Sunday, June 12, 2016

Sprint aims to roll out thousands of wireless antennas on utility poles to improve service

Sprint aims to roll out thousands of wireless antennas on utility poles to improve service

A few months back I sent an email about FCC pushing wireless companies to provide faster speeds which would increase the number of cell towers.  June 2015: FCC fined AT&T $100mil for slowing down their data speeds, slower than advertised, for their unlimited data plan customers.

Then the wireless industry has been lobbying to remove proof of gap/need from cell tower applications, looking to substitute capacity instead (because there are no more significant gaps anymore) - Skip to p. 7  When this happens, wireless companies can  easily justify the need for a cell tower anywhere - all they have to say is that if they don't get it, speeds will slow during peak times.  Proof of "significant gap" is required by the 1996 Telecommunications Act, and challenging the wireless provider to prove "significant gap" was one of the ways that residents could stop a cell tower installation.  Telecom almost succeeded this year in February 2016 with the passage of the Mobile Now Act.  The original drafted version from November 2015 would have prohibited of local governments from requiring the provider to perform a drive test to prove that a new site is needed - i.e. cities will have to accept the wireless provider's claim that they need a new facility without any proof, but it was rejected because it gave telecom too much power.  Then the Mobile Now Act was revised and the provision for removing proof of need was removed.  However, telecom will no doubt try again at the next opportunity to remove proof of gap/need..

In August 2015 Sprint announced plans to have the best network coverage by 2017 (which will mean more cell towers)

See below for article on how they will do it - by attaching cell antennas to telephone poles
If you haven't read the research on cell towers and health effects, please do so.  This is an issue that affects you, your children, your grandchildren.  Click on "Please Read Examples of Research on Cell Towers" and  You may end up with a cell antenna light pole near your school or residence, and you might be powerless to stop it when it gets proposed.  The time to do something about it is NOW through legislation through your city and state.  One way is to get a setback of cell towers to schools and residences - 1500 ft. is recommended by most experts.

Lastly, I would like to remind everyone that cell towers, cell phones, all wireless were never tested for long-term health effects from chronic exposure by the US government until the NTP study which exposed rats to cell phone radiation for 2 years at levels that were not high enough to cause increases in body temperature - yet cancer showed up at 1.5W/kg which is below FCC SAR limit of 1.6W/kg.  In industrialized nations all wireless products have been presumed to be safe (and are allowed to be sold) as long as there is not enough microwave radiation emitted to cause increases in body temperature - i.e. personal wireless devices sold in the US must be rated at SAR of 1.6W/kg or below.  iphone 6 plus SAR rating is 1.59W/kg with all antennas on 


Sprint’s Wireless Fix? More Telephone Poles

Wireless provider’s innovative plan to boost cell service runs into local hurdles

One of the wireless antennas being installed on light poles in cities around the country for Sprint and other carriers to increase cellphone service quality at lower cost than much-larger tower antennas. Pole above is in Los Angeles. 

June 7, 2016 6:03 p.m. ET
Don Budreski earlier this year noticed a roughly three-story-tall utility pole pop up across the street from his Baltimore electronics shop.
“It was just odd,” he said of the slender, steel post. “I thought, ‘What are they putting that thing there for?’ ”
Mr. Budreski had caught a glimpse of a key element of Sprint Corp.’s plan to improve its network and win back customers: thousands of sidewalk utility poles.

The Overland Park, Kan., company wants to install low-power cellular antennas in public rights of way, land typically holding utility poles, street lamps and fire hydrants. In places where it can’t strap antennas to existing poles, it wants to erect new poles.
Sprint is primarily working with Mobilitie LLC, a Newport Beach, Calif., company to build these cellular antenna systems from California to Massachusetts. Mobilitie has begun installing them, which it says are typically the size of a briefcase and often inside boxes attached to the poles.
But the rollout has been delayed as communities confront what some consider unsightly installations and authorities wrestle with new regulatory questions. Sprint recently slashed its capital spending plans for the year as it waits for zoning approvals. Mobilitie says it has about 1,000 permits approved and will start large-scale installations once more are in hand.
In the past, wireless carriers built towers of 200 feet or more that could send signals over large areas to cover as many customers as possible. Now that more people use smartphones to stream videos and surf the Web, carriers want to put lower-power antennas closer to the ground so that fewer people will connect to each one—resulting in less network congestion.
“It’s not a new concept,” said John Saw, Sprint’s chief technology officer. “All carriers are trying to ‘densify’ their networks.” But Sprint’s goal is to be “cheaper and faster and more innovative” than its rivals, he said.

Popping antennas on existing utility poles is something most carriers are hoping to do. But cash-strapped Sprint aims to take the concept further than rivals: It is hoping to install as many as 70,000 antennas in the public right of way over the next few years. By comparison, it has 40,000 traditional antenna sites on towers or rooftops.
It is a central piece of a strategy devised in early 2015 by Sprint Chairman Masayoshi Sonto improve service while keeping costs down. Companies can negotiate with a city for one deal that includes various permits. Mobilitie Chief Executive Gary Jabara says building and operating these so-called small cells costs about $190,000 over 10 years, whereas a traditional tower costs $732,000 because of real estate rents, power and other costs.
The airwaves Sprint owns are ideally suited for this design because their high frequency prevents them from traveling long distances. Rather than string fiber-optic cables to each antenna, Sprint hopes to link them via wireless connections, further bringing down costs and speeding deployment.
Analyst Jonathan Atkin at RBC Capital Markets is skeptical, saying Sprint may only be able to build a fraction of the sites it wants in public rights-of-way governed by federal, state and local laws.
Mobilitie’s practices in some places have faced local resistance. It has filed applications under various corporate names, including the Illinois Utility Pole Authority, NC Technology Relay Networking, and Interstate Transport and Broadband. It has used similar-sounding names in at least 30 states.
Joseph Van Eaton, a lawyer who represents municipalities dealing with the applications, says the names are misleading. “You may very well end up with some of these applications being granted for exactly the reason why they like these names—it sounds official,” he said.
Mobilitie is willing to modify its applications to avoid being disruptive, Mr. Jabara says. “It’s more important to be a good citizen” than to move quickly, he said. “You have to do the right thing.”
Mr. Jabara says the names also make it easier for local officials to understand the status of his firm. The company is a registered utility and those business names help reflect that status, he says. “In some states it’s more comprehensible for a jurisdiction to work with an authority,” he said. In the future, the company will most often use the name “Mobilitie” in dealings with local officials, he said.
In Salem, Mass., Mobilitie applied last fall to install antennas on seven poles. After some residents expressed concerns over the look of the antennas, the company withdrew three applications and agreed to camouflage the other four.
Not in my backyard has been around for a very long time.

—John Saw, Sprint CTO

In Baltimore, Mobilitie was fined $5,000 for failing to get proper permits for the temporary pole across from Mr. Budreski’s shop, which was taken down after a few days. The company since has received approval to attach equipment to 14 poles across the city. It will pay Baltimore $70,000 for pole attachment rights in the first year of the deal. Mr. Jabara says that amount is unusually high, and many places charge less than $50 a year per pole.
Mr. Jabara says such incidents were inadvertent mistakes. Sprint’s Mr. Saw says his company is committed to being patient and making sure municipalities are comfortable with its plans.
“We’re not surprised that sometimes you will run into opposition in certain jurisdictions,” Mr. Saw says. “ ‘Not in my backyard’ has been around for a very long time.”
Write to Ryan Knutson at

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