The wireless industry’s efforts to pass small cell siting legislation at the state level was dealt a setback earlier this week as California Gov. Edmund Brown vetoed a bill, Senate Bill 649, which was passed by the legislature in that state.
The bill sought to establish a uniform permitting process small cells, fixing the rates that a city could charge for the use of the rights of way.
“There is something of real value in having a process that results in extending this innovative technology rapidly and efficiently. Nevertheless, I believe that the interest which localities have in managing the rights of way requires a more balanced solution than the one achieved in this bill,” Gov. Brown wrote.
The wireless industry has helped pass small cells legislation in 13 states so far and had a fair amount of perceived momentum. Municipal proponents seem to take the most issue with the bill’s provisions for site rental fees.
“SB 649 was nothing more than an obscene transfer of wealth away from California citizens to wireless industry and cable TV industry shareholders by way of grossly reduced site rental fees, far below their fair market values,” Municipal Consultant Jonathan Kramer wrote on his Wireless Siting and Law blog.
“With SB 649 dead, let’s start on a real 5G small cell bill with reasonable duties and benefits for both sides,” Kramer later tweeted.
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo wrote in an oped piece that rapidly deploying wireless was important, but SB 649 “amounts to a billion-dollar corporate handout.”
“It provides telecom companies with below-cost leases for using public assets, courtesy of California taxpayers, without reducing prices to consumers, or helping connect low-income neighborhoods or rural California communities languishing on the wrong side of the digital divide,” Liccardo wrote in the Sacramento Bee.