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!




Booting Boost

T-Mobile’s ‘Un-CEO’ John Legere has announced that upon the completion of the FCC-overjoyed, DOJ-disfavored merger with Sprint, Boost Wireless will get the boot.  Boost wireless is Sprint’s ‘off brand’ of prepaid wireless services.

Prepaid wireless services are often used by people with less than normal credit ratings, those who want to live below the radar, and others who (for whatever reason) don’t have or want access to a standard wireless plan.

Mr. Legere says that NewT-Mobile will get rid of Boost selling it to a buyer that can invest in it and make it a stronger brand, but that NewT-Mobile will maintain its relationship with its own T-Mobile off brand providers Metro and Virgin Wireless.

We’ll see if Boost Wireless customers get the boot of NewT-Mobile.



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.







Bloomberg BNA on the T-Mobile v. San Francisco Appellate Decision

In her article, “In T-Mobile Wireless Equipment Dispute, San Francisco Wins on Aesthetics” (September 20, 2016) reporter Bloomberg/BNA Lydia Beyoud discusses some of the key impacts of San Francisco’s appellate win in the case.  I provided her with insights and several quotes.  I link the decision to 5G deployment pressures which drive carriers to want to build sites in the public right of way very close to users.


T-Mobile’s CellSpot – Washington Post Says Think Twice

T-Mobile CellSpot
T-Mobile’s Free CellSpot: Hidden Costs?

I posted earlier today about my concerns regarding T-Mobile’s CellSpot.  Beyond the concerns I wrote about, the Washington Post today has a very informative piece about how this device will metaphorically reach into the wallets and purses of T-Mobile subscribers who opt to install a CellSpot.  An important read.

Now we know one way T-Mobile might intend to to fund its largess.

Washington Post: T-Mobile CellSpot – THINK TWICE



T-Mobile’s CellSpot: You Cover What They Can’t

I’m simply amazed by the press coverage T-Mobile is getting from the announcement that it will offer free 3G/4G/4G-LTE hot spots. As their Fact Sheet says, “the 4G LTE CellSpot ensures customers with a limited signal will now have strong, dependable voice and data coverage in their home or small business.”

T-Mobile CellSpot
“Here Spot!” “Heeeeer Spot!”

All you need to do is request one of these babies from T-Mobile, give them $25 as a security deposit, plug it in to the wall, hook it up to the Internet, and away you go.

And that’s a problem.

You have to pay for T-Mobile’s coverage in two more ways.  First, you have to provide your own power to operate the unit.  In the grand scheme, that’s not much money each year.  I’m guessing something like $15.  Then you have to connect this baby to your own internet connection, which then takes some undisclosed portion of your Internet to provide connectivity to the CellSpot.  Have a slow connection…or dial up…then you might have a problem.

What’s the real problem, here?

The way I see it, this big splash in the press is a tacit admission by T-Mobile’s that its company-provided radio frequency coverage AND capacity is far less than adequate, especially for in-building service areas.  Viewed that way, T-Mobile’s announcement appears to be painting flaming red lipstick on a pink porcine.  Still not pretty.

So who can connect to these units?

I’m not sure.  Traditionally, carriers have required cell site hotspot users to register their phones so that only they can use the hotspot.  If T-Mobile goes the other way and allows any T-Mobile user to connect via any CellSpot, then there’s another problem: T-Mobile’s customers installing CellSpots are now also funding connectivity for T-Mobile to provide service to third parties.

Hey? What the GPS light?

If you noticed the GPS light on the photo of the CellSpot, good for y0u.  That’s because this unit needs to be near an window what it can have a view of the heavens.  Huh?  The unit needs to receive reliable GPS data from GPS satellites so that T-Mobile knows where the unit is located. More huh?  The FCC requires that all wireless carriers be able to identify the location of 911 callers.  To meet this federal obligation, T-Mobile collects GPS data from each customer-installed unit so that it can tie the GPS location back to a 911 caller.  That’s actually a good thing, especially if you want the fire department to know where you’re calling from in the event of an emergency.

The bad thing for GPS (and cellular reception) is that many high-rise buildings effectively interfere with outside reception they are large grounded metal boxes with hybrid metalized window tint that substantially reduces signal strength.  Here’s a very informative YouTube video that illustrates my point:

The bottom lines in my view:

  • T-Mobile effectively admits its own network coverage is not adequate.
  • T-Mobile shifts the burden of providing coverage to its users by taking their power and Internet connections without compensation.
  • T-Mobile gets to hold on to its subscriber deposits, apparently as interest free loans.
  • I’m going to wait to see how long it takes for a class action law suit to be filed against T-Mobile in connection (hey, it’s a pun) with the CellSpot.  Such a law suit seems inevitable to me.

With this, I suppose that T-Mobile’s slogan that it is the “Un-Carrier” might be amended to claim that it is the “Un-Coverage-Carrier.”   And that’s too bad since I think many of T-Mobile’s service plan offerings are innovative.

