June 3, 2019

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T&T Spotlight: Have YOU Designated Your Voting Representative for T&T Yet?

Editor’s Note: Over the next few weeks, we will highlight sessions at the June 17-21 Telecom & Technology conference in Fort Worth, TX. Registration information is here!

Attention UTC Core Utility Members!

Have you designated your voting representative for this month’s Telecom & Technology policy resolution forum in Fort Worth?

For the second time, UTC is initiating a policy resolution process to strengthen our advocacy efforts in Washington. Our next set of resolutions will be voted on during the Membership Meeting on Thursday, June 20, in Fort Worth. Only UTC core member utilities are eligible to vote.

Under our process, UTC core utility members must designate 1 (one) person to cast your entity’s vote. Please be sure you have discussed this with your colleagues who are attending Telecom & Technology next month.

Any resolutions approved at the annual Telecom & Technology meeting will be considered official UTC policy and will inform the association as it advocates for its members in Washington and elsewhere.

Additionally, because the resolutions are not final, edits and amendments can still be made.

UTC core utility voting members will vote on the following issues:

Any additional resolutions will be made available in advance of the T&T meeting; UTC’s resolution process requires that the resolutions must be posted online and made available to membership at least two weeks before the annual conference.

For more information, please contact the UTC Public Policy Team.

T&T Spotlight: Educational Tracks, User Group Sessions Set for Annual Conference

[Editor’s Note: Over the next few weeks, we will highlight sessions at the June 17-21 Telecom & Technology conference in Fort Worth, TX. Registration information is here!]

We’re just a few weeks away from Telecom & Technology!

If you haven’t already, please make your travel arrangements and book your hotel soon; rooms are going fast! Click here for more information: https://utctelecom.org/plan-your-trip/.

Our agenda is online and we are making updates daily. Check out our eight awesome, packed educational tracks:

  • SCADA, AMI, & Utility Automation
  • Data for Innovation
  • Converged Systems for Smarter Communities
  • Business Drivers of Telecom Infrastructure
  • Telecom Options for Utility Operations
  • Utility Assets & Broadband Options
  • Connected Security Solutions
  • Utility Spectrum Policies

The educational tracks start on Wednesday, June 19.

In addition, we’ve got a host of trainings, 101s, and user groups scheduled for Monday and Tuesday.

Here is some information about two user-group trainings being held on Tuesday, June 18:

  • IEEE 802.16s – Informational Meeting—3-5 p.m.
    • IEEE 802.16s is a standard that was ratified and published by the IEEE in fall 2017 for use by mission-critical industries in narrower channel bands utilities have access to (such as 700 MHz A band, 217 – 219 MHz, 1.4 GHz, etc.). This is the only standard technology for these spectrum bands. Since its publication in fall 2017, user requirements and technology advancements bring about the opportunity to make enhancements to the standard such including narrower channel sizes, such as 12.5 KHz, spectrum aggregation, and others. Additionally IEEE 802.16s is being used by other mission critical industries such as oil & gas, rail, and government/military bringing about a larger ecosystem and interest from other industries and other manufacturers. This meeting will provide a high-level overview of the standard and what future enhancements may warrant being worked on. We then will dive into user requirements and technical details which will provide the framework for the IEEE Project Authorization Request (PAR) which is the first step in bringing the standard back to the IEEE.
  • Nokia is offering two workshops, both exclusively for utility personnel and will be held in room 201A in the Fort Worth Convention Center.
    • Bell Labs Future X architecture for power utilities – 3:00 – 3:55 pm
    • New business models with fiber – 4:05 – 5:00 pm
    • Seating is limited. Register now to reserve your seat.

Have you registered yet? Time is getting short!

Click here for all the information you need https://utctelecom.org/.

UTC Urges FERC to Pay Closer Attention to 6 GHz Proceeding

As the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) becomes more aware of and interested in the ways electric and natural gas utilities use communications systems, the agency must interact more substantially with their regulatory colleagues at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), UTC said.

In comments filed late last month, UTC encouraged FERC to pay close attention to the FCC’s 6 GHz proceeding, which could have a negative impact on utility communications networks.

“If the FCC adopts the [6 GHz proposed rule], or with minimal protections, utilities will face a Hobson’s Choice—either begin the costly and lengthy search for another spectrum band that can meet their needs or risk the potential for interference on its mission-critical systems,” UTC told the agency. “Unfortunately, many utilities have reported that, due to spectrum’s geographic characteristics, there may not be any suitable options to move.”

