What’s Happening at the Federal Communications Commission?

What’s Happening at the Federal Communications Commission?

(Please note that this new development discussed at the post directly below may positively impact some of the FCC’s actions regarding preempting local zoning rights.)

The FCC Has No Authority To Overturn State Law Says Court


FCC Actions

As with other branches of our government, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is pulling out all the stops in an effort to find ways to streamline the deployment of 4g/5g “small” cells.  Following is an update on some of these actions.

1.  On April 20th, 2017, the FCC announced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Notice of Inquiry — WT Docket Nos. 17-79 and 15-180.

“This NPRM [Notice of Proposed Rule Making] examines regulatory impediments to wireless infrastructure investment and deployment and proposes measures to help remove or reduce such impediments. In this section, we address the process for reviewing and deciding on wireless facility deployment applications conducted by State and local regulatory agencies. We propose several potential measures or clarifications intended to expedite such review pursuant to our authority under Sections 332 of the Communications Act.”  

Public comment is open till June 9th, and Reply Comments (replying to comments submitted on this docket) are open through July 10th.  For more information, go to – https://ecfsapi.fcc.gov/file/033043087115/DOC-344160A1.pdf where you will find a 50 page document that is likely more than most of us want to deal with.  But presumably, the gist of it is this docket is intended to “promote the rapid deployment of advanced wireless broadband service to all Americans.” 

According to an employee at the FCC who was quite up on the wireless issues, the Commission does not have to consider matters involving health effects from RF/MW radiation since that is not what they are seeking comment on in this docket.  Basically, the FCC wants us to play ball with them by not addressing the “elephant in the room” – health.  But as small cell deployment can impact people economically or through ADA violations, presumably those issues would be considered on topic.

2.  The 2013 Docket, ET Docket No. 03-137, on revising the RF/MW radiation Maximum Permissible Exposure (MPE) limits is still open!  And although technically public comment was closed years ago, according to the same FCC employee, Comments are still “trickling in” and do get filed.  He was not able to speak to what is holding up a ruling on this docket.

Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) in ET Docket No. 03-137 http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2013/db0422/FCC-13-39A1.pdf
This is a 200 page document, but presumably, the gist of it is, “The Inquiry is intended to open discussion on both the currency of our RF exposure limits and possible policy approaches regarding RF exposure. We look forward to developing a complete record to determine whether the current rules and policies should remain unchanged, or should be relaxed or tightened.”  

For a short summary of ET Docket No. 03-137, check out this link – http://www.arrl.org/news/fcc-seeks-to-reassess-rf-exposure-limits


Instructions for submitting comments to the FCC:


3.  The FCC is currently forming a Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC):

“On January 31, 2017, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced the formation of a new federal advisory committee, the Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC or Committee), which will provide advice and recommendations for the Commission on how to accelerate the deployment of high-speed Internet access. The Commission intends to establish the BDAC for a period of two (2) years, with an expected starting date during the spring of 2017. [The first meeting was April 21st, 2017.]
According to the FCC:
“The BDAC’s mission will be to make recommendations for the Commission on how to accelerate the deployment of high-speed Internet access, or ‘broadband,’ by reducing and/or removing regulatory barriers to infrastructure investment. This Committee is intended to provide an effective means for stakeholders with interests in this area to exchange ideas and develop recommendations for the Commission, which will in turn enhance the Commission’s ability to carry out its statutory responsibility to encourage broadband deployment to all Americans.”

There will be five working groups in BDAC: 

1. Model Code for Municipalities
2. Model Code for States
3. Competitive Access to Broadband Infrastructure
4. Removing State and Local Regulatory Barriers
5.  Streamlining Federal Siting

Health and environmental issues will not be addressed in any of these groups.

Letter to the FCC: 

Not quite clear on how the FCC actions described above fit together, I sent the following letter to two officials who work in the Wireless Broadband Deployment devision at the FCC, and followed up with a call to both of them.  I am still awaiting a response…and not holding my breath.  

