Year-end US Carrier Coverage Report

Verizon Wireless and AT&T Mobility say their 3G/4G coverage in the United States is now pretty much universal with more than 300 million pops currently covered, mostly due to both carrier’s extensive 700 MHz LTE networks. Now it’s a matter of keeping up with capacity requirements.

Sprint says its LTE network now covers 260 million people, mostly through the use of 10 megahertz of spectrum in the 1.9 GHz band. Next year, Sprint’s Chief Network Officer John Saw said Sprint will continue to build out its LTE network with its 800 MHz buildout about halfway finished. “We expect to be substantially complete with our LTE 800 MHz build by the end of 2015 in markets where the spectrum is available,” according to Saw.

Sprint’s 2.5 GHz coverage is now available in 62 markets, utilizing the carrier’s Spark program, reports Saw, which combines 800Mhz, 1.9GHz and 2.5 GHz. Their 2.5 GHz network covers about 100 million people.

Meanwhile T-Mobile US CTO Neville Ray said the carrier’s LTE network coverage currently serves a similar 260 million pops, matching Sprint. Ray says T-Mobile is now on track to cover 280 million people with 4G LTE by mid-2015, and expects to hit the 300 million mark by the end of 2015.

T-Mobile has acquired more 700 MHz spectrum in the “A” block, reports FierceWireless, with the carrier making several deals for airwaves with small license holders in the last few months.

1st Comsat Launched Dec 18, 1958

On December 18, 1958, the world’s first communications satellite was launched. Dubbed SCORE (Signal Communication by Orbiting Relay Equipment), the project was so secret that only 88 people were aware of its existence. Before the date of the SCORE launch, 53 of the 88 people had been told the project had been canceled and they were not to mention to anyone that it had ever existed.

The craft carried messages on a tape recorder which was also used to send a Christmas greeting from President Eisenhower for 13 days:

“This is the President of the United States speaking. Through the marvels of scientific advance, my voice is coming to you from a satellite traveling in outer space. My message is a simple one: Through this unique means I convey to you and all mankind, America’s wish for peace on Earth and goodwill toward men everywhere.”

The underlying message was less cheery. The U.S. now had the capability of delivering a nuclear weapon from space.

Sputnik 1, launched on October 4, 1957, was the first satellite and had a radio transmitter, but SCORE’s messages could be uploaded and changed from the ground. Wikipedia has a list of communications satellite firsts.

Satellite swarms are now revolutionizing Earth imaging. Planet Labs, a Silicon Valley startup, uses an ultra-small 3U Cubesat design, and promises to shake up the field of satellite imagery.

Planet Labs launched 28 mini-satellites from the space station last February.

Their design is based on 10-centimeter-square CubeSats. They use a “3U” — or three-unit — CubeSat design. Flock 1 capabilities include near real-time imagery.

Related DailyWireless Space and Satellite News includes; Fleet of LEO Comsats for Google?, Satellite Swarms Revolutionize Earth Imaging, Google Buying Drone Company Titan, Facebook Announces Connectivity Lab, OuterNet: CubeSat Datacasting?, Planet Labs’ Photo CubeSats Released,SpaceX: Geosynchronous Launch

Sprint & T-Mobile Charged with “Cramming”

Sprint is facing a lawsuit by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that alleges the carrier illegally billed wireless consumers for tens of millions of dollars in unauthorized third-party charges. The lawsuit contends that Sprint operated a billing system that allowed third parties to bill for unwanted services, a process known as “cramming.”

T-Mobile has agreed to pay the FTC and FCC $90 million to settle cramming charges, according to the FCC’s site. An FTC and FCC investigation found T-Mobile guilty of breaking the law by “engaging in an unjust and unreasonable practice of billing consumers for products or services they had not authorized; and failing to provide a brief, clear, non-misleading, plain language description of the third-party charges.”

“Today we are suing Sprint for allowing illegal charges to be crammed onto consumers’ wireless bills,” CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in a statement. “Consumers ended up paying tens of millions of dollars in unauthorized charges, even though many of them had no idea that third parties could even place charges on their bills. As the use of mobile payments grows, we will continue to hold wireless carriers accountable for illegal third-party billing.”

The CPFB contends Sprint outsourced payment processing for digital purchases such as apps, games, books, movies, and music to vendors called “billing aggregators” without properly monitoring them. The lack of oversight, the lawsuit alleges, gave aggregators “near unfettered access to consumers’ wireless accounts,” according to a CPFB statement.

“Sprint’s system attracted and enabled unscrupulous merchants who, in some cases, only needed consumers’ phone numbers to cram illegitimate charges onto wireless bills,” the CPFB said. “The charges ranged from one-time fees of about $0.99 to $4.99 to monthly subscriptions that cost about $9.99 a month. Sprint received a 30-40 percent cut of the gross revenue from these charges.”

