back to article Six lawsuits against FCC's 5G idiocy – that $2bn windfall for telcos – is bundled into one appeals court sueball

Six lawsuits filed against controversial new 5G rules drawn up by America's communications watchdog have been bundled into one, and will be heard at the Tenth Circuit of Appeals. A lottery held late last week selected the appeals court that covers the middle of the country – Oklahoma, Utah, Colorado, etc – and the appellants, …

  1. Daedalus Silver badge

    It ain't all about poor cities and states

    Imagine you're going along the road, and you find that One Horse Town, South Dakota, has set up its own tollbooth. Would be annoying, but it's not legal anyway so it doesn't happen.

    Contrast that with One Horse Town being host to a cell tower and dinging cell providers and resellers with arbitrary taxes on calls that relay through that tower. Now the good people of One Horse Town can't hope to collect the taxes themselves, but they can employ collection agencies who have the wherewithal to do so, for a percentage off the top of course. This is the situation in the US.

    So if the Feds push a scheme to limit local fees on network infrastructure, you can see where they are coming from.

    1. hellwig Silver badge

      Re: It ain't all about poor cities and states

      It's not legal for a local municipality to toll people on a public road. But if I build my own private road on my own land, nothing says you have to drive on that road, and therefore, nothing stops me from tolling people who do. My biggest complaint is when they build a private highway, and then slap a Federal Interstate number on it. If it says I-280, it should be free.

      Back on topic, seems if One Horse Town wants cell service, they have to come up with an amicable agreement. If they get no service in return, the citizens should change their leadership. I guess my point is, if a cell company wants to avoid your scenario, they just don't have to provide service in that area. I don't think there are laws saying every town in america has to have cell coverage. There are still plenty of dead zones in cell coverage these days. One Horse Town is just going to end up as another one.

      And as for arbitrary rates, we already had those on land lines. Certain counties had (have?) ridiculous connection fees. Companies setup "1-900" like numbers in those exchanges, and basically worked out a back-end deal for a cut of the profits. By law, the Telcos HAD to connect to any exchange requested by the customer. So what looked like a normal long-distance call was actually a ridiculously overpriced long distance call. Wasn't a problem until the Telcos started offering free long distance.

      Google got in trouble because they weren't routing calls with Google Voice through those high-priced regions. But they argued they were an internet service, not a Telco, and not bound by Telco regulations.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: It ain't all about poor cities and states

        "If it says I-280, it should be free."

        Note to anyone visiting the SF Bay Area: Interstate 280 is NOT free, in fact it cost us tax payers quite a bit of money. However, there is NOT a per-use fee, so don't expect to find toll booths. We don't have those dratted things on most of the Left Coast, but the confused transplanted Right Coasties keep trying to foist them on us.

        "There are still plenty of dead zones in cell coverage these days."

        Indeed. I-280 has several of those. What, you expect both of the major roads that connect Silly Con Valley and San Francisco to have complete cell coverage?

        1. Josh 14

          Re: It ain't all about poor cities and states

          Unfortunately, Washington seems to have forgotten that we're not on the right coast, and has started tolls on things.

          Carpool lane? yeah, pay a toll, and any old idiot can go flying down it. Of course, they then randomly jack the price up if there's a traffic jam. (Don't ask where the money goes, they aren't telling...)

          Oh, you want another bridge over the Puget Sound, and the existing one was paid off and the toll booths closed down and legally not allowed to be re-opened? Yeah, we'll make that a one way bridge, and toll the new bridge going the other way! (No sunset clause in it's financing, and again, no telling where the money is going...)

          All that money going *somewhere* and they have still been regularly making noise about raising taxes on things to pay for the roads and transit projects.

        2. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: It ain't all about poor cities and states

          you should've been around when I-280 and I-680 were not yet connected - and the "highway to nowhere". Gummint incompetence at its finest!!! The 101 entry at Story road was a major detour cluster-blank for YEARS, unnecessarily so, because of gummint funds mis-used "that way" as usual... and those partial bridges stuck up in the air, really high, visible from everywhere, incomplete, and not being worked on at ALL for YEARS!!!

          So, back in the mid 70's, a San Jose city councilman got a crane to put a car up there as a joke, and political stunt. A couple of years ago they officially named the interchange after him. Who knew?

          I looked for a photo of "stonehenge II" (what it was often called) aka "highway to nowhere" with the car on top of that one section. Also according to an article, the city councilman received a traffic ticket from a highway patrol officer, for parking on a freeway.

          "Damage Done", then governor Jerry Brown [yes, THAT Jerry Brown] was forced to eat his own incompetence and do something about it. Heh.

        3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: It ain't all about poor cities and states

          "If it says I-280, it should be free."

