Roll Out the Fiber…All the Way to the Premises – Updated

Photo Credit: CPUC

Action needed before May 22!  Developments are unfolding behind closed doors in the state legislature. Stand by for updates as they are revealed.

The Wireless industry is pushing two bad bills through the California legislature.  Both bills attempt to speed up deployment of harmful 5G antennas that would irradiate very close to homes, schools, medical facilities, etc. You could be affected whether or not you subscribe to any wireless service. 

These bills could override good State and Federal government policies that support the safer, faster, more secure and improved technology of fiber optic all the way to the premises of homes and businesses.  Actions to take follow the article, and will be updated.

By James Heddle, Mary Beth Brangan – EON.  –   Cross-posted on Substack

National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA)

“NTIA has determined that ‘Priority Broadband Projects’ are those that use end-to-end fiber-optic architecture. Only end-to-end fiber will ‘ensure that the network built by the project can easily scale speeds over time to … meet the evolving connectivity needs of households and businesses’ and ‘support the deployment of 5G, successor wireless technologies, and other advanced services.’”

https://broadbandusa.ntia.doc.gov/sites/default/files/2022-05/BEAD%20NOFO.pdf

California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC)

“Legacy [transmission] technologies typically lag on speeds, latency, and other factors, as compared to more modern technologies like fiber.” CPUC – DECISION ADOPTING FEDERAL FUNDING ACCOUNT RULES

“Project technology choice … Fiber optic infrastructure is scalable and enables the next generation of application solutions for all communities. An application proposing to invest in fiber optic infrastructure will receive credit.” – CPUC Federal Funding Account Program Rules and Guidelines

 

Definitions and Background

The term ‘Broadband’ is defined by the American Heritage Dictionary as relating to data transmission that uses multiple channels so that multiple pieces of data can be transmitted simultaneously and is capable carrying a wide band of electromagnetic frequencies. 

Broadband is also another term for high-speed internet access.  It is defined by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as a connection with at least 25 Mbps download speed and 3 Mbps upload speed.

Broadband signals can be transmitted wirelessly via electromagnetic signals from cell towers and satellites, or via DSL wires, coaxial cable, or optical fiber. 

Authorities agree that optical fiber currently provides the most reliable delivery system capable of accommodating constantly increasing transmission speeds much faster than the FCC’s minimum requirements, and is unmatchable by wireless transmission systems.

That’s why both federal and state regulatory and funding agencies prioritize fiber transmission from source ‘to the premises,’ without any involvement of wireless links, as indicated in the above quotations.

The Great Wireless Telecom Rip-Off

Telecom analyst Bruce Kushnick is a founding member of a group of former telecom insiders-turned-whistleblowers calling themselves The Irregulators.  In an article titled The Government and America have been Punked by AT&T, Verizon, et al, Kushnick documents in depth how the American telecom environment has been “captured by a few companies that have taken control over all communications in America — and now figured out how to get the government to reward them for not building out fiber optic networks to all areas of America.”

The essence of his revelations is that:

…Starting in the 1990’s … state telecom utilities were supposed to be upgraded to fiber optics, and state laws were changed to fund these deployments…. telephone customers were charged extra for this promised build-out.

… By 2010, the infrastructure construction budgets of the state utilities had been illegally transferred to wireless over the previous decade, and this deliberately left the copper wire-based infrastructure system throughout the entire state territory to deteriorate.

… Circa, 2000, Verizon and AT&T started to manipulate the accounting of expenses in the state utilities so that the major allocation of costs were put into one service category, the local phone service, artificially causing further rate hikes to customers.   They intentionally did NOT upgrade the rural and poor inner city areas with fiber, even though they had been paid to do so by the continuous rate increases. This wireless industry business decision caused the ‘digital divide.’

Kushnick states, “In the end, they control the wires and infrastructure, they control the prices and who gets upgraded — and they conned America…”

As we explain in this article, there is a real and present danger that the con will go on in California in another form as the wireless industry attempts a money grab of funds earmarked for fiber.

