Sprint/T-Mobile “Landlord Release Agreement” Trap?

We’re seeing Sprint sending some landlords a “Landlord Release Agreement” in connection with Dish Wireless that contains:

Release. Effective as of the Assignment Date, Landlord, for Itself and its affiliates, successors and assigns, does hereby forever release and discharge Tenant and its affiliates, partners,
employees, agents, successors and assigns of any and all liabilities and obligations arising from or relating to the Lease from and after the Assignment Date.

Most savvy cell site landlords will recognize the inherent danger to their lease security by agreeing to this little stinker clause.

If you receive any sort of release agreement from a wireless carrier (either directly or via one of their agents), take the time before you sign to get a qualified legal opinion regarding the terms of that agreement.  In some or many cases, the true benefit flows solely to the exiting carrier, not to the landlord!




Mobilitie: Fake News; FCC Fines; and Churchill’s Barking Dog.

Mr. Jason Caliento, the Executive Vice President of Network Strategy at Mobilitie, presented the keynote address and a follow-up discussion at the AGL Summit on September 27, 2018. That Summit was held in Kansas City as an ongoing part of AGL’s (very important for municipal officials and industry personnel alike) lecture series.

I spoke at the AGL Summit on a 5G topic, but that’s not the focus of this post.

Mr. Jason Caliento (left) with Mr. Bryan Tramont.  Photo  Copyright © 2018 by Dr. Jonathan Kramer

The focus of this post is a snippet of about 2 minutes and 40 seconds of the one-on-one follow-up discussion with Mr. Bryan Tramont, Esq., the Managing Partner of Wilkinson Baker Knauer, LLP. The subject of that portion of their exchange was the 2018 Consent Decree between the FCC, Sprint, and Mobilitie. That Decree was adopted and released on April 10, 2018. (CLICK HERE to download and read the Consent Decree.)

In their relatively short exchange, Mr. Caliento managed to claim that there was some sort of ‘fake news’ involvement in the story about Sprint and Mobilitie violating the FCC’s rules; that the ends justified the means; and that Mr. Caliento seems guided by Sir Winston Churchill’s quote, “You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.” I suppose an apparently intentional program between Mobilitie and Sprint to build sites absent required regulatory permissions is the barking dog in his odd analogy.

Please listen to Mr. Caliento’s comments responding to Mr. Tramont on this topic in its entity.  Then you may decide for yourself what you think of Mobilitie’s and Sprint’s (presumably and hopefully former) approach to regulatory compliance:

Okay. I suppose that’s one way to spin intentionally violating federal regulations because the ends seem to justify Mobilitie’s and Sprint’s means. Further, as for the ends justifying the means, apparently paying the FCC an $11 million dollar fine seems a very small and economical price to Mobilitie and Sprint given the billions Mr. Caliento claims that they have saved (and presumably will save).

I opine that now we know the real fake news.


PS: The next AGL Summit is in Atlanta, Georgia on November 8th. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend, but I highly recommend this event to municipal officials who want the real story about what’s happening in the coming 5G world. -jlk


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.







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)


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


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

…has (finally) come up with a fairly-decent site configuration.  I call the new design the “Fanny Pack.”  Here’s what it looks like, as recently deployed in the City of Los Angeles:

The “Fanny Pack” Design *

The RRU, UE (backhaul) Relay, the power distribution, and elements other than the downlink antenna are all located within the Fanny Pack.

I see the Fanny Pack design as Mobilitie’s best efforts to date to come with and deploy a closer-to-mainline wireless site that is far less awful that its prior outdoors site configurations.  There are some site deployment issues with the Fanny Pack design, but those issues are relatively easy to address.

We’ve seen plans for the same basic Fanny Pack design, but with the equipment enclosure on the back of the pole.  Needless to say, we’ll refer to that as the “Back Pack” when deployed.  Photos to follow after the first Back Pack goes up near us.

Keep up this better work, Mobilitie!


* Okay, as you should have guessed by now, these are my design names, not Mobilitie’s. Got it? Good!

# Ms. Shannon Nichols, a NCE Permitting Manager for Mobilitie in Southern California told me on 12/6/2017 that the wood pole configuration shown above, with its standoff bracket and equipment, was a design requirement of the City of Los Angeles.  She went on to say that Mobilitie would have preferred to have its equipment flush to the body of the pole.  Thanks for the clarification, Shannon.


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 on October 23, 2017.  Here’s my annotated photo, used by Sprint in its Ex Parte presentation:

Did Sprint bother to ask me for permission to use my intellectual property in its Ex Parte presentation?

Of course not.

Does my annotated photograph above, used by Sprint without my permission, look like the type of cell you’d want in front of your residential balcony?