          Note to anyone visiting the SF Bay Area: Interstate 280 is NOT free, in fact it cost us tax payers quite a bit of money. However, there is NOT a per-use fee, so don't expect to find toll booths.

          OP may have been referring to one of the other three I-280s (New Jersey, Ohio, or Illinois-Iowa). The three-digit Interstate numbers are not unique, and since I-80 runs coast-to-coast, there are plenty of I-x80 roads.

          There are also two roads that used to be I-280s but were renumbered, according to Wikipedia.

          In any case, I'm not sure what OP's point about the Federal Interstate system was supposed to be. The Interstate system is a collection of Federally-subsidized, limited-access, multilane highways. They're "Interstate" because they're supposed to facilitate interstate commerce, which is why there are Interstate highways even in both isolated states (that one in the middle of the Pacific and the one you can see from Russia), and even major (two-digit) Interstates in the Contiguous 48 that are confined to one state.1

          There's nothing about the Interstate system that says states aren't supposed to be able to impose additional per-vehicle fees. The Feds subsidize Interstates - they don't pay the whole cost. Many Interstates in the eastern half of the country have tolls, including the Big One, I-90, much of which is tolled east of Wisconsin.

          Offhand, the westernmost Interstate toll I can think of is I-70 outside Topeka, Kansas.

          In any case, though, while I can appreciate that many people don't like toll roads, I can't see how this is specifically the violation of some compact, explicit or implied, between the government and the people. Indeed, I can't help but feel it makes a certain amount of sense to have road users pay a greater proportion of the cost of road maintenance. (I know, money is fungible and tolls only notionally go toward paying for roads. Still, this means people who drive on toll roads throw a few extra pennies in the pot.)

          1OK, I may be exaggerating a bit, since the one I'm thinking of actually extends over two miles into a second state, and I don't have another example in mind. But close enough.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: It ain't all about poor cities and states

            "OP may have been referring to one of the other three I-280s"

            I seriously doubt it. Occam & all that.

          2. jake Silver badge

            Re: It ain't all about poor cities and states

            "They're "Interstate" because they're supposed to facilitate interstate commerce"

            Nope. They were built to make it easy to move military equipment about in the event of a national emergency.

      2. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: It ain't all about poor cities and states

        the small town toll booth analogy is interesting, but cell coverage doesn't work like that.

        Unfortunately, you can't choose which tower your phone will connect to. If you could, then you could avoid the high toll ones. But you can't. That's the problem.

        "one rate for all" makes more sense that way, at least as far as cell carriers go. It also evens the playing field for independent carriers to NOT have to "grease palms" to get a cell tower put up in a specific spot. Well, at least not on the surface... [there _other_ means by which politicians can screw this up and get kickbacks]

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. eldakka Silver badge

          Re: It ain't all about poor cities and states

          Unfortunately, you can't choose which tower your phone will connect to.
          You can actually.

          Each cell tower has a unique identifier associated with it, which with the right software installed on your phone you can see of all the cell towers around you in range. Also, with the right software, you can prevent your phone from connecting to cell tower identifier you put on a blacklist (or conversely use a whitelist).

          This is admittedly a fairly advanced - and onerous - task, requiring rooting phones and so on, not to mention the possibility of losing all comms if you put all of your own telco providers cells on the blacklist, or even worse not using comms but having to pay roaming fees for all your comms.

          But it can be done.

          (managed to double-post, so withdrew the other one.)

    2. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: It ain't all about poor cities and states

      "Imagine you're going along the road, and you find that One Horse Town, South Dakota, has set up its own tollbooth. Would be annoying, but it's not legal anyway so it doesn't happen"

      But it's entirely legal for states to do this, and many do -- often at the request of, and partially the benefit for, One Horse Towns.

  2. hellwig Silver badge

    Deemed Granted

    I though that read "Deed Granted", as in, once they build a cell-tower, they own the land it's built on. What are these companies thinking, this B.S. is what broke up the railroad monopolies.

  3. JohnFen Silver badge

    Correction

    "drawn up by America's communications watchdog"

    I think you misspelled "lapdog".

  4. Mark 85 Silver badge

    FCC laugh of the day

    and the FCC claims this will free up billions of dollars that the telcos will then invest back into building out the network.

    And they said that with a straight face.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: FCC laugh of the day

      "And they said that with a straight face."

      @mark 85

      it's a fair bet you've never run a company, done cost analysis, had to justify the cost of developing a new project, nor had to deal with investors wanting to know what you're doing with THEIR money...

      just sayin'.

      When you sign the FRONT of the company check, you understand a LOT more than when you're only signing the BACK of it.

      1. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: FCC laugh of the day

        I have done all those things. Can you explain to me what relevance your comment has to what mark 85 said? I'm not seeing the connection.

