Trilithic has released the CVA Series of continuously variable attenuators available in octave bands over the frequency range of 1 to 18 GHz. The CVA Series is currently available with 0 to 8 dB attenuation range over 1 to 2 GHz and 0 to 20 dB attenuation range over 2 to 4 GHz, 4 to 8 GHz, 8 to 12.4 GHz, and 12.4 to 18 GHz. Trilithic’s CVA attenuators feature a turns-counting dial with locking level. The non-translating dial is not direct reading in dB. Insertion loss of 1 to 2 GHz: 0.5 dB; 2 to 4 GHz: 0.5 dB; 4 to 8 GHz: 0.75 dB; 8 to 12.4 GHz: 0.75 dB; 12.4 to 18 GHz: 0.75 dB. Other features include 50 Ohm impedance, average power: 5 Watts, SMA female connectors, panel mount configuration, and RoHS compliance. rfmicrowave.trilithic.com
During the second quarter earnings calls, LTE deployment was on the lips of several major carriers as they seek to catch up with Verizon Wireless.
T-Mobile US is pushing forward with its LTE upgrade and HSPA+ build out, and it has doubled its MetroPCS brand presence to 15 new markets. The carrier, which launched its LTE network in seven major metropolitan areas in March, lit up 116 Metro areas covering 157 million people with LTE by the end of July, exceeding its midyear goal of 100 million. The company is also still building out its HSPA+ network, which now covers 228 million people on AWS spectrum and 108 million in 1900 band.
“We have hugely accelerated the modernization and upgrading of our network to 4G LTE,” John Legere, president and CEO, told the second quarter earnings call. More than 200 million covered pops are projected to receive LTE by the end of 2013.
Also during the quarter, the carrier purchased of US Cellular’s spectrum covering 32 million POPs in cities such as St. Louis and Kansas City, Mo.; Nashville; Memphis, Tenn.; and New Orleans.
“Our coverage spectrum position is improving. The [US Cellular] spectrum is adjacent to our current holdings which provide key network efficiency benefit,” Legere said. “Further, due to the spectrum position and our network deployment program … we are on track to achieve 20×20 megahertz 4G LTE coverage in 90 percent of the top 25 market in 2014 and beyond.”
Additionally, T-Mobile is moving forward with the integration of MetroPCS, completing the planning and beginning the implementation of the network migration. So far, it has launched HSPA, HSPA+ and LTE in multiple MetroPCS markets and expects to complete the launch in all existing markets by the end of Q3. The implementation of multi-operator core network allows MetroPCS customers with LTE handsets to use T-Mobile 4G LTE network for data without a change in handset.
AT&T LTE Growth ‘On Track’
AT&T currently covers more than 225 million people with LTE and is on track to reach nearly 270 million pops by year end covering 400 markets.
“We continue to move fast with our 4G LTE deployment. We now expect to substantially complete our 4G LTE network by the next summer,” Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO for AT&T Mobility, told a second quarter earnings call.
AT&T bumped up its CapEx $900 million year over year to $5.5 billion in the second quarter.
“We spent that money at this time, because the network team could get more done and efficiently get it done and so we want to make sure we fund that and we will stick to that philosophy,” de la Vega said.
Network Vision Momentum Continues
While shutting down the Nextel platform, Sprint made progress on the Network Vision deployment in the quarter, completing 6,500 sites for a total of 20,000. LTE has been launched in 151 cities, including Los Angeles, Dallas, Atlanta, Miami and Boston. Sprint expects to provide 200 million people with LTE by the end of 2013.
“Momentum continued in the second quarter and expanding the Network Vision footprint we now have zoning complete on nearly 35,000 sites and leasing complete on close to 34,000. More than 30,000 sites are ready or have already begun construction. There are 600 cities under construction,” said Steve Elfman, Sprint president of network operations and wholesale.
Another significant milestone in the evolution of Network Vision is the closing of both the Midwest spectrum acquisition from U.S. Cellular and the acquisition of Clearwire. The U.S. Cellular transaction brought 20 megahertz of PCS spectrum in Chicago and its surrounding markets and 10 megahertz of PCS spectrum in the St. Louis market. Sprint has already begun to deploy LTE on the acquired spectrum and we’ll continue to do so through the third quarter of next year.
“With regard to Clearwire, we’ve been actively engaged with them to build both a network integration plan as well as the integration of all functions into Sprint,” Elfman said. “As it relates to expanding LTE on 2.5 gigahertz, Clearwire had roughly 2,000 TD-LTE sites commissioned at the time of closing and expect these and additional sites under construction to continue coming on air in the second half.
Future LTE Growth Looks Good Too — Moody’s
Tower companies will get a nice boost from Sprint’s purchase of its subsidiary Clearwire Corp. through upgrading existing cell sites and adding sites to achieve nationwide LTE coverage, according to Moody’s Investors Service in the report “Independent Towers Will Get an EBITDA Boost As Sprint Deploys Clearwire Spectrum.”