Dear Mr. Mantiply and Mr. Doczkat: 

By way of introduction, I have no official title except for fellow human being seeking honest answers for myself, my children, my grandchildren, humanity, wildlife, and our Earth.  

I have 3 questions that perhaps you can answer or, if not, direct me to the right person for answers:  

1.  Is the 2013 ET Docket No. 03-137 on Maximum Permissible Exposure limits (MPE) of radio frequency/microwave radiation still open?  And if so, can the public submit comments or reply comments on it?  And will our comments be added to the official file? [ Although another FCC employee had told me this docket was still accepting comments, i wanted confirmation before writing this post.] 

2.  What is holding this up?  It has now been four years since this long awaited and overdue Docket was finally opened, and the public is still awaiting protection while the wireless industry is bull-dozing ahead full speed with 5g “small cell” deployment. 

3. On the FCC website, I found this statement about ET Docket No. O3-137: “The Inquiry is intended to open discussion on both the currency of our RF exposure limits and possible policy approaches regarding RF exposure. We look forward to developing a complete record to determine whether the current rules and policies should remain unchanged, or should be relaxed or tightened.” 

And yet there is another Docket that was opened on 4/20/2017 – Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Notice of Inquiry WT Docket Nos. 17-79 and 15-180 aka “Accelerating Wireless Broadband Deployment by Removing Barriers to Infrastructure” – that is seeking comment on what the FCC should do to accelerate the deployment of 5g infrastructure.  

How can the FCC consider or enact changes that would impede local communities from protecting themselves from the RF/MW radiation coming off of cell towers, antennas, and “small cells,” in close proximity to homes, when the Commission has not yet determined an up to date safe exposure limit?  

Thank you for your prompt response.  

Most Sincerely, 

Of note:


1.  The National Institute of Science, Law, and Public Policy (NISLAPP) is calling for the FCC to “inform the  American public about the radiation risks of cellphones and wireless transmitting devices and how these risks can be reduced.”

For the full document, Inform the Public of Wireless Tech Risks — 33 Recommendations for the Federal Communications Commission, please click here.


2.  A few elected representatives from Montgomery County, MD met with the FCC commissioners and staff to discuss “concerns” that many members of their community have expressed about the “siting of wireless telecommunications antennas and structures, including the health impacts of antennas, and the potential for proliferation of antennas in residential neighborhoods.”  As recounted by County Executive, Isiah Leggett, Montgomery County officials strongly advocated against the potential federal preemption of local zoning rights.  The full report can be found at this link – http://whatis5g.info/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/MoCo-County-Executive-Memo-to-FCC.pdf

Montgomery County will be holding a follow-up community meeting in the Executive Office Building cafeteria (101 Monroe Street in downtown Rockville) at 7PM on Wednesday, June 14th.  The purpose of the community meeting will be to discuss with the public the County’s newly-drafted Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA). The public is encouraged to attend!! (For County Executive Leggett’s discussion of ZTA click here.)


3.  Finally, on Thursday, June 8th there will be an “Event” in Washington DC, hosted by the information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), How Municipalities and Industry Can Collaborate to Spur Broadband Deployment. The ITIF’s stated mission is to “…promote new ways of thinking about technology-driven productivity, competitiveness and globalization,” so this meeting will likely not represent public sentiment in a balanced way.  For more information go to, https://itif.org/events/2017/06/08/how-municipalities-and-industry-can-collaborate-spur-broadband-deployment



• Mignon Clyburn, Commissioner, Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
• Robert Atkinson, President, ITIF (moderator)
• Van Bloys, Senior Government Affairs Counsel, Wireless Infrastructure Association
• Joanne Hovis, President, CTC Technology & Energy
• Hans Riemer, At-Large Member, Montgomery County Council

An interesting side note about the ITIF is that every year they choose a recipient for the Luddite Award for the “Year’s Worst Innovation Killer.”  Following is a quote from their 2015 nominee page:
“Neo-Luddites have wide-ranging targets, including everything from genetically modified organisms to new Internet apps, artificial intelligence, and even productivity itself.”  
Proud to be a ITIF Luddite!!
Message from Ronald M. Powell, Ph.D. to Federal, State, and Local Governments, and Communities on 5G “Small Cells”

