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 the gift to cable TV operators. No fix to the gift to wireless and cable TV company shareholders. In essence, the most current round of amendments can best be described thus:

SB 649 remains the “Gift of Public Funds and Public Property to the Communications Industry Act.”



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 the computer-generated demand call and my call back to the ‘IRS Collections Unit’ located somewhere on Earth really, really far away from Los Angeles.

Oh, yes, for my wireless industry friends, there are some golden nuggets in the call you’ll certainly enjoy!


If you’d like to listen in on a prior call I had with the ‘IRS agents’ just CLICK HERE.