Fiber Über Alles – Wireless Broadband’s Last Stand

The Electronic Frontier Foundation recently made what many see as a happy announcement:

There is a lot to appreciate in the recently published “Notice of Funding Opportunity” (NOFO) by the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA). It is arguably the first federal government proposal that seeks to promote infrastructure policies focused on the future, rather than the usual subsidizing “good enough for now” access. That means that the American government, or at least part of it, finally recognizes what appears obvious: that the future of internet access is in fiber.

That’s good news for corporations and electro-magnetic radiation (EMR) safety advocates who have long sought support for the concept of ‘fiber to the premises’ under the banner of Fiber to the People.

It’s bad news for advocates of outmoded, and environmentally polluting wireless transmission technologies including 5G.  The much-touted 5G has turned out to be not only toxic to humans and other living beings, but inefficient because of its vulnerability to being blocked by vegetation, buildings and even double panes of glass.  This serious inefficiency is being used as the justification for the expensive deployment of thousands of small microwave antennas every few yards in close proximity to people’s living spaces.  Ironically this system must still depend on an optical fiber foundation that could easily (but admittedly more expensive than wireless) be extended to each household and office, thus eliminating the supposed need for the wireless antennas.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) notes, “Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 156 into law on July 20, 2021, investing $6 billion for broadband infrastructure for middle-mile and last-mile projects. This investment is part of a statewide plan to expand broadband infrastructure, increase affordability, and enhance access to broadband for all Californians.”

For once government officials, funding and regulatory agencies are doing the right thing in prioritizing optical fiber transmission all the way ‘to the premises.’  So, why does California have bills opposing these sensible policies?

2 Bills to Kill – Zombie Wireless Tries a Comeback

In California, this has motivated wireless pushers to launch a pair of pro-wireless bills in the Assembly that are now moving through the two houses of the state legislature that are already deluged this session with over 600 pieces of proposed legislation. 

This raises the danger that AB 965 and AB 1065 may squeak through without informed consideration by both overloaded lawmakers and a public unaware of the bills’ imprudent implications.

Both bills embody virtual fairy godmother wish lists for the inferior wireless transmission industry and represent attempted end-runs around local municipal and county elected decision-making authorities responsible for public safety. Together they would deliver a one-two punch to informed democratic policy making on this crucial issue.

Both trade on the current orthodoxy that speedy ‘broadband services’ – defined to include both wireless and ‘wireline’ (i.e., fiber) transmission systems – are essential for business, education, job creation and public safety.  This, despite the fact that, as Americans for Responsible Technology points out, “Wireless broadband is slow, expensive, unreliable, hazardous and cannot deliver the speeds required for next generation programs and services.”

As it is, the U.S. seriously lags behind other ‘advanced’ economies in internet access and speed. We have been put at great disadvantage commercially and are rapidly declining to ‘third world’ internet conditions.

In addition, both bills use benign-sounding catch phases like, ‘digital equity,’ ‘closing the digital divide,’ and inclusion of ‘under served areas’ to create a deceptive aura of humane egalitarianism around themselves.

Fast Track for Wireless Broadband

Assembly Bill 965 , Local Government: Broadband Permit Applications, is sponsored by Democrat Assembly Member Juan Carrillo.      The bill contains a definition of “broadband” that include both wireless and fiber optic as broadband, but the bill clearly favors wireless broadband projects.  It allows wireless providers to apply for cell tower transmitter permits in batches of up to 50. Each of these permit applications is about two inches thick each and is very complex, requiring careful scrutiny by city or county staff. If the applications are not dealt with by staff in a strictly designated time limit, they are deemed approved. Allowing batches of 50 applications under a ticking time clock for the staff is a clear attempt to overwhelm local decision makers and get large numbers of small cell wireless in place on a ‘fast track’ basis.  Despite its many deficiencies, broadband via wireless would be a fait accompli.

According to the Environmental Health Trust, the bill should be opposed because it:

1.     Exposes the state and local governments unnecessarily to industry liability and legal defense costs 

2.     It would set the state back in terms of climate change management because wireless is a huge energy waster compared to other technologies like fiber. 

3.     It increases costs to do business in California due to inadequate wireless speed, capacity, security, and safety compared with other technologies like fiber being rolled out in other states and countries.

