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It is Time to Mandate Tower Sharing

by in rant, Telecom

It’s time for the FCC to mandate that any customer can use any tower. It’s time to mandate cross-company roaming. It’s time to put service quality first.

The process is strikingly simple: A consumer should be allowed to use whatever tower provides the fastest, strongest signal. Any tower. After all, the airwaves are a public resource.

The math to do this isn’t complicated. Any user can use any tower.

AT&T customers on version towers would cancel out Verizon customers on AT&T towers. Count the gigabytes each way and most of it would just cancel out. Then, you keep track of the differences.

The FCC would then institute a settlement process to pay the tower companies for where they carried more than their net-fair-share of traffic. So if ATT->Verizon traffic was 1-Million gigabytes and if Verizon->ATT traffic was 1.1-Million gigabytes, then Verizon would owe ATT for 0.1 Million gigabytes at a fair, prescribed rate.

This is no different than how we handled the settlement process for long distance in the 1940s through 1980s.

It would encourage companies owning bandwidth to use it, and to construct towers, because they could tip the scales and make a profit by handling calls.

Did you know that AT&T and Verizon own vast swaths of bandwidth that they don’t use, and that they don’t plan on using? They purchased it simply to eliminate competition. Now, that is wrong. It’s just plain wrong.

It is time to mandate shared towers.


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  • Jim O’Gorman

    As a consultant that has dealt in the planning and construction of cellular facilities I’d say this is a nice idea but not really practical. There is a lot of planning and effort to lease and build a tower by either a carrier, landlord or third party tower company; so suggesting the FCC mandate that any other carrier can jump on is not realistic…keep in mind towers have by lease, limitations on height and the real estate near the base of the tower to set up base stations, generators and cable distribution. Towers may have height restrictions that will prevent more than one or two carriers because of separation needed by the antennas to minimize interference. Zoning, environmental and historical constraints often weigh in on tower deployments. The location itself may be good for one carrier and not another based on projected users and existing tower placements in the area. I would hesitate to criticize the carriers on bandwidth allocation too…one doesn’t have to look to far in the future to realize that limited spectrum will eventually be used for various wireless services and the marketplace will ensure efficiency in this process.

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Colin Berkshire is a highly technical HR executive in the Pulp and Paper Industry. Colin has an engineering and voice background, and is currently on assignment in Asia. NOTE: Colin does not respond to comments, and does not Tweet.