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FCC proposes 5G wireless study; AT&T merger clears hurdle

This week in telecom news, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler proposes a 5G wireless study while the possible AT&T merger with DirecTV advances with a shareholder vote.

This week in telecom news, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will vote on a proposal to examine the use of high-band spectrum for 5G wireless. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler announced the proposal as a measure to support the development of wireless mobile technology. Meanwhile, the possible AT&T merger with DirecTV cleared a hurdle as DirecTV shareholders voted overwhelmingly to approve the acquisition.

J.D. Power released three studies that examined television, Internet and telephony service provider performance and customer satisfaction. The reports found that as performance and reliability increased in 2014, so did customer satisfaction.

FCC chairman proposes 5G study

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has proposed examining whether high-band spectrum can be used to support 5G wireless service.

In a blog post, Wheeler discussed the future of mobile wireless and what must be done to support further innovation and development.

"There have been significant developments in antenna and processing technologies that may allow the use of higher frequencies -- in this case, those above 24 GHz -- for mobile applications," Wheeler wrote. "Early studies show that these new technologies -- what some are calling '5G' -- can ultimately facilitate a throughput of up to 10 Gigabits/second, a speed that is orders of magnitude greater than that available today."

Wheeler said he was acting on a recommendation of the FCC's Technological Advisory Council to circulate a Notice of Inquiry to explore the development of spectrum above 24 GHz for mobile wireless services. Wheeler did not specify what the inquiry into high-band spectrum would entail, only adding that the FCC's goal is to "learn about the technology and ensure a regulatory environment where these technologies can flourish."

The FCC is expected to vote on Wheeler's 5G proposal next month.

DirecTV shareholders vote for AT&T merger

AT&T's proposed acquisition of DirecTV cleared one hurdle as DirecTV shareholders voted to approve the acquisition.

In a vote last Thursday, the majority of shareholders supported the $48.5 billion deal. The votes represented 77% of all outstanding shares, according to The Hill. The proposed acquisition still requires regulatory approval from the FCC and the Department of Justice.

"We appreciate DirecTV shareholders' approval and look forward to continuing our work with various regulatory agencies reviewing the deal to gain their approval as well," an AT&T spokesman told The Hill.

With the merger, AT&T and DirecTV hope to offer phone, TV and Internet service bundles. DirecTV offers TV services, but relies on third-party providers for phone and Internet service packages. AT&T offers phone and Internet services, but has limited TV offerings.

AT&T and DirecTV executives hope to finalize the deal in early 2015.

Wireline services report shows increased performance, customer satisfaction

It has been a good year for service providers, as three J.D. Power reports found that provider performance quality, reliability and connection speeds have improved and lead to increased residential customer satisfaction.

J.D. Power attributed the increase in customer satisfaction to television and Internet service providers' continual upgrades to their networks, adoption of newer technology and focus on faster connection speeds.

"The ability to provide a high-quality experience with all wireline services is paramount, as performance and reliability is the most critical driver of overall satisfaction," said Kirk Parsons, senior director of telecommunications at J.D. Power, in a press release.

The three wireline studies focused on customer satisfaction with television, Internet and telephone service providers. The studies measured customer satisfaction based on six factors: performance and reliability, cost of service, programming (for television providers), billing, communication, and customer service. Satisfaction scores were calculated on a 1,000-point scale.

Overall customer satisfaction for television service providers increased from 726 points in 2013 to 734 in 2014. Customers experienced fewer quality and performance issues, decreasing from 38% who reported such complaints in 2013 to 31% in 2014.

For ISPs, customer satisfaction increased 37 points from 663 in 2011 to 700 in 2014. ISPs have reduced general service outages by 31% year over year, according to the report.

Telephone providers saw a small increase in customer satisfaction, going from 749 in 2013 to 754 in 2014. The number of general phone service outages declined from 21% of households in 2013 to 17% in 2014.

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