New FCC Rules Take Effect, Preempting Local Authority Over Wireless Siting

Federal Shutdown Does Not Delay Implementation

By BBK Jan 15, 2019 | Original alert here

A pair of orders by the Tenth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in the litigation over the FCC’s controversial small cell order were issued Thursday.

  • First, the court denied local government requests to stay the FCC’s small cell order pending resolution of the litigation. That means most of the FCC’s small cell order went into effect on Jan 14, 2019.

  • Second, the Tenth Circuit granted local government requests to transfer the small cell order appeal back to the Ninth Circuit.

This means that both the small cell order and the FCC’s earlier moratoria order will be heard together in the Ninth Circuit. The FCC orders do not preempt state laws that may limit control over wireless facilities — both state and federal requirements apply, and if there is a conflict, the rule that most limits local authority will control.

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Ajit Pai Locks Horns with Congress Over Location-Tracking

It’s the two bodies’ first conflict of the new Democrat-controlled congress.

By Makena Kelly, Jan 14, 2019 | Original Verge article here.

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A recent report on wireless carrier location-tracking has sparked a growing feud between FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and the Congressional committee charged with overseeing him. Last Friday, Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) sent a letter to Pai requesting an “emergency briefing,” following reports that the nation’s largest cellphone carriers were disclosing consumers’ real-time location data. But according to Pallone, Pai has refused to hold the briefing.

Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) said:

“Today, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai refused to brief Energy and Commerce Committee staff on the real-time tracking of cell phone location . . . [We] will continue to press the FCC to prioritize public safety, national security, and protecting consumers.”

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Challenge to FCC Order to Streamline 4G and 5G Infrastructure Moves to Ninth Circuit

Posted Jan. 11, 2019 | Adapated from the original Bloomberg Law article here

A challenge by dozens of cities and counties to a Federal Communications Commission order aimed at speeding up the deployment of densified 4G and 5G network infrastructure is back in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit on Jan. 10 granted a bid by San Jose, Calif. and other local governments to transfer the case to where they had originally sued. The court also denied their bid to stay the FCC’s order pending the litigation, though that issue could be taken up by the Ninth Circuit. Portions of the order is set to take effect in part on Jan. 14, but the FCC has been shutdown since Jan 2, 2019, so the Jan 14 effective date is not crystal clear,

The transfer is “huge news,” Robert (Tripp) May, counsel for the League of California Cities and several other local government petitioners, told Bloomberg Law Jan. 11.

May, a telecom partner at Telecom Law Firm PC in San Diego, said:

“Between the two, I would take the transfer over the stay seven days a week. Petitioners now can ask the Ninth Circuit to halt the order, even after it takes effect."

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American Telecom Companies Are Letting Their Phone Networks Fall Apart

Limited oversight, no competition, and state corruption aren’t a recipe for broadband success.

by Karl Bode Jan 10, 2018 | Original Motherboard article here.


Once as important as the American railroad and electrical grid, American phone companies aren’t quite what they used to be. With the use of copper-based landlines having plummeted the last few years, many of the nation’s phone companies have attempted to shift their business models toward new, more profitable sectors like video advertising.

The problem: many of their aging fixed-line networks were not only built on the backs of billions in taxpayer subsidies, they’re very much still in use — and for many, slow, expensive DSL is the only broadband available. But with no local competition and local and federal oversight eroded by lobbying — many of these companies have simply stopped caring.

Case in point: Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson last week released a scathing 133-page report highlighting how the state’s incumbent phone company, Frontier Communications, has increasingly refused to upgrade its aging network, often taking months to make repairs, putting those with medical conditions at risk.

The state Attorney General said:

“The findings of this investigation detail an extraordinary situation, where customers have suffered with outages of months, or more, when the law requires telephone utilities to make all reasonable efforts to prevent interruptions of service. Frontier customers with these outages include those with family members with urgent medical needs, such as pacemakers monitored by their medical teams via the customer’s landline.”

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Fiber is the Coming Tech Revolution

— and Why America Might Miss It.

This is adapted from an article by Michael Hiltzik, Jan 9, 2019 | Original Los Angeles Times article here


In late 2017, Susan Crawford was visiting Seoul, South Korea, about six months before it hosted the 2018 Winter Olympics. Although she is an expert in telecommunications policy, Crawford was stunned at what she witnessed in Korea, which she describes as “the most wired nation on the planet” — flawless cellphone coverage even in rural areas, real-time data transmission, driverless buses using the latest communications technology to smoothly avoid pedestrians and evade obstructions.

Crawford told me recently

“I’ve never been embarrassed to be American before, but when Korean people tell you that going to America is like taking a rural vacation, it really makes you stop and worry about what we’re up to.”

Crawford, who teaches at Harvard Law School, has assembled her observations of these problems, along with suggestions how to alleviate them, in a new book published this week entitled “Fiber: The Coming Tech Revolution — and Why America Might Miss It.” it’s a follow-up to her 2013 book “Captive Audience,” which warned that the nation’s global leadership in internet technology was being frittered away by placing tech policy in the hands of profit-seeking companies with no incentive to keep the U.S. on the leading edge.

It may sound paradoxical, but. . .

The future of advanced wired and wireless services depends completely on how much fiber is in place — it all depends on wires laid by our nearly-forgotten State Public Telecom Utilities.

The data-carrying capacity of the next generation of wireless, labeled as “5G” (as the fifth generation of wireless telecommunications technology), will give countries that invest in the fiber that powers these advanced networks a huge advantage over those that don’t. It’s 100 times faster than the existing 4G technology and far more capacious, allowing simultaneous connections of billions of devices.