I suspect not.

Hey, Sprint (and specifically Keith Buell), the next time you’d like to use my intellectual property, please consider giving me a call first.

Here’s a link to Sprint’s Ex Parte 4-page filing containing MY photo: CLICK HERE.





Published reports late today have Sprint putting aside its merger talks with T-Mobile to focus on a potentially MUCH MORE IMPORTANT deal–one with Charter and Comcast (or is it Comcast and Charter). I’ve predicted a deal like this for years.

Why is a Sprint-MSOs deal more important than a deal with T-Mobile?

As I’ve said before, cable TV MSOs are like Visa: “Everywhere you want to be.”

Sprint needs to strike a deal with the biggest MSOs to gain access to the fat backhaul offered by MSOs, the quick deployment and provisioning of small cells on cable TV strand (and inside cable TV pedestals), and to the back or front yards of millions of homes passed by the cable operators.

Who are the real losers?  Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Mobilitie.  As to the first three, they are likely to be blocked for Cable TV strand-mounting of small cells in the major markets controlled by Comcast and Spectrum.  As for Mobilitie, I believe it stands to lose the most from any Sprint-MSO deal that will invariably drive a silver stake into the heart of what I can only call a very troubling and disjointed ‘5G-but-not-really-5G’ piecemeal deployment of small cells that aren’t really all that small.

Oh, yes, Crown Castle and Extenet, as well as other fiber/builder providers will suffer from a deal like this which would cut into the heart of their fiber and node businesses in a really big way.

Not too long after Sprint inks a deal with the MSOs it can expect to cease to operate as a separate entity as the cable operators swallow Sprint whole to bring the wireless services under the sole control of the MSOs.  For the MSOs it gives them the existing Sprint network, such as it is, outside of the MSO’s footprints to offer streaming video services over Sprint’s wireless network.  This would likely follow AT&T’s deployment of offering streaming video services via wireless outside of the existing wireline U-Verse and Giga-whatever footprint.

T-Mobile should now expect to receive merger-partnering overtures from other first tier and second tier cable operators. Moreover, it can expect to slide to a solid last place with a Sprint-MSO deal.

Those of you old enough will recall that Sprint largely came out of Cox Communications’ pioneer FCC licenses. What’s old is new again, and we live in interesting times.



Where there’s smoke (at Sprint and Mobilitie)…

After reading Lydia Beyoud’s Event-Driven.com Sprint/Mobilitie article while returning from a lecture Tripp and I presented in Cleveland, something occurred to me: the common connection between smoke and fire.

Presuming the existence of the email at the source of Lydia’s article, it documents the end of an experiment to bypass some government permitting requirements to build small cells. This strongly suggests, based on a presumption of the existence of the Sprint memo, that there must be other, earlier and coincidental documents within Sprint and Mobilitie, and ‘at-risk’ and other memos to and from their contractors, that further describe the scheme’s planning and execution.

However the alleged Sprint memo from last week made its way to Ms. Beyoud, one certainly wonders whether other documents will surface to help flesh out the details of what is looking like a odious, if not illegal, plan.



Mobilitie CEO Gary Jabara Loves Local Governments

“It comes down to how … stupid the elected officials … are. There are many stupid cities around the country – really dumb. They’re greedy…They don’t give a s*** about their constituents.”

-Mobilitie CEO Gary Jabara quoted by Don Bishop (the Executive Editor and Associate Publisher of AGL Media Group) in “Seeing Wireless Service as Essential Speaks to the Future of Wireless Infrastructure.” AGL Magazine, March 2017, p. 38

That was the opening quote in the NATOA (et al) Reply Comments in the Mobilitie Petition for Declaratory Ruling.  Read the entire reply comments here:   NATOA REPLY COMMENTS.

What strikes me as “really dumb” is how Mobilitie’s patron, Sprint has not figured out how (or doesn’t care) to control the mouth that spews such ignorance with such arrogance.

A joke going around the industry is that the DAS companies created Mobilitie so that they’d look good in comparison.  Hummm.

That’s my opinion.  What’s yours?



How a Key Mobilitie Graphic Spins a Not-so-Tall Tale

This post is part of my contribution to the ongoing public policy debate and discussions regarding the current Mobilitie build for Sprint.  Mobilitie has developed the illustration shown in Figure 1, below, apparently as a way to show local governments and the public Mobilitie’s various pole configurations in at least block form.  Most recently, a week ago, Mobilitie presented this very illustration to a group of local government telecom officials in Southern California at the SCAN NATOA meeting. I attended that meeting.