“We expect that Sprint will repurpose the Clearwire tower sites and add an estimated 15,000 to 18,000 cell tower sites, which will generate increased leasing revenue that the carrier pays to the tower companies,” says Moody’s Vice President — Senior Analyst Gregory Fraser, the author of the report. “These new tower sites will replace the 16,500 Clearwire sites scheduled to be decommissioned and will therefore eliminate the risk that lost rent from those towers would not be replaced with new rental revenue.”
Moody’s expects AT&T to further its 4G/LTE deployment on Leap’s underutilized spectrum on 15,000 to 20,000 sites (including the 9,700 leased sites acquired from Leap), which will also to the benefit of the independent tower firms.
The proposed nationwide 700 MHz broadband public safety network to be established by the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) promises to bring together companies from the different areas of the wireless industry, including cellular carriers, utilities and public safety entities. In one of the first of such alliances, wireless engineering giant Black & Veatch is teaming with public safety insider The Digital Decision (TDD).
Together Black & Veatch and TDD will offer governance, planning, network design, financial modeling, program management and implementation services to state and local governments, Paul Miller, Black & Veatch vice president of telecommunications, told AGL Bulletin.
The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 created FirstNet as an independent authority within the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to establish a single, nationwide, interoperable public safety broadband network. Congress earmarked $7 billion for network deployment, as well as $135 million for new state and local grants administered by NTIA.
The development of a nationwide public safety network is a daunting goal that requires unprecedented cooperation between various state and local first responder organizations, not to mention cellular carriers, utilities and equipment vendors.
“The initial money, $7 billion, earmarked for this project will not fund an all-new build out for public safety,” Miller said. “[Public safety] will have to leverage existing assets, maybe from the carriers and utilities or other entities in addition to what they already have.”
Along with infrastructure sharing, public safety may achieve advantages in sharing the 700 MHz D-block spectrum with cellular carriers and utilities, especially in rural areas. Public/private partnerships are being studied as a possibility.
“The key is providing priority access for public safety communications. They will want and need that. Will that be tolerable for carriers and utilities?” Miller said.
Partnership Unites Industry Players
Black & Veatch brings to the partnership a focus on the other side of the planning process — doing asset inventories of the current public safety communications infrastructure and analyzing how public safety communications can best be transitioned to an LTE broadband network.
“Initially, we will need to perform conceptual design, some planning and estimating of what it will take to get them from what they have today to the FirstNet nationwide broadband network,” Miller said. “We are trying to leverage our nationwide footprint that we have achieved through working with the carriers. Also we have experience and skills designing and implementing robust, hardened networks with utilities and public safety.”
With states having the choice whether to opt in or out of the FirstNet, one of the first orders of business will be to convince them of the benefits of being part of the network. States and their local partners will need to be informed about financial, regulatory and general network factors. TDD has experience developing and negotiating statewide public safety broadband network governance models among all 57 counties and the State of New York, as well as among the State of Louisiana and Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
“TDD has helped different entities, including states, set up agreements and MOUs that will support interoperable networks. They have that background and we felt that was a gap for us at Black & Veatch,” Miller said. “With FirstNet’s near-term focus on the state planning process, we felt like we needed a teammate that had that experience from putting organizations together, the governance models and outreach. TDD is known for those activities. We thought it was a good team to put together.”
Memorial services will be held Saturday, Aug. 24, for Shelton James Cormier, Jr., 44, who died Aug. 17, in Louise, Miss. after falling from a cell tower. Cormier, who was from Scott, La., was married and had two children. He is the tenth tower climber to die so far this year.
Cormier fell 125 feet while working on a tower at 8:30 a.m., according to Clyde Payne, Mississippi-area OSHA director. Cormier was employed by Custom Tower of Scott, La. The 357-foot tower that he was working on is owned by C Spire Wireless.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Aug. 21 that OSHA may be taking a broader approach to investigating tower-climbing accidents that will scrutinize the role of cellular carriers. Contracts and deadline pressure might also be factored in as possible causes of the fatalities.
Two tower workers escaped injury when the structure they were working on caught fire, Aug. 20, in Sanford, Fla.
The crew was reportedly performing welding on the 127-foot tower, when cabling caught fire. As the welder attempted to come down the structure, the bucket that was carrying him became stuck. He got out and rappelled while another man climbed down the tower.
“Crucial to the men getting down safely was their training using harnesses and a rope to get down,” Tim Robles, fire marshall, City of Sanford, Fla., told AGL Bulletin. Three additional personnel were stationed at the base of the tower with fire extinguishers.
After cutting power to the facility, firefighters applied some water to the base but mostly left the fire burn itself out with help from an afternoon rain storm. The structure began to lean because the metal had been compromised. A nearby restaurant was evacuated pending the removal of the damaged tower.
“The tower did receive damage from the fire and began lean to the South so we had to evacuate an area of 175 feet,” Robles said. “When the galvanize metal cooled, the tower straightened a bit.”
The permit to do the work was obtained by Sabre Communications to install a shaft and flange reinforcement to the existing tower, according to Robles.
The Sanford Building and Fire Prevention Division are waiting on plans from Crown Castle Tower in order for cell tower removal in order to expedite the issuance of cell tower construction permits.