provide service to rural areas. The FCC has asked whether it should allow re-aggregation of license areas (or putting Humpty Dumpty back together again) — especially where a single licensee would hold all the pieces. While not in the FCC’s rules, it is a question that has come up time and again over the years because it would generally make meeting build-out requirements (and renewal requirements) much simpler for the licensee. While re-aggregation of a license would seem to place the license back in the same position that it was before it was broken up by partition or disaggregation, the FCC seems concerned that there could be a reduction in service obligation throughout the service area covered by the licensee, because it would be a single license rather than multiple licenses – each with their own service/performance obligation. As a result, the FCC is also asking whether other conditions should be imposed to ensure that construction requirements for all areas of a re-aggregated license are met before re-aggregation is permitted.
The ultimate question becomes whether these changes will benefit or hinder rural carriers. While relaxation of the FCC’s rules, such as additional time to meet construction requirements would be beneficial, to the extent that these changes would impose higher expectations on rural carriers it could be a double edged sword. Additionally, it is important to note that the definition for rural area under Section 616 of the MOBILITY NOW Act differs significantly from the traditional definition of rural area that the FCC has used — namely population density of 100 or less per square mile in any county. This change could mean that larger counties (land-wise) with low population densities may not qualify for treatment as “rural” if the population thresholds are exceeded.
BloostonLaw Contacts: John Prendergast, Cary Mitchell, and Richard Rubino.
Comments on 900 MHz Band Broadband Reconfiguration Due May 3
On April 3, the FCC published in the Federal Register its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on facilitating broadband deployment in the 896-901/935-940 MHz band (900 MHz band) currently configured for narrowband operations. Comments are due on May 3 and reply comments are due on June 3.
Specifically, the Commission proposes to realign the band to create a paired 3/3 megahertz broadband segment, licensed on a geographic basis, while reserving two remaining segments for continued narrowband operations. The Commission proposes to authorize a market-driven voluntary exchange process that would allow existing licensees in the band to mutually agree to a plan for clearing of the broadband segment by relocating site-based incumbents to narrowband spectrum. The Commission also seeks comment on two other transition methods — an auction of overlay licenses and an incentive auction, options that might be needed to effectuate 900 MHz band realignment in certain markets.
BloostonLaw Contacts: John Prendergast and Cary Mitchell.
Law & Regulation
West Virginia Enacts 5G Infrastructure Reform Laws
According to an FCC Press Release dated March 29, West Virginia’s Governor Jim Justice and its legislature recently enacted a cell reform bill that limits government fees and speeds review periods for the build out of small cells, paving the way for 5G. Specifically, West Virginia’s small cell reform bill allows localities to charge up to $25 per year for the use of the right-of-way and $65 per year for attachment of small cells to certain utility poles, and it requires localities to approve or disapprove of small cell attachments generally within 60 days of applications.
In a statement, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr said:
BloostonLaw Contacts: John Prendergast and Cary Mitchell.
Congress Introduces Cellphone Jamming Act for Prisons
On March 28, Representatives David Kustoff (TN-08) and William Timmons (SC-04) introduced H.R. 1954-the Cellphone Jamming Reform Act of 2019, with Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introducing identical legislation on the Senate side, to address the use of contraband cell phones in state and federal correctional facilities. According to press releases from the congressmen, this bill is not a mandate but instead “an option for state and federal prisons to implement a jamming system that will protect inmates and the public at large.” Of concern to wireless service providers and users is whether cell jamming technology used by prisons will block cell calls — including calls to 911 — in neighborhoods near such prisons.
Specifically, the bill:
“Contraband cell phones have been a major problem in correctional facilities nationwide, and it is long past due that Congress take action and protect the public from criminals who continue their illegal activities from behind bars. Inmates use these cellphones to engage in drug operations, sex trafficking, and organizing escapes that cause devastating consequences for public safety and empower these criminals to continue a life of crime,” said Rep. David Kustoff. “I am happy to join my colleagues in introducing this vital piece of legislation, and I look forward to its swift passage.
“The Cellphone Jamming Reform Act of 2019 is a common-sense solution to a very real problem. I am proud to add my support to this bill,” said Rep. William Timmons.
BloostonLaw Contacts: Ben Dickens and Mary Sisak.
Congress Introduces Resolution Declaring Chinese Telecommunications Firms Security Risks
On March 28, U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) introduced a resolution declaring, “Chinese telecommunications companies such as Huawei and ZTE pose serious threats to the national security of the United States and allies of the United States.”
According to the press release, “Allowing Huawei equipment to be installed in the United States or our allied nations would introduce serious risks in our communication systems. This bipartisan Resolution will complement the Administration’s efforts and show that the United States Congress has serious concerns about using certain Chinese telecommunications equipment in global 5G infrastructure.”
“Our allies and partners should understand the risk Chinese telecommunications companies like Huawei and ZTE pose to their networks and our ability to communicate with each other in a secure manner,” said Senator Coons. “I urge the administration to continue its work with our allies so they are fully able to protect the 5G networks of the future.”
“Huawei and ZTE telecommunications products are not safe for the U.S. or any of our allies around the globe,” said Senator Gardner. “Our intelligence community has made it abundantly clear Huawei and ZTE put the security of our communications at risk and it is concerning that allies like Germany are considering relying on their products. Now Congress is moving in a bipartisan fashion to emphasize what this Administration, previous Administrations, and many of our allies have said about the risks of Huawei and ZTE. It is my hope all of our allies in Europe and around the globe hear us loud and clear.”
“In today’s increasingly connected world, we must work with our allies and partners to animate technology with our values, especially in 5G networks,” said Senator Markey. “Chinese law requires its companies, including Huawei and ZTE, to fully cooperate with the Chinese Communist Party. If we don’t address emerging threats collectively, we stand to jeopardize our national security, the rules of the road, and the very underpinnings of the international system.”
Securus and ICS Call Off Merger
On April 2, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced that inmate calling services providers Securus Technologies Inc. and Inmate Calling Solutions, LLC have withdrawn their merger application after Commission staff recommended to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai that the Commission deny the transaction. Chairman Ajit Pai today issued the following statement:
MAY 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 recent 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 (Form 499-A) that was due April 1.
BloostonLaw Contacts: Ben Dickens and Gerry Duffy.
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.
July Jul. 3 – Reply comments are due on MOBILE NOW Act Implementation NPRM.
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