  5. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    $270 per site per year

    Land in urban areas can cost $200 to $2000 per square foot plus 1% of that per year in property tax. Newer parts of cities don't have telephone poles either.

    I should build a small house-shaped 5G tower and pay $270/year for it.

    1. HereIAmJH

      Re: $270 per site per year

      The $270 fee per site isn't talking about macro sites, it small cells. $270/year to put a shoebox size radio and antenna pack on a light pole, for instance. 5g needs very high density. You can't build a macro tower and let it cover a 3 mile radius.

      The part that the wireless companies are unhappy about, "deemed granted", is because some municipalities have extremely long approval processes. They can cover new sites (such as mounting a small cell on a light pole or cable line) to adding frequencies or changing antennas on an existing tower. If you have 100k macro towers (nationwide) to update to new tech (3g to LTE or 5g) it can be a long process. When you start talking about adding thousands of new small cells in each market the approval process could stretch out for years if you don't have some kind of expiration on the process.

      1. eldakka Silver badge

        Re: $270 per site per year

        When you start talking about adding thousands of new small cells in each market the approval process could stretch out for years if you don't have some kind of expiration on the process.

        That's just part of the cost of doing business.

        1. DougS Silver badge

          Re: $270 per site per year

          So if I decided I wanted to hang some 5G antennas on light poles the city should let me do it for $270 per pole? High band 5G licenses will be pretty cheap due to how much spectrum is being opened up, so mom and pop ISPs could easily spring up and do this. Somehow I think AT&T and Verizon would see things differently if a lot of local competition for fixed wireless sprang up and took advantage of "their" light-touch regulation environment. I think it is easy to see that it would be a problem if a dozen other people decided to do the same the poles were just bristling with antennas. One way you prevent that is for the city to set the rate - higher in bigger cities where more competition is likely (and cost of land is higher, blocking a lane off when guys are up on a pole is a lot more disruptive to rush hour traffic, etc.)

          1. 2Nick3 Bronze badge

            Re: $270 per site per year

            "Somehow I think AT&T and Verizon would see things differently..."

            Bronx Telecom would have to have roaming relationships with Manhattan Telecom, Brooklyn Telecom, Queens Telecom and Staten Island Telecom, and that's just so you can move around New York City and have your Bronx Telecom phone work. Jersey City Telecom would probably not join the group, so your calls (and data) are going to cost a lot more across the river, if your phone will even have a signal.

            It's one of the advantages the big guys have - you're almost always on their network, and if you're not they know who's network you would roam to, so it's easy to have those relationships in place. With thousands of independent providers it would be a nightmare trying to figure out what a call would cost outside of your provider's service area.

            1. DougS Silver badge

              Bronx Telecom

              Wouldn't need to have roaming agreements with anyone if they were addressing the market for fixed wireless. That's where the real money will be made from 5G. For mobile, 5G is just LTE with more bands available, there's no difference that will be noticeable to a smartphone owner so they will have no reason to care whether their phone uses LTE or 5G.

              The same players who are dominant today will install some 5G antennas on the same towers they have LTE, using similar bands (i.e. 3G bands they have freed up) and only later go back and fill in the "small cells" in denser areas using higher frequencies and new antenna sites.

        2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: $270 per site per year

          That's just part of the cost of doing business.

          Yeah. I'm not seeing the problem here.

          Of course, I don't give a damn if I never see 5G in my lifetime, either.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "if you don't have some kind of expiration on the process."

        Where are the fees when telcos miss their own deadlines?

      3. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: $270 per site per year

        "When you start talking about adding thousands of new small cells in each market the approval process could stretch out for years if you don't have some kind of expiration on the process."

        And why is this a problem that requires federal interference? If this causes an unacceptable delay in 5G deployment, and if the general public really wants 5G, then the citizens of those towns will absolutely force a change to reduce those delays.

        In the citizens don't care, then there's no problem.

  6. Andy Tunnah

    I love Republicans

    They're just absolutely shameless. They claim to be all about small government, less federal interference, but the moment the profits of one of their corporate masters' is threatened, they're all up in that.

    And the line "and the FCC claims this will free up billions of dollars that the telcos will then invest back into building out the network." genuinely made me laugh out loud.

  7. Nunyabiznes

    That's rich.

    "They also argue that the new rules deprives them of their right to own property – because they are being told what they can, and cannot, do with their land."

    This coming collectively from the very same governments whose planning departments can tell you exactly what you can and cannot do on the land you own outright.

    Not that I'm cheerleading for the FCC either. They are all a bunch of dipwiddles.

    1. HellDeskJockey

      Re: That's rich.

      My exact thoughts have an upvote. Gotta love the schadenfreude.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019