Editor’s Note: RCR Wireless News goes all in for “Throwback Thursdays,” tapping into our archives to resuscitate the top headlines from the past. Fire up the time machine, put on the sepia-tinted shades, set the date for #TBT and enjoy the memories!

We all know how this ended

Mobile World Congress Barcelona is still slated to go forward in less than two weeks, but the telecom industry’s largest annual event is already seeing some significant impacts as companies large and small either reduce their presence or pull out of attending altogether, due to worries about risks from the novel coronavirus. The GSMA has attempted to calm fears and reduce transmission risks through a variety of measures, from banning would-be attendees from China’s Hubei province (the epicenter of the epidemic) and others who have been in China within two weeks of the show, a “no handshake” recommendation and frequent disinfection of surfaces such as handrails and common touchscreens. But announcements continue to snowball from companies which have decided that the risks are still too great to attend. According to published press reports citing anonymous sources, the GSMA has a scheduled pre-event meeting for Friday at which it may make a decision on whether to hold the event or cancel. Reached by RCR Wireless News, the organization said that it does not comment on internal meetings. Coronavirus cases have largely been confined to China and in particular to the Hubei province, where it is believed to have originated in Wuhan. The virus has infected more than 43,000 people and killed more than 1,000, according to the most recent available figures. … Read more

T-Mo, Sprint on pins and needles with pending merger approval

In an exclusive, the Wall Street Journal reports a federal judge will give Sprint and T-Mobile US the long-awaited approval to merge. Citing “people familiar with the matter,” a decision in the antitrust case is “expected to be made public Tuesday,” according to the piece. In after hours trading Monday, Sprint’s stock was up more than 50% on the news the $26.5 billion merger can go ahead. Given conditions previously attached to the deal, Sprint will get rid of its Boost Mobile band and divest other assets, including network infrastructure to DISH, which is positioned to become a fourth, nationwide, facilities-based wireless carrier per the terms of previous merger approvals. In seeking approval for the mega-deal, executives from both carriers have touted the ability of the combined company to help America continue leading in 5G deployment. Sprint has used its 2.5 GHz spectrum to turn up 5G in nine markets while T-Mobile US has millimeter wave spectrum deployed in limited pockets but its 600 MHz network up and running nationwide. From a spectral position, a combined company, set to be called the New T-Mobile, would have a valuable mix of low-, mid- and high-band frequencies. AT&T and Verizon are currently relying on their millimeter wave spectrum for commercial 5G services and are looking to dynamic spectrum sharing technology to extend 5G into lower frequency bands. … Read more

Network stats from the last pre-COVID Super Bowl

This year’s Super Bowl wasn’t just a showcase for the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers—or halftime performers Shakira and Jennifer Lopez. It was also an opportunity for the four national wireless carriers to highlight their 5G network capabilities, and a large-scale test of their LTE networks’ performance under pressure. Global Wireless Solutions had its network testing specialists on-hand at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida, using Samsung Galaxy S10 5G devices to test the 5G networks of AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon. GSW conducted tests at the GameDay Fan plaza where pre-game festivities were held, as well as inside the stadium in a variety of locations in the concourses and seating areas. “GWS test results show that although mobile operators came prepared to show off their 5G networks, not all were successful in providing the hyped throughputs that have been boasted,” the benchmarking company concluded. AT&T had the highest average 5G download speed over the testing period, at 337 Mbps, while Verizon provided the maximum observed 5G throughput, at 924 Mbps. Comparatively, Verizon’s average 5G download speed was 200 Mbps and the maximum 5G throughput that GWS saw on AT&T’s 5G network was 878 Mbps. T-Mobile US had an average 5G download speed of just 31 Mbps, with a maximum throughput of 175 Mbps. Meanwhile, Sprint’s 5G network was “tested for but not found during any tests,” GWS found. Sprint’s 4G network averaged 29 Mbps in the downlink. … Read more

US Cellular launches LTE-M

Amid the rising interest in IoT adoptions for industrial and commercial applications, US Cellular announced that is has launched its LTE-M network, specifically for IoT applications, on 90% of its cell sites, with the other 10% expected to be added sometime during the second quarter of this year. The LTE-M network is designed to support simple, low-power or battery-limited IoT devices, and, according to US Cellular, is considered a good option for both urban and rural settings, as well as hard-to-reach environments. In a press release, Jim Anetsberger, US Cellular’s vice president of business sales, explained that the network will provide capabilities and features that will enable “an entirely new set of use cases” for business and government users. “We want to set our IoT customers up for future success with solutions that are designed to meet their specific needs. Working together with our vendors and customers, we can unleash the potential of our LTE-M network,” he added. … Read more

