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Telecom Daily

Welcome to Faulkner's Telecom Daily. We publish Monday through Friday, updating top stories as events warrant.

Thursday, December 5... 

FCC Chair Proposes $9 billion "5G Fund" to Bring Coverage to Rural America
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chair, Ajit Pai, has announced plans to create a $9 billion "5G Fund." The goal of this new budgetary tool will be to draw on Universal Service Fund (USF) cash to " deploy advanced 5G mobile wireless services in rural America." The FCC's current plan would disburse the funds via a reverse auction process, much like its current Connect America Fund efforts to proliferate terrestrial and 4G broadband in rural areas of America. Pai noted that this fund would replace the planned Mobility Fund Phase II, which would have focused on encouraging the rollout of slower 4G LTE technology in similar areas. The agency noted that, although it does plan to use the data collected as part of the Mobility Fund Phase II program, it has concluded that 4G LTE coverage maps provided by carriers for rural areas of the country are not sufficiently reliable to provide accurate depictions of which communities are underserved. No timeline was provided for when the first 5G Fund auction may take place.

AT&T Introduces New Portable Cell Site Loaded onto a Blimp
Shortly after announced major updates to its terrestrial FirstNet network, AT&T has introduced a new type of FirstNet cell site based on a platform capable of travelling via blimp. The first unit of this kind, a 55-foot aerostat dubbed FirstNet One, was introduced as a way for the carrier to quickly float a portable cell site over disaster areas without the need for any equipment on the ground. The zeppelin-like platform is capable of operating at 1,000 feet for a period of two weeks before needing to have its gas supplies replenished. During that time it can provide full functionality in winds up to 50 miles per hour, and can survive winds up to 70 miles per hour. AT&T claims these facts will allow FirstNet One and other airships like it to provide better coverage over a wider area than its other portable cell site solutions. The device has already been tested in Tuskegee, Alabama, but has not yet been deployed at any disaster sites. Additional information on FirstNet One can be found within AT&T's press release.

Google Finally Brings Android's Focus Mode Out of Beta
Google announced that Focus Mode, a new feature for the Android mobile operating system announced at this year's Google I/O Conference, is finally out of beta. The new tool is designed to help people avoid distractions while using their smartphones by giving them more granular control over when certain apps are accessible to them. A user can, for instance, block out social media and streaming video apps during their regular work hours, or before bedtime. Changes to Focus Mode that have been introduced since its debut include multi-day control schemes, the ability to "take a break" in order to unlock all apps for five to 15 minutes, and the ability to end app lockouts early. Focus Mode is rolling out now to all Android 9 and Android 10 devices that currently have access to Google's other Digital Wellbeing tools. More information about Focus Mode can be found on Google's Blog.

....Michael Gariffo, Faulkner Information Services

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