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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 value.  A diversion of funds that currently goes to offset public safety costs like police and fire services.

The pig is dead!

What did the industry promise in SB 649 to do for the incredible gifts of public funds and public property?

Perhaps a duty to provide 5G services anywhere in California?  Nope, not in SB 649.

Perhaps a duty to provide 4G (or even 3G) services to under- and un-served areas of California? Nope, not in SB 649.

Maybe some duty to provide an earthquake early warning system, which the carriers told legislators could only be provided by 5G?  Nope, not in SB 649.

Maybe some duty to close the ever-widening digital divide in California?  Nope, not in SB 649.

Maybe a duty to provide a non-actionable report to the Legislature?  Yup.  This was the only actual duty on the industry in SB 649.  One that was truly meaningless in the grand scheme of things.

SB 649 was a multi-billion dollar sham almost perpetrated on Californians by Sen. Hueso and Asm. Quirk, the co-sponsors, on behalf of their patrons, the wireless industry and the cable TV industry. A sham that would have caused local government to raise taxes to replace the non-tax revenues paid by the wireless industry for fair-market site rentals.

SB 649 was opposed by nearly 300 local governments and government associations representing over 95% of the citizens of California who knew that they were being taken for a ride. It was also opposed by the AARP and the Teamsters.

It took the vision and courage of Governor Jerry Brown to VETO this horrible bill, and all local governments and their citizens in this Golden State thank him for his leadership and courage to buck the will of the wireless industry!

My partner, Robert (“Tripp”) May points out that Governor Brown sent us all an important message in his veto statement. Governor Brown said in relevant part:

There is something of real value in having a process that results in extending this innovative technology rapidly and efficiently. Nevertheless, I believe that the interest which localities have in managing the rights of way requires a more balanced solution than the one achieved in this bill.

Tripp notes that this is a value proposition: Each side should get real value.  SB 649 had no real value for the people of California because there were no real duties on the part of the wireless industry.  Value isn’t found in a blatant wealth transfer that results in the reduction in police and fire funding.  When the wireless industry gets that key point, and is prepared to discuss a true small cell bill (sorry…35 cubic feet is not small) they will find willing negotiators in California’s local government community, and among our partners.


To read Governor Brown’s veto message, click on the following link: Sb_649_Veto_Message_2017


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, the wireless industry lobbyists have straining to find a new prevarication not once mentioned in any of the SB649 hearings: autonomous cars need small cells to work drive.

Okay, if that’s the case (and its not) then how will self-driving vehicles travel on controlled access state highways and Interstate Highways?  Will the industry commit to placing small cells for each company about every 500 feet along those high access/use roadways?  That would be about 45 new small cells along each mile of roadway.

Oh, wait… As Jim Lovell actually said during the Apollo 13 mission, “Houston, we’ve had a problem.”

The problem is that SB 649 doesn’t grant any rights to install small cells on controlled access state highways or Interstate Highways.  It only deals with right-of-ways controlled by local governments.

Oops!  Let’s not let the truth cloud the wireless industry lies…again.

SB 649 is simply a way of diverting 10s of $billions of rent from the citizens of California and into the pockets of wireless industry shareholders with no duties on the wireless industry to build even one small cell site, close one inch of the existing digital divide, provide even 4G services to under- and unserved areas in California.

Stop the SB649 Rip Off!




Sprint, T-Mobile, Cable TV, Mobilitie, and Removal Bonds

Months ago I was pondering the society news pages talking about Sprint pursuing a marriage with the cable TV industry.  Today the society pages say the off-again, on-again romance between Sprint and T-Mobile is back on-again, and may well lead to their marriage.  If that marriage is consummated, I think it’s likely that T-Mobile will force Sprint to breakup with Mobilitie.  (Think Diana, Charlie, and Camilla.  One too many.)

Ricochet node hanging below a street light arm.

I’m sure that many–especially Mobilitie–hoped that the Sprint/Mobilitie relationship would blossom into a love that could survive the test of time. Alas, I don’t think that is in the cards, or the stars.  Cable TV and T-Mobile both seem to prefer fiber backhaul over wireless backhaul because, well, it just makes more speed and capacity sense over the long term.

From a local government perspective, this sad evolving ‘left-after-the-alter’ story (that might involve Mobilitie) strongly suggests that we must more carefully consider requiring small cell/DAS providers to post removal bonds as a condition of approval of new right-of-way installations.  It seems likely that some providers of small cell services and backhaul will survive, while some with less robust and less saleable networks will not.

What we in local government service must avoid is a repeat of the Metricom (Ricochet) fiasco in 2001.  That radio backhaul internet firm went belly-up, bankrupt, and abandoned thousands of their wireless nodes on street lights in major cities across the U.S.  For years many of those nodes sucked street light power until the local power entity manually disconnected the ballast/photocell tap above the cobra head.  Many of those abandoned nodes can still be seen on street lights today.

It is not the bonds of wireless matrimony that count anymore; it is indemnification provisions and the performance bonds (or even the irrevocable letters of credit) to ensure removal of otherwise abandoned equipment that count.

That’s my opinion.  What’s yours?




