AGL Magazine’s Wireless Infrastructure Conference: Irvine 4/18/13

AGL Magazine LogoAGL Magazine‘s Wireless Infrastructure Conference will be coming to Irvine Marriott in Irvine, California on April 18, 2013. If you want to know about what’s happening in the trenches of wireless, and where those trenches lead, this is the conference to attend.

AGL’s regional conferences are, in my opinion, one of the best sources of current industry information, and one of the most cost effective. This is the conference I would attend even if I were not a speaker. But as you’ve just figured out, I’ll be a speaker at this conference. I’ll be speaking about Assembly Bill 162, more properly called the “Wireless Industry Gift and Public Exclusion Act of 2013.”

The registration fee is only $95.00, and there is a substantially lower registration fee for government registrants.  Ask me for the government discount code; I’ll be glad to provide it.

Here is the current conference schedule (subject to change):

8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. Networking Continental Breakfast Welcome: Rich Biby
9:00 a.m to 10:00 a.m. Site Acquisition: Where Will All the Wireless Go?You have all heard the statistics on wireless growth, but where will all these antennas and nodes be located? This session will teach you how to meet the zoning challenges and take advantage of the opportunities in innovative antenna siting. Stay on top of the trends in siting macrocells, microcells and DAS, whether it is a greenfield development or on rooftops or on street furniture. Our panel of experts will fill you in on the best practices in siting on federal properties, churches and schools.
10:00 a.m. to 10:55 a.m. Wireless Business Trends Roundtable This session will scrutinize the business side of the wireless industry, from tower brokerage to Wall Street to carrier class Wi-Fi. Stay up to date on the critical factors that have an impact on our industry, whether it is the latest mergers, cash infusions or LTE deployment news. You will learn where the opportunities are to increase your profits, whether you own towers or integrate wireless systems.
11:00 p.m. to 12:00 p.m. LTE and the Art of Achieving and Maintaining Tower Integrity With LTE systems rolling out at a furious pace, can proper equipment installations keep up? This session will teach you a wide range of best practices for deploying equipment on towers and keeping them in working order. Plus, keys for keeping tower climbers safe.
12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. Lunch
1:00 2:00 p.m. Small Cell, DAS, Wi-Fi – the New Wireless Frontier While it goes by different names – metrocell, picocell, microcell, DAS node and carrier-grade Wi-Fi – the result is the same, increased capacity and coverage enhancement. You will learn the latest technology trends in the deployment of multiple, smaller coverage area nodes. Additionally, you will learn the market drivers. All of which are critical to playing in this quickly evolving space.
2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Small-cell Vertical Market Breakout Sessions: You will be able to take advantage of being a part of a small group, which will engage in a deeper discussion of the various wireless vertical markets. Speakers dealing with four verticals in small-cell wireless –– health care, campus/stadium, commercial real estate and municipal Wi-Fi –– will move from group to group every 30 minutes, answering questions and giving opinions on the opportunities and challenges each vertical represents. Using this more intimate setting, this session gives you time to talk with our experts about your particular interests in the topics and to share ideas with others.Vertical 1:  Tracking the Heartbeat of Wireless in the HospitalModerator will lead a discussion on the role of wireless in today’s health care organizations. Hospitals offer possibilities for numerous wireless applications, and hospitals represent one of the most complex environments in which to introduce new technologies.Vertical 2:  From the Campus to the Stadium, Wireless Goes Small Bringing smaller cells – whether DAS, Wi-Fi or small cell – to campuses and stadiums is a challenging, high-profile venture.  Moderator will lead a discussion of this unusual mix of outdoor and indoor deployments that must be geared for large influxes of users who are there only for short periods.

Vertical 3:  Municipal Wi-Fi –– The Key to the Intelligent City? Municipalities can be an integral part of the wireless superhighway and if they embrace that role, they will improve their cities on multiple fronts, including revenue and business development. Moderator will explain two critical components –– wireless infrastructure and fiber backhaul –– that cities must have to stay current with mobile technology development.