UTC filed the comments in response to FERC’s March 28 technical conference on security investments for infrastructure. During the conference, panelists discussed the importance of communications generally, and fiber specifically, to security and reliability (Industry Intelligence, April 8, 2019).

In its submission to FERC, UTC noted that fiber is indeed a critical resource for utility communications, but it is expensive to deploy in remote locations. Therefore wireless networks—and the spectrum needed to run these systems–continue to be critical for utilities.

Because the FCC oversees spectrum policies, UTC urged FERC to engage on the 6 GHz issue in particular. “While UTC recognizes that FERC has no authority over the FCC or spectrum, it nonetheless has a distinct interest in this proceeding,” UTC wrote. “As the agency responsible for assuring the reliability of our nation’s Bulk Electric System (BES), FERC should amplify the significant concerns raised by the entire electric utility and the oil and natural gas industries that are in opposition to the FCC’s 6 GHz plan and urge the FCC to protect utilities and other CII from interference in the band.”

And there are signs that FERC is hearing this message. The Commission is devoting an entire session to utility communications issues, including 6 GHz, at its June 27 annual reliability technical conference (Industry Intelligence, May 20, 2019).

Please contact the UTC Public Policy Team with any questions.

Split FCC Approves Controversial Claim That the Digital Divide is Closing

After being delayed because of incomplete and inaccurate data, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC, the Commission) approved, in a split, party line vote, a controversial report claiming that broadband is being deployed on a “reasonable and timely basis” to all Americans.

But this conclusion is not shared by all members of the FCC; indeed, both Commissioners Jessica Rosenworcel and Geoffrey Starks voted against the finding, both arguing that report is based on faulty and misleading data.

“The report masks the urgent need for continued and renewed action to address inequities in internet access in rural, tribal, and urban areas of the country,” Commissioner Starks wrote in a dissenting opinion on the report.

At issue is the long saga of the FCC’s 2019 Broadband Deployment Report. The report was first released as a draft in February, reaching the same conclusion that broadband is being deployed fairly and reasonably. However, the draft contained inaccurate data and was revised, after much criticism, in late April (Industry Intelligence, May 6, 2019).

In its final form, approved 3-2 by the Commission, led by Chairman Ajit Pai, the report again argues that the nation’s digital divide is narrowing as more Americans than ever have access to high-speed broadband.

The report concludes the following:

  • The number of Americans lacking access to a terrestrial fixed broadband connection meeting the FCC’s benchmark of at least 25 Mbps/3 Mbps has dropped from 26.1 million Americans at the end of 2016 to 21.3 million Americans at the end of 2017, a decrease of more than 18%.
    • The majority of those gaining access to such connections, approximately 4.3 million, are in rural America.
  • Higher-speed services are being deployed at a rapid rate as well: The number of Americans with access to at least 250 Mbps/25 Mbps broadband grew in 2017 by more than 36%, to 191.5 million.
    • The number of rural Americans with access to such broadband increased by 85.1% in 2017.
  • Broadband providers large and small deployed fiber networks to 5.9 million new homes in 2018, the largest number ever recorded.
  • Capital expenditures by broadband providers increased in 2017, reversing the declines of both 2015 and 2016.

Because of this data, the report claims that advanced telecommunications capability is being deployed on a reasonable and timely basis.

Please contact the UTC Public Policy Team with any questions.

Upcoming Events

A snapshot of upcoming UTC webinars, events, and conference calls

  • June 4, 2019: Webinar: Upgrading Microwave Networks: TDM/IP Hybrid Transport, Gigabit Speeds, and Security; Click here for Details and registration information
  • June 17-21, 2019: Telecom & Technology annual meeting
  • Face-to-Face Committee Meetings at T&T! All Meetings at the Fort Worth Convention Center
    • Telecom Committee —Room 201A, June 17, 2019; 8 a.m.-9 a.m.
    • IT/OT Committee—Room 201B, June 17, 2019; 8 a.m.-9 a.m.
    • Membership—Room 201C, June 17, 2019; 8 a.m.-9 a.m.
    • Public Policy Division—Room 201A, June 17, 2019; 9:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m.
    • UtiliSite—Room 201B, June 17, 2019; 9:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m.
    • Regional—Room 201C, June 17, 2019; 9:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m.
    • Utilities Broadband Committee—Room 201A, June 17, 2019; 11 a.m.-12 noon
    • Technical—Room 201B, June 17, 2019; 11 a.m.-12 noon
    • Security, Risk and Compliance—Room 201C; June 17, 2019; 11 a.m.-12 noon
    • Knowledge & Learning—Omni Hotel restaurant; June 18, 2019; 9 a.m.-10 a.m.