Why 5G is Failing

Adapted from an article by Adriano Giaquinta, June 28, 2021 | Original Speedcheck article here.

A fresh perspective on 5G in the US sheds light on how regulatory decisions, geo-political tensions, and suboptimal network configurations, contributed to a disappointing year in 2020.

Real-World Results: 5G Wireless Cannot Close the Digital Divide

Note: All of the Wireless speeds discussed below are far below the speeds needed to close the Digital Divide. Americans need symmetric broadband at 100 Mbps Up/100 Mpbs down The best way to achieve 100 Mbps symmetric service is via wired broadband directly to homes — Fiber direct, Fiber/coaxial or Fiber/Fast DSL copper.The U.S. Government agrees!

Dept. of Treasury: Interim Final Rule (p.71) for Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds

“Under the Interim Final Rule, eligible projects are expected to be designed to deliver, upon project completion, service that reliably meets or exceeds symmetrical upload and download speeds of 100 Mbps. . . . In setting these standards, Treasury identified speeds necessary to ensure that broadband infrastructure is sufficient to enable users to generally meet household needs, including the ability to support the simultaneous use of work, education, and health applications, and also sufficiently robust to meet increasing household demands for bandwidth.”

2020 was supposed to be the year in which 5G revolutionized the telecommunications industry, with breakneck speeds and super-low latencies. Everyone – from chip manufacturers to cellular carriers and smartphone brands – promised how amazing 5G would be. That didn’t materialize. The real-world results of 5G, to date, have been underwhelming — not much better than 4G, which can already achieve 50 Mbps.

In 2020, 5G speeds in the US did not come anywhere close to the promised download speeds, where available (just 2x . . . NOT 25x faster than 4G!, as advertised). Data collected from October 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020 by our speed test, which measures the quality of Internet connections on millions of devices yearly, shows that 5G networks in the US did not deliver.

States and Localities Are Being Bamboozled, Once Again, with the Wireless Industry’s, Over-Promise, Under-Deliver Bait-and-Switch Schemes

Well-respected technology journalists, Jon Brodkin of Ars Technica and Karl Bode of Tech Dirt have already documented in 2020 that for both Verizon and AT&T, their 5G has been slower than 4G!. These real-world results have caused the companies to make two strategic changes:

  1. Verizon and AT&T have pretty much abandoned widespread roll out of millimeter wave 5G — the frequency that allegedly needed have antennas placed on utility poles, light poles and traffic light poles, despite the 2018 admission by Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam that millimeter wave 5G transmits 2,000–3,000 feet and beyond (see video, below)
  2. Both Verizon and AT&T invested $Billions in the Jan 2021 CBRS mid-band spectrum (3,550–3,650 MHz) auction — a frequency that can be deployed on existing macro towers — meaning that 3,550–3,650 MHz 5G DOES NOT NEED to have antennas placed on utility poles, light poles and traffic light poles.

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NTIA’s New Broadband Map

By Doug Dawson, June 22, 2021 | Original POTS and Pans article here.

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration surprised the broadband industry by issuing a new broadband map for the whole U.S. The map differs in dramatic ways from the FCC’s broadband map, which is derived from broadband speeds that are reported by the ISPs in the country. It’s commonly understood that the FCC broadband map overstates broadband coverage significantly. The NTIA map draws upon varied sources in an attempt to create a more accurate picture of the availability of broadband.

The NTIA map was created by overlaying layers from various data sources over Google Maps. This includes speed test data from both Ookla and M-Lab. The map shows the results from Microsoft measurements of speeds experienced during software updates. There are two layers of data from the American Community Survey showing homes that report having no Internet access at home and also homes that have no computer, smartphone, or tablet.

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Protect Your Communities!

Oppose CA Bills SB.556, AB.537 & SB.378 NOW!

California residents should take immediate action today to stop CA Bills SB.556, AB.537 and SB.378. These three state bills will destroy local control over Wireless infrastructure, including constructing tens of thousands of so-called “small” Wireless Telecommunications Facilities (“WTFs”) in residential zones throughout California.

AB.537, along with SB.556 and SB.378, collectively, are similar to a disastrous Telecom bill from 2017, SB.649, that was opposed by over 300 California cities and nearly all counties and consumer protection groups. SB.649, fortunately, was vetoed by then Gov. Jerry Brown on 10-15-17, writing:

“I believe that the interest which localities have in managing their own rights-of-way requires a more balanced solution than the one achieved in this bill.”