Vertical 4:  Commercial Real Estate — Connections Trump Locations. In-building wireless networks have elevated the provisioning of wireless communications from an afterthought to the status of an intelligent amenity for commercial real estate development. Corporate site selection committees now list broadband connectivity among the top three criteria. Learn how wireless is helping real-estate developers gain new tenants and increase revenue by marketing their properties to smartphone users.

4:00 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. Conference Wrap up Moderator: Richard P. Biby, P.E., Publisher, AGL magazine

Following is a link to the online registration site…If you’re a government, call me first for the discount code: CLICK HERE TO REGISTER.


Urgent: California 6409(a)/Shot Clock Law Floated in Sacramento

California Assembly Bill 162California Assembly Bill 162

[Updated March 28, 2013]
[Updated March 24, 2013]
[Updated March 23, 2013]
[Original March 22, 2013]

[Update/Heads-Up: I’ve received a copy of Assembly Member Holden’s Fact Sheet on AB 162, which has been christened the “Broadband Expansion Act.” I’ve rechristened it the “Wireless Industry Gift and Public Exclusion Act of 2013.” In the next day or two I’ll be posting the Fact Sheet, and my point-by-point analysis, rebuttal and corrections to the Fact Sheet.]

The wireless industry has quietly dropped an awful bill, Assembly Bill 162, into the hopper in Sacramento to impose severe new rules requiring mandatory and lightning fast wireless collocation approvals by California local governments.

Assembly Bill 162 is a combination Super Section 6409(a) coupled with a Super Shot Clock.  To add icing to the wireless industry’s cake, the bill would effectively eliminate any consideration of whether the applicant has a significant gap in its service, and would define its key terms so broadly as to make nearly every component part of a wireless tower or site (including components not now considered to be either).

Well, really, there’s nothing super about this bill if you’re either a concerned citizen or a local government.

Assembly Bill 162, sponsored by Assembly Whip Chris Holden D-41, started as a housing bill in January.  It was gutted yesterday, on March 21, to become an 8-figure gift to the entire wireless industry.

In its now-morphed form, Assembly Bill 162 would add Section 65964.5 to the Government Code to do the following:

1.  Parrot the opening of Sec. 6409(a) of the Middle Class Tax Relief Act of 2012 by saying,

(a) Notwithstanding any other law, and pursuant to Section 6409 of the federal Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (47 U.S.C. Sec. 1455), a local government shall approve and may not deny any eligible facilities request for a modification of an existing wireless telecommunications facility that does not substantially change the physical dimensions of the wireless telecommunications facility.

2. Then the next section would make the failure of a Local Government to act on such a request within 45 days result in the project being deemed approved. 

(b)The failure to act on an eligible facilities request within 45 days of receipt of a request shall be deemed an approval of the request. The 45 days shall be tolled if the request is determined to be incomplete. If the request is determined to be incomplete, the local government shall comply with subdivision (c) of Section 65943 of the Government Code.

Section (b) would effectively eliminate any possibility of public hearings in advance of mandatory approvals.  The 45 day shot clock would cut in half the time determined by the FCC to be adequate to process collocations.  The effective result would be that wireless collocation projects would take priority over virtually every other project considered by a local government.

Section 65943(c) of the Government Code provides for a formal appeal process for projects deemed incomplete by a local government.   Since this is already state law, it seems redundant here.

3.  Forget about coverage gap proof for collocations.  Subsection (c) of Assembly Bill 162 would kill that:

(c) A local government shall not require proof of gap in coverage as part of the approval of an eligible facilities request.

4.  Next, the proposed legislation goes on to define key terms:

(d) For purposes of this section, the following definitions shall apply:

(1) “Eligible facilities request” or “request” means any request for modification of an existing wireless telecommunications facility that involves any of the following:

(A) Collocation of upgraded transmission equipment.

(B) Removal of transmission equipment.

(C) Replacement of transmission equipment.

(2) “Substantially change” means any of the following:

(A) The mounting of the proposed antenna on the wireless telecommunications facility would increase the existing height of the wireless telecommunications facility by more than 10 percent, or by the height of one additional antenna array with separation from the nearest existing antenna not to exceed 20 feet, whichever is greater, except that the mounting of the proposed antenna may exceed the size limits set forth in this subparagraph if necessary to avoid interference with existing antennas.

