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Friday, January 20, 2017 Volume 5  | Issue 14
Deep Federal Budget Cuts Coming Soon to a Government Near You
By Leslie Stimson
The incoming administration isn’t just planning big changes to the FCC’s structure and responsibilities, but to other parts of the federal government as well. Staffers for the transition team of President-elect Donald Trump have been meeting with career staff at the White House to outline their goals for reducing the federal government size; they seek to reduce its spending by $10.5 trillion over a decade, reports The Hill.

The departments of Commerce and Energy would see major funding cuts, and some programs under their jurisdiction eliminated or transferred to other agencies — similar to what’s been proposed for the FCC. The departments of Transportation, Justice and State would experience significant budget cuts and program eliminations under the plans.

Many of the specific cuts were included in the 2017 budget adopted by the Republican Study Committee, a caucus that represents a majority of House Republicans, according to the account. The preliminary proposals from the White House budget office will be shared with federal departments and agencies soon after Trump takes the oath of office today. Those budget offices will have a chance to comment on the proposals and appeal for revisions before the president’s budget goes to Congress. Continue Reading
A Tower Application in Wisconsin Tests Zoning Authority of Local Municipality
A dispute between T-Mobile and the Mequon Planning Commission is prompting a debate regarding a 2013 Wisconsin state law that limits local municipalities’ authority to regulate the location of cell towers. Earlier this week, the Mequon Planning Commission voted 5-1 to deny an application from T-Mobile that would place a 195-foot tower on a residential lot.

The Planning Commission denied the application on the grounds that the carrier did not make a strong enough effort to co-locate on a nearby structure and that the tower location does not take into account the negative effect on property values for nearby homeowners. Also, one commissioner argued that the application is not in keeping with the “spirit of the law” passed by the state in 2013. Continue Reading
Carriers Beef Up Networks for Super Bowl With Permanent Upgrades
Wireless devices have become as much a part of the experience as the action on the field, and with the NFL Super Bowl coming to NRG Stadium in Houston in two weeks, carriers are making temporary and permanent network improvements to deliver quality service to fans.

AT&T, Sprint and Verizon have all implanted temporary cell towers located near NRG Stadium and other Super Bowl-related events, reports Houston Public Media.

“We worked with the NFL and the Super Bowl host committee to find areas that are going to be an issue—where they’re going to hold an event and they’re expecting so many people there, then we have to increase our capacity,” Frank Jackowski, an area manager for AT&T, told Houston Public Media.

Carriers are also making permanent improvements to their networks in the Houston area in preparation for the event. AT&T, for instance, has $35 million in permanent upgrades in the Houston area.
North Carolina
Small Cells Prominent Subject of New North Carolina Legislative Session
UPDATE Newly appointed Finance chairman, North Carolina state Rep. Jason Saine, wants more small cell deployments. When the state legislature reconvenes on January 25, he has a bill prepared which he hopes will make build out less daunting. He told the Lincoln Times-News, “This legislation that I’ve sponsored will help facilitate small cell towers which allow for the coming generation of internet connectivity, 5G, which is 100 times faster than what’s available today through 4G.”

As reported in Inside Towers, Saine is also the chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Information Technology, and was recently selected to participate in an FCC advisory committee in December. Before running for public office, he operated a small tech company. He has worked with other private sector companies to develop his legislation. Saine wants to make broadband more accessible across the state, especially in rural areas. He said, “We’ve got great coverage here in Lincoln County, but there are still some parts of the county where people don’t have the same access to those higher speeds.
Verizon Acquisition of Comcast Would Boost 5G and Cost $173B
In keeping with the recent trend of wireless and cable company partnerships, Verizon has publicly expressed interest in the acquisition of Comcast to help build out its 5G network and deliver more services to consumers, reports

Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam said at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month that he would like to invest in cable. Prior to the event, McAdam issued a statement saying a partnership with a cable company “makes industrial sense.”

At the current market value, Comcast would cost the wireless carrier $173 billion. AT&T recently acquired DirecTV and Time Warner, purchasing Time Warner for $103 billion in cash and company stock.
Consumer Group Asks State of Maryland to Probe Verizon Copper Retirement
Verizon is among telecoms that are replacing their copper telephone wiring with fiber. In Maryland, the state wants to ensure basic telephone service is maintained as Verizon makes the upgrade.

