Marin County Joining Law Suit re: FCC 4G and 5G Expansion Scheme

November 1, 2018; the original SF Gate article is here.

Marin County officials announced Wednesday they are joining other local governments in challenging a Federal Communications Commission order aimed at accelerating the antenna-densification of both fourth and fifth generation of wireless service, known as 4G and 5G.

Marin County Counsel Brian Washington said the Board of Supervisors reported that it reached the decision in a closed meeting on Tuesday to file a challenge in a federal appeals court. The county and other cities and counties claim a Sept. 26 FCC order on the deployment of the new technology illegally intrudes on their power to regulate the aesthetic and safety aspects of the placement of new antennas and structures for 4G and 5G services.

Washington said Marin County will join a coalition of public entities represented by a Washington, D.C., law firm, Spiegel & McDiarmid LLP, and that the petition will be filed soon.

Twenty-five other West Coast cities and counties, including a group led by the city of San Jose, previously filed similar challenges in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco on Oct. 24.

The upcoming 5G networks use a different technology, including higher frequencies, and are expected to provide faster service than the previous wireless generations.

5G uses smaller antenna devices, typically no larger than a small backpack, according to the FCC, but have shorter ranges and must be more closely spaced. The new antennas would be placed on existing publicly owned utility poles, new poles or other structures.

S4WT Comment: This is contradicted by Verizon which states that 28 GHz and 39 GHz frequencies used for 5G can transmit 3,000 feet and achieve 1,000 Mbps, so there is no need to install antennas on utility or light poles in the public rights-of-way near homes.

Verizon: Millimeter Waves Go 3,000 Feet

The FCC order limits cities' abilities to regulate antenna placement for aesthetic reasons and limits the fees they can charge communications companies. It requires local governments to act within 60 days on companies' applications to place an antenna on an existing pole or structure and within 90 days on applications for installation on a new structure.

Tim Lay, an attorney in the Spiegel & McDiarmid law firm, said he expects that the challenges filed in different circuit courts in the nation will be sent to a single circuit court, which will set a schedule for filings of briefs and a hearing.

  • In one of Oct. 24 petitions in the 9th Circuit, San Jose led a coalition of 19 other West Coast cities and counties, including the town of Fairfax and the cities of Piedmont, Burlingame, Monterey and Los Angeles.

  • Another petition was filed by Seattle, Tacoma and Kings County of Washington state

  • A third petition was filed by Huntington Beach.

The FCC said in its Sept. 26 order that 5G services . . .

can unleash a new wave of entrepreneurship, innovation, and economic opportunity for communities across the country.

It said the order, scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 14 . . .

is the next step in the FCC's ongoing efforts to remove regulatory barriers that would unlawfully inhibit the deployment of infrastructure necessary to support these new services.

S4WT Comment: Of course, none of what the FCC wrote in its Sept. 26 order is necessary in order to integrate broadband technology into our communities. The FCC order is a series of gifts granted to Big Wireless at the expense of local communities. Most importantly, the FCC in its Sept. 26 order completely ignores the fact that CA's State Telecom Utility (AT&T California) never completed the job of upgrading its copper lines to Fiber to the Home (FTTH), despite collecting from Californians over $16 Billion from our landline phone bills from 1994 to the present for the express purpose of upgrading copper Wirelines to fiber optic wirelines to a majority of all CA homes. Through 2018. AT&T California converted only 6% of households to fiber. Read more here. AT&T California needs to finish the job.