Friday, July 30, 2010

The Not So Elusive Middle Ground

By Jim Cicconi, Senior Executive Vice President-External and Legislative Affairs, AT&T

Amidst the flurry of blogs and op-eds on net neutrality, Title II and broadband reclassification that cross my desk on a daily basis, it was a welcome and refreshing change to read Paul Misener’s piece that ran in CNET last week.

Although I don’t agree with everything the vice president for global public policy at had to say (what do you mean network operators haven’t deployed innovative new services?), Paul does lay out a fair airing of the issues to help reach what some people think is an elusive middle ground.

I was particularly pleased to read Paul’s clear recognition that certain quality-of-service (QoS)/network management practices by ISPs are not only necessary but in the best interest of consumers. I couldn’t agree more.

Paul also correctly notes that net neutrality violations have been extremely rare, both before and after the now infamous Comcast court proceeding. The end-of-the-world scenarios that some groups have used as scare tactics to push their agenda have never come to fruition.

I don’t agree, however, with Paul’s assessment that this is because threats of legislation and regulation have kept network operators “on their best behavior.” AT&T has long committed to preserving a fair and open Internet, and to working hard with all stakeholders to reach some kind of consensus. In fact, last December, building off of others’ thoughts and proposals, I outlined what I believe is a path forward to reaching a middle ground.

Paul’s piece is thoughtful and insightful, and a step in the right direction. I hope more stakeholders take the time to read it and, perhaps, make similar efforts to find a “win-win-win” solution. Between the meetings on the Hill and the meetings at the FCC (which include a broad group of industry players, such as AT&T, Amazon, and OIC), I like to think that it’s possible.

Reprinted from the AT&T Public Policy Blog.

Monday, July 26, 2010

WCAI to Hold a Webinar on Leveraging Non-Traditional Point-to-Point Spectrum

There is a long history of deployment of point-to-point microwave in traditional bands, primarily 6-8 GHz, 11-15 GHz and 18-23 GHz. Over the past 10 years, many new bands have emerged for point-to-point backhaul. These include 24, 26, 28, 32, 38, 42, 60, 70, and 80 GHz. WCAI will hold a webinar Sept. 1 on "Leveraging Non-Traditional Point-to-Point Spectrum." During the webinar, Greg Friesen, VP of Product Management at WCAI member DragonWave, will look at some of the non-traditional bands that are available by region, and the licensing and deployment regulations that apply to each. In addition, he will look at typical throughputs, reach, and availability of each of these bands. Lastly, he will examine architectural options and applications that maximize use of the large quantities of spectrum available in these bands. The webinar is open to all and free of charge. Register Now!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Missed the WCAI Summer Summit This Year? Check Out the Highlights on YouTube!

WCAI posted several videos online highlighting some of the major presentations from our recent Summer Summit. Visit the WCAI page on YouTube to hear Clearwire Executive Vice President Gerry Salemme discuss Clearwire's 4G deployment plans, the types of devices he expects to be most popular with 4G networks, data consumption issues, Clearwire's retail and wholesale presence in the 4G marketplace, and the FCC National Broadband Plan. You will also see Bill Payne, VP & Chief Technology Officer at Motorola Networks, speak about major WiMAX migration paths for operators to consider in 2010 and beyond, and Phoebe Yang, General Counsel, Omnibus Broadband Initiative at the FCC, discuss innovation and opportunities presented by the National Broadband Plan. Watch Videos Now!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Planning Your 4G Broadband Wireless Network

by John Celentano, Market Development Manager, TESSCO Technologies

There is much to consider when planning a 4G broadband wireless network.

Begin your planning by considering your customer, and asking yourself a few key questions. Who are your target customers -- residences or businesses? What services do you plan to offer to these customers?

With 4G broadband wireless technologies, whether WiMAX or Long Term Evolution (LTE), a service provider can offer a range of Internet Protocol (IP)-based services over very high-speed connections that are not possible with currently available 3G wireless technologies.

