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Professional Engineers Stamping Wireless Plans Without Actual Knowledge Will Be Caught

It continues to amaze me, and sadden me, how some professional engineers seem to be willing to put their hard-earned licenses on the line so often, and so obviously.

When a professional engineer stamps and seals plans that unambiguously show that the wireless site as built will violate ADA clearances, then we know the PE failed to protect the public.  When PEs stamp plans that will result in inverse condemnations, we know the same thing. There are other ‘tells’ we look for when reviewing wireless project applications for our clients.  Those tells allow us to identify the PEs we suspect are no more than a mere stamp mills, most likely being paid per project stamped.

Wink, Wink, shall we?

I recently sat in a government meeting reviewing a proposed small wireless facility where, when pressed, the entitlement rep conceded that the PE who stamped the plans probably never visited the site and likely had no personal knowledge about the measurements and elements shown on the plans sealed by that PE.

Really?

This dangerous and probably unlawful ‘public-be-dammed, all wireless siting ahead‘ mentality will come back to haunt those PEs when they find themselves referred to state PE licensing boards by local governments for prosecution.

The PEs won’t be the only ones referred to state boards.

Along with the PEs are likely to be entitlement companies that hire them, and potentially the wireless carriers who hire the entitlement firms.

To be crystal clear, there are true Professional Engineers out there who care about what they do, care for the quality of their work, and respect the public interests they serve.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out who those true PEs are…their work speaks for them.  Those honorable and thoughtful PEs clearly do actual engineering reviews before sealing plans, and I suspect some of them have ended up on a  ‘naughty list’ for not being willing to waive the public interests they are committed to serving.

Jonathan

 

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City of Berkeley Wins (Again) in CTIA RF Warnings Law Suit

Yesterday, the 9th Circuit ruled (again) in favor of the City of Berkeley in CTIA’s law suit regarding the City’s requirement that cell phone vendors alert purchasers to FCC-required RF warnings.

The City of Berkeley requires in its current Municipal Code the following:

9.96.030 Required notice

A.    A Cell phone retailer shall provide to each customer who buys or leases a Cell phone a notice containing the following language:

The City of Berkeley requires that you be provided the following notice:

To assure safety, the Federal Government requires that cell phones meet radio frequency (RF) exposure guidelines. If you carry or use your phone in a pants or shirt pocket or tucked into a bra when the phone is ON and connected to a wireless network, you may exceed the federal guidelines for exposure to RF radiation. Refer to the instructions in your phone or user manual for information about how to use your phone safely.

B.    The notice required by this Section shall either be provided to each customer who buys or leases a Cell phone or shall be prominently displayed at any point of sale where Cell phones are purchased or leased. If provided to the customer, the notice shall include the City’s logo, shall be printed on paper that is no less than 5 inches by 8 inches in size, and shall be printed in no smaller than a 18-point font. The paper on which the notice is printed may contain other information in the discretion of the Cell phone retailer, as long as that information is distinct from the notice language required by subdivision (A) of this Section. If prominently displayed at a point of sale, the notice shall include the City’s logo, be printed on a poster no less than 8-1/2 by 11 inches in size, and shall be printed in no small than a 28-point font. The City shall make its logo available to be incorporated in such notices.

C.    A Cell phone retailer that believes the notice language required by subdivision (A) of this Section is not factually applicable to a Cell phone model that retailer offers for sale or lease may request permission to not provide the notice required by this Section in connection with sales or leases of that model of Cell phone. Such permission shall not be unreasonably withheld. (Ord. 7443-NS § 1, 2015; Ord. 7404-NS § 1 (part), 2015)

The CTIA challenged the current law saying, essentially, that the City was forcing wireless providers to ‘speak’ thus violating their First Amendment rights.  The District Court hearing the case denied CTIA’s request to bar the City from enforcing its RF disclosure rules.  The CTIA appealed to the 9th Circuit.

In its original decision on CTIA’s appeal, a 3-judge panel of the 9th Circuit disagreed with CTIA and allowed the ordinance to remain in force.  The CTIA then asked the Supreme Court to review the 9th Circuit decision.

