Tag Archives: Ajit Pai

Chairman Pai Praises Tower Industry Hurricane Recovery Efforts

By J. Sharpe Smith

Cell towers were more resilient during Hurricane Harvey in South Texas than in previous storms, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai told an audience during his keynote at the Mobile World Congress Americas today in San Francisco. The news from Florida, however was not quite as upbeat with the affected disaster area losing service from more than 27 percent of the cell towers.

“About 5 percent of cell sites were down [in South Texas], as opposed to 25 percent for Hurricane Sandy,” Pai said. “That wireless connectivity was literally a lifeline for many.”

More than 96,000 calls were made to Houston’s main 911 emergency response center, many of which were from wireless phones.

“Many of the more than 11,000 people rescued by the Coast Guard were found because of wireless calls,” Pai said. “That includes one 14-year-old girl who was saved after telling Siri, ‘Call the Coast Guard.’” Smartphones were used to access social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to summon help and keep tabs on loved ones.

Pai applauded the “heroic efforts to quickly restore communications” of the technicians working to bring Houston and South Texas back online and on the air.

“When the rain was still coming down and the water was still rising, technicians braved the elements to fix service disruptions as quickly as possible,” Pai said.

A Tale of Two Hurricanes

Compared with Harvey, Hurricane Irma affected a much wider area striking with Category 4-force winds, as it steamed up the Gulf Coast of the state. Of the more than 14,500 cell towers located in the disaster area, nearly 4,000 cell towers had lost service as of Sept. 11.

Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands saw improvement on Monday with 21.5 of affected towers out of service, compare with nearly 27 percent on Sunday.

“Now, reports so far indicate that communications services in the path of Hurricane Irma have not fared as well due to staggering winds,” Pai said. “But we’re grateful for the hard work people are doing to keep wireless networks up and running for as many people as possible.”

J. Sharpe Smith is senior editor of the AGL eDigest. He joined AGL in 2007 as contributing editor to the magazine and as editor of eDigest email newsletter. He has 27 years of experience writing about industrial communications, paging, cellular, small cells, DAS and towers. Previously, he worked for the Enterprise Wireless Alliance as editor of the Enterprise Wireless Magazine. Before that, he edited the Wireless Journal for CTIA and he began his wireless journalism career with Phillips Publishing, now Access Intelligence. 

More Cell Towers Back on the Air in Texas

By J. Sharpe Smith

UPDATE — Cell service in the area affected by Harvey continued to dramatically improve  over the long Labor Day weekend. Cells out of service now stand at 73 down from 150 on Sunday and down from 296 last Thursday, according to the FCC’s Disaster Information Reporting System.

Additionally, the FCC and the Federal Emergency Management Agency reduced the number of counties in Harvey’s disaster area to 13 — Texas: Aransas, Calhoun, Chambers, Hardin, Harris, Jefferson, Matagorda, Nueces, Orange, Refugio, San Patricio, Victoria and Wharton — down from a high of 70 counties.

“As the storm raged on, our network continued to withstand the severity of the storm’s impact, with more than 98 percent of our sites in service,” said Lowell McAdam, CEO at Verizon. “To connect those in need, we’re offering free voice, and data to our postpaid customers and an extra 3GB of voice, and data to our prepaid customers in South Texas counties impacted by the hurricane through September 15th.”

Drone Companies Stand By to Help

Chris Moccia, executive vice president of Measure, the Drone as a Service Company, said his company has drone pilots in Texas and would be offering to the carriers to help get the cell towers back on the air, including generators, realtime video, trucks and supplies.

Measure was involved with the Verizon’s recovery following Hurricane Matthew last year, but catastrophic nature of Harvey brings a whole new scope to the services that will be needed.

“We anticipate having crews in the market for a while,” Moccia said. “There is a lot of flooding and a lot of damage to the infrastructure itself.”

DataWing Global is another drone company that is positioning itself to help in the aftermath of Harvey. DataWing drone pilots were scheduled to depart from the company’s San Antonio headquarters this morning to establish a mobile command center in Mathis, Texas, according to Jimmy Taylor,” senior vice president, business development, DataWing Global.

“We anticipate adding Part 107 pilots, aircraft and additional personnel to the area as the demand and need for resources develop over the next few weeks,” he said. “Until the weather clears and authorities allow access to the areas of devastation, DataWing will stand by collecting intelligence necessary to conduct tactical operations in a safe, prompt and legal manner.”

J. Sharpe Smith is senior editor of the AGL eDigest. He joined AGL in 2007 as contributing editor to the magazine and as editor of eDigest email newsletter. He has 27 years of experience writing about industrial communications, paging, cellular, small cells, DAS and towers. Previously, he worked for the Enterprise Wireless Alliance as editor of the Enterprise Wireless Magazine. Before that, he edited the Wireless Journal for CTIA and he began his wireless journalism career with Phillips Publishing, now Access Intelligence. 

Pai Names Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee

April 6, 2017 —

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has appointed 29 people to the newly created Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC), whose mission is to “break down regulatory barriers to broadband deployment.” The committee is made up of a wide spectrum of interests, including wireless carriers, tower owners, utility companies, cable providers, the internet, municipalities, and tribal organizations. Associations and universities will be represented, as well. The FCC chose the committee from 380 applications.

Initially, BDAC will have five working groups. Douglas Dimitroff of the New York State Wireless Association will serve as Chair of the group tasked with developing a model code for municipalities along with Sam Liccardo, mayor of San Jose, California, will serve as Vice Chair.

