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


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!




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!




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 the Commission on State Mandates, the Commission may determine the bill imposes reimbursable, state-mandated costs on local agencies.

The potential state mandate would stem from (1) the bill’s $250 limit on the annual lease charge that cities and counties can impose on each small cell device attached to its vertical infrastructure, and (2) a formula that limits the annual attachment fees that cities and counties may charge for each small cell device attached to its vertical infrastructure. If the Commission determines the lease and fee revenue derived under these caps is insufficient to fund the claimants’ actual inspection and maintenance costs, the difference would be state-reimbursable.

While the extent of the potential mandate is unknown, Finance believes it can easily approach $1 million per year.

The Department of Finance did not mince words:

Finance opposes this bill. While statewide uniform rules can help the expansion of new technologies, this bill goes too far by usurping city and county zoning authority for infrastructure development, and it potentially imposes reimbursable, state-mandated costs on cities and counties.

The DOF noted some of the key basic inequities in SB 649, including the fact that this bill does NOTHING to reduce the wireless digital divide in California:

We also note the bill poses equity and access concerns. The bill gives telecommunications providers the power to determine where they deploy small cell technologies, which can be highly localized. Providers may cover high-demand neighborhoods first, while low-income neighborhoods may be left underserved. This arrangement follows in the path of high-speed internet service, which has led to uneven access for rural and lower-income areas. Under current law, cities and counties can require, as part of their permitting process, that small cell providers incorporate rural and lower-income areas into their service networks. By pre-empting local government authority, this bill also limits city and county tools to address those equity issues.
. . .
This bill also prevents local governments from addressing community concerns about small cells, such as the aesthetic impact small cells may have on a locality.

This ill-conceived and poorly thought-out wireless industry give-away is the wrong bill for California. There is a right bill, but this is not that bill.


Contact your Assembly Member and State Senator TODAY…RIGHT NOW…and tell them why SB 649 is a wireless industry give-away that hurts all Californians.



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

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, CSAC, APA, the rural counties, the urban counties, and the Coalition of Concerned California Communities as the local government speaker for those 2 minutes.

Below are my prepared remarks:

I am Dr. Jonathan L. Kramer, here at the request of the League of California Cities, and a coalition of local government stakeholders including the APA, CSAC, APA, the rural counties, the urban counties, and the Coalition of Concerned California Communities.

I have been a telecommunications engineer in California for over 30 years. Nationally, I have worked for nearly 1,000 governments as a telecommunications engineer and safety inspector for Telecommunications facilities. I am also a telecommunications lawyer here in California.

Dr. Jonathan Kramer
Dr. Jonathan L. Kramer presenting local government opposition to SB 649.

Last year I completed my doctorate in law and policy at Northeastern University. My doctoral thesis studied, in part, economic impacts of cell sites in residential communities.

The local government stakeholders remain opposed to SB 649 as revised because –among other reasons–of its tremendous negative statewide economic impacts over the next five or so decades.

SB 649 remains an empty bag of promises.

A proper bill would require the deployment of a wireless network that would help to close the existing wireless digital divide in California.

SB 649 is devoid of any such requirement, much less a coherent and comprehensive plan to close that gap with 5G. Not even with 4G…or 3G.

It is obvious that wireless communications is a statewide economic driver, and a proper bill would ensure the economic benefits of wireless state wide.

Sb 649 is not that Bill. It ensures nothing of the sort.

There can be no argument that Public Safety is a statewide economic issue.

My firm has inspected hundreds of thousands of broadband and Wireless communications locations in California. In our experience, wireless and broadband providers violate safety codes north of 30% of the time.

As you’ll recall, the Malibu fire was caused by overloading of utility poles by wireless facilities. Certainly, a conflagration like that had an economic impact far exceeding Malibu.

A proper bill would never act to weaken public safety. Yet SB 649 on a statewide basis does exactly that by allowing some “small cells” to be installed by wireless companies and Cable TV operators without even having to obtain local permits and inspections. Not even traffic control permits! Boom, a cell site suddenly appears on a pole near you.

It is simply the most fundamental concept of public management of the right of way to know who and what are in those rights of way, and to make sure that facilities installed in the right of way are inspected to verify initial and ongoing safety code compliance.

