BlackBerry PlayBooks with HSPA+ and LTE radios pass through the FCC

By on March 14, 2012 at 5:20 PM.

BlackBerry PlayBooks with HSPA+ and LTE radios pass through the FCC

Research in Motion’s BlackBerry PlayBook may be down, but it’s definitely not out. Over a year ago, the company revealed plans to release an LTE-compatible PlayBook as well as a 3G model that will work on HSPA+ networks. Details surrounding these variants have been few and far between, with some assuming they were simply canceled. As it turns out, two tablets from Research in Motion recently passed through the FCC equipped with HSPA+ connectivity and AT&T compatible LTE radios. BGR in January exclusively reported details about RIM’s plans to introduce a new PlayBook tablet around May or June that will be equipped with a 1.5GHz processor, built-in HSPA+ and NFC support. More →

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Sprint to end deal with LightSquared, report claims

By on March 7, 2012 at 12:00 PM.

Sprint to end deal with LightSquared, report claims

Sprint is reportedly planning to walk away from its planned network-sharing deal with LightSquared as early as next week, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday. Sprint and LightSquared in June agreed to an 11-year deal that would share network expansion costs and equipment if LightSquared could secure regulatory approval for its 4G LTE network build-out. The carrier first gave LightSquared until the end of 2011 to receive FCC approval, and then extended the deadline to March 15th. The FCC blocked LightSquared’s LTE network in February, however, due to concerns that it was interfering with GPS systems. Meanwhile, LightSquared repeatedly claimed that the blame lies with the GPS industry. According to the Bloomberg’s sources, Sprint has no plans to extend the March 15th deadline and will instead kill its deal with LightSquared. Sprint is expected to return $74 million of the $310 million it has collected from LightSquared so far once the deal is terminated. More →

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Verizon explains locked bootloader stance in letter to FCC

By on March 2, 2012 at 12:30 AM.

Verizon explains locked bootloader stance in letter to FCC

In a response to the FCC following a formal complaint, Verizon Wireless has outlined the company’s policy on locked bootloaders. An irate Droid-Life reader became fed up with the carrier’s consistent locking of bootloaders on its flagship devices and decided to file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission. The reader claimed Verizon’s policy was in violation of the “Block C license,” an agreement the company made when it purchased its 700MHz LTE spectrum. Within the agreement, it is stated that Verizon should not be allowed to “lock a phone,” which many interpreted as a statement that should include a phone’s bootloader. Read on for more and a copy of Verizon’s letter. More →

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T-Mobile asks FCC to block Verizon spectrum deal

By on February 22, 2012 at 6:10 PM.

T-Mobile asks FCC to block Verizon spectrum deal

T-Mobile is urging federal regulators to block Verizon’s planned spectrum acquisition from SpectrumCo, a joint venture formed by Comcast, Time Warner and Bright House Networks. Verizon’s pending purchase could be worth $3.9 billion and would help the company build out its nationwide LTE network. In a filing late Tuesday, T-Mobile said the Federal Communications Commission should block the deal because it would place an “excessive concentration” of wireless spectrum in Verizon’s hands, reports the Associated Press. The AWS bands that Verizon is looking to acquire uses the same frequencies that T-Mobile uses for its HSPA+ network. T-Mobile claims that the nation’s No.1 carrier already has a large amount of spectrum and does not need any more, and T-Mobile can “quickly, more intensively, and more efficiently” put the spectrum to use compared to Verizon. MetroPCS, the nation’s fifth-largest wireless provider, also urged the FCC to block the deal, claiming both parties had not provided enough information to prove that the acquisition is in the public’s best interest. Verizon and SpectrumCo hope to close the deal by the middle of this year. More →

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LightSquared plans to lay off 45% of its staff

By on February 21, 2012 at 7:00 PM.