We would add that it promotes investment in soon-to-be obsolete transmission technologies, thus failing to take advantage of current opportunity costs, which favor fiber.

Sidnee Cox, new Executive Director of the EMF Safety Network, puts it like this:

“CA AB 965 allows wireless companies to intentionally dump dozens of antenna applications on local governments at once, creating new and unreasonable permitting obligations.

  •  AB 965 will allow WIRELESS companies to submit up to 50 applications at one time, requiring local authorities to process and approve them according to the established FCC shotclocks. These batched applications will automatically be deemed approved if not acted upon within the prescribed time. Telecom companies have invested billions in wireless spectrum and intend to capitalize on their investments. Their goal is to build out their wireless networks as fast as possible!

  • AB 965 does not consider the reality of diverse needs inherent within local communities throughout California. Allowing 50 applications or more at a time will hinder local government’s efforts to protect the public health and safety. 

  • AB 965 is unnecessary. Local governments have already been working collaboratively with the industry and have improved processes while maintaining important local safeguards. Many cities have successfully created wireless ordinances that incorporate FCC guidelines while maximizing local control.

  • AB 965 is promoted as a solution to the digital divide. The truth is, wireless broadband, especially the kinds of basic services offered to low-income families, is notoriously slow, unreliable, and unable to meet the demands of present and future digital communications.”

Meet the Evil Twin

Assembly Bill 1065, Communications: California Advanced Services Fund,  is sponsored by Republican Assembly Member Jim Patterson.  Jodi Nelson of Californians for Safe Technology  points out that the bill, “is meant to divert funding from fiber projects and share this exclusive fiber funding with wireless projects.”

AB1065 challenges the CPUC’s rule-making on funding optical fiber broadband through the Federal Funding Account and argues instead for including wireless to be eligible for this generous $2 billion pot of funding.

The CPUC’s rationale for the FFA money distribution is that the most funding should be reserved for superior technologies.  They favor projects using fiber optic cables, which reliably provide greater speed capabilities and are much more likely to meet a user’s technological needs in the long run, even though wireless technologies are the quickest projects to deploy and are much less expensive to build than projects that require direct physical connections to a premises.

Americans for Safe Technology’s fact sheet on AB1065 is here.

Sidnee Cox of the EMF Safety Network – which opposes the bill – points out, “major Wireless companies don’t need funding! They have billions of dollars to use to back any project.  For instance: Verizon’s revenue in 2022 was $136.8 billion; T-Mobile’s revenue in 2022 was $79.57 billion; AT&T annual revenue for 2022 was $120.74 billion.  They’re just being horribly greedy.”

She goes on to explain,

CA AB 1065 is a government hand-out to the unregulated and highly profitable wireless industry.

·       AB 1065 will provide funding for the increasingly massive rollout of wireless installations and take it away from the much safer, more reliable, and energy-efficient option of WIRED internet connections. 

·       AB 1065 will allow WIRELESS companies to apply for FFA (Federal Funding Account) grants. However, this money was intended for last mile infrastructure.

·       CPUC regulators have determined that WIRED connections are technologically superior to wireless and will provide much better access for the unserved and underserved communities. “The Federal Funding Account, established by the CPUC according to Senate Bill 156, will fund last mile broadband infrastructure projects to connect unserved and underserved Californians with high-speed broadband service. The Federal Funding Account has a $2 billion budget made up of state and federal funds.” https://www.cpuc.ca.gov/industries-and-topics/internet-and-phone/broadband-implementation-for-california/last-mile-federal-funding-account

·       Wireless will set our state back in terms of climate change management because wireless uses a huge amount of energy compared to WIRED fiber networks.

·       Wireless facilities placed in neighborhoods are shown to have a negative impact on property values.

·       Wireless facilities increase the risk of fires.

·       Wireless facilities seriously impact the growing percentage of the population with disabilities related to radiofrequency radiation (RFR) exposure. Over a thousand peer reviewed publications show wireless RFR causes many deleterious effects. In addition, government sponsored research has proven that exposure to  RFR causes cancer.