“We strongly disagree with (the CFPB’s) characterization of our business practices,” Sprint spokeswoman Stephanie Vinge Walsh said in a statement.

“It appears the CFPB has decided to use this issue as the test case on whether it has legal authority to assert jurisdiction over wireless carriers,” she said in an email.

Prodded by state attorneys general, Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile last year agreed to stop billing customers for third-party services.

The F.C.C. is conducting a similar investigation, and people close to the investigation said the parties were close to completing a settlement under which Sprint would pay $105 million in refunds and restitution for the unauthorized transactions.

Cable & Carriers Target 5GHz Spectrum

Cox Communications announced today that it launched more than 1,700 additional WiFi hotspots for Cox Internet customers in the Phoenix and Las Vegas this month. The latest Cox WiFi hotspots bring CoxWiFi service to six markets to date with many more planned for 2015, including hundreds of hotspots in San Diego after the first of the year.

In addition to the current Cox WiFi markets (Connecticut, Northern Virginia, Omaha, Phoenix, Las Vegas and Sun Valley), customers also have access when they travel to the nation’s largest WiFi network of more than 300,000 hotspots made possible by a collaboration of cable companies across the country, called CableWiFi, launched in 2013. The hotspots are strategically located in high-traffic areas such as restaurants, malls, sports arenas, parks and beaches in cities like New York, Washington D.C., Boston, Richmond, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Tampa.

Only Cox customers who subscribe to the Preferred Internet Package ($49/mo for the first 12 months) or higher have free access to the CableWiFi network. Comcast offers a similar “deal” for access to the joint cable WiFi network offered across the country.

CableWiFi uses Hotspot 2.0 technology where visitors will be able to use Passpoint-certified smartphones, tablets, and laptops tied to different service providers to roam across different hotspot networks. Authentication will be tied to the original service provider, but connectivity will be delivered through the local hotspot.

In June, Comcast said its Xfinity WiFi footprint had expanded to about 3 million hotspots nationwide, getting it closer toward a goal of expanding that footprint to 8 million hotspots by the end of 2014.

If Comcast’s strategy is to take over the lower 5GHz band with “free” public WiFi (for cable modem subscribers), they’ll have competition from T-Mobile US which wants to “privatize” as much as 500 MHz of the unlicensed 5 GHz band for “unlicensed LTE, aka LTE-U.

Qualcomm championed the so-called “LTE-U” or unlicensed LTE back in November 2013, before the 3GPP switched to the term “License Assisted Access.” According to Fierce Wireless, Macquarie Research analysts Kevin Smithen and Will Clayton said that after having met with T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray, they expect T-Mobile will use LAA “extensively on the 500 MHz of 5 GHz spectrum, with handsets becoming available at the end of 2015.”

A spokesperson at T-Mobile confirmed the plan to use 5 GHz unlicensed technology to FierceWirelessTech, although the timing remains unclear.

Hotspot 2.0 is a new set of protocols to enable cellular-like roaming. A variety of partnerships are developing nationwide and world-wide, including:


According to Ruckus Wireless, a recent survey of 400 U.S. small businesses with retail places of business, commissioned by Devicescal, found [to nobody’s surprise] that providing free Wi-Fi is good business for increasing:

  • Customer foot traffic
  • The time spent on premises (and most importantly),
  • The amount customers spend.
  • The study focused on independent “mom and pop” retail stores, including bars, nightclubs, restaurants, fast food places, coffee shops, clothing boutiques, book shops, and salons.

A good night’s sleep isn’t as important as good hotel Internet connectivity, according to a recent report.

Infrastructure providers are also enabling small businesses and organizations to “roll their own” Hotspot 2.0 network. Ruckus Wireless gathered a bunch of interesting WiFi stats in a holiday-themed slide show.

Multi-User MIMO promises to handle large crowds better then Wave 1 802.11ac products since the different users can use different streams at the same time.

Public Hotspots serving large crowds will benefit most from MU-MIMO. Several enterprise and carrier-grade infrastructure providers are beginning to roll out their equipment (and backend software) now. LTE using the unlicensed 5GHz band is likely to be several years away, say most industry observers.

How large corporate takeovers of the unlicensed 5GHz band will (or will not) affect any truly “free” municipal network remains to be seen.

The FCC has increased Wi-Fi power in the lower 5 GHz band at 5.15-5.25 GHz, making Comcast and mobile phone operators happy since they can make use of 802.11ac networks, both indoors and out, even utilizing all four channels for up to 1 Gbps wireless networking.

The FCC’s 5 GHz U-NII Report & Order allowed higher power in the 5.150 – 5.250 GHz band.

These FCC U-NII technical modifications are separate from another proposal currently under study by the FCC and NTIA that would add another 195 MHz of spectrum under U-NII rules in two new bands, U-NII 2B (5.350 – 5.470 GHz) and U-NII 4 (5.850 – 5.925 GHz).