The Supreme Court took the case, vacated the 9th Circuit decision supporting the City, and remanded the case back to the 9th Circuit directing that the Circuit Court reevaluate the decision in light of the Supreme Court’s holding in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra, 138 S. Ct. 2361, 201 L. Ed. 2d 835 (2018) (“NIFLA”).

The NIFLA case challenged a California law requiring compelled speech by anti-abortion counseling centers that included references to abortion clinics.  In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court overturned the California law citing a violation of the First Amendment.

NIFLA connects to CTIA by way of the Supreme Court’s analysis in NIFLA that said that a lower level of First Amendment protection exists for noncontroversial professional speech.  In NIFLA, the majority in the Supreme Court said,

[O]ur precedents have applied more deferential review to some laws that require professionals to disclose factual, noncontroversial information in their “commercial speech.” See, e.g., Zauderer v. Office of Disciplinary Counsel of Supreme Court of Ohio, 471 U. S. 626, 651 (1985); Milavetz, Gallop & Milavetz, P. A. v. United States, 559 U. S. 229, 250 (2010); Ohralik v. Ohio State Bar Assn., 436 U. S. 447, 455–456 (1978).

According, the Supreme Court’s remand to the 9th Circuit required that the Circuit Court evaluate whether the City’s RF notice was factual, noncontroversial information.

In the case re-decided yesterday in favor of Berkeley, the majority said:

Given the FCC’s requirement that cell phone manufacturers must inform consumers of “minimum test separation distance requirements,” and must “clearly disclose[ ]” accessory operating configurations “through conspicuous instructions in the user guide and user manual, to ensure unsupported operations are avoided,” we see little likelihood of success based on conflict preemption.

Berkeley’s compelled disclosure does no more than alert consumers to the safety disclosures that the FCC requires, and direct consumers to federally compelled instructions in their user manuals providing specific information about how to avoid excessive exposure. Far from conflicting with federal law and policy, the Berkeley ordinance complements and reinforces it.

Yesterday’s decision cited existing disclosures in the FCC Record, as well as cell phone manufacturer warnings.

On remand, the 9th Circuit found that Berkeley’s RF law as non-controversial under the Supreme Court’s holding in NIFLA.  A dissent by Circuit Judge Friedland takes the opposite position.

The decision and dissent are provided in this link: CTIA v Berkeley. Case No. 16-15141

It seems likely that there will be another petition by the CTIA to review yesterday’s decision.

Jonathan

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Booting Boost

T-Mobile’s ‘Un-CEO’ John Legere has announced that upon the completion of the FCC-overjoyed, DOJ-disfavored merger with Sprint, Boost Wireless will get the boot.  Boost wireless is Sprint’s ‘off brand’ of prepaid wireless services.

Prepaid wireless services are often used by people with less than normal credit ratings, those who want to live below the radar, and others who (for whatever reason) don’t have or want access to a standard wireless plan.

Mr. Legere says that NewT-Mobile will get rid of Boost selling it to a buyer that can invest in it and make it a stronger brand, but that NewT-Mobile will maintain its relationship with its own T-Mobile off brand providers Metro and Virgin Wireless.

We’ll see if Boost Wireless customers get the boot of NewT-Mobile.

jlk

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Российская 5Г Радио испу́г

Roughly (and badly) translated, the title of this point means Russia 5G Wireless Fear.

Reports published in some segments of the US mainstream media over the past few days suggest that Russia is behind at least some of the fearmongering on the Internet related to 5G deployment and claims of negative health impacts.

If you conduct a Google search on the terms ‘Russia 5G’ you find references to RT.com television coverage aimed at U.S. citizens claiming that 5G will cause health problems, while all the while it appears that 5G deployment in Russia is a Kremlin priority.

Once this Russia story really hits Fox and Friends, it will drive the president crazy.  He’ll want to figure out a way to impose 25% tariffs on Russian imports of Chinese 5G equipment.  That’ll slow things down a bit.  Yup.

Oh…wait, President Trump just signed an Executive Order effectively banning the importation of Chinese wireless equipment, such as from Huawei.

