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Welcome to Faulkner's Telecom Daily. We publish Monday through Friday, updating top stories as events warrant. If you would like to receive Telecom Daily emailed daily to your desktop, please click here: TelDailyEmail.

Friday, February 24...

FCC Begins Details Plans for CAF Phase II Reverse Auction
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced specific plans for the upcoming Connect America Fund (CAF) Phase II reverse auction. The goal of the initiative is to provide up to $2 billion in funding to "expand broadband to unserved areas, along with voice service." According to the agency, the new rules were established to maximize the value of the program for the American people, as well to balance the deployment of higher-quality services with cost efficiencies. The new rules focus on a weighted bidding process that now compares bids across multiple performance tiers. This weighting is determined by factors such as proposed speeds, usage allowances, and latency, with a heavy focus also placed on the number of citizens any proposed installations will reach. The FCC's next step in the process of planning this new auction will be to accept public comment on its possible mechanics, followed by a vote on final auction details and specific deadlines. A map has also been posted by the agency listing the possible areas where CAF Phase II Funding could be applied.

Samsung Outlines Prowess of Latest Smartphone Chip Ahead of GS8 Reveal
Samsung revealed the details of its next smartphone CPU, the Exynos 9 Series 8895 Processor. The new core is the company's first chip to be designed using its 10nm FinFET Process Technology. According to the device maker, this offers smartphones up to 27 percent increased performance, while reducing power draw by as much as 40 percent. The unit is also the first to include a built-in gigabit LTE mode, providing speeds of up to 150Mbps via five-carrier aggregation and other new technologies. Other features of the new chip include support for video capture at up to 4K resolution and 120 frames per second; enhanced virtual reality support; a discrete processing unit specifically designed to handle secure tasks, such as use of a connected iris or fingerprint scanner, or mobile payment processing; and improved motion and video tracking. Although Samsung did not reveal what smartphone would be the first to receive the chip, it did disclose that the newest Exynos CPU is already in mass production. This timeframe means that the unit could well power the upcoming Galaxy S8, which is expected to be released some time early in the coming spring.

Sprint Joins Forces with Open Mobile to Form New Joint Venture in Puerto Rico
Sprint joined with Open Mobile to announced the formation of a new joint venture in Puerto Rico. Specifically, the new entity will combine Open Mobile's holdings in Puerto Rico with Sprint's own US Virgin Islands operations. The newly formed company will offer customers in Puerto Rico access to a selection of postpaid, prepaid, Lifeline, and business services. The duo claims the combination of their respective companies in the region will allow them to offer "increased scale, expanded distribution, improved network capacity, faster speed, and a deeper spectrum position." Sprint will hold a 68 percent economic interest and a 55 percent voting interest in the combined entity, while the remainders will be held by Open Mobile. The companies plan to establish a Board of Directors for the as-yet unnamed joint venture, with both sides choosing members to appoint. This Board is expected to subsequently appoint a senior management team. Both companies plan to continue operations under their own brand names in the region until the transaction has been approved by the necessary regulatory authorities and has closed.

... Michael Gariffo, Faulkner Information Services

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