5 things to know today …
1. Crown Castle is making another fiber acquisition. The Houston company plans to pay $1.5 billion for FiberNet Holdings as well as certain other assets of NextEra Energy. Crown said FiberNet has access to 11,500 route miles of fiber in Florida and Texas, with some already in the ground and some still under construction. About half the FiberNet route miles are in top metro markets, according to Crown.
Once the deal closes, Crown Castle will own or have rights to approximately 28,500 route miles of fiber. The FiberNet acquisition follows last year’s purchase of Sunesys, which gave the company access to 9,000 fiber route miles.
Crown Castle is leveraging its fiber to connect small cells to wireless carrier networks. The company has told investors it represents 50% of the small cell market, and that small cells could one day produce as much revenue for Crown as its primary business, which is owning and operating cell towers.
2. Gemalto is demonstrating one of the technologies U.S. carriers are set to use for “internet of things” applications. The chipmaker’s Category M1 LTE module is on display this week at Mobility Live in Atlanta. The module is powered by Sequans’ Monarch chipset, which the company has been testing on the Verizon Wireless network. Verizon Wireless and Sequans have predicted the carrier will start connecting customer devices using Cat M1 before the end of this year.
AT&T calls Cat M1 by a different name, LTE-M, and has been trialling the technology in the San Francisco area. AT&T is working with module maker Sierra Wireless.
Cat M1 or LTE-M is meant to connect sensors and other devices that require limited bandwidth, low throughput and extended battery life. Cat M1 modules are expected to cost less than $10 each.
3. Nokia said it achieved the world’s first connection of a roaming device over a commercial network using narrowband IoT technology. The trial was conducted on Finnish operator Sonera’s commercial LTE network using the 800 MHz frequency band.
The Sonera network transmitted information on temperature, humidity and air pressure in Helsinki. Nokia and Sonera also claimed to have connected a roaming device over the commercial network using NB-IoT technology.
4. The Federal Communications Commission has sided with Google rather than AT&T in Kentucky. AT&T is suing Louisville, Kentucky, for adopting a Google-backed ordinance known as “one-touch make-ready.” The statute says workers can adjust the cables on a utility pole in order to make the pole ready for a new fiber provider, like Google Fiber. AT&T, which owns many of the utility poles in Louisville, wants its union workforce to work on its cables, which means each pole needs to be touched by AT&T and by Google Fiber.
The FCC says the one-touch make-ready ordinance does not conflict with federal pole attachment regulations. Furthermore, the commission said federal pole attachment regulations do not apply in Kentucky as the state opted out of the federal pole attachment rules by filing a certification invoking reverse preemption under Section 224(c) of the Communications Act.
Last week, Google Fiber said it will pause operations in 10 cities that had been targeted for the service. Google Fiber’s CEO is stepping down, and 9% of its workforce is being reassigned or let go.
5. Verizon Wireless used drones to make sure its LTE network was ready for last month’s Formula One race in Austin, Texas. Carrying two smartphones, the drones were able to test the network in half the time it would have taken human testers to walk the venue, Verizon said. The carrier worked with drone services provider Measure to test the network.
Verizon Wireless also used drones for cell site inspections in the wake of Hurricane Matthew. The carrier has also used a much larger drone to test airborne LTE service, effectively turning a drone into a mobile small cell.
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