PG&E outage limits cell service, causes traffic confusion - Santa Rosa Press Democrat

PG&E outage limits cell service, causes traffic confusion - Santa Rosa Press Democrat

PG&E outage limits cell service, causes traffic confusion - Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Posted: 09 Oct 2019 03:04 PM PDT

Business owners were forced to improvise or close for the duration. Motorists were left to negotiate busy intersections without signal lights, resulting in several minor injury crashes around Santa Rosa, police said.

Residents in areas without power grudgingly adjusted to deprivations imposed on them in the name of public safety, including occasionally unreliable cellphone service as wireless carriers worked to keep their equipment up and running.

But with the first of what's expected to be several more unplugged days ahead stretching out still and temperate inside the outage zone, some people wondered aloud about the timing and necessity of PG&E's measures.

State Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, was among public officials criticizing PG&E, in part for shutting the power down prematurely. He called the situation "beyond frustrating" in a statement released Wednesday.

"Public safety power shutoffs have a role to play when they're needed to prevent massive wildfires and the huge human and economic costs we've seen in recent years," Dodd said. "However, many of my constituents are disturbed that the power was shut down before the winds started to pick up in the North Bay."

PG&E representatives said a deliberate, step-by-step approach to de-energizing lines ahead of anticipated winds was necessary given their inability to forecast with exact timing, and said connected circuitry makes it impossible to cut power surgically only in areas where wind gusts would hit.

National Weather Service, Cal Fire and other fire agencies also echoed PG&E's predictions for severe fire weather overnight. By 9:10 p.m. Wednesday, winds had picked up at higher elevations, with gusts up to 67 mph reported atop Mount St. Helena.

"These events historically are the events that cause the most destructive wildfires in California history," Scott Strenfel, PG&E's principal meteorologist. "… It's a pretty serious situation."

Local fire officials were concerned enough about conditions that they called in 120 extra firefighters and staged three dozen fire engines and water tenders around the county in preparation and were still planning late into the evening Wednesday for all possibilities.

Sonoma County Fire Chief Mark Heine said the message from the National Weather Service was clear: "Don't be lulled into a false sense of security due to the lack of wind right now. A major wind event is still going to impact us with a very significant windstorm."

Strenfel, with PG&E, said the hot, dry Diablo winds heading toward the North Bay were part of a "California-wide fire weather event" that on Wednesday swept down the Sacramento Valley, with gusts up to 50 mph reported in Redding. After reaching peak risk in the North Bay early Thursday, it was expected to recede Friday in the Tehachapi Mountains area of Kern County

In the North Bay, winds were forecast to subside around noon on Thursday, allowing PG&E to begin inspecting power lines and poles for wind damage before restoring energy to the equipment.

The utility has an army of crews at the ready to begin the work, as well as a fleet of helicopters, Singh said, but they can only work during daylight and would need time to assess and repair any damage.

It could be another few days before power is completely restored to affected customers, he said, adding, "We have an unwavering focus on minimizing that impact."

Stanford University Senior Research Scholar Michael Wara, an expert on climate and energy policy, projected significant economic impacts from the statewide shutdown, however, depending on its duration and the degree to which commercial and industrial users are among those affected.

On Twitter, Wara said the biggest loss es would come from business interruption, and said they could run as high as $2.5 billion.

At Oakmont Village Market, owners Laura and Dave Arcado were trying to stem theirs, using a portable generator from their fifth-wheel camper to keep their store operating despite the darkened homes around them. In preparation for the power outage, they also had purchased about 200 pounds of dry ice to keep perishables cold.

Customers from the Oakmont community poured in all morning for coffee they couldn't make at home and for sandwiches. Many thanked the couple for being open as they left.

"We probably sold over 300 cups of coffee," Laura Arcado said, adding that the business was not insured for losses resulting from spoiled food.

"We're not covered for anything," she said. "Anything we lose, we lose."

Staff Writers Chantelle Lee and Martin Espinoza contributed to this story. You can reach Staff Writer Mary Callahan at 707-521-5249 or, Staff Writer Randi Rossmann at 707‑521-5412 or, and Staff Writer Will Schmitt at 707-521-5207 or

Verizon's fixed 5G rollout will shake up home internet - Business Insider

Posted: 13 Sep 2019 12:00 AM PDT

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Verizon plans a full commercial launch of its 5G fixed wireless home internet service, dubbed 5G Home, later this year, according to Verizon Consumer Group CEO Ronan Dunne cited by Light Reading.

5G Poised To Shake Up Home INternet Through Fixed Wireless Access
Business Insider Intelligence

Verizon first launched a trial of 5G Home in four cities — Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, and Sacramento — in October 2018. The initial Home 5G service has successfully attracted customers, around half of whom are new to the telecom, according to Verizon Chief Technology Officer Kyle Malady. But as Verizon looks to expand 5G Home to the 30 markets where it promised to launch mobile 5G services, the telecom has focused on two elements to improve its appeal among consumers.

  • Verizon plans to release a new customer premises equipment (CPE) receiver in 2020 to boost the range of its home networks, per Dunne. The new CPE receiver would expand the coverage in a customer's home, giving them a stronger signal even when further from their 5G wireless modem. This will allow Verizon to continue to provide reliable 5G coverage through the service — 90% of 5G Home traffic is over the carrier's 5G network, with less than 10% falling back on its 4G network.
  • It intends to allow consumers to install their own equipment.During its initial 5G Home launch, Verizon saw that 80% of customers could install their service's receiver antenna on their own, per Dunne. Enabling consumers to install equipment on their own reduces consumers' need to schedule their day around a visit from a technician, streamlining the startup process. 

Verizon is looking to expand its home connectivity footprint with 5G.Verizon's current Fios fiber-based home internet service's coverage area stretches across nine states and has 5.8 million consumer internet connections.

Building out fiber-based home internet requires physical connections with a network of fiber-optic cables, but the fast data speeds and low latency of 5G fixed wireless will render cables running to individual homes unnecessary. 5G fixed wireless enables a company like Verizon, which already plans to roll out a nationwide 5G network, to offer home internet services in new areas without costly investments in new fiber installations. 

Traditional home internet providers should brace for increased competition, as fixed 5G will enable wireless carriers to compete in the home broadband market. The broadband market is ripe for change as consumers are yearning for more options: Almost one-third (29%) of US households either have no service or lack a second option for wired broadband service, and that share jumps to over 61% for households in rural areas.

Broadband providers will likely face an uphill battle for subscribers as 5G fixed wireless access is projected to see rapid adoption — we expect by 2024 that almost 10% of US households will use 5G fixed wireless access. To retain customers amid increased competition from wireless networks, traditional home internet providers will need to lower prices and increase network quality.

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