Message from Ronald M. Powell, Ph.D. to Federal, State, and Local Governments, and Communities on 5G “Small Cells”

Please see the message at the link below from Ronald M. Powell (retired U.S. Government scientist; Ph.D., Applied Physics, Harvard University) to Federal, State, and Local Governments, and Communities urging them to oppose the expansion of cellular technology, especially 5G, on health grounds.


The proponents of expanding cellular technology, especially the new Fifth Generation (5G) of cellular technology, are endeavoring to use each level of government to bar lower levels of government, as well as communities and individuals, from resisting the installation of 5G cell towers right in front of homes and businesses, including yours.  This one-page document explains why you should oppose this assault on local rule on health grounds.  The footnotes point to sources of additional information.


Message from Ronald M. Powell, Ph.D. —  Please Oppose 5G –  http://whatis5g.info/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Please-Oppose-5G.pdf

Links to the two Documents by Ronald M. Powell cited in footnotes in his message. 

Why We Should Oppose 5G on Health Grounds – https://www.scribd.com/document/339826676/Why-We-Should-Oppose-5G-on-Health-Grounds

The Health Argument against Cell Phones and Cell Towers – https://www.scribd.com/document/320935636/The-Health-Argument-against-Cell-Phones-and-Cell-Towers




Journalist Blake Levitt on FCC Docket WT-17-21 – Accelerating Wireless Broadband Deployment by Removing Barriers to Infrastructure Investment

Journalist Blake Levitt on FCC Docket WT-17-21 – Accelerating Wireless Broadband Deployment by Removing Barriers to Infrastructure Investment

The FCC has opened a new ruling that is a potential direct assault on Section 704 of the Telecom Act which preserved specific planning & zoning rights to states and municipalities re: telecom tower/infrastructure siting. FCC, under Tom Wheeler, seriously chipped away at those rights with rulings that classified telecoms as public utilities thereby giving them the right to go anywhere in residential neighborhoods, instituting “shot clocks” whereby applications were deemed automatically approved if legitimate local review exceeded a certain deadline, and granted expedited review to Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) and small cell networks — the upcoming backbone for the controversial 5G networks which will require literally millions of new antennas that mount to utility poles in public rights-of-way. These expedited reviews are for environmental and national historic preservation concerns — issues that by law the FCC must take into
consideration. These actions create go-rounds for the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the National Historic Preservation Act, both of which have been used to alter proposed DAS designs in crowded historic coastal towns and in San Francisco.

Now comes the new and by all accounts more industry-favoring, aggressive, arch anti-regulation FCC chairman Ajit Pai, former general counsel for Verizon and many other stellar things (https://www.fcc.gov/about/leadership/ajit-pai), who makes Wheeler look downright democratic (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/19/technology/ajit-pai-fcc-telecom). In addition, there are now two bills in the U.S. Senate — the Mobil Now Act (S. 19) the DIGIT Act (S.88) that would legally greenlight this industry-friendly course of action, which the FCC needs to remove all perceived local/state obstacles in favor of industry needs/desires, obliterating all local jurisdiction to preserve and protect our cherished environmental or historic jewels. FCC’s new ruling requests info on exactly those obstacles (see below).

This is all moving VERY fast on every possible level between regulatory agencies and the legislature and not by accident. Some states, CT among them, are already in the vanguard in declaring that DAS/small cells do not require a public certificate for need and convenience, thereby removing the ability to review for overlapping, unnecessary coverage. All of this will create a heavy blanket of RF in close proximity to the population with large antenna mountings mere feet from some people’s homes. And there will be no legal recourse… All of the tools for local/state review are being removed.

Expect to see more on this subject and plan to comment at the FCC and to your U.S. Senators who should be asked to put a hold action on both S. 19 and S 88 ASAP. Those have passed all committees and could come up for a voice vote at any time.

