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The Wireless Sky is Falling!

The wireless sky is NOT falling!

The Wireless Sky is Falling! The Wireless Sky is Falling…

Yes, the wireless sky is falling according to various firms who want landlords to hire them to sell their Sprint leases.  Our landlords are receiving letters and emails from various firms wanting to buy Sprint leases, with justifications such as:

‘Once the T-Mobile-Sprint deal is done, the value of your Sprint Site will drop to $0.’

‘Sprint will lay off 70+% of its staff.’

‘Sprint will shutter half of its cell sites.  Yours will be one of the sites they shutter.’

‘Your Sprint site is surrounded by [insert any number] of T-Mobile sites.’

‘You’ve got a narrow and closing window to act before the FCC and DOJ green-light the merger.’

Once they have set their end-of-the-world table, these firms then suggest that now is the time to hire them to help sell the soon-to-be-worthless Sprint lease.

Wait, I don’t get it…

Why would any buyer be interested in buying a worthless site owned by a company that’s going to shed the better part of its staff, and shut down half of its sites?

Yes, why indeed!?

If history is any indicator, post-merger (by a couple of years), there will be some site shut downs, but many will survive. Not all the sites to shutter will belong to Sprint…some T-Mobile sites will be goners, too.

The lowest hanging fruit for shut downs will be where Sprint and T-Mobile are collocated on the very same tower or property.  Next will likely Sprint and T-Mobile sites nearby to each other (blocks).  Finally, sites further separated will get the evil eye.

Expect companies like MD7, BlackDot, and other so-called site lease optimizers to be pulled in to push landlords to cut their rents, extend their terms, and other fun stuff (wait for: ‘Hello landlord…Now that T-Mobile and Sprint have merged, they have too many sites. T-Mobile is considering terminating your lease, but if you give them a big fat kiss in the way of a long-term rent reduction, an elimination of other terms favorable to you, they’ll stay…’).

If the T-Mobile/Sprint deal is done, we’re in for interesting times.  Before that, however, don’t get suckered into selling your Sprint (or T-Mobile) lease until you get competent counsel that help you understand your legal position.

Competent counsel does not come dressed like a little bird, nor does competent counsel cry out that the wireless sky is falling.







Small Cell and Personal Pleasure Stash

We work for a heck of a lot of governments reviewing small cells and macro cell site applications for the public right of way, and for private property.  Over the last two decades, my staff and I have reviewed and commented on thousands of wireless site applications for our government clients.

One of our many local government clients called in to tell us that we would NOT be receiving a particular small cell siting project application to review.


It turns out that an wireless permit applicant from a REALLY BIG turf vendor representing a REALLY BIG wireless carrier walked in to City Hall and delivered to the Planning counter a new small cell wireless application in hard copy and electronic format.  The electronic version of the application was tendered via a USB Flash Drive (commonly called a USB stick), just like the one in the photo.  Well, without the embossed title. Fees were paid; a receipt was issued; and thanks were exchanged.

So far so good.

Later, a member of the Planning staff took the stick and thrust it into her computer’s socket with the intent that what was inside should shoot out the end of the stick thus joining to become part of the City’s Planning computer system.  Once the stick’s contents were fully transferred to the computer, the expected stick ejection occurred. It didn’t take long, but there was happiness for a job completed.

But unlike most stick to socket encounters, this one produced a very undesired result.

Not only did the stick eject the application, it also pumped out many, many files with file names suggesting they contained, ah, very personal videos.

This undesired encounter made staff confused, angry, and then worried.

Staff turned over the stick to the jurisdiction’s police department.

Later, no doubt after reviewing every file to check for illegal activities, the police contacted the Planning staff and suggested that the applicant never again be allowed to ever step foot inside City Hall.

I assume the police also meant that no other portions of the applicant’s body parts should be allowed in, either.

I don’t know how the Staff’s phone call to the applicant went, but I’m sure the applicant will heed the City’s admonition.

The immoral of this story?

(Really, you expected I’d have to lay-it-out for you?)




Wireless Carrier Attempts Backdoor Land Grab

Our law firm recently dealt with an interesting issue: an attempted unpaid land grab by a carrier.  This is an issue that wireless site landlords should ALWAYS be on the lookout for when reviewing the plans for a proposed site modification.  This story deals with a proposed standby power generator.

In the matter we just resolved for our landlord client, the wireless carrier wanted to install a new propane gas powered standby power generator at its cell site on our client’s property.

Standby power generators provide electrical power during commercial power outages, thereby allowing the cell site to operate during a local power outage.

For the most part, that’s a good thing.

The carrier proposed that the 7,500 watt standby power generator; the 120 gallon propane tank; the power transfer switch, etc. all to be placed entirely within the existing leasehold area.

That’s a good thing, too.

When we reviewed the project plans for the landlord, we recommended the landlord DENY the request.  The landlord was surprised.  All of the proposed modifications were to be entirely within the leasehold area, so on what basis wound he deny the request, he wanted to know.

Well, it turns out that the carrier’s request to modify its site—entirely within its leasehold area, was an attempt to secure a defacto, covert unpaid expansion of the land on the landlord’s property to be controlled by the carrier.

And that’s not a good thing.

What the carrier outright failed to tell the landlord (and only provided a single oblique reference on one panel on a single page of the 11 pages of zoning plans) was that the location of the propane tank triggered a fire safety code ignition clearance zone of 5 feet in all directions around the tank.

To maintain the ignition clearance from all of the existing wireless equipment inside the leasehold, the carrier proposed to place the propane tank against the edge of the leasehold.  That meant that the 5 foot clearance zone around the tank would actually extend outside of the leasehold area, thereby restricting and controlling the landlord’s use of his own property.