After receiving more than 1,200 complaints about this issue, People’s Counsel Paula Carmody tells the Baltimore Sun her office is concerned about whether Verizon is neglecting copper maintenance until the telecom can replace it.

Verizon says it’s continuing to invest in and maintain its copper in Maryland, while upgrading its infrastructure to fiber at the same time — without changes to calling plans or monthly bills, according to spokesman Michael Murphy. “We’ve shared details of our robust customer communications program with the Public Service Commission and continue to work in close coordination.” Continue Reading

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January 19, 2017 at Close

Society of Broadcast Engineers Creates EAS Advisory Group
The Society of Broadcast Engineers has formed an Emergency Alert System Advisory Group to keep abreast of developments that may affect members, such as changes in federal policy and technology. The SBE has been an information source for the EAS (to the FCC and FEMA in particular) since it was launched. Wireless Emergency Alerts could be one of the topics the group focuses on, a spokesman confirms to Inside Towers.

Larry Wilkins chairs the group, which also includes representatives from device manufacturers Sage Alerting Systems and Monroe Electronics.  
Cowen and Company
4Q16 Wireless Survey: Top 10 Observations, #2 of 10
Cowen & Company publishes their “Wireless Survey” each quarter in front of earnings. The report is taken from cross-tabulating the data from two or more questions from the 1,047 survey respondents and provides “a level of context that is helpful in understanding industry dynamics with a unique level of customer detail that is not easily seen in company reported results.” Here is the second of their Top 10 observations:

2) Churn improvements have stabilized. For the past two years Cowen has paid particular attention to postpaid respondents that plan on leaving their carrier a good indicator of churn as survey results have reflected what has been an industry wide slowdown in churn over this period. With that said, the number of postpaid respondents that plan on leaving their carrier was again largely flat at 9.4 vs. 8.6 percent last quarter and broadly in-line with levels we’ve now seen the past five quarters (Figure 49). With meaningful Y/Y churn improvements in 2016, the overall survey suggests that other than perhaps additional improvement Sprint/T-Mobile, improvements at the other carriers will be more difficult to come by.  See chart/continue reading
Comcast Opens D.C. WiFi Hotspots to Public for Inaugural Events  

Comcast will have more than 6,800 Xfinity outdoor WiFi hotspots available in Washington D.C. for Inaugural events; the public can connect for free through January 26, the company announced. Specific neighborhoods that get the hotspots include Adams Morgan, Capitol Hill, Chinatown, Dupont Circle, Eastern Market, Foggy Bottom, Georgetown and the U Street Corridor.

To find an Xfinity WiFi Hotspot, check the hotspot location map online at, or download the app from the App Store on iTunes or the Google Play store. AT&T, Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile have beefed up their wireless infrastructure so attendees will have connectivity during the Inaugural events, Inside Towers reported.


NATE Offers Checklists for Equipment and More

The NATE Equipment Basics Checklist allows for tower industry personnel to document the status of their field equipment, take notes and rate them under the categories of satisfactory condition or remove from service. The checklist contains the most comprehensive list of tower industry equipment governing the following areas:
  • Daily Vehicle Safety Inspection
  • Daily Basic Job Inspection Forms
  • Daily Basic Employee PPE Inspection
  • Daily Use Rigging Inspection
  • Daily Use Tools and Equipment
  • Instrumentation
  • Hoists
  • Man Baskets
  • Gin Poles
  • Other Miscellaneous Categories
Continue Reading


Inside Towers is Inside the Beltway with Leslie Stimson On Board
Leslie Stimson who joined Inside Towers as a freelancer in August and was promoted to Washington Bureau Chief back in October, has been a pivotal part of our team ever since. Leslie, who has 35 years of reporting experience, also has roots in D.C. Prior to her role as editor-in-chief of Radio and Television Business Report, she was News Editor/Washington Bureau Chief at Radio World for more than 18 years. And, prior to that she was a Senior Editor/Washington Bureau Chief for Radio Business Report where she expanded its FCC and Capitol Hill coverage, including on-site reporting of the 1996 Telecommunications Act.