(B) The mounting of the proposed antenna would involve the installation of more than the standard number of new equipment cabinets for the technology involved, not to exceed four equipment cabinets, or more than one additional equipment shelter.

(C) The mounting of the proposed antenna would involve adding an appurtenance to the body of the wireless telecommunications facility that would protrude from the edge of the wireless telecommunications facility more than 20 feet, or more than the width of the wireless telecommunications facility at the level of the appurtenance, whichever is greater, except that the mounting of the proposed antenna may exceed the size limits set forth in this subparagraph if necessary to shelter the antenna from inclement weather or to connect the antenna to the wireless telecommunications facility via cable.

(D) The mounting of the proposed antenna would involve excavation outside the current wireless telecommunications facility site, defined as the current boundaries of the leased or owned property surrounding the wireless telecommunications facility and any access or utility easements currently related to the site.

(3) “Wireless telecommunications facility” means equipment and network components, including towers, utility poles, transmitters, base stations, and emergency power systems that are integral to providing wireless telecommunications services.

The definitions in Assembly Bill 162 are so broad as to encompass nearly every portion of a wireless system, including DAS networks.  Moreover, the definitions are in conflict with the plain words of the proposed statue as to what constitutes a substantial change in the physical dimensions of the wireless telecommunications facility.

The definitions (and in part the lack of definitions) would also open the door to the conversion of fully camouflaged sites to morph into ugly monopoles or visible sites.  Moreover, the definitions would allow for the mandatory installation of any type of emergency power system (including diesel powered generators and hydrogen fuel cells) at any cell site.

Assembly Bill 162 is one of the worst bills that would essentially kill public input into wireless siting process for collocations in California.  It would speed up the process to the point where the public would be denied any effective opportunity to have any meaningful review, much less input, on proposed wireless collocations (which seem to be the bulk of wireless projects in California now).

The sponsor of Assembly Bill 162 is one of the most powerful members of the Assembly, and the owner of CHMB Consulting Firm (a real estate consulting firm in Pasadena).  No doubt Mr. Holden’s goal is to promote the rapid deployment of more wireless service in California, but Assembly Bill 162 in its current form is anti-constituent and anti-government.  As it is now set out, the Bill amounts to a massive gift to the wireless industry at the expense of the public and local governments.

Members of the public will need to directly communicate with Assembly Member Holden about Assembly Bill 162, as well as their own local governments and elected representatives, if there is to be any chance to maintain meaningful community and local government involvement in wireless tower collocation siting matters in this state.

To read the original housing bill, now struck, with the replacement wireless industry gift language, click to open the PDF: AB 162 Assembly Bill – AMENDED

Here is a link to the current version of Assembly Bill 162 making its way through the California Legislature:

To express your views about Assembly Bill 162 directly to Assembly Member Holden, you can use his web site’s comment form:

Check back here often to find out what’s happening with Assembly Bill 162.  Share this post with your friends and your local elected officials (who I hope are also your friends).

Thanks to J.D. for his help making this post even better!

FCC OKs T-Mobile/MetroPCS Merger: Free Lease Analysis for Landlords

t-metroThe FCC voted to approve T-Mobile’s application to acquire MetroPCS.

The next step–and perhaps the last real hurdle before the merger can be completed–is an affirmative vote of MetroPCS shareholders during a scheduled April 12 shareholders meeting.

For MetroPCS site landlords, this is a major step towards the shuttering of some 10,000 MetroPCS sites.  See my story on this from last November.

Most likely, the earliest hits will occur to cell sites that presently have both MetroPCS and T-Mobile leases.   The likely next round will be for MetroPCS sites located near existing T-Mobile sites. Finally, it’s quite likely that some T-Mobile sites will be shuttered where an existing collocated or nearby MetroPCS site will better suit the needs of the merged company.  This may well be the case if you area a T-Mobile site Landlord currently receiving an ab0ve-market rental rate, and a suitable nearby MetroPCS site is available for joint use.

Is your existing cell site lease and income at risk? No-charge lease analysis for MetroPCS and T-Mobile Landlords.