LightSquared plans to lay off 45% of its staff

LightSquared announced on Tuesday that the company plans to cut its workforce by 45% in an effort to cut costs. “This and other cost savings measures will allow LightSquared to continue to navigate the regulatory process as it works with the appropriate government agencies to find solutions to the GPS interference issue and bring its $14 billion privately funded wireless broadband network to more than 260 million Americans,” the company said in a statement to Reuters. Last week, the FCC announced that it would block the company’s planned 4G LTE network due to issues concerning GPS interference. LightSquared currently employs 330 people and according to Reuters, the company is not currently considering bankruptcy. More →

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FCC to block rollout of LightSquared 4G LTE network

By on February 15, 2012 at 8:30 PM.

FCC to block rollout of LightSquared 4G LTE network

LTE startup LightSquared is about to be dealt the final blow in a longstanding battle that has seen its dream of becoming “America’s dumbest pipe” shattered. Controlled by hedge fund manager Philip Falcone, LightSquared had plans to deploy a nationwide 4G LTE network in the United States that would be licensed to wholesalers and utilized by carrier partners such as Sprint. LightSquared’s network was found to cause interference with spectrum used by various GPS navigation and tracking solutions, and though frequency bleeding caused by GPS network inefficiencies are to blame according to LightSquared, the Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday said it would not allow LightSquared’s network to launch. “NTIA, the federal agency that coordinates spectrum uses for the military and other federal government entities, has now concluded that there is no practical way to mitigate potential interference at this time,” FCC spokesman Tammy Sun wrote in a letter on Wednesday. “Consequently, the Commission will not lift the prohibition on LightSquared.” The FCC did acknowledge that the GPS industry must address the interference its networks are causing in order to free up neighboring spectrum for use by consumer broadband networks. More →

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FCC to reform and modernize Lifeline program for low-income families

By on February 1, 2012 at 10:05 PM.

FCC to reform and modernize Lifeline program for low-income families

The Federal Communications Commission announced on Monday the reformation and modernization of the Lifeline program. The revamped program will ensure affordable phone service is available to low-income families. Lifeline is a “universal service program that fulfills Congress’s mandate to ensure the availability of communications to all Americans.” The percentage of low-income households with phone service has increased dramatically since the program began in 1985, from 80% to nearly 92% last year. The FCC is looking to create a number of databases and protocols to end carrier abuse of the program. One such measure will be the creation of an eligibility database from governmental data sources to automate eligibility of initial and ongoing Lifeline participants. The move will “reduce the potential for fraud while cutting red tape for consumers and providers.” Lifeline is set to be revamped by no later than the end of 2013. More →

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Regional carriers ask FCC to impose a ‘shot clock’ for roaming agreements

By on January 31, 2012 at 5:10 PM.

Regional carriers ask FCC to impose a ‘shot clock’ for roaming agreements

MetroPCS, U.S. Cellular and several other regional carriers have requested that the Federal Communications Commission initiate a “shot clock” for roaming agreements with larger wireless carriers. “Supporters stressed that imposing a shot clock on negotiations is necessary to provide the proper incentive for potential roaming partners to timely respond to inquiries,” a lawyer representing the regional carriers said in a letter to FCC Secretary Marlene H. Dortch. “Although data roaming negotiations may involve complex issues, the Joint Supporters emphasized that other situations that incorporate shot clocks, such as interconnection and siting negotiations, also have the potential to involve complex issues, and yet, a shot clock still has been successfully implemented in those negotiations.” In other words, the smaller wireless carriers want larger carriers to stop stalling when it comes to negotiating roaming deals in areas where regional carriers provide connectivity and to instead “engage in good faith negotiations.”

More →

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Sprint gives LightSquared six more weeks to gain FCC approval

By on January 31, 2012 at 10:09 AM.

Sprint gives LightSquared six more weeks to gain FCC approval

Sprint has granted LightSquared six more weeks to gain approval from the Federal Communications Commission to launch its network. This is the second time the carrier has extended it deadline for LightSquared to prove to the FCC that its network does not interfere with GPS systems. There has been quite a battle going on between LightSquared and the government, however. LightSquared and a former FCC engineer have argued that the carrier’s 4G LTE network, which Sprint plans to use to help roll out its LTE service more quickly, was unfairly tested at higher power levels than the network will actually operate at and that testing was “rigged.” The company also said that those who tested its network would benefit from the FCC’s possible decision to prevent it from operating. “Sprint and LightSquared have agreed to extend our network agreement through mid March,” LightSquared said in a statement to BGR. “Sprint continues to support our business plan to bring wireless broadband to more than 260 million Americans and our ongoing efforts to work with regulatory agencies to resolve interference concerns.” LightSquared now has until March to gain the FCC’s blessing to operate. More →

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Proposed congressional bill targets Carrier IQ and other mobile tracking software

By on January 30, 2012 at 4:15 PM.