Figure 1, below, contains a capture of the relevant portion of the plans as proposed by the carrier:


In the next graphic, Figure 2, I’ve animated the plans in Figure 1 to show exactly where the land grab would have occurred had we not detected it:

(Click on the image above to see it in full size and animation.)

Did the carrier, on its own, actually disclose these the relevant facts to the landlord other than via an oblique plan page reference? No.

Did the carrier, on its own, offer any additional rent to the landlord? No.

In the end, did the landlord, once alerted by us the unpleasant reality, agree to permit the defacto unpaid expansion? No.

Having being caught by us, the carrier redesigned the site to comply with the fire safety codes without trying to sneak in an unpaid leasehold expansion.

That’s a good thing, too.


Mayor Sam Liccardo Resigns from FCCs Sham BDAC

Today, San José Mayor Sam Liccardo resigned from the FCC’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (“BDAC”). This comes as no surprise to most of us in the local government sector, yet we’re sorry to see him leave.

When FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced just one year ago his intention to form the BDAC as a vehicle for local governments and the wireless industry to work together to draft proposals for balanced local wireless deployment policies, we knew that the membership of the BDAC (hand selected by the Chairman) would tell the tale.

Unfortunately, the tale told by the Chairman’s lopsided selection for BDAC membership showed an industry-captured agency where the real intent was to top-load the Committee with industry players, while assigning a paltry-few membership slots to local government representatives.  More: See this link.

Mayor Liccardo took on one of the micro-minority slots doled out by the Chairman to local government representatives and he really attempted to make something of it.  For that, we applaud Mayor Liccardo, and hope the side of his head is not too dented.

Read his resignation letter, below.  You’ll get why we know that work product of the BDAC is most likely (say only 99.999999999999% likely) to be a sham…and a means and justification for the Commission to adopt new rules based on the sham work product of the captured agency.



FCC BDAC Resignation Letter of Mayor Sam Liccardo (San José, California). January 25, 2018.


New Mobilitie Design: The ‘Fanny Pack’

Mobilitie, the purveyor for Sprint of such new but instant classic wireless designs as:

The “Speargun” Design * (see below)


The “Pox on a Pole” Design (this is the Walrus version) *


The “Stick it Up Your Pole” Design * # (see below)

…has (finally) come up with a fairly-decent site configuration.  I call the new design the “Fanny Pack.”  Here’s what it looks like, as recently deployed in the City of Los Angeles:

The “Fanny Pack” Design *

The RRU, UE (backhaul) Relay, the power distribution, and elements other than the downlink antenna are all located within the Fanny Pack.

I see the Fanny Pack design as Mobilitie’s best efforts to date to come with and deploy a closer-to-mainline wireless site that is far less awful that its prior outdoors site configurations.  There are some site deployment issues with the Fanny Pack design, but those issues are relatively easy to address.

We’ve seen plans for the same basic Fanny Pack design, but with the equipment enclosure on the back of the pole.  Needless to say, we’ll refer to that as the “Back Pack” when deployed.  Photos to follow after the first Back Pack goes up near us.

Keep up this better work, Mobilitie!


* Okay, as you should have guessed by now, these are my design names, not Mobilitie’s. Got it? Good!

# Ms. Shannon Nichols, a NCE Permitting Manager for Mobilitie in Southern California told me on 12/6/2017 that the wood pole configuration shown above, with its standoff bracket and equipment, was a design requirement of the City of Los Angeles.  She went on to say that Mobilitie would have preferred to have its equipment flush to the body of the pole.  Thanks for the clarification, Shannon.


Most Favored Wireless Lessee Clause?

One of the big wireless carriers has added an interesting new ‘standard provision’ in its lease template. It’s a clause that makes that particular lessee the ‘most favored lessee’ over the decades-long life of the agreement.

Some of you will recognize this type of contract provision as a Most Favored Nation (“MFN”) clause.

In the . . . → Read More: Most Favored Wireless Lessee Clause?

Sprint Uses My Photo of Mobilitie to Promote Small Cells

I guess Sprint really, really likes my cell site photo collection, and photos I use in my lectures. So much, in fact, that they they included one of my annotated photos of a Mobilitie ‘pox-on-a-pole’ site in Los Angeles as a presentation tool in an Ex Parte meeting with 9 staff members at the FCC . . . → Read More: Sprint Uses My Photo of Mobilitie to Promote Small Cells


Very late last night (October 15, 2017), Governor Jerry Brown VETOED Senate Bill 649 (Hueso). Thank you Gov. Brown!

SB 649 was nothing more than an obscene transfer of wealth away from California citizens to wireless industry and cable TV industry shareholders by way of grossly reduced site rental fees, far below their fair market . . . → Read More: SB 649 VETOED BY GOV. BROWN!

Crown Castle Upping the Game in Small Cells

I’ve had a chance to see a preview of some very innovative designs by Crown Castle to hide pairs of Ericsson antenna/radio integrated small cells on light standards. Photos to follow soon.

Crown Castle is to be commended. This is standard-setting stuff.


SB649: Autonomous Cars and Autonomous Lies

In a frantic effort to try and salvage SB649 (the “Wireless Industry Prevarication and Theft of the People’s Property Act”) from a veto by Gov. Brown, the wireless industry has come up with a nifty new lie: Without 5G small cells we cannot have autonomous cars.


Well, with other industry ‘sounds good’ myths debunked, . . . → Read More: SB649: Autonomous Cars and Autonomous Lies

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