Thursday, July 1, 2010

TerreStar Updates Roll Out Schedule

TerreStar Networks announced it expects to begin commercial roll out of the TerreStar GENUS(TM), the world's first dual-mode satellite-cellular smartphone, in September 2010. The company has renewed the in-orbit insurance on its TerreStar-1 communications satellite for one additional year.

"TerreStar-1 continues to exceed performance expectations, and I am pleased with support we received from the insurance community," stated Jeffrey W. Epstein, president and chief executive officer, TerreStar. "Further, while we have delayed the launch of our GENUS handset, this additional time ensures that when we launch service, the GENUS will truly revolutionize mobile communications for first responders, enterprise users, and those in areas where terrestrial networks are unavailable."
  • In February 2010, TerreStar Networks completed its initial on-orbit testing of Ground Based Beam Forming (GBBF), clearing another hurdle prior to the launch of its hybrid satellite+terrestrial smartphone service. The service is expected to launch in the second half of this year. The TerreStar GBBF system is the first two-way GBBF system to employ both ground based calibration and beam forming. The system provides the flexibility to deploy over 500 spot beams and manage power and capacity as customer demand dictates.

AT&T Proposes Settlement in Wireless Billing Practices Lawsuit

AT&T proposed settlements of class action lawsuits relating to certain billing practices of AT&T Wireless Services, Inc., which was merged out of existence when it combined with Cingular in 2004. The Settlements do not concern the practices of Cingular Wireless or AT&T Mobility. The class actions that are part of the proposed settlements challenge the following alleged billing practices of AT&T Wireless Services, Inc. and related entities, including Santa Barbara Cellular Systems: charges for mMode Data Service, if the subscriber did not authorize the charges or did not understand the disclosures about the charges; charges for ENH Discount International Dial ("EDID"); charges for cellular telephone calls during a billing period other than the billing period in which the calls were made ("Out-of-Cycle Billing"); and the Universal Connectivity Charge ("UCC"), if the subscriber was not aware at the time of subscribing that the UCC would be charged.

The representative plaintiffs claim that these practices violate the Federal Communications Act and consumer protection laws of California, Washington, and other states and territories of the United States. AT&T said it strongly denies the representative plaintiffs' claims of any wrongdoing, but has agreed to settle to avoid the burden and cost of further litigation.

Telstra and Huawei Test LTE at 1800MHz

Telstra and Huawei Technologies are testing LTE operating on 1800MHz spectrum in Victoria, Australia. The 1800MHz evaluation will include tests of throughput using MIMO antenna configurations as well as several industry-leading advanced features including Inter Cell Interference Coordination to reduce radio network interference and improve throughput, and Self Organizing Networks where LTE network technology automatically optimises its performance, reducing operating costs while improving customer service.

Michael Rocca, Telstra chief operations officer said that exploring LTE's performance across a variety of frequency bands is critical to creating deployment options that will bring the best outcomes for operators and customers.

"Our trials with Huawei are giving us valuable insights into the potential of LTE technology at 1800MHz and helping Telstra understand how we can make best use of both existing and potential future spectrum assets to continue to deliver a world class mobile broadband service," Mr. Rocca said.
  • In March 2010, Telstra unveiled plans to begin LTE trials in May. The Australian carrier will spend the next three to six months testing the feasibility and technical capability of LTE. Three vendors were named for the LTE trials: Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia Siemens Networks. Ericsson has been the lead supplier of Telstra's Next G HSPA+ network. In Hong Kong, Telstra's subsidiary company CSL is already testing LTE equipment from ZTE.

  • In June 2010, Telstra and Nokia Siemens Networks reported achieving peak LTE speeds of 100Mbps download and 31 Mbps upload over a record-breaking distance of 75 kilometers in a trial conducted in Victoria, Australia.

  • Telstra has already completed the upgrade of its "Next G" HSPA+ network with Dual Carrier technology, providing peak network downlink speeds of 42Mbps. Actual customer rates will be below the theoretical peak.

Spain's Endesa Outsources its Network to Ericsson

Endesa, the largest utility company in Spain with 23 million customers, has selected Ericsson to operate its entire corporate telecommunication network through a four-year managed services agreement. Ericsson will be the sole services provider for Endesa's corporate telecommunication network, including the daily operation of all services associated with the telecom network; network operations in the network operations center, maintenance, installation services, engineering and construction management. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The companies said that outsourcing allows Endesa to improve network efficiency and increase focus on its core business.

A Proposal for a New Digital Goods and Services Tax for U.S. Congress

Representatives Rick Boucher (D-Va.) and Lamar Smith (R-Texas) introduced the Digital Goods and Services Tax Fairness Act (H.R. 5649) that calls for the creation of a national framework for taxing digital downloads and applications. Sponsors of the bill note that the first state tax on digital goods was imposed in 2007 and that already some 25 states have considered legislation imposing new taxes on digital goods and services.

"Duplicative or increased taxes imposed by states for online products could create significant disadvantages for U.S. companies competing in global high tech industries. This important legislation protects U.S. high tech companies and American consumers by establishing a uniform system for taxes on goods and services purchased online. Specifically, the legislation prevents states from applying duplicative taxing systems to products simply because they are purchased online," said Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Lamar Smith.

