back to article US cities react in fury to FCC's $2bn break for 5G telcos: We'll be picking up the tab, say officials

A plan to impose a federal price cap and one-size-fits-all model for the rollout of next-generation mobile networks has been met with fury by US cities. New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Chicago, Las Vegas, San Diego, Seattle and dozens of other cities have responded in anger to a public comment period on two …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just proves...

    We have the best government money can buy.

    Note to cities: Get others to pony up some cash, and you might get a better result. Otherwise, let the good times roll!

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Just proves...

      There is a downside in having a central comittee planned state economy.

      OK - so you get workers rights, free education and healthcare and equality for all - but you need to pay more for advanced technology services than in a capitalist country

      1. LDS Silver badge

        Actually in USA you pay more than in other countries...

        ... with healthcare, free education and worker rights. Just look at Germany.

        Unregulated capitalism is only efficient to concentrate wealth at the top of the pyramid - until the pyramid crumbles.

        BTW, when your job is stable, your wages are higher, you don't have to spend a lot of it for healthcare and education risking to lose them with your job, and you have no debts, even little higher prices for your internet line are OK.

        1. Bernard

          Re: Actually in USA you pay more than in other countries...

          It’s worth noting that this isn’t ‘unregulated capitalism’.

          It’s fairly specifically a regulated industry getting a better deal than the free market would offer, presumably because of money going into offshore bank accounts.

          Unregulated capitalism doesn’t lead to desirable outcomes, but nor does any system of regulation which is not properly constructed and overseen. This stuff isn’t easy to fix.

          1. LDS Silver badge

            "It’s worth noting that this isn’t ‘unregulated capitalism"

            Capitalism were lobbies steadily get what they want, and even the Supreme Court bows to them, it's one the worst stages of unregulated (or badly regulated, true) capitalism - actually a system where too powerful oligopolies already formed, and politics is so dependent on their moneys it will give them whatever they want as long as the money keep on coming in. Unregulated capitalism doesn't lead to a freer market - it leads to oligopolies.

            But the lack of investment is less populated areas is something free market is unable to solve - because covering them could actually mean a loss of profits, especially in a market obsessed with very short-term gains. So it need incentives or direct intervention.

            A state can't be run as a company. A company can pull out from markets it deems non remunerative. A state can't abandon citizens just because it happens they live in the "wrong" places - especially if those wrong places is from where basic needs like food come.

            It's a different kind of investment, not a pure financial one, it's an investment on people - in no way the best ones will just come from more densely populated areas. Giving part of the population less chances, is a society collective suicide.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Just proves...

        "but you need to pay more for advanced technology services than in a capitalist country"

        Don't be silly. The cost is all down to how it's managed and who makes money out of it (and how much).

        I can see the FCCs point on fixed price or capped installation fees since we are talking about national infrastructure here, but the Telcos should be responsible for all upkeep of the installations afterwards. The cities should not be making profits off what are basically just planning applications, but conversely should not be effectively subsidising either the installation or the upkeep.

        1. Orv Silver badge

          Re: Just proves...

          I think it's a stretch to call cell towers "national infrastructure," since any given tower inherently just serves the local population. The networks have also always been privately owned, and don't even all interoperate with each other -- the FCC regulates the frequency bands in use but not the communications protocols transmitted over them.

  2. Mark 85 Silver badge

    The FCC claims that the proposal will remove $2bn in "unnecessary fees" and lead to $2.5bn in additional profit.

    FTFY.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      I like the "naivety" - also called "hypocrisy"-, of many politicians. Reminds me the one asserting that the merger of two telcos would have brought more jobs, against historical quite clear evidence of the contrary. They keep on calling "more profits for a few only" with a lot of different names.

      Just, the real problem is the people who believe them.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        They were telling the truth

        Specifically it would have created more jobs as non-exec directors for the politicians that approved the merger.

    2. schubb

      Thank you! We will be lucky if 1% of that $2.5B goes back into re-investing in better coverage. Amazing how they hide behind "We need subsidies to cover those areas, unless you deregulate us." Then deregulation occurs and "We cannot justify serving those areas to our shareholders." And nothing ever changes.