·       Wireless networks are more easily hacked than WIRED, costing Californians $2 Billion in 2022.

·       Fiber to the Premises (to each home or business) offers greater capacity, predictable performance, lower maintenance costs, and a longer technological lifetime than wireless technologies. Fiber service is not degraded by line-of-sight issues and is not affected by capacity issues.

Californians for Safe Technology’s Jodi Nelson reports that, the Utility Reform Network (TURN) supports the CPUC’s existing rules for FFA grants and opposes the bill, contending:

“Taxpayer funding should be used to invest in reliable and future-proof broadband wireline technology for unserved and underserved communities. This bill would further the Digital Divide because it would divert historic broadband investments to support fixed wireless, which suffers from established engineering-capacity limits and is unreliable because it is easily impaired by weather.”

Bill Allayaud, the Environmental Working Group’s representative in Sacramento, points out “The two bills work together. 965 is trying to overwhelm local [authorities] and get large numbers of small cell wireless in place and 1065 is an attempt to facilitate that.” 

You can keep up with development at the CPUC’s Broadband Implementation for California website.

10G Cometh – Fusion of Fiber Plus Cable will Render Wireless Broadband Transmission Obsolete

As announced by Xfinity and Comcast, plans are afoot that will combine the benefits of both optical fiber and existing coaxial cable infrastructures.  Such a fusion will predictably sound the death knell for wireless broadband transmission systems.

It seems clear that wasting opportunity costs on soon-to-be-obsolete wireless broadband transmission systems with proven environmental, economic and human health risks – as both these ill-considered bills advocate – rates a 10 on the Scale of Stupid and qualifies as A Really Dumb Idea.

As usual, California is a primary test target for policies like this because of the belief that ‘as goes CA, so goes the country.’ The corollary is, ‘if we can beat it here, we can beat it nationally.’

What You Can Do

If you live in other states, be on the lookout for similar initiatives close to home. If you live in California, express your opposition in writing and phone calls to your officials. 

Urge a NO VOTE on both these Bills!
TAKE ACTION before May 22

Contact your Assembly Member and Legislative Assistant.
In addition to their online “Contact me” form, send an email and make a call. 

To get the info for your assemblymember: https://findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov/ 

Legislative Assistant list: https://eon3emfblog.net/wp-content/uploads/Leg-Aids-Assembly.pdf

Flyer about the two bills jpg: https://eon3emfblog.net/wp-admin/upload.php?item=9289

Find out more at:
www.Americans4RT.org/california

“Please Vote NO on AB-965 and AB-1065” and give a few reasons. 

Sample Letters:

?URGENT: PLEASE SEND OPPOSITION STATEMENT RIGHT AWAY RE CA BILL THAT WILL FAST-TRACK 5G/4G INSTALLATIONS

California Assembly Bill AB965 “Local government: broadband permit applications” allows wireless providers to apply for cell tower transmitter permits in batches of 50, and if not approved quickly enough according to the FCC shot clock, they are deemed approved automatically. Batch applications will overwhelm local governments. The bill has slipped through two California Assembly policy committees and is now headed to the Appropriations Committee, where it will likely be heard the week of May 22.

Note: The Appropriation Committee is focused on costs to state agencies, and no other concerns.

Right away, please write to the chair of the Appropriations Committee. Do this now or early tomorrow. Please do not wait until next week. THANK YOU!

Recipient line: approps.committee@assembly.ca.gov  

Subject line: Oppose AB 965

Message/letter (Reword or personalize the basic message paragraph even if slightly)

The Honorable Chris Holden, Chair
Assembly Appropriations Committee
1021 O Street, Room 8220
Sacramento, CA  95814

RE:  AB 965 (Carrillo) – Oppose

Dear Chair Holden:

Because there are uncertain and poorly-understood impacts on human health and other biological and environmental impacts, allowing small cell facilities in mass could put local governments and even the state in legal jeopardy. Allowing installation of these facilities without proper scrutiny may result in lawsuits filed over new facilities located next to residences, senior housing, hospitals and schools. A very similar prior version of this bill—SB 649 in 2018— also attempted to fastrack wireless installations, but specifically small cell facilities. SB 649 actually exempted fire fighting facilities from the bill due to concerns about RF radiation, and was vetoed by Governor Brown. AB 965 is broader with respect to what it applies to, threatening to incur greater liabilities and costs.