AG Barr floats possibility of buying Ericsson or Nokia

Two things are clear: The U.S. views Huawei’s 5G market share as a cybersecurity threat both domestically and internationally, particularly in nations that share intelligence with America. And national leaders want the U.S. to develop homegrown network infrastructure expertise. Beyond that, pressuring allies to cut Huawei out of 5G has yielded mixed results and, to the point around U.S.-led infrastructure investments, well, there are some strong ideas out there. In recent comments, U.S. Attorney General William Barr called open RAN efforts “pie in the sky,” and called for U.S.-led investment in Nokia and Ericsson, Finnish and Swedish network infrastructure vendors that are Huawei’s biggest rivals. “Putting our large market and financial muscle behind one or both of these firms would make it a far more formidable competitor and eliminate concerns over its staying power or their staying power. We and our closest allies certainly need to be actively considering this approach.” Analyst Jim Patterson, calling Barr’s comments “tough talk,” posed a series of relevant questions touching on historical mergers and acquisitions that got us to today, investing in American telecom companies and the overall maturity of 5G. A group of senators led by Democrat Sen. Mark Warner last month suggested the government invest north of $1 billion to support domestic companies working on open radio access network technologies … Read more

Pai’s proposes public C Band auction with incentive payments

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai today outlined plans for a public auction of mid-band airwaves that would make 280 megahertz of spectrum available for terrestrial 5G services, raise money for the U.S. Treasury and offer incentive payments to satellite providers if they clear the band rapidly. He proposed that the auction begin on December 8 of this year, with the spectrum possibly available as soon as September 2021. In remarks at the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation in Washington, D.C., Pai called the C Band “one of the most complicated and contentious proceedings during my chairmanship,” but went on to add that the band “presents an enormous opportunity if we are willing to be creative and do the hard work. That’s because satellite companies don’t need the entire C Band to provide the same services they are providing today. This creates an opportunity for a consumer-friendly transition.” Out of the 500 megahertz of C Band spectrum, existing satellite operations would be repacked into the upper 200 megahertz (4.0-4.2 GHz) of the band, with “reasonable” relocation costs covered out of auction proceeds, according to Pai. The lower 280 megahertz (3.7-3.98 GHz) would be made available for flexible use, and there would be a 20-megahertz guard band in place at 3.98-4 GHz. … Read more

T-Mobile US, Sprint deploy cross-carrier STIR/SHAKEN

Continuing the fight against unwanted robocalls, carriers T-Mobile US and Sprint say they have implemented STIR/SHAKEN number verification across their networks. The two companies called the effort “an important step in the industry’s ongoing fight against unwanted scam and spam calls.” STIR/SHAKEN, or Secure Telephone Identity Revisited (STIR) and Signature-based Handling of Asserted information using toKENs (SHAKEN), is a framework for ensuring the authenticity of a given call—that it is actually coming from the number and/or caller ID which is displayed and not being spoofed, which is a common tactic for unwanted and/or malicious spam calls. T-Mobile US in particular has been at the forefront of STIR/SHAKEN deployment, as the first to announce readiness for the standards in late 2018 and then the first implementer, with its Caller Verified offering launching last year at this time on Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9.  Caller Verified provides users with an on-screen message that an incoming call is verified as coming from a non-spoofed source, and it’s now operable on 23 smartphones with more to come, T-Mo said. “We’re in an arms race with these scammers, and we’ve got to join forces as an industry to keep all wireless customers protected,” said John Legere, CEO of T-Mobile US. … Read more

Carriers on the hook for selling users’ real-time location data

At least one wireless carrier broke federal law by selling wireless subscribers’ real-time location data, the Federal Communications Commission has confirmed, and the agency plans to take action on the violations. “The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau has completed its extensive investigation and that it has concluded that one or more wireless carriers apparently violated federal law,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in a letter to Congress on the matter. He said that he intends to circulate a notice of apparent liability for forfeiture on the matter, meaning that fines and/or other enforcement action are likely. “I am committed to ensuring that all entities subject to our jurisdiction comply with the Communications Act and the FCC’s rules, including those that protect consumers’ sensitive information, such as real-time location data,” Pai wrote. Security researchers found in the spring of 2018 that third-party companies such as LocationSmart were sourcing real-time location data from mobile network operators and selling it to non-law-enforcement agencies or individuals, and that related website hacks meant such information could be accessed for free. Press reports from Motherboard in January 2019 highlighted the use of this data to locate individual phones for as little as $300. … Read more

Check out the RCR Wireless News Archives for more stories from the past.


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