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Can. You. Throttle. Me. Now?

By now you’ve probably read published stories or seen the news videos about Verizon Wireless throttling (throttle) data rates of firefighter phones in California.  See, for example, this Ars Technica article.

Some call this a net neutrality issue.  I don’t see it that way.

I see this as a public safety issue, and ripe for a thoughtful California legislator to step up and introduce legislation to establish a statewide public safety users database (“PSUD”) that would contain the phone numbers of all registered public safety user (firefighters, police, etc.).  Let’s lasso the carriers to get them back under the mantle of public safety.

Plan A: The legislation I envision will prohibit a wireless carrier–any wireless carrier–from throttling data rates or disconnecting a registered user during federally or state-declared emergencies once notice is sent to the carriers by a designated state office.

I suspect the wireless carriers will say that they can’t do this for one reason or another, or they are somehow unable to act quickly on anti-throttle notices sent from state officials, thus the legislation should not move forward.

If the carriers do say it can’t be done as I’ve set out in Plan A–really, when they say it–I have a splendid Plan B:  The alternative version of the law I envision will prohibit throttling or data caps for any registered device at any time, and require that the carrier send no fewer than 5 texts over 10 calendar days, plus a 10-day letter, warning in advance of account cut-off.

If the carriers are truly concerned about public safety–which sometimes I wonder–then they should embrace legislation like I propose.

It’s about life and property safety, not data caps and profit.

I’ll be talking with some friendly California legislators about this legislative initiative.

-Jonathan

PS: Perhaps the California State Firefighters Association and the California Peace Officers Association #CalPeaceOfficer would like to cooperate to add this to the top of their legislative agendas.  I suspect they might like my little initiative.  I’d be happy to help them write the draft legislation with real teeth at no charge. -jlk

PPS: It seems like this idea would be easy to spread to other states for adoption.  Hummmm.  -jlk

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Coronado, California Adopts New Wireless Ordinance

Last night, August 21, 2018, the City of Coronado, California adopted a new wireless ordinance. In fact, it was their first wireless ordinance, and it focuses on 5G and beyond.

During the hearing, I presented a short PowerPoint presentation on 5G and why the wireless industry moves in seemingly mysterious ways.

If you’d like to learn about the new ordinance, and listen to my lecture to and discussions with the City Council, please visit:  https://coronado.12milesout.com/meeting/council/8-21-2018  and select item 8b.

Jonathan

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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.

Jonathan

 

 

 

 

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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:

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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.

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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.

jlk

 

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

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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)

and

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

and

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

…has (finally) come up with a fairly-decent . . . → Read More: New Mobilitie Design: The ‘Fanny Pack’

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

SB 649 VETOED BY GOV. BROWN!

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.

jlk

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