In the very least, the national environmental and municipal planning associations should object to these actions, and so should other federal regulatory entities like U.S. Fish and Wildlife, EPA, etc. This is important.

Blake Levitt

Originally posted at: http://www.electronicsilentspring.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/FCC-new-ruling.pdf

Information on Opposing Florida’s Bills Streamlining Small Cell Deployment and Preempting Local Zoning Rights

Florida Senate (SB 596) and House (HB 687) are now heading to the Floors for votes. Calls to representatives are needed by Wednesday, April 26, 2017. Florida legislators contact numbers can be found at these links: (Note: These bills do not concern US reps (Rubio/Nelson)
These bills are intended to streamline deployment of 4g/5g small cells.  These are called “small cells”, but applications filed have some at 120 feet tall and some come with refrigerator sized equipment boxes. These bills were written by the wireless industry in an attempt to have the Florida state legislators preempt local siting processes and provide cheap access to public infrastructure and rights of way. This is an invasion on residential neighborhoods as public rights of way and infrastructure are impacted. Most people don’t realize it but the property in front of our homes as well as sometimes other parts (back and side yards) have public rights of way. Yes, we mow all the lawn and pay the property taxes, but certain portions of our property are not subject to our full control. These are usually areas where there are light posts, utility poles, and street signs.
Although all the cities, counties and municipalities vehemently opposed this bill, Tallahassee basically said, “tough,” and the now former (forced to resign) Senator Artiles actually told them at the end of the first meeting to “go and negotiate your best deal”. There has been little debate nor mention or concern by all sides that this is OUR property.
Admittedly, they have been negotiating, and the bill has gone through many changes. Local governments basically accepted the local preemption, got a few protective clauses inserted, brought the height limitations they can set down to 50 feet from 60 feet and now are haggling over price (annual rent). The original rent was $15 and it now stands at $150 per pole.
Other changes (since man is not created equal) – The Florida Dept of Transportation managed to get themselves exempted along with the municipal electric and cooperative electric companies. The Villages retirement community managed to get themselves exempted. Some barrier islands, less than 5 miles, 10K inhabitants who recently voted to underground (could that be Longboat Key?) got themselves exempted. And large developers managed to weigh in and properties subject to covenants, conditions and restrictions; articles of incorporation; or bylaws” got some protections if the structures do not comply with the restrictions. So its been a grande game of “Let’s make a deal” all month long.
Although these bills have been somewhat improved upon, a bad bill is a bad bill and should be opposed. You can find the bill and its analysis and read it for yourselves at the links below. Just click on the “Bill Text” or “Analysis” tabs and choose the document with the latest date. The bills change frequently, but both bills have cleared all their committees and are on the calendars for their respective floors to be voted on. This years session ends in about 11 days, so this will move quickly and I expect it to pass unless there is a large public outcry.
Some reasons to oppose these bills:
1) Home Rule – These bills preempt local authority over their public rights of way and zoning authority.
2) These bills are not necessary – locals are capable of negotiating directly with industry on what is needed for their communities.
3) These bills pick winners and losers which is not the role of the state. Wireless facilities are placed today on both public and private property. By setting a low rate for public properties you skew the market. These light poles, etc. were paid for by the people and their local representatives should be allowed to negotiate the proper price. Testimony at one House committee meeting pegged market rate at $2200/yr, and these bills only offer $150/year. Taxpayers should not subsidize private industry.
4) 50 foot mini cell towers and noisy associated equipment boxes should not be forced on residential areas.
5) These bills are discriminatory as they do not treat all public rights of way the same – namely the carve outs for the Florida Dept of Transportation, municipal electric utilities, The Villages, Barrier islands and certain PUD’s (planned unit developments).
6) The massive proliferation of small cell placements, especially in residential areas, where placement could be as close as 10 feet from a bedroom window, is a health hazard. This deployment should not be supported in light of the May 2016 release of the NTP rat/cellphone study until the FCC completes its work on FCC Docket 13-84 regarding reassessment of the RF radiation emission guidelines.
7) A good write-up, complete with pictures, was prepared by a former government local planner who is opposing a similar pending bill in California. It shows what happens when the placement and rules of wireless facilities are not well regulated and controlled. see https://medium.com/@omarmasry/sb-649-challenges-legislative-pitfalls-a61a4427651a
8) Ohio passed their bill in December and over 80 local communities are now suing the state. http://www.cleveland.com/brecksville/index.ssf/2017/04/brecksville_joins_cleveland_la.html
Please consider making some noise tomorrow. Most times these senators and representatives go along with these crazy bills because they hear no complaints from the people. Tell them to Vote NO.
For more info write to www.info@stopsmartmetersfl.org
Review of FCC Rally