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Treasury Makes It Easier to Fund Broadband

By Doug Dawson, June 21, 2021 | Original POTS & Pans article here


On June 17, the US Treasury Department clarified the rules for using federal ARPA broadband money that is being given to states, counties, cities, and smaller political subdivisions. The new FAQs make it a lot clearer that local government can use the funds to serve businesses and households that are considered as served – meaning they receive broadband speeds over 25/3 Mbps.

My first reading of the rules came to the same conclusion, but these clarifications hopefully make this clear for everybody. There was language in the original Treasury Interim rules that might have scared off city and county attorneys from using the funding for broadband.

The Following is some of the clarifying language from the revised FAQs:

  • FAQ 6.8 adds the clarifying language that unserved or underserved households or businesses do not need to be the only ones in the service area funded by the project. This is a massively helpful clarification that discloses Treasury’s intent for the funds. The response to this FAQ could have previously been interpreted to mean that the money could only be used to bring broadband to places that have less than 25/3 Mbps.
  • FAQ 6.9 further makes this same point, that while the goal of a broadband project must be to provide service to unserved or underserved areas, a sensible solution might require serving a larger area to be economical – and again, unserved and underserved locations need not be the only places funded by the ARPA funding.
  • FAQ 6.11 looks at the original use of the term ‘reliably’ when defining the broadband provided to homes and businesses. The Treasury response makes it clear that advertised speeds don’t define broadband speeds, but rather the actual broadband performance experienced by customers.

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Marin IJ Readers Forum Letters, June 2021

June Marin IJ Readers Forum Letters

A. Letter to the Editor, June 5, 2021

Adapted from a letter by Roberta Anthes, San Rafael,CA

Local control of Wireless Telecommunications Facilities (WTFs) is Needed

I’m writing to encourage the town councils of Marin to oppose Senate Bill 556 which will be heard June 9 in the Local Government Committee and then move on to the Communications and Conveyance Committee. This bill essentially eliminates the authority of local elected officials in deploying Wireless Telecommunications Facilities in their respective towns and hands it to private, for-profit telecom companies.

Nearly all the towns in Marin, together with knowledgeable citizens, have spent considerable time and energy crafting wireless ordinances to comply with the federal law and still retained the powers inherent in that law. This bill does an “end run” around the intent of our local ordinances and the express desires of Marin residents.

I did not vote for my Assembly representatives to give away this power and allow telecoms to impose on the public wireless services they may not want or need in undesirable locations. I do not want wireless facilities next to my home, school, day-care center or playground. I don’t want them in fire-prone areas. Local elected officials should be making these decisions — not big Telecom companies.

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Get the Money Back From Those Who Created the Digital Divide — Big Telecoms Verizon, AT&T et al.

Adapted from an article by Bruce Kushnick June 17, 2021 | Original Medium article here.

The 2020 Verizon-NY Annual Report details billions that can be used to close the Digital Divide in the state of New York — offering lessons that can be applied to every other state. Solutions without any government subsidies. . .

What Is the Verizon-NY 2020 Annual Report?

On May 28th, 2021, the Verizon-NY 2020 Annual Report was published. Verizon-NY is the primary state public telecommunications utility (SPTU) and New York is the only state we know of that requires and makes public a financial annual report for the SPTU.

This is not the Verizon Communications Inc. Annual Report, which is for the entire holding company. Verizon-NY is just one of Verizon’s many East Coast public telecommunications utilities: that means there are Verizon SPTUS ranging from Massachusetts to Virginia. The FCC aided and abetted this scheme because it stopped publishing SPTU information in 2007, covering the tracks for massive cross subisides that flowed from SPTUS to other subsidiaries owned by the Telecom Holding Companies.

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Dense 4G/5G Rollout in Tucson Meets Strong Opposition

Adapted from an article and news report by Chorus Nylander, June 14, 2021 | KVOA News 4 Tucson article here

TUCSON (KVOA) – It’s the highly anticipated future for mobile service but for many Tucsonans 5G is not a future they asked for. These days dense 4G/5G Wireless Telecommunications Facilities (WTFs) are popping up just about everywhere, and many homeowners tell the News 4 Tucson Investigators that they are furious.

