FCC report on T-Mobile nationwide outage is a case study in network complexity and best practices (or lack thereof)

11 November 2020 by Steve Blum
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Tmobile billboard 2 las vegas 6jan2020

The installation, and incomplete configuration, of a new router and a fiber link failure, both in the southeast U.S., combined with software and hardware bugs to take down T-Mobile’s national phone network in June, according to a report published in October by the Federal Communications Commission. The cascade of problems that began with a fiber route going down led to a “registration storm” in Atlanta as “mobile devices repeatedly attempted and failed to register” on the network, first using 4G, 3G and 2G mobile systems, and finally trying to complete calls via WiFi connections.… More

Mobile carriers get a three year exemption from environmental reviews and local restrictions on emergency generators in California

6 October 2020 by Steve Blum
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Emergency power generators installed near macro cell sites everywhere in California won’t have to go through a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review and must be approved by local governments within 60 days if the paperwork is in order, under a bill just signed into law by governor Gavin Newsom. This exemption begins on January 1, 2021 and expires three years later, unless the legislature extends it.

Assembly bill 2421, carried by Bill Quirk (D – Alameda), says that “an emergency standby generator that serves a macro cell site as a permitted use and requires a local agency to review a permit request to install an emergency standby generator on an administrative, nondiscretionary basis”, if it meets certain requirements, according to the bill analysis prepared by the senate’s governance and finance committee.… More

Phone service is phone service and emergency obligations apply regardless of technology, CPUC decides

16 September 2020 by Steve Blum
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Telephone companies have to follow disaster readiness and response rules laid down by the California Public Utilities Commission, regardless of the technology they use. That’s the CPUC’s opinion anyway. In a sharply written unanimous decision published yesterday, commissioners rejected challenges to telephone (but not broadband) emergency response obligations that they imposed on incumbent telcos, cable companies, mobile carriers and VoIP providers alike last year.

The regulatory logic that underpin those obligations also formed the basis for the CPUC’s initial response to the covid–19 emergency and the disaster resiliency standards for communications services that it recently adopted.… More

As California burns, AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile fight emergency obligations

25 August 2020 by Steve Blum
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Woolsey fire crew 625

Mobile carriers beat back a legislative attempt to impose disaster readiness obligations on them last week, and challenged “resiliency” rules approved by the California Public Utilities Commission in July.

Senate bill 431, authored by Mike McGuire (D – Sonoma), died in the assembly appropriations committee last week. No reason was given, but the primary opposition came from the lobbying front organisation used by AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon, with cable industry lobbyists close behind. The bill would have directed the CPUC to require 72-hour power backup capability at cell sites, where feasible.… More

Fast, reliable broadband considered by California lawmakers. AT&T, Comcast, Charter pay millions to say no

27 July 2020 by Steve Blum
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Money case 625

When members of the California assembly’s communications and conveyances committee take their seats tomorrow, they’ll be looking out at – actually or virtually – big telecoms lobbyists that 1. pay millions of dollars for laws they love and 2. hate the two broadband bills that are on the covid-shortened agenda. Senate bill 1130 raises California minimum broadband standard to symmetrical 25 Mbps download/25 Mbps upload speeds, and SB 431 imposes back up power and web browsing requirements on mobile carriers (but not on cable company VoIP or telcos’ ersatz wireless broadband, thanks to those same lobbyists).… More

Power out? No 911? California bill allows cable, telcos to say stick it

23 July 2020 by Steve Blum
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Woolsey fire victim

Companies that provide voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and fixed wireless Internet service (WISPs) won’t, for the most part, have to keep their networks running during disasters, under a bill that was just amended in the California assembly. As now written, senate bill 431 generally confirms resiliency requirements – e.g. 72 hours of backup power and maintain access to “basic internet browsing for emergency notices” in high fire threat areas – imposed on mobile carriers by the California Public Utilities Commission this week, but draws the line there.… More

Caltech turns eastern California fiber network into earthquake detector

22 July 2019 by Steve Blum
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Caltech readout

Fiber optic networks do more than just ride out major earthquakes without dropping a bit. They can also detect and collect data on the quakes themselves. Two major quakes – magnitude 6.4 and 7.1 – hit eastern California on 4 and 5 July 2019 respectively, in the high desert of Kern and San Bernardino counties, where seismometers aren’t thick on the ground. To understand what happened, and what continues to happen, Caltech scientists needed to quickly get more sensors into the field.… More

California-funded fiber keeps (most) quake hit communities connected

Digital 395 19sep2013

I planned to write about Trona and Searle Valley today, but not with earthquakes in mind. Instead, I was going to look at a recent California Public Utilities Commission ruling that, in effect, disavowed a previous and pusillanimous decision to deny broadband infrastructure grants in those two towns. That’s for later. For now, it’s about the eastern California communities that got state and federal broadband grants and, as a result, maintained modern, gigabit-class broadband connectivity even as two major earthquakes – 7.1 and 6.4 magnitude – and a continuing swarm of fore and aftershocks hit.… More

Rural broadband gaps are life and death issues, California wildfire study says

24 June 2019 by Steve Blum
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Paicines pole route

Ageing, inadequate infrastructure contributed to the destruction during last year’s Camp Fire in Butte County that killed 86 people and did billions of dollars worth of damage. Congested roads were a big part of the problem, but so was a lack of telecommunications service, either because it was knocked out by the fires or, in many cases, not there in the first place, according to a report by a “strike force” commissioned by California governor Gavin Newsom…

In a matter of hours, 52,000 people from rural Paradise and surrounding communities evacuated onto roads built for a fraction of that capacity and converged on Chico, overwhelming the recovery system.


Broadband service failed in 2017 California firestorm, mobile hit worst

7 August 2018 by Steve Blum
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One of the big questions to answer about the mega fire still tearing through Shasta County this morning is how do you warn people? Broadband and other high tech tools failed in last year’s fires. Instead, people were saved the old fashioned way: a knock on the door or the smell of smoke.

Mobile service went down more often than any other kind of broadband service during 2017’s northern California firestorm, but cable, telco and fixed wireless systems also took a severe beating.… More