  3. Uncle Ron

    Money, Money, Money

    I would like to understand how corporate and private money is paid to public officials/candidates in the UK and EU. In the US, we have something called the "Citizens United" decision, which basically allows corporations and rich people to pay unlimited amounts of money to public officials and candidates ostensibly for the furtherance of their political careers. Much of it is unreported, "dark" money. IMHO, it is essentially legalized bribery. The money is not intended to be used for the official's or candidate's personal use, but seeing as elected officials are essentially -always- re-running for office, this unlimited money can end up being used to feed and water politicians 24/7. The telecom industry in the US is the largest transmitter of money to politicians. Bigger even than the health-care industry and the defense industry. Comcast alone spends more money "lobbying" the US Federal government than anyone except Lockheed-Martin. IMHO, this institutionally organized bribery has corrupted the entire US Federal government. How doe this work in your country?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Money, Money, Money

      It's not such a problem in the UK as our politicians are mostly insane.

    2. lsces

      Re: Money, Money, Money

      Donations to election expenses are strictly controlled, as are donations to political parties. Anything is is simply illegal ;)

    3. Jonathan Richards 1
      Boffin

      Re: Money, Money, Money

      In the UK, such matters are regulated by the Electoral Commission (see What we do and don't regulate), who are empowered by the Political Parties, Elections, and Referendums Act 2000. It certainly doesn't ensure a perfect electoral landscape, but it looks better than Citizens United looks from this side of the Atlantic, IMO.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Money, Money, Money

        In the UK, such matters are regulated by the Electoral Commission

        And so the art of gaining influence in the UK is much more subtle than the US practice of buying yourself a politician. Our telecoms regulator Ofcom is ineffectual, and appears to be captured by the companies it is supposed to regulate, but those companies haven't had to hand over millions of pounds to buy influence. They simply wine and dine a few politicians (which is a cheap form of getting a tiny bit of influence) but much more importantly they play the regulatory game to their advantage.

        Ofcom take little account of consumer interests, but will heavily weigh the interests of companies, and so the outcome is almost always skewed towards the telecoms companies.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Money, Money, Money

          Because public transport is more common in the UK than the USA you just have to write the policy on the side of a bus - it makes it much cheaper to run election campaigns

        2. PeterGriffin

          Re: Money, Money, Money

          So true. Most British politicians are thankful to have their egos fluffed and a nod to a future board of directors position. Unless they're Nigel Farage or Boris Johnson then it's not just their ego that requires fluffing - their trusting wives be damned.

    4. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Money, Money, Money

      "IMHO, this institutionally organized bribery has corrupted the entire US Federal government. How does this work in your country?"

      In the UK such dark money would almost certainly be considered "election funding" and would be illegal, but whether the beneficiaries would actually be penalised is another matter entirely. A substantial part of the funding for Leave in the Brexit vote has been declared illegal and the person who gave the cash has been fined but those who received it have not and the referendum decision stands. In addition, the person who was fined may yet have the fine paid by sympathisers, who can write it off as the cost of doing business.

      It is not yet clear whether or not these sympathisers include foreign kleptocrats. If true, then they got a bargain because for under 1 million outlay they've caused many billions of costs for their enemies. If false, then they missed a trick but got lucky because someone else did it for them.

      1. P. Lee Silver badge

        Re: Money, Money, Money

        >A substantial part of the funding for Leave in the Brexit vote has been declared illegal and the person who gave the cash has been fined but those who received it have not and the referendum decision stands.

        And do all the anti-Leave articles from the BBC count as "election contributions"?

        Foreign kleptocrats - would that include Juncker? Are we concerned with the foreign powers who might possibly somehow, in some ill-defined manner, benefit from the Brexit, or the foreign powers currently actually receiving our net contribution to the EU?

    5. LDS Silver badge

      "as elected officials are essentially -always- re-running for office"

      That's the real issue. Without a cap on political spending, and even political advertisement, what you get is a perennial election campaigns, especially when most candidates know that their only chance of "living like the rich ones" is being (re)elected. In turn the advertisement and media industry found an incredible pool of gullible people ready to pay "whatever it takes" to get a seat.

