Wireless Industry Attacks Local Control

Sometimes the government agencies we charge to protect us are captured by industry appointees and instead become tools of that industry. This is what has happened to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) which at the federal level oversees internet and telecommunications policy.

The FCC has done the bidding of the wireless industry by overriding local control of wireless installations. Previously, wireless carriers had to abide by regulations made by cities, towns and counties and pay recurring fees for use of public rights-of-way. The FCC has unilaterally slashed those fees, sometimes by 90 percent, depriving municipalities of revenue raised to manage the public infrastructure and finance other city activities.

The FCC also mandated a much shorter review period for cities to check out proposed sites to make sure they are structurally sound, supplied with the necessary electricity and consistent with the aesthetics of the locations—which in this case will often be residential neighborhoods. If a city fails to meet the FCC’s one-size-fits-all deadline, the wireless company installation permit is automatically approved.

Municipalities Fight Back

Dozens of municipalities have joined a lawsuit to overturn the FCC orders in question. They believe the FCC violated federal telecommunications law by issuing the orders. The case now rests in the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals headquartered in San Francisco.

To find out more about 5G dangers,
read Environmental Harm.

Learn More about Local Control

Mayors or the FCC: Who understands the broadband needs of metropolitan residents? — This analysis from the Brookings Institution provides a concise treatment of the issues behind the municipal lawsuit against the FCC mentioned above. Published February 22, 2019.

Taking on the FCC: Unraveling a $500 Billion Rip-Off — This piece in Counterpunch details an investigation and lawsuit that demonstrates how the telecom giants took vast amounts of public money specifically designated to build fast, reliable wired networks and used it instead to build their private wireless systems. If the lawsuit succeeds, it could lead to actions across the country to force construction of the promised wired networks as originally mandated by the government. Published June 7, 2019.

Captured Agency: How the Federal Communications Commission Is Dominated by the Industries It Presumably Regulates — Published by the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University, this report details how the telecommunications industry has captured the FCC and made it exceedingly difficult for the concerns of citizens affected by FCC policy to be heard. Published June 23, 2015.