I ponder all of this.

jlk

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Getting Sirius(XM) About AT&T Cell Sites

AT&T is filing applications with local governments to modify existing cell sites to add a wire frame parabolic antenna at some of its sites.  The application also shows the addition of signal splitters (or combiners) and multiple power amplifiers.   In the applications that I’ve seen so far, there’s no mention as to the service that is being provided by (or is it to) this new antenna.

What the heck is going on here?

Well, I have a very Sirius answer for you.

AT&T is adding re-transmission services for SiriusXM radio to some of its cell sites.  Are they telling the jurisdictions that re-transmission is for a completely different non-carrier?  Well, so far unless pressed hard, all I’ve seen is a big fat NO to that.

Sirius-ly, what’s the story?

SiriusXM satellites are in orbits that are occasionally blocked for their mobile users. Why? Primarily because of tall building and hills that place physical barriers between the satellite and a car’s satellite receiver.  If the blockage lasts for more than a few seconds, drop-outs will start to occur.  In urban areas, such as here in L.A., rows of tall buildings are a real issue.

How does SiriusXM deal with this?

Historically, SiriusXM has used terrestrial relay stations that receive the satellite signal at high points and they re-transmit the signals via narrower beam width antennas shooting up and down highways with blockages on the south side.

Guess what?

A heck of lot of AT&T cell sites already do the same thing along highways, and into neighborhoods that are otherwise sometimes blocked by tall buildings.

And, on top of that, AT&T has a lot of antennas with spare transmission ports waiting to be used.  That’s what SiriusXM is going to do…use those spare ports, no doubt for a tidy fee.  Whatever the fee, however, it’s 99.999% likely that the collocation charges levied by AT&T will be less than SiriusXM leasing its own re-transmission sites.

Here’s a basic block diagram I’ve pieced together to example how all this works:


(Block diagram by JLK: Click on the image above to enlarge it.)

AT&T is claiming that these SiriusXM site modifications are subject to the expedited treatment under Section 6409(a).

Well, maybe

What I’ve seen so far, at least at camo AT&T sites, is that these SiriusXM add-on installations can bust the camouflage provision that drops a modification out of Section 6409(a) and back into major-mod land.  There are some other problems with these SiriusXM projects as well, but I’ll save those tidbits for our firm’s clients.

And now you know a lot more about this very Sirius AT&T issue.

jlk

 

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President Trump: Drinking the Industry 5G Kool Aid

On Friday, April 12, President Trump held a press event in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. His subject? 5G deployment. He remarks bear some close examination, as they come right out of the wireless industry playbook as enhanced by the FCC, a captured agency of that industry. Let’s take apart the remarks, which . . . → Read More: President Trump: Drinking the Industry 5G Kool Aid

Cal Supreme Court Rules for San Francisco against T-Mobile in PROW Case

Today the California Supreme Court ruled in favor of the City and County of San Francisco, and against T-Mobile and its wireless industry co-parties in a case regarding how a local government can manage the public right of ways in this state.

The decision has, as of this writing, been out for only 15 minutes, . . . → Read More: Cal Supreme Court Rules for San Francisco against T-Mobile in PROW Case

Wireless Site Project Plans with Stolen PE Stamps?

With the push to apply for as many cell sites as possible in as short a period as possible, and for the least cost, we’re observing an alarming new situation: the use of Professional Engineer seals and signatures copied onto wireless project plans and related safety documents, all without the knowledge–much less the permission–of the . . . → Read More: Wireless Site Project Plans with Stolen PE Stamps?

TLF Releases new Small Wireless Facilities Supplemental Application

Big news: TLF has released v. 1.03 of our new Small Wireless Facilities (“SWF”) Supplemental Application form. This form is available for free to any local government that would like to get a handle on how to better process the deluge of SWF applications hitting right now, and for effectively comply with the (crazy) new . . . → Read More: TLF Releases new Small Wireless Facilities Supplemental Application

House and Senate to FCC: Did the Commission REALLY…

Yesterday (1/30/19) Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) wrote to FCC Chairman Pai asking for information regarding allegations that FCC staff tried to game the federal judicial system in connection with the current litigation over the Commission’s 5G orders.

The letter opens with the following:

Dear Chairman Pai,

As you know, reports have . . . → Read More: House and Senate to FCC: Did the Commission REALLY…