      Now spin doctors are probably the most paid consultants, well above experts in foreign policies, and health, financial, industrial, agricultural and scientific matters.

      The target is being elected. Everything else doen't really matter.

      Clever countries have strong limits to political advertisement and contribution. A country doesn't really need years long campaigns that stalls everything else. A couple on months, maybe only one, are fully enough - and it will curb expenses too. It's not that news have to travel using couriers on a horse....

    6. DeKrow

      Re: Money, Money, Money

      In Australia, media barons fight over who should be Prime Minister, and Rupert Murdoch wins:

      http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-09-18/liberal-leadership-spill-rupert-murdoch-kerry-stokes-influence/10262552

  4. W Donelson

    Yet another GOP scam to pay for the $2 trillion giveaway to the rich

    Shameful.

    1. DCFusor Silver badge

      Re: Yet another GOP scam to pay for the $2 trillion giveaway to the rich

      If you think this "best government money can buy" thing hasn't been going on for the last 60+ years (that I've been alive to watch), independent of who is nominally in control, you have a very short memory or are willfully being blind.

      Pot, meet kettle.

      1. Flashdunce

        Re: Yet another GOP scam to pay for the $2 trillion giveaway to the rich

        The pattern you allude to fits the larger story - this is yet another example of a “public comment period” which in the end likely will have effect similar to a “victim impact statement” https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victim_impact_statement.

      2. DCFusor Silver badge

        Re: Yet another GOP scam to pay for the $2 trillion giveaway to the rich

        Obviously some partisan thumbs here.

        Who forgot who just gave a huge gift to big Pharma, and the medical insurance companies with a bill they wrote for themselves where "you have to pass it to see what's in it".

        And who gave Big Pharma the "we won't negotiate drug prices for gov aid"

        And "we'll deregulate the banks"

        And "we'll destabilize the Middle East (several administrations, actually) to the benefit of the MIC.

        I see all sides of the aisle well represented in some very bad and corrupt things here, and it's probably why there isn't more investigation/firings/jailings - turning over that rock is dangerous to both.

        It goes back to the time before I was born in the '50s. Give me a break...

        It's just that no one wants to understand that the other guy being wrong doesn't make you right...

        Thinking for yourself is too hard?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "I the other guy being wrong doesn't make you right..."

          Agree, fully ... however but your first quote is out of context and cut off mid sentence.

          "You’ve heard about the controversies within the bill, the process about the bill, one or the other.

          ... <praise for bill> ...

          But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, AWAY FROM THE FOG OF THE CONTROVERSY."

          Which is just as wrong as quoting "Truth Isn't Truth" rather than "because it's somebody's version of the truth, not The Truth."

          Both are examples of unfairly twisting words out of context for click bait headlines and to score some cheap political points. Which I believe is another example of what you are talking about.

  5. Trollslayer Silver badge
    Flame

    Yet another reason

    not to move to the US.

    The UK isn't perfect but this is typical with regulation.

    There are even state unions for all kinds of things such as 'nail technicians' which are basically run by gangsters who get away with massive membership fees.

    1. DATmafia
      Stop

      Re: Yet another reason

      " Yet another reason not to move to the US."

      Must be grand to have law enforcement focus on thought crimes and not actual crime. You can keep your willing blindness to the dangers the UK has invited upon itself. The UK has given up freedoms for political correctness as a country since subjectively "offending" someone is a highest crime in all of British society. If you can't handle being offended and have to use the race and phobia cards to shut down free speech the problem is with you and not those who are for free speech.

  6. Chris G Silver badge

    Pronunciation

    So how exactly do you pronounce Pai?

    Something like Pay- mee?

    I wonder what kind of job he will have when he leaves his current position?

    These questions and others should be answered by an FBI agent, but it won't happen.

    1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

      Re: Pronunciation

      > So how exactly do you pronounce Pai?