With an FCC reassembling, a new administration beginning and the spectrum auction ending, D.C. is a happening place right now. Leslie serves as our ears and eyes and her proactive reporting approach during this period is invaluable. Do not hesitate to reach out to her with questions or leads.

“I think it speaks to the commitment of our publishers to provide our readers with the best resources possible by having a knowledgeable veteran reporter like Leslie dedicated to covering stories ‘inside the Beltway,’” said Managing Editor Jim Fryer.  “Especially now when the landscape will be changing quickly and radically.”
Brook Bascom Promoted to VP of Real Estate & Construction for SmartLink
Brook Bascom, longtime sales leader at Smartlink, has been promoted to Vice President of Real Estate, Engineering & Construction for the North Central, South Central and Southeast regions. Bascom has been with Smartlink since mid-2014, when she joined the team as Director of National Business Development, and has since earned three promotions, including Director of Sales and Vice President of Sales. In her new role as Vice President of Real Estate, Engineering & Construction, Brook will manage the sales and overall operations of her regional teams. While Smartlink is headquartered in Annapolis, MD, Brook will continue to lead her teams from Smartlink’s regional office in Dallas, TX.  Brook is also on the Board of the Texas Wireless Association.

Former American Tower Exec Ken Hall Decides Not to ‘Hang it Up’ Just Yet
Ken Hall is not a retiring kind of guy.  Having started his own tower company in 1993, Towers, Inc., with 13 towers in his inventory, Hall grew it to 24 towers before American Tower...a brash new start-up at the time…took notice.  “I was their 13th employee,” Hall said once they absorbed his Carolina-based firm.  “They wanted me to stay on for a few months during the transition period,” he said. “19-and-a-half years later, I decided it was time to retire.”

Hall specialized in helping broadcasters relocate on American’s growing inventory of sites and, by his estimate, brought over 600 radio and TV stations into the big company’s fold.

Hall, 69, realized after a few short months in retirement he missed the business and wanted to stay in touch with the myriad of contacts he made over the years. “I love this business,” he said. His niche for starting KH Tower Consulting centered on the people he knew best: the broadcasters. He felt his special role was as an intermediary, a facilitator, between the tower community and the broadcast community. “The towers guys aren’t familiar with broadcast and broadcasters aren’t familiar with towers,” Hall said. “They speak two different languages.” Continue Reading

NATE Unite Keynote Speaker

March 1, 2017, Ft. Worth Convention Center

The T-Mobile sponsored Keynote Speaker Luncheon at NATE Unite will feature Marcus Luttrell. Marcus Luttrell is a retired Navy SEAL who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and was awarded the Navy Cross for combat heroism in 2006, by President George W. Bush. He is now a best-selling author of the best-selling book, Lone Survivor, which was turned into a blockbuster film. Marcus Luttrell takes us from the rigors of SEAL training and shares his incredible journey of survival that will inspire and captivate audiences. Luttrell will be speaking at the Keynote Speaker Luncheon, 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m., in Ballroom ABC, at the Ft. Worth Convention Center.

NATE Unite Tuesday Awards Luncheon

February 28, 2017, Ft. Worth, TX

The Tuesday Awards Luncheon will feature FirstNet President TJ Kennedy. During this luncheon, recipients of the Bill Carlson Lifetime Achievement Award and the NATE Distinguished Service Award will be recognized, as well as NATE UNITE 2017 sponsors.

TJ Kennedy was one of the first leaders to join the FirstNet team in July of 2013. He is an experienced executive with a dynamic background that includes technology expertise and coalition building in addition to hands-on public safety experience in police, fire and emergency medical services.

The Luncheon will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., in Ballroom ABC, at the Forth Worth Convention Center., Inside Towers’ companion Buyer’s Guide has over 3,100 listings in 130+ categories. Each month we will be featuring one of our primary categories. This month, we’re highlighting Antennas & RF. Within this category are subcategories:  
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Monopine in Penrith, Cumbria contributed by Josh Anderson via Instagram.

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Managing Editor:  Jim Fryer
Washington Bureau Chief: Leslie Stimson
Writers:  Braden Hall & Ben Horvath

Marketing: Megan Reed  Creative:  Cara Aston  
Advertising & Classifieds:  Phil Cook  |  Mike Dryden  |  Sharon Barone  |  Nancy McKinley

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