Consider the possibilities -- high-speed Internet access for homes and businesses alike, Voice over IP (VoIP), remote video surveillance, public safety and first responders’ unified communications, distance learning with video instruction, medical diagnostics at sites remote from hospitals, and other IP-based applications still to be developed. Will services be delivered to customers in a fixed location, or are they mobile? Fixed or mobile services determine the type of equipment that the customer will need to access the services.

Next, determine the size of your network. How big an area or territory do you plan to cover? How many customers, either homes or businesses, will you cover within this operating area?

To ensure reliable service, the base station transceivers (BTS) must be located to achieve maximum radio frequency (RF) signal coverage. Eradiated power levels and antenna heights determine the transmission quality. Antenna height must be sufficient to clear obstructions, and that height is determined by the terrain. Is it flat with few obstructions, or is it hilly, or even mountainous? Are there many trees and buildings in the way? These days, overcoming obstructions means mounting antennas on wireless towers or other heights such as rooftops, water or utility towers, even steeples.

Locating the BTS and calculating antenna heights are determined through RF propagation and interference studies that take into account terrain, transmit levels, and other radios operating in the same area. On what frequencies will you be transmitting? Are these in licensed or unlicensed bands? Are you going with WiMAX now, or waiting for LTE? This is important. Frequency and technology determine the RF propagation and interference characteristics, as well as data handling capabilities. Licensed or unlicensed operation also impacts the capital investment needed to build the network. Such studies generally are conducted by RF engineering and consulting firms.

Once the BTS sites are located, how will the antennas be mounted? Is there an existing tower or other suitable mounting point nearby that can be leased for the antennas and radio equipment? Or, do you need to construct your own tower? Online tools are available to calculate the necessary type and size of towers to support the antennas. Building a tower, however, means you must also buy land, apply for licenses, and obtain zoning approvals.

The other important consideration is how to “haul” customers’ connections from the BTS “back” to the network switching point. Backhaul circuits can be carried over either copper or fiber cable facilities leased from local wireline service providers. At the same time, owning your own point-to-point microwave systems for backhaul has become a cost-effective alternative to leased wireline circuits.

Once the BTS sites are established, the construction can begin. You will need to buy antennas, broadband wireless radios, cables to connect the radios to the antennas, microwave radios for backhaul, mounting hardware, DC power and backup batteries, and equipment cabinets along with tools and test sets. All of this equipment can be purchased from a variety of vendors, or through a single source provider such as TESSCO. You will need a professional contractor or construction company to do the actual installation.

The final step is to prove the system works as designed. After the BTS sites are activated, RF propagation and interference tests can be performed with spectrum analyzers. Signal quality and strength can be tested at selected locations around the entire coverage area.

Once the network is operational, your task is to market and sell the broadband services that it can support. Certainly, a sound network plan and design will yield profitable revenue streams for years to come.

Featured in The Wireless Journal, January/February 2010. Reprinted with permission from TESSCO Technologies.

Editor’s Note: WCAI members who would like to be featured in the WCAI Member Spotlight section should contact Susan Polyakova at

Thursday, July 1, 2010

WCAI Summer Summit Wraps Up with 4G Facility Tours, Internal Meetings

The WCAI Summer Summit wrapped up Thursday with special tours of the Clearwire 4G lab and DigitalBridge Network Operations Center. Officials from both companies met with Summit attendees to share experience with testing network and end-user devices, as well as deploying and operating next-generation networks.

The tours were followed by a semi-annual meeting of the WCAI’s Emerging Markets Committee – a valuable forum for operators to share tips for success and discuss what works and what doesn’t when it comes to running a wireless broadband business. Led by Committee Chair Joel Brick of Sioux Valley Wireless, the meeting featured John Celentano of WCAI member Tessco as a speaker. Also at the meeting, Mary O’Connor and Bob Primosch of Wilkinson Barker Knauer provided a regulatory update on what operators should keep an eye on in the next six months.

“The WCAI Summit provided a great opportunity for our members to reconnect, learn from each other’s experience, and build relationships with potential new partners,” said WCAI President Fred Campbell. “I couldn’t be more pleased with the attendance and the quality of discussions our members had during open sessions and internal meetings. I look forward to seeing everyone again at the WCAI’s International Symposium, which will be co-located with 4G World on October 18-20 in Chicago.”