Opening Round: Local Officials Mull Suing FCC

— National organizations representing municipalities are rebelling against FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr’s plan to streamline the deployment of the 5G wireless infrastructure known as small cells. The proposal, set for a Sept. 26 vote, would preempt local government authority, a measure of run-around that wireless giants like AT&T and Verizon say may be necessary for 5G deployment given delays they face at the local level. That doesn’t sit right with the municipal groups, which say the plan amounts to federal overreach that could harm public safety and local governments’ ability to collect vital revenue. If Carr’s plan is enacted unchanged, the U.S. Conference of Mayors “and its members will seek relief in federal court to overturn this unprecedented overreach,” CEO Tom Cochran said in a statement. The National League of Cities is also opposed and “absolutely” expects litigation to follow, Angelina Panettieri, the league’s principal associate on telecom, told John.

— The National Association of Counties is objecting too, says spokesman Brian Namey: “By narrowing the window for evaluating 5G deployment applications, the FCC would effectively hinder local governments’ fulfillment of public health and safety responsibilities during the construction, modification or installation of broadcasting facilities.” The Conference of Mayors complained that the FCC itself estimated its proposed small cell streamlining “threatens future revenues to local (and state) governments by billions of dollars over the next decade” (Carr had touted estimates funded by Corning, a company with a financial interest in small-cell deployment). In the days leading up to the FCC’s Sept. 26 vote, “I do think you’re going to see a lot of response from municipalities, from utilities,” the NLC’s Panettieri said.

— Carr, for his part, has sought to talk with local officials and called several, including Panettieri, last week to talk through details. He maintains local leaders broadly back his plan. “I’m pleased that dozens of mayors, local officials, and other state leaders all support FCC action,” Carr said. “We’re building on the smart infrastructure policies championed by local leaders. I look forward to continuing the conversation about commonsense reforms with them and the national associations.” In unveiling his proposal Sept. 4, Carr noted rural elected leaders had pressed for FCC action because they worry “that the billions of dollars of investment needed to deploy next-gen networks will be consumed by high fees and long delays in big, ‘must serve’ cities.”

Source: POLITICO Morning Tech

Back in 1990s, I was Chamber of Commerce Board Member and attended a Planning Conference at CSU Chico with a fellow board member. At the first break, the instructor took Matt and me out into the hall and said he was uncomfortable with our presence in the front row and the questions we were asking. He explained the session was intended for government planners, not Chamber Members. The purpose was to school government employees on how to extract additional fees from contractors and developers, so “they were paying their fair share.”  We refused to leave, we had paid our fees and it was a joy to watch the instructor squirm as he explained how to extract developers wealth for the public good.  Too many governments view the Telcos as bottom cash resources “for the public good,”  and a way to get their favorite projects and campaign promises funded. The FCC is trying to put a cap on this extortion and the locals are complaining.

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