Commercial entities, including cable operators, cellular operators, and independent companies seem destined to blanket every dense urban area in the country with high-power 5 GHz service – “free” if you’re already a subscriber on their subscription network

Related Dailywireless articles include; Ruckus Announces Cloud-Based WiFi Services, Cloud4Wi: Cloud-Managed, Geo-enabled Hotspots, Ad-Sponsored WiFi Initiatives from Gowex & Facebook, FCC increases Wi-Fi power in the lower 5 GHz band at 5.15-5.25 GHz, Comcast Creates Hotspot 2.0 National Network,Cloud4Wi Annouces Cloud-Controlled WiFi , PowerCloud: Cloud-based WiFi: $100 a Pop , WiFi & Hotspot 2.0 at MWC, Hotspot 2.0 Moves Out, NYC & Cable Provide Hotspot 2.0 Service, Cities of San Jose and Santa Clara Get Free WiFi, Free Google WiFi for NYC Chelsea Neighborhood,Cloud-based WiFi: $100 a Pop , Meraki Cloud Managed Security

Qualcomm Facing $1B Potential Chinese Fine

Qualcomm could be hit with a fine as high as $1 billion, reports Fierce Wireless. The San Diego-based company could also be forced to make concessions that would negatively impact its licensing business. At least 30 foreign firms have come under the scrutiny of China’s 2008 anti-monopoly law, reports Reuters. Qualcomm is the only major ongoing antitrust case in China involving a U.S. company and royalty fees.

Qualcomm’s prospects have been hampered by the National Development and Reform Commission’s (NDRC) 13-month investigation into the firm. An imminent decision in the case could force the company to pay fines potentially exceeding $1 billion and require concessions that would hurt its highly profitable business of charging licensing fees on phone chipsets that use its patents.

Qualcomm derives most of its profit from licensing fees and most of its revenue from sales of chipsets and modems. Qualcomm reportedly earned about half of its global revenue of $26.5 billion in China for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 28. Some observers believe that Qualcomm controls some 21% of LTE royalties.

President Barack Obama, during his recent visit to China, pushed his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, on the use of Chinese antitrust policy to limit royalty fees for foreign companies. The push by Obama could alter China’s calculus on the issue, but it could just as well backfire. reports Fierce Wireless. It underscores the importance Washington places on China’s investigation.

The former deputy head of NDRC, Liu Tienan, was sentenced to life in prison earlier this month after convicting him of taking bribes and abusing his power, reports the NY Times.

China Mobile recently said it had 50 million LTE subscribers, with plans to have 150 million customers on the network by the end of next year and 300 million customers by the end of 2016. Their LTE network runs across a total of 130 megahertz of spectrum in the 1880-1900 MHz, 2320-2370 MHz and 2575-2635 MHz bands. China Unicom, the country’s No. 2 wireless carrier, said its 3G and LTE network attracted 4.9 million customers during Q3, while China Telecom, the country’s third-largest mobile operator, had 1.33 million LTE customers.

The latest edition of Ericsson’s Mobility Report predicts that 90 percent of the world’s population over six years old will have a mobile phone by 2020, with smartphone subscriptions forecast to top 6.1 billion by then.

Aerohive AP1130: Apocalypse-Proof AC Router

Aerohive Networks, a leader in Wi-Fi and cloud-managed mobile networking, today announced a new outdoor Gigabit Wi-Fi 802.11ac access point designed to provide highly resilient network access in challenging environments and can even be solar powered.

The AP1130 provides high-performance dual band concurrent (2.4GHz and 5GHz) 802.11ac (2×2:2) MIMO and has a 10/100/1000 Ethernet port.

Aerohive says it developed the AP1130 for two reasons:

  • To provide high-speed Wi-Fi to every mobile user, device and application, regardless of location.
  • To create highly resilient, high-speed backhaul connectivity between buildings or campuses.

Aerohive says it reduces obstacles to 802.11ac adoption by offering Gigabit Wi-Fi beyond the constraints of the office walls — and that it’s designed to survive the apocalypse.

The AP1130 is said to provide powerful tools to create connectivity anywhere – including long distance Point-to-Point and Point-to-Multipoint links. With an integrated buzzer to assist with antenna alignment and latency controls to assure high-speed transmission across distance, as well as certified omni-directional and high-power directional antennas, the AP1130 is said to be ready for any type of deployment. They added a directional antenna to ensure highly focused signal between two APs, increasing bandwidth potential.

Aerohive says their solution creates a unified wireless infrastructure for both backhaul and WiFi access. For organizations this means that a single management platform can be used to design, deploy, and support both indoor and outdoor wireless deployments. The AP1130 is available today starting at $1399 US list price.