If you are presently a MetroPCS or T-Mobile site Landlord, Telecom Law Firm, P.C. is offering a no-charge, no obligation lease review to help you quantify your risk,  prepare for possible site termination, and develop strategies to deal with the outgoing carrier.   Just give us a call toll-free on 855-CELL SITE (855-235-5748 ) and let’s talk.  You won’t be on the clock.


Remembering Carl Pilnick

TMClogoMichael Friedman shared this sad news with members of SCAN NATOA today.  

“It is my sad duty to inform you that Carl Pilnick died this morning at his home in Oakland, California after a brief illness.  He was 89.

“Those of you …  knew Carl personally from his participation in SCAN events and from our working with you as cable consultants.

“Carl founded Telecommunications Management Corp. in 1972 and I worked with him from late 1980 through his retirement at the end of 2008.  He was my boss, my mentor, my associate and my friend.

“He was a man of great intellect and patience (his patience was demonstrated in no small part by his putting up with me for so many years).

“No funeral is planned, although the family may be having a memorial service in the Bay Area in a month or so.”

Michael’s select words cannot begin to capture the essence of Carl, who–with his young squire, Michael–steered cable franchising on the national stage for the benefit of literally millions of Americans who will never know Carl existed, or how he touched their lives.

Carl was a gentle man, a gentleman, and a teacher.

I’m lucky to have known him.



Must Cities Administratively Approve 6409(a) Projects? Nope.

Section 6409(a) of the Middle Class Tax Relief ActI recently received a phone call from a very senior government rep of a very large wireless carrier.  The carrier’s rep called to share his displeasure that the city I frequently work with would not administratively grant approval of what he determined to be subject to Section 6409(a) of the Middle Class Tax Relief Act as modification project of an existing cell site.

Here are the general facts:

  1. When the Planning Commission approved the initial cell site project, it explicitly placed a condition on the project that required the applicant to come back to the P.C. for any site modifications;
  2. The carrier accepted the condition;
  3. Now the carrier wants to modify the site to change out the antennas (and presumably a bit more) to support 4G services;
  4. The carrier does not want to back to the Planning Commission since that would require public notice and a hearing;
  5. The city has no administrative approval process to allow staff to override a Planning Commission condition on an approved project; and
  6. As of this writing, the carrier’s rep has not yet submitted his project modification application to the city.

The government planner for the city involved told the carrier’s rep that he would have to submit his request following the usual application process, and that the project could be scheduled quickly for Planning Commission review.  The carrier’s rep told the planner that the cty is obligated to process 6409(a) projects administratively and to then grant approval without a hearing.  The carrier’s rep threatened to sue the city if the project was not administratively approved.   He made the same assertion and threat to me when we talked.

I told the carrier’s rep that nowhere in 6409(a) did Congress define an administrative process–much less any specific process–that a local jurisdiction must follow when considering (1) whether a project is subject to the benefits of 6409(a) treatment, and (2) if the project is subject to 6409(a) treatment whether the project must be approved administratively.   He disagreed, saying that its employer’s problem if the city has no administrative process to follow, and that 6409(a) requires it.

What I told the carrier’s rep is that where no administrative procedure exists to override a Planning Commission condition on an approved project, the condition (to bring back any site modifications to the Planning Commission) has to be followed even if the outcome may be predetermined by 6409(a).   Remember, whether a project is subject to 6409(a) is a factual determination that must be made by the local government, rather than by the carrier.  Given that the FCC’s guidance of last month is not binding on cities or even the Commission, and that guidance requires you ignore the plain words in the statute to follow the Commission’s recommendations, it’s obvious that facts have to be determined, and that those facts count.

The bottom line is that there is no federal requirement under 6409(a) that any particular process be used when considering a project that may be subject to 6409(a).

Where there such a requirement in the text of 6409(a), it would simply bolster the already interesting commandeering arguments being made by local government counsel who assert that 6409(a) is unconstitutional.

Time will tell.

PS: Don’t forget that the FCC shot clock still applies to 6409(a) projects, just like it does to non-6409(a) projects.