A well thought out bill would never undermine public safety, but SB 649 is not a well thought out bill.

They properly crafted and well thought out bill would not–on a state wide basis –shift the economic burden of building a 5G network from the shareholders of the for-profit wireless carriers and shift that burden to the backs of California citizens by grossly sub-market rents and compulsory access to essentially every type of private property.

A proper bill would not incentivize wireless carriers to break their private property leases to go into the public right of way, all to the economic benefit of their shareholders but to the detriment of private wireless site landlords, and the citizens who paid for improvements in the right of way.

SB 649 is not that bill.

The wireless industry has been telling legislators that 5G is necessary for the deployment of an earthquake early warning system.  While that’s a political sounds-good argument, even if a technical misstatement of the industry, a properly crafted bill would require wireless providers to participate and in part fund statewide that earthquake early warning system as a condition of the incredible benefits that attach to deregulation.

SB 649 is not that bill.

A properly crafted bill would not reduce general funding sources that pay for police and fire services by artificially slashing rents to far below the fair market rental value of Government improvements to property paid for by California residents to benefit wireless company shareholders.

We ‘get’ that there can be tremendous value in wider deployment of wireless services to all of the citizens of California in all parts of our Golden State.  That should occur through a properly crafted, thoughtful wireless bill that at least tries to balance the equities.  We believe that there a path to that proper bill.

It’s just that there is no clear and obvious path through SB649 to that proper bill.

Thank you.


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 long to figure out.

Here’s a photo sim of a wireless “small cell” project that local governments (here, Calabasas) would be required to approve, by right, under SB 649:

Sadly, our legislators don’t seem to have any realistic handle on just how horrible SB 649 will be for community aesthetics.


California SB 649: Newer Big Lies About Small Cells

When SB 649 was voted out of the California Senate on May 31, only a 3 or 4 Senators knew the contents of the Bill at that time, yet it secured passage on a 31 to 1 vote.

A couple of days ago, the drastically amended SB 649 was released back into public view in advance of its first Assembly hearing next Wednesday.  Small cells started in SB 649 at being 28 cubic feet, then went down to 21 cubic feet in the Senate, but low and behold now small cells are up to 41 cubic feet…or even larger!

The industry’s current compensation schedule for the their theft of the people’s property is still, well, a theft (or gift) of public property.

Some new small cell sites in the public right-of-ways and utility easements are proposed to be allowed WITHOUT any local government notice, review, or permits. Safety?  Not here.

All cell sites, whether in the public right-of-way, on public property, or on private property are proposed in the bill to be subject only to a non-discretionary permit process.  NO MORE PUBLIC INPUT ON ANY NEW CELL SITES IN CALIFORNIA.

There are so many more things wrong with SB 649 that it boggles the mind.  The illustration below is a good illustration of what SB 649 is to those who have become even more greedy in the last few weeks.


Two Appearances of the 28 Cubic Foot Small Cell

Appearance 1:  Last night Rebekah Rounds and I attended the Planning Commission hearing in the City of Thousand Oaks.  During the public comment portion of the meeting I described SB 649 to the Commissioners.  With Rebekah’s help, we demonstrated the Big Lie about Small Cells.

Here is a screen capture from the hearing:

Dr. Jonathan Kramer and Rebekah Rounds illustrate the Wireless Industry’s Big Lie: That a “Small Cell” is small. It’s not.

Here’s a link to watch the video:

Select the Planning Commission hearing for April 24, 2017, and then watch the video from 7 minutes 20 seconds in to 15 minutes, 16 seconds.

Appearance 2: Today, all of the California-based members of Telecom Law Firm presented a 2-hour wireless law, regulation, and technology lecture to over two dozen key planning and legal professionals at the City of Los Angeles.  During the lecture, we deep-dived into the wireless industry’s assault on California governments and their constituents through SB 649.  Once again, the Frame came out:

Dr. Jonathan Kramer (pictured) along with Tripp May lecturing on wireless regulation and technology to over two-dozen staff at the City of Los Angeles staff.

It turns out that when you see what the industry thinks is small, the claim falls apart in mere seconds.

The Big Lie can’t withstand the light of day, which is why the industry talks about pizza boxes as being the size of small cells. If that’s true, then states should define small cells as occupying 1.25 cubic feet, and no more.