Here are the CellSpot tech specs published on T-Mobile’s web site:


CPU: Broadcom 4708
Switch: in Broadcom 4708
2.4Ghz radio: Broadcom 4360
5Ghz radio: Broadcom 4360

Flash 128MB
Network standard

IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac

Data rate

802.11a: 6, 9, 12, 18, 24, 36, 48, 54Mbps
802.11b: 1, 2, 5.5, 11Mbps
802.11g: 6, 9, 12, 18, 24, 36, 48, 54Mbps
802.11n: up to 450Mbps
802.11ac: up to 1300Mbps

Antenna External antenna X 3
Operation frequency

2.4Ghz Channel 1~11
5Ghz band1: 36~48
5GHz band4: 149~165


64-bit WEP
128-bit WEP
WPS support

Firewall and access control

Firewall: SPI intrusion detection,DoS protection, IPv6 firewall
Access control: Parental control, Network service filter, URL filter, Port filter


UPnP, IGMP v1/v2/v3, DNS Proxy, DHCP, NTP Client,
DDNS, Port Triger, Universal Repeater, System Event Log
SNMP (tender project only, not for retail)
TR-069 ( tender project only, not for retail)

VPN support

IPSec Pass-Through
PPTP Pass-Through
L2TP Pass-Through
PPTP server
OpenVPN server
PPTP client
L2TP client
OpenVPN client


Download master
Support BT, NZB, HTTP, ED2K
Support encryption, DHT, PEX and magnet link
Upload and download bandwidth control
Image: JPEG
Audio: mp3, wma, wav, pcm, mp4, lpcm, ogg
Video: asf, avi, divx, mpeg, mpg, ts, vob, wmv, mkv, mov
User definable rules for IP/MAC/Port.
Upload and Download bandwidth management.
ACK/SYN/FIN/RST/ICMP with Highest priority
Guest Network
2.4GHz guest network x 3
5GHz guest network x 3
Printer Server
Multifunctional printer support (Windows only)
LPR protocol support
File server: Samba and FTP server with account management
PPTP VPN server
Network map
Traffic monitor

WAN connection type

Internet connection type : Automatic IP, Static IP, PPPoE (MPPE supported), PPTP, L2TP
3G/ LTE USB dongle
Android USB tethering
Support dual wan fail over and load balance


4 x RJ45 for 10/100/1000/Gigabits BaseT for LAN
1 x RJ45 for 10/100/1000/Gigabits BaseT for WAN
USB 2.0 x 1
USB 3.0 x 1


WPS button
Reset button
Power button
Wireless on/off button


PWR x 1
AIR x 2
LAN x 4
WAN x 1
USB x 2

OS support

Windows® 8.1
Windows® 8
Windows® 7
Windows® Vista
Windows® 2000
Windows® ME
Windows® XP
Mac OS X 10.6
Mac OS X 10.7
Mac OS X 10.8
Mac OS X 10.9

Dimensions 220 x 83.3 x 160mm (WxDxH)
Weight 640g
Package content

1 x TM-AC1900 Wireless-AC1900 Dual Band Gigabit Router
1 x RJ-45 cable
1 x Power adapter
1 x QSG9
3 x Wi-Fi antennas

Special features

3G/4G data sharing
Printer server
Multiple SSIDs
Parental Control
VPN server
VPN client


Look out Dish, T-Mobile Might Have A Better Suitor

Word is that Comcast may make a run to marry T-Mobile, and beat out Dish to the alter.

It is nothing less than brilliant for Comcast AND T-Mobile.  Local governments will have a less favorable view.

Comcast finally gets the quad-play in house, and T-Mobile almost overnight solves its coverage problems in Comcast’s footprint.  Comcast will deploy PCS radios on its strand and in its pedestals, and use its network for backhaul.  It will integrate the shared CableWIFI platform to provide more T-Mobile connectivity outside of Comcast’s footprint.  Comcast will get a wireless video delivery platform.

…and Dish will be stuck with all that upload bandwidth that will decrease in value.

Local governments will find that applying their wireless ordinances to their all-time favorite cable TV franchisee will be, ah, challenging.

Now THIS is going to be fun.


PS: What should we call the two of them:  T-Cast?  Naw, Brian would never allow his name to be second.  Comobile?  Maybe.


T-Dish? Mobile-D? Deep Dish Pizza?

Word on the street is that T-Mobile and Dish are talking merger.   Dish has lots of bandwidth but in the wrong direction.  T-Mobile has, well… it’s pink.   And T-Mobile is likely to still have some of the Post-AT&T money.  And it has some bandwidth.  And it’s pink.

Actually might be a very interesting combination.


PS: I’ll work up a proposed logo real soon now.  It will be pink.