Jonathan Adelstein of the Wireless Infrastructure Association will serve as Chair of this working group that will study streamlining federal siting, along with Valerie Fast Horse of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, who will serve as Vice Chair.

The Competitive Access to Broadband Infrastructure working group will be chaired by ken Simon of Crown Castle, and Brent Skorup of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University will serve as Vice

The April 21 meeting will be held in the Commission meeting room at FCC Headquarters, 445 12th St. SW, Washington, DC at 10:00 am. The meeting is open to the public but admittance will be limited to seating availability. The Commission will livestream the meeting, with open captioning, through the FCC web site at www.fcc.gov/live.

Additional information about the BDAC is available online at https://www.fcc.gov/broadband-deployment-advisory-committee.

Chairman Pai to Form Office of Economics and Data at FCC

April 6, 2017

By J. Sharpe Smith

Senior Editor, AGL eDigest

rp_ajit_pai_0_1475221774-240x300.jpgDiscussing the importance of economic analysis in the development of regulation, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said he is establishing the Office of Economics and Data (OED) at the Commission, in comments yesterday before the Hudson Institute in Washington, DC.

“This Office will combine economists and other data professionals from around the Commission. I envision it providing economic analysis for rulemakings, transactions, and auctions; managing the Commission’s data resources; and conducting longer-term research on ways to improve the Commission’s policies.,” Pai said.

As reasons for creating the OED, Pai described several problems in the FCC’s gathering of data and in its use of data. He noted that economists do not have a seat at the table in developing policy. Second, staff economists are currently “scattered about the agency” working separately in silos and are unable to coordinate their work. Third, the results of economists’ work, especially when it comes to cost/benefit analysis, is “poorly used.” He also criticized the data collection methods of the agency as expensive for industry and not always on target for the information the agency needs.

“On data collection, the FCC almost certainly collects too much information through reporting requirements that are duplicative or unnecessary,” Pai said. “This imposes a high cost. In fact, according to OMB, the paperwork costs to comply with the FCC’s rules are approximately $800 million per year—and that doesn’t include the 73 million hours each year that private sector employees spend filling out paperwork rather than building next-generation networks.”

As further proof of the need for the OED, Pai pointed to other government agencies, Now let’s put the FCC’s structure in context. Look across government at comparable agencies that have organization-wide groups dedicated to economic analysis, such as the Federal Trade Commission, the ustice Department’s Antitrust Division and the Securities and Exchange Commission

“Each office is integrated into policy-making across their agencies or divisions. We don’t do this at the FCC,” he said.

The new OED will have an emphasis on developing white papers to assist the commission its long range thinking on regulation. Pai noted that white papers have diminished in importance at the Commission in recent years. In fact, none have been produce since 2012, while nearly 90 papers have been written since 1980,

“I want to create a culture of economics at the FCC that supports big-picture thinking once again,” Pai said. “We intend to restore the tradition of staff economists spending time thinking about the future and publishing in the present influential white papers that keep us from being stuck in the past.”

Pai’s OED would give economists early input into the decision-making process. The OED would also be designed to better manage data, reports and analyses. Third, through the development of whitepapers, the OED would bring strategic, long-term thinking to the FCC’s processes.

“We need bright people who can focus on big-picture, out-of-the-box thinking. The FCC’s history shows how truly valuable this can be for the agency, and ultimately, for the American people,” he said. “To me, the FCC should always take economics seriously, because the alternative is regulation by anecdote.”


Chairman Pai Gives His Take on Streamlining Wireless Deployment

April 4, 2017 –

By J. Sharpe Smith

Senior Editor, AGL eDigest

FCCIn its open meeting later this month, the FCC will vote on opening a comprehensive evaluation of how to expedite local reviews of wireless deployment. The proceeding will expand far beyond the Public Notice released last December by then-FCC Chairman Wheeler, “Streamlining Deployment of Small Cell Infrastructure by Improving Wireless Facilities Siting Policies,” which chiefly looked at small cell applications in rights of way and the fees charged from them.

The new proceeding, “Accelerating Wireless Broadband Deployment by Removing Barriers to Infrastructure Investment,” if adopted, would request comments about a broader range of issues surrounding state and local review of wireless infrastructure. It will ask about time limits for local review and whether a “deemed granted” remedy should be used where applications are being held up. The impact of moratoria, National Historic Preservation act and National Environmental Policy Act on wireless infrastructure applications will also be considered.

The small cells declaratory ruling proceeding, adopted on December 22, 2016, will now run in parallel with the Accelerating Wireless Broadband proceeding, which Ajit Pai is pushing a mere two months into his tenure FCC Chairman.

As to why the Accelerating Wireless proceeding was launched before the Small Cells proceeding even concluded, some questioned whether Chairman Pai was rushing to implement his agenda while the Commission still only has three members. But it may have more to do with his leadership style.

Chairman Pai has declared April “Infrastructure Month” at the FCC and the Commission will vote on proposals for wired infrastructure, business data services, three media items, as well as the Accelerating Wireless proceeding.

“To bring the benefits of the digital age to all Americans, the FCC needs to make it easier for companies to build and expand broadband networks. We need to reduce the cost of broadband deployment, and we need to eliminate unnecessary rules that slow down or deter deployment,” Chairman Pai wrote in his blog.