Verizon expressed support for the measure: "The Boucher-Smith bill offers a smart solution to a growing Internet-age problem. Consumers face potential multiple and discriminatory taxation of the music, movies, games and other goods and services they download from the Internet. Discouraging Internet use makes no sense, particularly at a time when jobs and the economy are top concerns. This legislation takes into account that the new digital economy has no borders, and it creates a uniform framework to protect consumers, much like the Internet Tax Moratorium has done for Internet access," stated Peter Davidson, Verizon senior vice president of federal government relations.

CTIA-The Wireless Association also issued a statement expressing support: "CTIA is pleased Congressmen Boucher and Smith recognize the importance of establishing a national framework to prevent multiple and discriminatory taxation of digital goods and services. Enacting a federal tax framework makes sense, although we hope that any taxation of digital goods and services be implemented in a manner that is minimal. This bi-partisan legislation will provide tax administrators and consumers alike a better understanding of how digital commerce should be taxed. That will enable digital commerce to continue to flourish in a way that will both assist in the nation's economic recovery and enhance American economic competitiveness."

New Recovery Act Broadband Projects Get USDA Funding

President Obama announced $780 million in grants and loans through the Departments of Commerce and Agriculture for funding sixty-six Recovery Act broadband projects nationwide, including 37 new projects in rural America. The funding has been matched by over $200 million in outside investment, for a total public-private investment of nearly $1 billion.

The announcement kicks off the U.S. Department of Agriculture's second round of broadband funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act). For the 37 new rural projects, $390.9 million will be invested. An additional $21.9 millionin private investment will be provided, bringing the total funds invested for these rural to $412.7 million.

Funding is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the loan, grant or loan/grant agreement. A list of recent Recovery Act broadband award recipients by state is below. Further detail on these projects is online


Copper Valley Telephone Cooperative Incorporated; McCarthy Microwave Shot project.


National Telephone of Alabama, Inc.; Cherokee Broadband Initiatives Project.


Hopi Telecommunications, Inc.; HTI Jeddito Middle Mile/Last Mile Project.

San Carlos Apache Telecommunications Utility Inc.; San Carlos Apache Telecommunications, Inc. - Broadband Offering.


Northern Arkansas Telephone Company; Northern Arkansas Broadband.


Nunn Telephone Company; Nunn Rural Broadband Project.


Wilkes Telephone & Electric Company; Wilkes Telephone Company Fiber-to-the-Home Build-Out.

Darien Telephone Co., Inc.; Broadband Bridge to Sapelo Island.


The Farmers' Telephone Company of Riceville, Iowa; Farmers Telephone Company Fiber-to-the-Premises Overbuild.

Grand River Mutual Telephone Corporation; Grand River Mutual Fiber-to-the-Home Broadband Deployment Project.

Breda Telephone Corp.; Breda and Lidderdale Town and Rural Fiber-to-the-Premises Overbuild.

Iowa and Missouri

Grand River Mutual Telephone Corporation; Grand River Mutual Fiber-to-the-Home Broadband Deployment Project.


Shawnee Telephone Company; Shawnee's Fiber-to-the-Home Project: Focused Economic Revitalization & Sustainable Transformation of Southern IL.


H & B Communications Inc.; FTTH - Rural Ellinwood & Claflin, Kansas.

South Central Wireless Inc.; South Central Wireless - Attica, Kansas Fiber-to-the-Premise.


Thacker-Grigsby Telephone Company, Incorporated; Breathitt County Broadband.


Federated Telephone Cooperative; Rural Appleton, MN.


Grand River Mutual Telephone Corporation; Grand River Mutual Fiber-to-the-Home Broadband Deployment Project - Service Area 1.

Northeast Missouri Rural Telephone Company; Green City, MO Fiber-to-the-Premises.


Project Telephone Company; Scott St. Pryor Middle Mile.

Project Telephone Company; Crow Agency/Lodgegrass Fiber-to-the-Premise.


Rural Telephone Company; North Fork, Tuscarora, and Jarbidge Service Area Broadband Service Implementation.

North Carolina

French Broad Electric Membership Corp.; French Broad Electric BPL Project.

North Carolina and Tennessee

Skyline Telephone Membership Corporation; High Country Fiber.

North Dakota

Consolidated Enterprises, Inc.; CEI Broadband Infrastructure Project.

S R T Communications Inc.; Fiber-to-the-Premise for the Rural North Dakota Community of Metigoshe.


Pine Telephone Company, Inc.; Last Mile ILEC Fiber-to-the-Home for Isolated Rural Southeastern Oklahoma/Choctaw Nation.

South Dakota

TrioTel Communications, Inc.; TrioTel Fiber-to-the-Home Broadband Deployment Project.

Venture Communications Cooperative; Cresbard, Orient and Faulkton Exchanges.


Twin Lakes Telephone Cooperative Corporation; Twin Lakes Telephone Cooperative Corp.


Blossom Telephone Company; Red River Broadband Expansion Project.


Central Utah Telephone, Inc.; Basin Broadband Project.

West Virginia

Hardy Telecommunications, Inc.; Hardy OneNet Fiber to the Home Project.


Marquette-Adams Telephone Cooperative, Inc.

Reedsburg Utility Commission, Inc; Reedsburg Utility Commission Fiber Network Expansion.