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I Gave a Bounty Hunter $300 and He Located Our Phone

By Joseph Cox, Jan 8 2019 | Original Motherboard article here

T-Mobile, Sprint, and AT&T are selling access to their customers’ location data, and that data is ending up in the hands of bounty hunters and others not authorized to possess it, letting them track most phones in the country.


Nervously, I gave a bounty hunter a phone number. He had offered to geolocate a phone for me, using a shady, overlooked service intended not for the cops, but for private individuals and businesses. Armed with just the number and a few hundred dollars, he said he could find the current location of most phones in the United States.

The bounty hunter sent the number to his own contact, who would track the phone. The contact responded with a screenshot of Google Maps, containing a blue circle indicating the phone’s current location, approximate to a few hundred meters.

Queens, New York. More specifically, the screenshot showed a location in a particular neighborhood—just a couple of blocks from where the target was. The hunter had found the phone (the target gave their consent to Motherboard to be tracked via their T-Mobile phone.)

The bounty hunter did this all without deploying a hacking tool or having any previous knowledge of the phone’s whereabouts. Instead, the tracking tool relies on real-time location data sold to bounty hunters that ultimately originated from the telcos themselves, including T-Mobile, AT&T, and Sprint, a Motherboard investigation has found. These surveillance capabilities are sometimes sold through word-of-mouth networks.

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Wireless Safety for Kids

By Deb Mayer, Jan 7, 2019 | Original Parents Across America Oregon article here.

During the summer of 2018 a group of Oregonians coalesced around the idea that too much use of wirelessly connected cell phones, tablets, and laptops is having adverse effects on children. Fiber optic and Ethernet connections to these devices is far superior:

Awarness of an escalating incidence of the following prompted them into take action:

  • Eye ailments
  • Headaches
  • ADHD
  • Behavioral problems
  • Other health problems

After considerable research and consultation with experts and policy makers, the group drafted three bills addressing the problems of unfettered use of wireless devices.

The legislative initiatives center around three imperatives:

  1. Warning labels on wireless products

  2. Time limits on wireless devices in classrooms

  3. Exposing and addressing the harmful health effects of pulsed, data-modulated, Radio-frequency Electromagnetic Microwave Radiation (RF-EMR) radiation especially on children at school.

These legislative initiatives were introduced during the intersession and will be given a first reading in the 2019 Oregon legislative session (SB = Senate Bill; LC = Legislative Concept)

  • SB.291/LC-1412 — Warning labels on wireless products

  • SB.282/LC-1413 — Limiting use of wireless devices and infrastructure in classrooms snf on school campuses

  • SB.283/LC-1214 — Radio-frequency Electromagnetic Microwave Radiation (RF-EMR) exposures in schools

All three bills are sponsored by Oregon State Senator Laurie Monnes Anderson. Oregon State Representative Alissa Keny-Guyer signed on as chief sponsor in the House for the labeling and Wi-Fi bills, Representative Tawna Sanchez is chief sponsor on limiting screen time in classrooms.

Read the text of each bill, by clicking on the links above.

FCC Shuts Down While Ajit Pai Jokes

by Karl Bode Jan 4 2019 | Original Motherboard article here.

Government shutdown forces FCC to take a break from kissing up to big telecom.

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The FCC suspended most operations on Thursday afternoon as a result of the ongoing government shutdown over a dumb fence many argue creates far more problems than it solves. The resulting shutdown has left 800,000 government employees furloughed without pay, while garbage and human waste begin to pile up at the nation’s staff-depleted national park system.

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Explaining 5G

By Milan Milanović Oct 24, 2018 | Original Speedtest article here.

5G stands for "Fifth Generation" Wireless Technology and is the next evolution for mobile technology after 4G LTE. 5G promises to bring faster download speeds and lower latency. 5G enables operators to address increasing growth in wireless data transmissions for mobile and internet of things (IoT) devices.

A brief history of cellular technologies

Every decade or so, a new generation of mobile technology has brought performance improvements and has introduced new applications and use cases.

  • 1G, in the 1980s, (analog cellular) enabled mobile phone calls.
  • 2G, in the 1990s brought digital voice and texting. In the 2000s, 3G
  • 3G, in the 2000s brought the mobile internet at basic speeds
  • 4G/LTE in the 2010s brought faster internet and streaming HD video

Now in the 2020s, 5G is the next marketing term to describe the next step in Wireless networks. Defined by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) standards body, 5G is listed as wireless standard "Release 15" and "Release 16." 5G is also sometimes referred to as 5G NR, which stands for 5G New Radio.

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Wielding Rocks and Knives, Arizonans Attack Self-Driving Cars

By Simon Romero, Dec. 31, 2018 | Original New YorkTimes article here.


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A Waymo autonomous vehicle in Chandler, Ariz., where the driverless cars have been attacked by residents on several occasions. Credit: Caitlin O’Hara for The New York Times

CHANDLER, Ariz. — The assailant slipped out of a park around noon one day in October, zeroing in on his target, which was idling at a nearby intersection — a self-driving van operated by Waymo, the driverless-car company spun out of Google.

He carried out his attack with an unidentified sharp object, swiftly slashing one of the tires. The suspect, identified as a white man in his 20s, then melted into the neighborhood on foot.

The slashing was one of nearly two dozen attacks on driverless vehicles over the past two years in Chandler, a city near Phoenix where Waymo started testing its vans in 2017. In ways large and small, the city has had an early look at public misgivings over the rise of artificial intelligence, with city officials hearing complaints about everything from safety to possible job losses.

Some people have pelted Waymo vans with rocks, according to police reports. Others have repeatedly tried to run the vehicles off the road. One woman screamed at one of the vans, telling it to get out of her suburban neighborhood. A man pulled up alongside a Waymo vehicle and threatened the employee riding inside with a piece of PVC pipe.

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