Posts tagged Wireless Carriers

Exclusive: Google may offer Wi-Fi for cities with its Google Fiber

Cities getting gigabit-speed fiber Internet could also gain Wi-Fi networks

Google is considering deploying Wi-Fi networks in towns and cities covered by its Google Fiber high-speed Internet service.

The disclosure is made in a document Google is circulating to 34 cities that are the next candidates to receive Google Fiber in 2015.

Specific details of the Wi-Fi plan are not included in the document, which was seen by IDG News Service, but Google says it will be “discussing our Wi-Fi plans and related requirements with your city as we move forward with your city during this planning process.”

If the plan goes ahead, it would be a further step by Google toward competition with traditional telecom carriers. For citizens of the cities involved, it could mean increased reliance on services by the dominant Internet company.

Google declined to answer specific questions about the plans but in an emailed statement said, “We’d love to be able to bring Wi-Fi access to all of our Fiber cities, but we don’t have any specific plans to announce right now.”

Google Fiber is already available in Provo, Utah, and Kansas City, and is promised soon in Austin, Texas. It delivers a “basic speed” service for no charge, a gigabit-per-second service for US$70 per month and a $120 package that includes a bundle of more than 200 TV channels. Installation costs between nothing and $300.

Google has sent the 34 cities that are next in line for Google Fiber a detailed request for information and they have until May 1 to reply.

It asks for a list of all the addresses in each city and a description of building types, and requests numerous geospatial data files containing information on streets, boundaries, rights of way, manholes, utility poles, zoning types and the condition of pavement across the city.

Google is also asking cities to identify locations it would be able to install utility huts. Each 12-foot-by-30-foot (3.6-meter-by-9.1-meter) windowless hut needs to allow 24-hour access and be on land Google could lease for about 20 years.

The huts, of which there will be between one and a handful in each city, would house the main networking equipment. From the hut, fiber cables would run along utility poles — or in underground fiber ducts if they exist — and terminate at neighborhood boxes, each serving up to 288 or 587 homes.

The neighborhood boxes are around the same size or smaller than current utility cabinets often found on city streets.

Once each municipality has sent the information to Google, the Mountain View company said it will conduct a detailed study.

“This process will take some time, but we hope to have updates on which cities will get Fiber by the end of the year,” the company says in the document.


 

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AT&T looks 28 years into the future of cell towers

Crown Castle will pay $4.85 billion for purchases and long-term leasing rights on AT&T’s towers

What will you be doing over a mobile network in 28 years? Whatever it is, AT&T and cell-tower company Crown Castle want a piece of it.

In a deal announced on Sunday, Crown Castle International will lease about 9,100 of AT&T’s towers for an average term of 28 years. The agreement, under which Crown Castle will also buy about 600 AT&T towers outright, will bring AT&T about $4.85 billion in cash up front. It’s expected to close by the end of this year.

After Crown Castle takes over the towers, it will lease them back to AT&T, so the carrier says it doesn’t expect the transaction to affect subscribers’ service. But the arrangement does provide a hint of how much faith mobile companies have in the future of this still-young business.

At 28 years, stretching out until 2041, the average lease term for these towers is far beyond the horizon of most predictions about mobile bandwidth, apps or devices. But the trends underlying mobile data point to new capabilities coming online for years, and full-size cell towers are likely to be critical infrastructure for decades, according to Tolaga Group analyst Phil Marshall.

“It’s a pretty good bet,” he said.
Vendors are already looking at demand for the next generation of mobile networks, a so-called 5G that’s not yet being hashed out as a standard. Vish Nandlall, Ericsson’s CTO and senior vice president of strategy, said last week that 5G gear is likely to appear in commercial networks beginning in 2020. He sees it offering 10 times the capacity of 4G LTE, as well as features for low-power machine-to-machine communications.

If a new generation of mobile comes every 10 years, as Nandlall believes, then 28 more years may bring us to 7G. Even the most advanced technologies in labs today won’t go that far, instead giving hints about the networks of just 15 years from now, Tolaga’s Marshall said. Small cells will transform networks over the next few years, allowing carriers to serve more subscribers in areas of dense mobile use, but the kind of longer-range towers Crown Castle is buying into will still be needed for broad coverage, he said.

“There’s no evidence that there’s anything that will … replicate the need for these macro cells,” Marshall said.

Though it’s hard to make detailed predictions, networks 28 years from now will probably feed increasingly powerful mobile devices with updated information and help users find what they need, he said.

“The mobile device ends up having every piece of information you could ever possibly be interested in,” Marshall said. The current MicroSD standard allows for cards with capacities as high as 2TB, one indication that there’s a long way to go for on-device storage, he said. Smarter, faster networks will help consumers use all that data, using context cues such as time and location to show users the content they need in real time, Marshall said.

Future networks will also connect many more types of devices, some of which will fade into the background from consumers’ perspective, Marshall said. Twenty-eight years from now, the launch of the original iPhone in 2007 may look like the invention of the microprocessor in 1971 does now.

“If you look at how the microprocessor is used now, it’s used in absolutely everything,” Marshall said. “Over the very protracted timeline, the same thing happens with the mobile device.”

AT&T and Crown Castle seem confident all this will pay off. When their rights under the deal expire in an average of 28 years, Crown Castle will have the right to buy those 9,100 towers for a sum that the companies estimate at $4.2 billion.

Even in the first phase of the deal, AT&T will get cash it can invest in other parts of its business. But the deal could also benefit the customers of its rivals. Crown Castle will be free to lease extra capacity to other carriers, which may open up towers in areas where Verizon Wireless, Sprint or T-Mobile haven’t been able to set up their own towers, Marshall said.


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