Review of FCC Rally

The April 20th rally outside the FCC was spirited and filled with lots creativity and pizzazz, as you can see from the sampling of pictures – colorful signs, handouts, filming, singing, and much conversing with FCC people as they walked into work as well as with passers by. Among those rallying were a Greenbank EMS survivor, a “bee” (5g will drastically impact bees and other pollinators), a young child, some long time activists, as well as a number of newcomers to the cause. Many thanks to all those who made the effort to come as well as to those who sent positive energy and thoughts our way!

What was made ever so clear was that the Wireless Telecom Industry is aggressively pressuring the FCC, our federal legislators, as well as our state representatives to pass legislation, erase bylaws, do whatever they can (and cannot!) to remove hurdles – or as they say “impediments” – in order to deploy this CR$P in our communities and our yards AS FAST AND AS CHEAPLY AS POSSIBLE. It was also very evident that the FCC is chomping at the bit to help. And if the industry succeeds, we, the people, will be screwed (excuse the language)!

And yet, Commissioner Clyburn had the gall to state in her Concurring Statement, “In the end, it is the American consumer who will benefit from our efforts,” adding that consumers are “ever most in mind when I make decisions.”

Convinced of the fallacy of Clyburn’s statement, after the meeting, a few of us set out to do some short video interviews of a passers-by outside the Supreme Court to find out what their real thoughts and feelings were about 5g and the IoT. As we suspected, with the small sampling of people we interviewed, most didn’t know what 5g and the IoT were, and when informed, stated unequivocally they had NO interest in these. (Reasons varied.) We hope to put together a short video clip that will illustrate the wireless industry and the FCC’s gross misrepresentation of the wishes and what’s in the best interest of the American people.

After the rally a few of us tried to take a picture in front of the entrance to the FCC. The FCC guards informed us we would not be allowed to do so with our signs and T-shirts. One guard even told the “bee” that she would have to remove her mask for a picture – “No bees allowed at the FCC,” she was told. Pretty outrageous for sure!! Clearly, we have a lot of work ahead of us to change the “no bee” policies the FCC is forging, as well as the complete bulldozing of our rights to be informed and weigh in about 5g, driverless cars, and the Internet of Things.

A lot was accomplished at the rally as well as the following day when the “pesky bee” returned to the FCC for the Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC) launching.

We will follow up with a blog post soon with a summary report on the proceedings, and suggested ways forward.

Meanwhile please take a moment to read the following remarks by the three Commissioners:

Following are links to the remarks of the 3 FCC Commissioners on the proceeding Accelerating Wireless Broadband Deployment by Removing Barriers to Infrastructure Investment – April 20th meeting.

http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2017/db0421/FCC-17-38A2.pdf |Commissioner Pai
http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2017/db0421/FCC-17-37A3.pdf | Commissioner Clyburn
http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2017/db0421/FCC-17-38A4.pdf |Commissioner O’Rielly

And below are links to the remarks of the 3 FCC Commissioners from the Initial Meeting of the Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee – April 21st.

(If anyone is planning a rally elsewhere and would like to use the T-shirts or signs from the FCC rally, please contact us at rethinking5g@whatis5g.info.)