A Modest Proposal to ‘Shake Up’ SB 649

California is a part of the Pacific Rim’s earthquake ring of fire, as the wireless industry likes to remind our State Senators and Assembly Members.  In fact, as part of its full court press on California legislators to pass SB 649 into law, one of the more commonly-heard arguments in legislative offices is that 5G small cell sites are necessary to give cell phone users, hospital, police and fire stations, and others advance warnings of earthquakes.  In fact, without 5G there is no earthquake early warning system.

(Not surprising is that the wireless industry assertion is a factual hoax from a technology standpoint, but let’s not let facts confuse wireless industry puffery.)

What is surprising, given the industry chest-pounding claims about the need for 5G small cells for an earthquake warning system, is that SB 649–which was written by the wireless industry–is absolutely devoid of any mention of any requirement to make earthquake early warnings a reality, much less a wireless industry obligation.

Essentially, the wireless industry’s claims that we need 5G for earthquake early warnings is good old fashion fear-mongering without even an iota of an industry solution.

Well, folks, I’m here to help suggest a once-for-forever solution to the wireless industry’s concerns about the need for earthquake early warning!

Let’s start with an insane reality connected to SB 649.  As ghost written by the wireless industry, SB 649 will result in billions of dollars of wireless industry shareholder value by requiring that municipalities rent publicly owned and paid-for property at far below fair market value. Those under-market value rents will be in place for at least 50 years.

Here’s another insane reality: Historically, the state and federal governments have been unwilling to come up with the relatively modest funding required to deploy and maintain a fully effective earthquake early warning system in this Golden State.

Given  that:

  1. California has unsuccessfully struggled to get adequate state and federal funding to fully deploy and activate a statewide early earthquake warning system, much less one that is integrated into the wireless and broadband wired networks, coupled with the need to fund maintenance and improvements over decades, and

  2. the wireless industry has repeated told our legislators that 5G small cell deployment is necessary for them to provide the pubic with early warnings of earthquakes, and

  3. the wireless industry will be given nearly free access to billions of dollars of public property and funds by the cost caps built into SB649, and

  4. Mexico’s early earthquake warning system just provided up to a full minute of early warning time before the 8.1 magnitude waves hit…

I think the wireless industry should be funding and building a world-class earthquake early warning system to save lives paid out of their wallets to be grossly fattened by SB 649. The wireless industry lobbyists say that 5G is needed for earthquake early warning, and SB 649 is needed to lower wireless industry site rental costs? Okay, then I’m sure you’ll amenable to amend SB 649 to require the very same concerned wireless industry to fund the statewide research, deployment, maintenance, and upgrades of the world’s finest and most effective earthquake early warning system.

That would be a fair concession, at least in part, for the billions of dollars of financial benefits the wireless industry and their shareholders will receive from SB 649.  I’m sure my industry friends will agree to this modest proposal.  I expect your next amendments on this within, say, the next 7 days.

I’m waiting to hear from you…  I’m sure @DrLucyJones and her scientists will quaking in their boots waiting, too! (Sorry…I had to have a bad pun in this post somewhere!)


PS: If the wireless industry needs help writing an amendment to achieve this modest proposal, just ask.  I’m ready.

PPS: Here’s my industry-friendly slogan for this proposal,

Save a life, save a revenue unit!




New SB 649 Amendments: Lipstick On a Pig

I’ve just seen the latest set of 61 amendments to SB 649. They’ll be published tomorrow (Thursday). Most of them are word corrections. A few are substantive and make SB 649 even worse for the citizens of California. No fix to the wireless digital divide. No fix to the unfunded state mandate. No fix for . . . → Read More: New SB 649 Amendments: Lipstick On a Pig

More Fun with the IRS Collections Department

Apparently the ‘IRS’ still wants me to pay them $4,000. Dang, I knew I should have cut back on the Starbucks and put those dollars in a piggy bank. I could have paid off the ‘debt’ in just a few weeks! Ahem. Well, here for your listening pleasure for about the next 30 minutes are . . . → Read More: More Fun with the IRS Collections Department

SB649 Unfunded Mandate; Not Equitable: CA Dept of Finance Opposes

The California Department of Finance quietly released its analysis report last week determining that SB 649 is likely to create a million dollar unfunded mandate, fails to cure basic wireless digital divide issues; and is fails to address important issues of community aesthetics.

If this bill is enacted and a test claim is filed with . . . → Read More: SB649 Unfunded Mandate; Not Equitable: CA Dept of Finance Opposes

Dr. Kramer Presents Local Government Opposition to SB 649 at Assembly Appropriations Committee

Dr. Jonathan Kramer

On August 23, I was the only local government representative permitted to speak at the Appropriations Committee hearing of the California Assembly in opposition to SB 649, the statewide wireless deregulation bill. The Chair allocated all of 2 minutes for opposition comments from local governments, and I was designated by the League of California Cities, . . . → Read More: Dr. Kramer Presents Local Government Opposition to SB 649 at Assembly Appropriations Committee

California SB 649: The “Wireless Industry Don’t Care About Small Cell Aesthetics” Legislation

The current version of SB 649, California’s ‘small cell’ Bill is still riddled with loopholes and contradictory language. Guess whether the public or the wireless industry benefits from Sen. Hueso’s Billion-Dollar gift of public property and funds to the shareholders of the various wireless companies? Go ahead…I’ll wait.

Okay, well that didn’t take you too . . . → Read More: California SB 649: The “Wireless Industry Don’t Care About Small Cell Aesthetics” Legislation

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