      I believe it's generally pronounced as /kʌnt/ or Kor-Upt

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Coat

        Re: Pronunciation

        I've always thought it was as in American Pai.

    2. DCFusor Silver badge

      Re: Pronunciation

      Sadly, what he's doing isn't illegal, and government is full of such people, we're just noticing this jerk because he's pushing the outrageous limit - which seems to be monotonically increasing. (See SEC and banking regs) Every single person I know who is aware of the issues thinks this guy needs to go, no matter what his affiliation, in this case, that's obviously the "green money" party above all others.

      If it was illegal, well....how many other revolving-door lobbyists and politicians and regulators would you have to bust. I vote for "all of them"...but it's not happening, is it.

      I repeat, corruption isn't limited to a particular party or individual, and after enough time, it's really hard to root out, as the people who would are themselves implicated if for no other reason than letting it get this bad.

      It's not like congress, which changes hands every so often during my life, couldn't have made this kind of thing illegal. Crickets. Follow the money. It's even more obvious when you look at who is getting money NOW than assuming (probably correctly) that there's a payoff later. You don't have to wait to see who gets telecom money, it's public record, and and save you looking - it's pretty much all of them.

      Blaming on one of the fake-dichotomy sides is lazy thinking.

      Both are guilty.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Pronunciation

        @DCFuser:

        I agree with you entirely, but up to now, you're the only one I've seen complain that this is not a partisan issue.

        Democrats are the same as Republicans - they are just less brazen in how they go about things!

      3. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: Pronunciation

        "what he's doing isn't illegal"

        Maybe, maybe not. But the legality of such actions has nothing to do with whether or not they're corrupt.

  7. Palladium

    Who wanna bet

    Evil communist red China gets 100% 5G coverage years before the US while the MAGA ilk will still be chanting USA always #1? C'mon even California can't build a short high speed rail at a timetable and budget considered reasonable to save their lives.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Who wanna bet

      So? The rich will be richer.

      Mission Succcessful.. .USA! USA!

    2. Orv Silver badge

      Re: Who wanna bet

      I think a related question is, does it matter? Does 5G actually enable anything 4G can't provide? I got the impression it was largely marketing hype.

  8. DATmafia
    Big Brother

    "In short, it is yet more shoddy policymaking from a federal regulator that appears to take its cue exclusively from the companies it is supposed to be overseeing."...Now say the same about the so-called "Affordable Care Act" which saw private health insurance companies receive billions in kick backs and hurt consumers more than it helped. It's funny that the liberal enclaves are all of a sudden for states rights. These cities want free everything from the federal gov't but when the FCC wants all cities, large and small plus rural areas to have a fair shot at 5G rollout they are all of a sudden a proponent of states rights. Laughable on it's face.

  9. ScrappyLaptop

    Tis amazing how the "party of small federal government" tends to impose on the states when it in their corporate benefactors' best interest.

    1. Spazturtle Silver badge

      The federal government has claimed jurisdiction over the internet for decades citing the common commerce clause. This is the same way they forced net neutrality upon the states. This isn't a partisan issue as both parties are on the same page on this issue.

  10. Bryan Hall

    10A - use it!

    There are parts of the FCC that make sense at a federal level - such as broadcasts of high power that can easily cross state lines. 5G certainly does not fit that bill and should not be regulated at the federal level. The states / cities should tell them to stuff it since the FCC was never recognized by a constitutional amendment to start with.

  11. Someone Else Silver badge

    Gee, what a surprise!

    So who is actually in favor of the proposals?

    Well, AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile USA – the three main mobile operators in the United States.

    Gee, what a surprise! Eejit Pai-hole's patrons are all in favor of a plan to further line their pockets at the expense of urban (read: blue-voting) population centers.

  12. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    "Sweet" Pai enarning his remuneration*

    But not his government salary.

    It really is amazing how much of the US Federal Structure was modeled on Ancient Rome.

    Most of the bad bits that allow a nominally independent decision making process to be hijacked by basically one man to allow them to line their pockets.

    One of the reasons humans developed better models of government.

    Several 100 years before the War of Independence.

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