(UPDATE: I have figured out what should be the official name of the joined lovebirds, and a proposed family crest.  See this link)


T-Mobile v. Roswell Decided: Both Got It Wrong

(Updated 1/21/15: see bottom)

This is a flash report on the Supreme Court decision announced today in T-Mobile v. Roswell penned by Justice Sotomayor.  A detailed analysis will follow.  For now, here is the Syllabus (not part of the decision) followed by a link to the 28-page decision.  The big takeaway: A City need not include any or every reason for denial in the denial letter, but it must make the record and reasons for denial available essentially contemporaneously with the written decision.  Waiting 26 days to issue the reasons for denial after the denial was determined was too long a period.  Justice Alito issued a concurring opinion. CJ Roberts joined by Justice Ginsburg and Justice Thomas, dissented in various parts.

NOTE: Where it is feasible, a syllabus (headnote) will be released, as is being done in connection with this case, at the time the opinion is issued.The syllabus constitutes no part of the opinion of the Court but has been prepared by the Reporter of Decisions for the convenience of the reader. See United States v. Detroit Timber & Lumber Co., 200 U. S. 321, 337.




No. 13–975. Argued November 10, 2014—Decided January 14, 2015

Respondent Roswell’s city council (Council) held a public hearing to consider an application by petitioner T-Mobile South, LLC, to build a cell phone tower on residential property. During the hearing, several Council members expressed concerns about the tower’s impact on the area. The hearing ended with the Council unanimously passing a motion to deny the application. Two days later, the City’s Planning and Zoning Division informed petitioner by letter that the application had been denied and that minutes from the hearing would be made available. The detailed minutes were published 26 days later.

Petitioner filed suit, alleging that the Council’s denial was not supported by substantial evidence in the record. The District Court agreed, concluding that the City, by failing to issue a written decision stating its reasons for denying the application, had violated the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which provides that a locality’s denial “shall be in writing and supported by substantial evidence contained in a written record,” 47 U. S. C. §332(c)(7)(B)(iii). The Eleventh Circuit, following its precedent, found that the Act’s requirements were satisfied here because petitioner had received a denial letter and possessed a transcript of the hearing that it arranged to have recorded.


1. Section 332(c)(7)(B)(iii) requires localities to provide reasons when they deny applications to build cell phone towers. This conclusion follows from the Act’s provisions, which both preserve and specifically limit traditional state and local government authority. It would be considerably difficult for a reviewing court to determine whether a locality’s denial was “supported by substantial evidence contained in a written record,” §332(c)(7)(B)(iii), or whether a locality had “unreasonably discriminate[d] among providers of functionally equivalent services,” §332(c)(7)(B)(i)(I), or regulated siting “on the basis of the environmental effects of radio frequency emissions,” §332(c)(7)(B)(iv), if localities were not obligated to state their reasons for denial. And nothing in the Act suggests that Congress meant to use the phrase “substantial evidence” as anything but an administrative law “term of art” that describes how “an administrative record is to be judged by a reviewing court.” United States v. Carlo Bianchi & Co., 373 U. S. 709, 715. Pp. 6–8.

2. Localities are not required to provide their reasons for denying siting applications in the denial notice itself, but may state those reasons with sufficient clarity in some other written record issued essentially contemporaneously with the denial. Pp. 8–13.

(a) Nothing in the Act’s text imposes a requirement that the reasons be given in any particular form, and the Act’s saving clause, §332(c)(7)(A), makes clear that the only limitations imposed on local governments are those enumerated in the statute. Localities comply with their obligation to give written reasons so long as those reasons are stated clearly enough to enable judicial review. Because an adversely affected entity must decide whether to seek judicial review within 30 days from the date of the denial, §332(c)(7)(B)(v), and because a court cannot review the denial without knowing the locality’s reasons, the locality must provide or make available its written reasons at essentially the same time as it communicates its denial.Pp. 8–11.

(b) Petitioner’s contrary arguments are unavailing. The statute’s word “decision” does not connote a written document that itself provides all the reasons for a given judgment. The absence of the word “notify” in the provision at issue also does not signal an intention to require communication of more than a judgment. Nor does an obligation to provide reasons in the writing conveying the denial arise from the “substantial evidence” requirement itself or from the requirement of court review “on an expedited basis,” §332(c)(7)(B)(v). It is sufficient that a locality’s reasons be provided in a manner that is clear enough and prompt enough to enable judicial review. Pp. 11–13.

3. The City failed to comply with its statutory obligations under the Act. Although it issued its reasons in writing and did so in an acceptable form, it did not provide its written reasons essentially contemporaneously with its written denial when it issued detailed minutes 26 days after the date of the written denial and 4 days before expiration of petitioner’s time to seek judicial review. P. 14.

731 F. 3d 1213, reversed and remanded.

Here is the decision in full (28 pages, PDF format): tmobile.v.roswell.13-975_8n6a

Update: Catalina Lehner, the wireless planner par excellence at the City of Albuquerque reminded me that the big winners in this case were, as usual, the lawyers.  So true.