Proposed congressional bill targets Carrier IQ and other mobile tracking software

Democratic Representative Edward Markey of Massachusetts released a draft of his cell phone privacy bill on Monday. The Mobile Device Privacy Act is designed to protect consumers from tracking software such as Carrier IQ, which caused an uproar late last year when it was discovered to be secretly monitoring 150 million smartphone users. The bill would require companies to disclose the use of such tracking software and clarify exactly what information the software collects. Customers would have to consent to any data collected or transmitted, and third parties would have to file applications with the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission to ensure the data is being transmitted securely. “Consumers have the right to know and to say ‘no’ to the presence of software on their mobile devices that can collect and transmit their personal and sensitive information,” said Markey when speaking to The Hill. Markey serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and is the co-chairman of the Congressional Privacy Caucus. More →

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AT&T bashes Sprint for using roaming agreements and ‘disinvesting’ in its own network [updated]

By on January 25, 2012 at 8:30 AM.

AT&T bashes Sprint for using roaming agreements and ‘disinvesting’ in its own network [updated]

AT&T’s Senior Vice President-Federal Regulatory and Chief Privacy Officer Bob Quinn recently wrote a post on the company’s blog that called Sprint out for deciding to use roaming agreements, and “disinvesting” in its own network in Kansas and Oklahoma instead of providing customers with access to its network. As it turns out, the Federal Communications Commission originally prevented carriers, under the Home Market Rule, from creating roaming agreements when they had the spectrum or the ability to use their own networks. However, as Quinn explains, the rule was overturned in 2010 and is currently undergoing an appeals process.

Post updated below with a comment from a Sprint spokesperson. More →

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LightSquared’s 4G LTE network will always interfere with GPS, government says

By on January 18, 2012 at 12:15 AM.

LightSquared’s 4G LTE network will always interfere with GPS, government says

In a memo released on Friday, the National Space-Based Positioning, Navigation and Timing Executive Committee said the nine federal agencies that make up the body have concluded unanimously that none of LightSquared’s proposals would overcome the network’s interference with GPS technologies. The announcement comes as a crushing blow for the startup, which is looking to build an LTE network with the company’s 1600MHz frequency. Preliminary testing last year showed that LightSquared’s planned network interfered with GPS. After a handful of rebuttals, changes, and more testing, the government has decided to pull the plug and request no further testing. The Federal Aviation Administration also concluded the network would interfere with aircraft safety systems.”Based upon this testing and analysis, there appear to be no practical solutions or mitigations that would permit the LightSquared broadband service, as proposed, to operate in the next few months or years without significantly interfering with GPS. As a result, no additional testing is warranted at this time,” the memo said. LightSquared slammed the decision, claiming the agency has a biased agenda that is in favor of the GPS industry. Late last year, LightSquared reiterated that the GPS industry is at fault and it demanded approval from the FCC to begin deploying its network. More →

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LightSquared asks NASA for investigation into GPS advisory board

By on January 13, 2012 at 10:00 PM.

LightSquared asks NASA for investigation into GPS advisory board

LightSquared has asked NASA’s inspector general to investigate whether or not an advisor to federal agencies has conflicts of interest that make it unfair for him to determine whether or not LightSquared’s 4G LTE network interferes with GPS networks. The advisor was named as Bradford Parkinson, who works both as a vice chairman of Trimble Navigation, an industry board that advises federal agencies on GPS technology, and also as a Stanford University professor, The Wall Street Journal said Friday. “His involvement on both has been known by everyone involved since concerns of GPS interference by LightSquared were raised,” a GPS coalition spokesperson Dale Leibach told The Wall Street Journal. Read on for more. More →

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