Tucson resident Bryan Goldkuhl said:

“They Hid It From Us Until the Last Minute.”

Goldkuhl is outraged after a 4G/5G WTF was put up across the street from his home:

“They started by jacking pipe underneath the street that was probably three months ago. When we asked them about it, they told us they were just putting in fiber optic cable then when we found out it was for a cell tower, now we’re being told it’s too late to do anything about it,”

He’s not alone, a group of neighbors from Tucson’s Peter Howell neighborhood held a protest a couple weeks ago against the installation of several towers in the area, one by a school.

“This is happening because Verizon and AT&T would like to implement what our future should look like nobody asked us if we wanted this,” said Lisa Smith.

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Gov. Newsom Grants Cal Cities’ Request for Continued Brown Act Flexibility

June 2, 2021

In an effort to provide local governments adequate time to prepare for in-person public meetings while remaining in compliance with the Brown Act, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that Executive Order N-29-20 will remain in effect after the June 15 reopening plan.

The announcement came in response to a request by a local government coalition, which included the League of California Cities.

In a May 18, 2021 letter to the Governor, the coalition requested guidance on how local government agencies should proceed with Executive Order N-29-20 following the Blueprint’s conclusion. The Executive Order provides local government agencies with the necessary flexibility to conduct business meetings in a virtual format.

Today, in response to the local government coalition request, the Governor announced that the Executive Order will not terminate on June 15, and all local government agencies can continue to conduct virtual public meetings as needed. The additional time will allow local governments to modify or keep any pandemic-era changes and provide sufficient notice to the public, honoring city obligations to prioritize access and transparency, along with the safety of the public.

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Palo Alto Votes For Citywide Fiber Optics Expansion

City Council approves plan to build out fiber backbone, bring municipal internet to all neighborhoods

by Gennady Sheyner / | May 25, 2021 | Original Palo Alto Weekly article here.

Under a proposal from Magellan Advisors, Palo Alto would expand its existing fiber network into a 43-mile fiber backbone, which would later be used to create a Fiber to the Home system. Courtesy Magellan Advisors.

After nearly two decades of debate, Palo Alto took a significant step Monday toward transforming the city’s fiber system from a small network that mostly serves critical city facilities and large commercial customers to one that could deliver high-speed internet system to every local home and business.

By a unanimous vote, the City Council advanced a work plan for gradually expanding the city’s existing fiber ring to all areas of the city — a project that over the years has been referred to as Fiber to the Home or Fiber to the Premises. The expansion would take place in at least two phases, with the first one focusing on expanding the fiber backbone to make it available for more city departments and the second one targeting neighborhoods throughout Palo Alto.

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No Water Fluoridation and No Wireless Signal Strength Beyond That Needed for Telecommunications Service

Adapted from a May 25, 2021 Public Comment in Santa Barbara, CA
Public Comment by Katie Mickey

By a 5 to 2 margin on November 23, 1999, the City Council of Santa Barbara voted in favor of a resolution that, “… disagrees with and rejects the State’s recommendation to fluoridate the city’s public water system.”

The resolution was fashioned by the City Council in response to a request for a protective ordinance from the local chapter of Citizens for Safe Drinking Water that involved appearances by more than 150 citizens before the Board of Water Commissioners for Santa Barbara.

City Attorney Dan Wallace replied that no matter which approach the Council took, should the State elect to force compliance the city would most likely invoke the “municipal affairs doctrine.” This doctrine applies to cities that have their own constitutional charter, which among other tests requires that any law of statewide concern be “narrowly tailored” so it does not intrude on the rights of cities to manage their own affairs.

Mayor Harriet Miller, referencing her background in chemistry, stated that adding a chemical to the water supply to medicate everyone was not the right approach and requested that the City’s staff draft a letter to the appropriate health agencies to look into other programs that are intended for children from birth to 5 years of age to devise a method of getting the appropriate care directly to the individuals who truly need it and when they need it.

Council Member Tom Roberts called into question whether the City’s mission in managing the water was to deliver the purest potable water or to mass medicate, and asked why adding Prozac (fluoxetene, another fluorine-based product) to counter depression wasn’t of equal rationale.

Council Member Marty Blum favored, “… a treatment plan to address the specific problem, not to medicate the whole city on the chance that the kids may drink the water.”

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