Given the broadening of federal law and regulations, this bill is not necessary.

Sincerely,

(Your name and city)

——————————

Dear Assemblymember (Last Name),

I am strongly opposed to AB965. Please do not pass this bill out of committee.

Expanding Broadband service is a good thing, But achieving that via expanding wireless radiation cell towers causes more problems than it fixes:

At a time when PG and E and has concluded that they need to commit to placing their network underground due to its propensity to create fires under the states dry and hot condition climate, suggestions for the creation of more above ground wireless antenna’s are counter intuitive at best, and reckless at worst.

It will cost the State of California more money due to pole failure and fires due to severe weather combining with this additional proposed above ground infrastructure.

And at at a time when power sources are bending under the weight of increased demand from the public, wireless uses much more energy than a broadband fiber network would use. In addition, there is no comparison between fiber optic cable broadband and wireless broadband in regards to both speed, reliablity, environmental safety, and security of communication.

Wireless broadband technology is a slow, expensive, and unreliable option that will saddle users with an inferior technology for years. Fiber to the premises is preferred by all experts and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. We also urge you to consider strengthening the copper wire infrastructure, since ethernet connections, such as DSL, are also faster than wireless, and do not have the extremely detrimental health impacts associated with wirelessly radiated radiofrequency.

In addition, in August of 2021, the United States Court of Appeals ordered the FCC to throw out its antiquated safety guidelines created in 1996 (before there was 3G, 4G or 5G, and before there were so many different sources of wireless radiation permeating our environment, leading to greater and greater cumulative absorption of wireless radiation).

The result of this increased absorption has yielded a whole range of negative health effects, including everything from severe headaches and neurological damage, to steeply decreasing sperms count and sperm viability in men. This Federal case against the FCC was brought by the Environmental Health Trust, et. al., and was supported by over 11,000 scientific studies.

The 2021 US Appeals Court declared “the FCC’s failure to provide a reasoned explanation for its determination that its 25-year-old guidelines adequately protect against the harmful effects of exposure to radiofrequency radiation unrelated to cancer, renders its decision capricious, arbitrary and not evidence based, in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act (APA).”

As one of the Plaintiff attorneys in the case, Dafna Tachover, Esq., noted, “This ruling from the second highest court in the country effectively stated that at this point in time it cannot be argued that the FCC guidelines are protective or that wireless and 5G are safe.  The Wireless Technology industry is proceeding as if this ruling never took place.” 

Technology companies don’t care that the State of California will be subject to countless litigation costs over its willingness to enter into a form of communication technology without established safety standards, as it ruins the health both slowly and quickly of thousands and thousands of California residents.

The aforementioned Appeals Court ruling also found that the FCC completely failed to acknowledge and respond to comments concerning the impact of RF radiation on the environment. It quoted a 2014 letter from the US Department of the Interior (normally a quite conservative department)  voicing concern that radiation from cell towers affects migratory birds and concluding that the FCC guidelines are 30 years out of date.

And that suggests still more litigation burdens for the State of California from environmental groups. 

For all of these reasons and more, we urge you to oppose AB 965. 

Sincerely,
Your name

Get Informed: An Authoritative Study for more info:

For an in depth report on the advantages and promising future of fiber networks see, Dr. Timothy Schoechle, PhD’s  authoritative report, “Re-Inventing Wires: The Future of Landlines and Networks”  published by the National Institute for Science, Law & Public Policy. Dr. Schoechle argues that, “The U.S. should Instead Invest in hard-wired telecommunications infrastructure tos economic growth, bridge the digital divide and diminish risks to security, privacy, public health and the environment.”

——————————-

Mary Beth Brangan and James Heddle Co-Direct EON, the Ecological Options Network, a tax-exempt organization focusing on electromagnetic and nuclear radiation safety issues. The EON feature documentary S.O.S. – The San Onofre Syndrome – Nuclear Power’s Legacy will be released later this year.

 

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