Take a close look at Figure 1 and then please continue to read on.Mobilitie's unscaled graphic misrepresents the relative heights of their various poles.Figure 1.  Illustration created by Mobilitie. This illustration is presumably copyright by Mobilitie.  Used here under the Fair Use Doctrine.

The problem with Mobilitie’s illustration in Figure 1 is that it grossly misrepresents and under-represents the scale and impact of their proposed facilities.  Mobilitie’s illustration has no indicated scale, and the pole elements are not scaled to each other.  Mobilitie’s illustration is, in my opinion, deceptive and misleading.

I have taken Mobilitie’s illustration and through the magic of Photoshop scaled the poles to each other.  I started with the reasonable assumption that the light standard and equipment/antenna configuration topped out at about 34 feet above ground level. In Figure 2, below, that’s the pole on the left.  Then, knowing that Mobilitie has been promoting 75 foot tall wood utility poles in various communities around the country, I scaled the middle pole in Figure 2 to be approximately 75 feet above ground level.  Finally, I scaled the transmission pole on the right hand side of the illustration to be about 120 feet tall, which is the height that Mobilitie promotes around the country for theses tallest poles.  Here is Figure 2:

Mobilitie's graphic scales to show the relative heights of their various poles.Figure 2.  Illustration created by Mobilitie, which has been annotated and scaled by Dr. Jonathan L. Kramer. This illustration is a derivative of an illustration presumably copyright by Mobilitie.  Created and used here under the Fair Use Doctrine.

As you can see from Figure 2, which is now scaled against the street light pole, the height impacts of the utility and transmission poles are substantially greater than one would expect simply relying on Mobilitie’s illustration.   Also, it is my opinion, based on Mobilitie plans I have seen and reports I have reviewed that the widths of all three poles is misrepresented in Mobilitie’s illustrations.  I have not tried to account for those width errors in this analysis, and leave that task for the reader.

Finally, in Figure 3 below, I have prepared an animated graphic that will help to better frame Mobilitie’s illustration against the reality of Mobilitie’s plans.  You may want to download this to better see it on your screen.

Animated graphic showing Mobilitie's unscaled illustration of its pole configurations and a vertically-scaled graphic.Figure 3. Illustration created by Mobilitie, which has been annotated, scaled, and animated by Dr. Jonathan L. Kramer. This illustration is a derivative of an illustration presumably copyright by Mobilitie.  Created and used here under the Fair Use Doctrine.

What is the point of all of this? In my mind, the key point is that local governments and their constituents have a fair right to demand a reasonable level of accuracy when asked to consider projects that will impact their communities.  I believe that Mobilitie’s graphic in Figure 1, regardless whatever their intent in presenting it, ends up being quite deceptive by its lack of internal and external scales both for height and width.

If you would like to download Mobilitie’s entire PowerPoint presented last week, click here.

Finally, given the national importance of the ongoing public discussion regarding Mobilitie’s nationwide project for Sprint (and maybe others in the future), I encourage you to share this posting.

Dr. Jonathan L. Kramer


Wall Street Journal on the Mobilitie Build for Sprint

(June 8, 2016) Today the Wall Street Journal is running an article titled, “Sprint’s Wireless Fix: More Telephone Poles” by Ryan Knutson. The subhead is, “Plan to improved network delayed as communities struggle with the unusual antenna requests.”  The article describes Mobilitie’s troubled start building the next Sprint network, including putting in facilities without benefit of, ah, government permits.  My favorite is Baltimore story where Mobilitie dropped a site into the middle of a sidewalk handicap ramp.  The city wasn’t amused and filed Mobilitie $5,000 after they abated that particular public nuisance.

While some industry observers have dubbed Sprint’s plan to decommission many or most of its macrocell sites in favor of pole-top cell sites as “Project Network Suicide,” Sprint claims that it will cost them  60% to 70% less to deploy its new network. This rose-colored view is likely to evaporate rather quickly as these particularly ugly sites are erected and residents rebel over sites like the one pictured below.

A Mobilitie site in Los Angeles built to serve Sprint.  Photo: Jonathan Kramer

Expect Lawsuits

I foresee Sprint (through it surrogate, Mobilitie) filing many law suits against local governments that object to the disamenity caused by pole top installations like that shown above, or worse, to new 70′ to 120′ wood poles placed next to and even inside residential neighborhoods as Mobilitie proposes in various communities.  Like the lawsuits filed by Crown Castle, I expect that the carrier-in-fact – here, Sprint – will not in the foreground so that they can be insulated from having to report those lawsuits to the financial community.

Read the WSJ article, which I had the privilege of contributing to, including providing the WSJ with the Mobilitie site photograph that accompanied the article.